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2010 Ford Mustang ReviewThe Good
More power, a refined suspension, and impressive restyling mean 2010 will be a great year for Ford's Mustang.The Bad
The '09 Mustang's hard door plastics and a V8 with more than 100 hp less than the Camaro’s are simply inexcusable.
The CarGurus View
This is the best Mustang we’ve seen since the revision in 2004, with more power, an improved suspension and chassis, better quality, new styling, increased sound dampening, and more. You can get outfitted with a V8 GT for less than $28,000 or get a Premium V8 Convertible GT for $35,000. Sure, it’s not the same Mustang it was back in 1965 - it’s better.
At a Glance
In its first major revision since the S-197 Mustang was introduced in 2004, the 2010 2+2 ponycar sees extra power for its V8, a new suspension, a stiffened chassis, increased sound dampening, and revised interior and exterior styling. Available as a coupe or convertible, this front-engine/rear-wheel-drive sports car comes in V6 or GT versions in either Base or Premium trim level.
Also new for 2010 is an antiskid system, a newly standard capless fuel tank, a rearview camera, and the inclusion of real-time traffic updates in its navigation system, which has been widely praised.
As is standard operating procedure of late for the Mustang, two engines are offered - a V6 and a V8. The base trim enjoys a not-anemic 4.0-liter, 210-hp V6 that actually outperforms many of the V8s in this model’s history. GTs get a 15-hp increase from last year in their 4.6-liter V8, up to 315 this year, due to the implementation of a cold-air system like that previously used on Bullitt editions. While the V6 is punchy and fast, providing enough power in all situations to negate practical complaint, the V8 provides the extra grunt and gristle that has made the Mustang so popular for 45 years. Immediate power and a solid pull throughout the rpm range force smiles, and the five-speed manual transmission is as smooth and solid as you could want. Both engines come with the option of either a manual or automatic five-speed, and both have been praised almost unanimously for their smooth and precise operation.
In an effort to increase fuel efficiency, Ford is utilizing a 3.31 axle ratio, although a performance package will exchange that for a more aggressive 3.73 rear ratio, in addition to larger wheels and suspension tuning. Regardless, models without the performance package will return an EPA estimate of 17/26 for manual-equipped V6s and 16/24 for the same engine mated to the five-speed automatic. V8s suffer slightly, producing 15/23 with the manual transmission and 15/22 when equipped with the automatic. Both engines run on regular-grade fuel.
Ride & Handling
Many suspension upgrades are some of the biggest improvements in the 2010 Mustang. Stiffer springs and new anti-roll bars combine with new front struts and larger pistons up front. This is all an attempt to combat the negative associations that still come with the live rear axle that so many remember inducing the wheel hop and chatter that Mustang legends are made of. Supposedly, this is all kept in check with the new setup, but we’ve heard that before, and some testers have noticed that the old Mustang characteristics are still there when the turns are tight, the pavement rough, and the throttle open. And that’s not to say a little wheel hop can’t be a good time.
Live rear axle concerns aside, the Mustang tracks well, with confident steering and brakes that allow you to dive into corners without apprehension. Upgrades are noticeable, and the Mustang just keeps getting better in this regard.
Cabin & Comfort
The Mustang's interior just keeps getting better, with a few lagging complaints. The manual shifter still intrudes on some controls and cupholders, depending on what gear you’re in, and the inclusion of hard, cheap-looking plastic on the doors still seems quite out of place, especially when stacked against the tasteful and attractive authentic aluminum trim on the Premium V6 and GT models.
Small complaints aside, many improvements to the interior have been added for 2010, including additional sound insulation and a stiffened chassis that further reduces sound intrusion into the cabin. The instrument panel has been completely redesigned and now stretches from door to door with a single thermoplastic olefin molding that is a far cry from hard plastic. Gauges, ringed in the same aluminum bezel, are well placed and easy to read, and with their redesign have been similarly well-received.
Space has always been tight in Mustangs, and while the seats are comfortable and supportive, taller drivers will find issue, especially with longer legs struggling to both work the pedals and find space between door or center console and steering wheel. The lack of height adjustment for the seatbelt is another sad omission that would do a lot to accommodate taller and shorter drivers. Rear seats, as always, are best left for backpacks and babies, as they are borderline inadequate for adults, both in accessibility and comfort.
Standard features for all Mustangs include air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, cloth upholstery on the front bucket and split folding rear seats, power mirrors, windows and locks, which also come with remote keyless entry, an AM/FM/CD player with a digital-media player connection, a tachometer, variable-intermittent wipers, a power convertible top for that trim, a rear defogger, and, of course, floormats.
Add the Premium package to your V6 and you’ll additionally enjoy a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, aluminum interior trim, an upgraded sound system with satellite radio, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and an iPod adapter.
GT trims get additional aluminum trim and automatic headlights, and upgrading to Premium will add all of the features of the V6 Premium package, plus leather upholstery.
Special attention should be paid to the optional navigation system, which has been largely praised as perhaps the best available in its class, if not beyond, with a stellar voice recognition system and shockingly easy Bluetooth and iPod integration, as well as a large, clear screen. V6 Premium and GT trims also have the option of a full glass roof panel, a unique option in the class.
Standard safety features are dual front and front side airbags, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, an antiskid system, Post-Crash Alert, a tire-pressure monitor, and an emergency inside trunklid release. A 3.73 Axle Ratio Package, available on GT’s, will provide not only the 3.73 rear axle ratio, but upgraded brakes and an antiskid system.
NHSTSA ratings have not yet been released for the 2010 Ford Mustang.
What Owners Think
Mustang owners are a loyal breed, but more than happy to accept the numerous improvements Ford keeps heaping on their favorite ponycar. This year’s added power, improved suspension, and increased insulation are hard to argue with, but even the design changes have been well-received. Many would like to see all the hard plastic removed from the interior, and with as large of a success as the thermoplastic olefin molded dash has been, it might not be far behind.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
What's your take on the 2010 Ford Mustang?
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