2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible

Is there another car that can compare to the Ford Mustang in longevity and long-term success? While it has changed with the times over the years since its 1964 1/2 introduction, the Mustang has, for the most part, stayed true to its roots: sporty style at a good price, with available power ranging from reasonable to stupendous.

The newest iteration of the venerable pony car is the best yet. While not as major a change as in 2005, when the long-running "Fox" platform that signaled the resurrection of the real Mustang in 1979 finally gave way to an all-new architecture, the 2010 Mustang refines the 2005-09 version inside and out.

The exterior changes clean up the Mustang's looks a bit, but the real news is inside. An interior restyling and additional soundproofing add civility without making it too civilized. It's still a Mustang, after all - but you can put your friends in the back seat and they'll still be your friends. And there's a useful trunk -- even in the convertible.

As it has been for a while now, the Mustang lineup is coupe or convertible, with V6 or V8 power in front driving a solid rear axle through a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 4.0-liter V6 is unchanged, and with 210 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque is nearly as potent as the original 4.6-liter V8 back in 1996. V8 buyers now get most of the "Bullitt" package as standard equipment, meaning 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft, plus short-throw linkage for the stick and a polished aluminum shift knob. Both engines run on unleaded regular gasoline.

I've just finished a pleasant summer week in a convertible V6 with the automatic. Yes, I would prefer a V8 with a stick on general principles, but let's not forget that the V6 is the popular and affordable engine choice, and most people buy automatics today. And so-equipped, it's a fine choice and a great car for everyday use, every day of the year unless winter where you live is seriously Pleistocene. The power-operated top goes up and down quickly, and has a heated glass rear window for wintertime convenience. It's insulated, for benefits on 100-degree summer days as well. There's plenty of power, and plenty more available with the V8, and the stock suspension is pleasantly compliant without being soft. Even better, it's a real four-seater -- and, unlike some of the "convertible hardtops" offered today, it has a real trunk. A practical Mustang? Why not? It's still pure Mustang in all ways.

APPEARANCE: The 2010 Mustang is immediately recognized as a Mustang, and immediately recognized as new. The shape is familiar, but new headlights, grille, bumper fascias, fenders, and an angular "power dome" on the hood clean up the lines for a more refined look. It's muscular without being a muscle-bound cartoon. The beveled rear panel is the most immediately apparent change, and the new front styling increases the resemblance to the original late-`60s Shelby KR. The signature chrome pony grille mascot has been restyled, and the triple vertical tail lights on each side are now LED with sequential turn signaling. Top-up, the convertible's profile is nearly identical to the coupe's; top-down it's even better. V6 Mustangs have a single exhaust, while V8s have one on each side.

COMFORT: "Comfort" has not always been a word associated with "Mustang". Now it can be, and with no detriment to the car's overall nature. While the 2010 Mustang is comfortable in its interior design and appointment, with a new instrument panel that echos the past with its soft-touch twin-brow design, it looks more upscale than any previous Mustang, and additional soundproofing decreases noise levels for a more civilized experience. The Premium trim level adds brushed-aluminum trim to the dash, scuff plates, and pedals, perforated leather seating surfaces (and power adjustment to the driver's seat cushion), the "Shaker 500" AM/FM/6CD/Sirius satellite radio/auxiliary input audio system, Ford's SYNC® electronic communication system, ambient lighting for the door pockets, sill plates, cupholders, and front and rear footwells, and MyColor™ programmable instrument lighting. The front seats are the best yet in a standard Mustang, and the rear seat will hold two medium-sized adults in reasonable comfort. The power top requires manual latching, but that's simple, and operation is quick and painless. The top is insulated, and, with Ford's excellent air conditioning, made 100-plus degree temperatures tolerable. (Don't expect me to keep the top down in that!) And unlike in many convertibles, there is a usefully large trunk that is not impacted at all by the top. The opening is small, but adequate for soft luggage.

SAFETY: Good handling, four-wheel antilock vented disc brakes, and AdvanceTrac® with electronic stability control (ESC) are the new Mustang's key active safety features. Dual-stage driver and front passenger front air bags, front seat side air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, the SecuriLock® passive antitheft system, and the SOS post crash alert system are some key passive safety features.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Want an example of "proven technology"? Look no further than the 2010 Mustang. While the basic architecture is the familiar unibody structure with independent front suspension by means of MacPherson struts and a solid rear axle, precise rear axle location, by a three-link system and Panhard rod, and coil springs instead of the leaves of the distant past ensure that it's as well-behaved as possible. Correct matching of spring and shock rates and stabilizer bar size ensures a compliant ride in the V6, with no loss of handling ability or agility. It's not as performance-oriented as the V8 GT, not is it meant to be. Steering is not overly light, although power assist is gladly accepted, especially as wheel and tire sizes have increased this year, with 17-inch standard for the V6 and 18s for the V8. The restyled body also decreases drag a bit, for a small improvement in fuel economy. More importantly, front aerodynamic lift has decreased considerably -- by 37 percent for the V6 and 23 percent for the V8 -- adding to high-speed stability. Crosswinds are not a problem. The Mustang convertible is commendably rigid, with no noticeable cowl shake.

PERFORMANCE: With 210 horsepower (at 5300 rpm) and 240 lb-ft of torque (at 3500 rpm), the Mustang's 4.0-liter single overhead cam V6 is a serious improvement over the original Mustang's 170-cubic inch (2.8 liter), 101-horsepower inline six. Mustang sixes have improved steadily since then, with the 4.0 sohc used since 2005. It's smooth in operation and linear in power delivery. Undoubtedly the five-speed stick is more fun and allows better driver control of power output, but I have no complaints about the automatic's operation. It shifts quickly and predictably, and the engine has a broad enough torque curve that five speeds are plenty. A V6 convertible is more of a cruiser than performance missile, so the automatic is well-suited to it. Fuel economy is not much better than with the V8, at EPA 16/24 and 17 in my mixed city/back road/highway use. But who's thinking "high mileage" and "Mustang convertible" in the same sentence?

CONCLUSIONS: Detail improvements have made the 2010 Ford Mustang the best yet. S

PECIFICATIONS 2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible


Base Price			$ 28,995
Price As Tested			$ 30,840
Engine Type			single overhead cam 60-degree V6
Engine Size			4.0 liters / 245 cu. in.
Horsepower			210 @ 5300 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			240 @ 3500 rpm
Transmission			5-speed automatic (optional)
Wheelbase / Length		107.1 in. / 188.1 in.
Curb Weight			(est) 3600 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		17
Fuel Capacity			16 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P215/60R17 95T BF Goodrich Traction T/A
Brakes, front/rear		vented discs all around, ABS standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  3-link solid axle with coil springs
				  and Panhard rod
Drivetrain			front engine, rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		16 / 24 / 17
0 to 60 mph				est 7.0  sec


OPTIONS AND CHARGES
5-speed automatic transmission		$ 995
Destination charge			$ 850

Complete specifications on the 2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Convertible and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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