By Bruce Caldwell
I think the Ford Motor Company knows something about longevity. Ford started the whole pony car segment before the segment even had a name. The segment was named after the Mustang. Ford has done very well with many other well-known models and series such as the Model T Ford, the Model A, and the F-150. Besides building excellent vehicles, Ford knows how to inspire customer loyalty.
Other pony cars (e.g. the Challenger and the Camaro) are making strong comebacks, but the Mustang never left. We doubt there would have a marketplace to come back to if the stalwart Mustang hadn’t kept the segment alive for over 45 years.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some years where Mustangs sold as much on availability as excellence. In 2005, Mustang had a rebirth of sorts. They upgraded the platform and backtracked on looks. The result was a wonderful blend of classic styling with modern technology. The 2010 Mustang builds on those earlier successes.
Walkaround: The Mustang GT is a handsome car. It blends old and new styling elements seamlessly. It’s immediately recognizable as a Mustang. In a smart marketing/nostalgia move one of the “new” Mustang colors is Grabber Blue—a color made famous on Boss Mustangs forty years ago.
Interior: Mustangs are affordable performance cars and it appears that the interior was a source of savings. It looks nice and has several retro cues, but there’s still a lot of business directed toward the plastics industry. The sun visors, door bins, glove box, console bin and cup holders are all on the small side. Mustang back seats have always been a minimalist definition of the term, but then, that’s why they sell Lincolns and Expeditions. Front seat room is excellent and has improved over previous iterations of late-model (post-1994) Mustangs.
Under The Hood: Power for the Mustang GT comes from a 4.6L single overhead cam V-8 that’s rated at 315 hp with an impressive 325 lb-ft of torque (up from last year’s ratings of 300/320). This is an American V-8 at its best. The exhaust is muscular under acceleration, but not unpleasant at cruising speeds.
Two 5-speed transmissions are offered, an automatic and a manual. There is a very worthwhile “Trackpack” option for manual transmission GT Mustangs. This option includes a limited-slip differential, improved brakes, sport suspension, a special anti-skid system, and handsome 19-inch alloy wheels.
Behind The Wheel: One thing the 2010 Mustang GT has in abundance is a fun-to-drive factor. This is an agile, relatively light, easy to toss play car with excellent brakes. It has all the modern safety features to keep you out of trouble while still letting you experience to fun of pushing your personal limits. You can scare yourself, but the car will stop you short of an underwear change.
Whines: The new capless fuel filler door works fine, but it just doesn’t sit right with my old twist and click mind. The 5-speed manual transmission is excellent, but if you’ve experienced the 6-speed in a Shelby GT500 Mustang you’ll wish the Mustang GT had an extra gear, too.
Bottom Line: If you long for the glory days of American musclecars, but would like more sophistication, improved safety, better fuel economy, and more luxurious interiors at very reasonable prices the Mustang GT is the car for you. 2010 is the zenith of the American pony car with the Mustang GT leading the herd.