2010 Ford Mustang GT Review

Compared to its V8-powered competitors, the Mustang GT is low on power but still high on value.

2010 Ford Mustang GT Review

As I turn the key in the ignition, the big 4.6-liter V8 turns over and actually rocks the car from side to side as it roars to life. And does it ever roar!

FAST FACTS

1. The new 2010 Mustang GT makes 315hp and 325 ft-lbs of torque.

2. It will hit 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and do the quarter mile in just 13.6 secs.

3. Pricing starts at just $27,995 ($36,999 CDN).

4. Some of the more interesting options include a glass roof and a 3.73 Axle Package

So often I complain about how muffled the exhaust note is on high performance cars, but that is not the case here. Even at under 3000 rpm it draws stares and gives its owner a sonorous treat. Whether it’s popping and snarling on a high rpm downshift or just rumbling like distant thunder as you crawl along in traffic – this V8 is a treat to the ears.

4.6-LITER V8 GETS SLIGHT BUMP TO 315 HORSEPOWER

And it does more than just sound powerful; the Mustang’s V8 generates 315hp at 6000 rpm and 325 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm. In total, that’s 15 more horsepower and five more ft-lbs of torque than the previous model, which is achieved through a more efficient air intake system, as well as a 250 rpm increase.

Surprisingly the 4.6-liter V8-powered Mustang GT doesn’t feel as fast as its 5.1-second 0-60 mph time. This is partly due to a gas pedal (as well as the brake pedal for that matter) that isn’t overly responsive. Most likely designed this way on purpose to make the car a more user-friendly beast, you really have to put your foot down to get a reaction; but when you do there is a massive surge of power. And because it’s a V8, the power stays on well above the legal limit, pushing the Pony car faster and faster. This engine, unlike a V6, doesn’t fizzle and fade with speed and Ford claims a very-impressive quarter-mile time of 13.6 seconds.

The Stang is also a big car, which reduces the sensation of speed. Although it’s important to point out that it’s not overly heavy. At 3,500 lbs its 300 less than a new Camaro.

My tester had the standard five-speed manual tranny, which isn’t what I would call slick-shifting, but it does suit the car with a big grip and chunky (though short) movements. As for the clutch, it’s light as a feather and unlike some pony cars of old didn’t leave me with a leg cramp after a particularly grueling commute home one day.

The Mustang’s long gears also don’t help in the sensation of speed – or the attainment of it. More hard-core buyers will likely opt for the optional 3.55 rear end (or better yet the 3.73 which is only available on the GT Premium). If you’re buying a Mustang GT for the right reasons (for fun) and not to use as a commuter car, then we strongly suggest the shorter gears.

If Ford offered a six-speed manual, the GT could get better acceleration and fuel-economy, but sadly that isn’t likely. We should also note that there are no optional gearings for the auto-box.

When it comes to fuel-economy, the big V8 does ok with 16/24 mpg (city/highway). Those who choose the automatic will get 17/23 mpg. This is an improvement over the past model, which got just 15/22 mpg. While it is far better than the 13/19 mpg of the Challenger SRT8, it equals the Camaro SS, which, by the way, makes an additional 110hp.

In real world testing, our Stang averaged a reasonable 20 mpg with the shorter 3.73 rear end.

The good news is that if you’re more concerned about the impact a V8 might have on your pocketbook than on the environment, you can always take solace in the fact that this V8 runs on regular pump gas.

NEW LOOK ADDS EDGY MODERN DESIGN TO RETRO STYLE

Along with more power and better fuel-economy, the 2010 Mustang has a whole new look – sort of. With the tremendous success of the past model, Ford didn’t want to gamble too much on a drastic redesign and so have chosen to massage the overall look of the car. And it worked!

Not only does it still have that great retro shape, but the edgier (but less boxy) look is certain to appeal to a younger audience that over the past decade has turned away from American iron in favor of Japanese aluminum.

Being one of those younger types I have to say the look is certainly appealing to me. The subtle trunk spoiler, the large black openings up front and the pointy bow-shaped front all combine for a great look. There are even some important details that add modernity to the classic design, like the use of a “black chrome” instead of a classic chrome pony up front.

MUCH-IMPROVED INTERIOR IS HIGH-QUALITY IN BOTH MATERIALS AND DESIGN

While the exterior of the 2010 Mustang might not be revolutionary, the interior certainly is. Ford has done a stunning job giving modern fit, finish, comfort and utility to what is still a very retro design.

The leather seats are comfortable and reasonably well-bolstered and feature an incredible classic design with leather that has been stitched into bars. The steering wheel is also reasonably retro – although cartoonishly large. As for the gauges, they have a great old-school look, with a nice classic font, but are well lit and have a quality look. As with the last model, the driver can program the gauges to be one of numerous colors – but as that’s probably more interesting to the V6 crowd, I’ll spare the details here.

What is certainly not retro about the new Stang is the optional Navigation system.. or Ford’s SYNC system. It seems like a marketing gimmick, but after a week in the car you really get used to voice activated controls – if only you didn’t have to press the steering wheel mounted button first.

Apart from all this, however, there are two things that really make the 2010 Mustang’s interior stand out – the attention paid to materials and details. From the huge pieces of aluminum used on the dash (and on the steering wheel) to the stitching on that wheel, the interior is all quality. It’s better than the Challenger and infinitely superior to what you’ll find inside the Camaro.

Standard equipment on the GT Premium model includes power locks with remote entry as well as power windows with one-touch up and down. Also included is a tilt (but not telescopic) wheel. The GT Premium gets upgraded leather seats and a six-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support. Also included is the Shaker 500 eight-speaker audio system with AM/FM, a six-CD changer, an auxiliary input and MP3 capability. This is one serious piece of audio equipment and anyone who opts for the more powerful Shaker 1000 system is either half deaf, or will be shortly.

All models get a 12-volt outlet, which, by the way, is one of the few design faults in the interior of the car. It’s just so high up that any cords running out of it will hang over the rest of the controls.

My tester also came with the $595 Comfort Package, which includes a six-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and an auto-dimming mirror with compass. The $2,195 Electronic Package was also nice (if expensive) and consists of navigation, SIRIUS radio with a six-month subscription and dual zone climate control. A $240 rearview camera was also tossed in.

The piece de resistance, however, is the optional $1,995 glass roof. At the price I’m not certain I’d go for it, but I did thoroughly enjoy having it. Sadly it’s a fixed unit and can’t be opened, but it does give an almost open-top feel to the sports car, while at the same time brightening up the cabin and increasing visibility. There’s even a shade you can pull over in case the sun gets too hot.

Standard safety includes four airbags (driver and passenger front and side), as well as a tire pressure monitoring system and Advance Track with Electronic Stability Control.

THE DRIVE

Aside from all these stats and specs, however, the important point is how the 2010 Mustang drives. For that, let’s get back to the beginning.

Not only does the engine rock the car at startup, it continues to send vibrations though the chassis. On most cars this would be a sign of poor engineering, but its so subtle you get the distinct feeling Ford designed it that way. And while I may be a young guy I can guarantee baby boomers will appreciate this little chassis-shudder at idle that takes them back to days when ‘good vibrations’ were commonplace in V8-powered machines.

Once you’re rolling the power evens out and the car makes for a decent cruiser. At highway speeds, however, the stiff suspension does mean that you constantly feel all the larger cracks in the pavement.

I’d fault the Stang for this if the suspension was also typically sloppy, but its not. It will take a corner better than expected, rotating nicely once all that torque hits the rear wheels. And thanks to the optional limited slip differential (worth every penny), the traction control kicks in less often, making for an uninterrupted and, therefore, more fun drive.

It should be noted that a more aggressive traction control program is included in the 3.73 Rear Axle Package, which also includes larger two-piston front brakes and grippier brake pads. The brakes still seemed underpowered though and have to be one of the least confidence-inspiring aspects of the Mustang.

I hate to return to those vibrations again, but there is an inordinate amount of shake that’s carried through the shift linkage, causing the shift knob to buzz away constantly.

As for the steering, well, the wheel is enormous and it’s beautiful design has a practical drawback. While I appreciate the aesthetic appeal of all that beautiful aluminum, much of it runs across the wheel right at the 10 and 3 position, making for an all-too-slippery surface where the driver’s hands should have the most grip.

Overall the diameter is too large for my liking and the wheel requires a significant amount of input to turn the car in any direction. The wheel is nice and thick though.

THE VERDICT

At a price of $27,995 ($36,999 CDN) the 2010 Mustang GT is still the poor man’s sports car. The great thing about the Mustang, however, is that it’s never looked cheap outside, and now it has an interior to match. We’d suggest the GT Premium model, which starts at $30,995 and while our tester did hit $38,155 ($42,299 CDN) buyers should be able to get an affordable Stang by saying no to the cool but expensive options like Navigation and a glass roof.

We think the 2010 Mustang GT is a huge improvement for Ford, with a look that is both progressive and retro, keeping the company’s heritage and yet moving into the future.

We’d still like to see a smaller steering wheel with more-responsive steering. More responsive pedals would also be ideal, as would a six-speed transmission – something that would help out in the fuel-economy department.

And while the power lags behind cars like the 2010 Camaro SS, Ford’s lighter weight chassis helps make up some of the difference. For many, the price will make up the rest, with the 2010 Mustang GT costing thousands less than a V8 Camaro.

PLUS

  • Vastly improved interior
  • Added power and fuel economy
  • New retro-meets-modern look

MINUS

  • Lax throttle and brake response
  • Massive steering wheel not very sporty
  • Continued use of five-speed transmission gives less-than-impressive fuel economy and dulls feeling of speed

RELATED READING

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 – Classic Style Meets Modern Engineering

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