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2005 Ford Mustang GT Review

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SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Ford

MODEL: 2005 Mustang GT
ENGINE: 4.6-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 5,750 rpm/320 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
WHEELBASE: 107.1 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 187.6 x 73.9 x 54.5 in.
TIRES: P235/55ZR17
CARGO VOLUME: 13 cu. Ft.
PRICE: $28,500 (est.)

There were two American automotive icons that were redesigned this year and both were anxiously awaited by their fans. I know, because the crowds in my driveway a few weeks ago for the Chevrolet Corvette and now for the Ford Mustang were impressive. Both cars have huge followings. Both are important to their makers for the halo effect they have on all other cars from those brands. Both are great automobiles, in different market segments.

We went over the `Vette when we drove it. The Mustang is a whole `nother story. I drove it first in the foothills north of Los Angeles during the formal introduction of the car. But it’s important to me to be able to drive the car in a more normal environment closer to home.

Our tester is the GT version of the Mustang, while I could only drive the V6-powered “normal” version in California. The V8-powered GT compares favorably with last year’s Cobra in that it’s slightly overpowered, a little harsh, and loaded with performance.

The 4.6-liter V8 in the GT delivers 300 horsepower, more than enough for the 3,450-lb. Car. There were times when we spun the wheels, and there was one instance where we accelerated too hard out of a parking lot and fishtailed the rear end. I was more cautious in later exits.

While the `04 Cobra was a harsh car, I felt, with gobs of power and a 6-speed manual gearbox that was hard to use, the `05 GT is less harsh and has a smoother 5-speed manual. Both cars are designed for performance rather than simple touring. A 5-speed automatic is available.

I couldn’t fully enjoy the Mustang’s power because the weather the entire week I had it was wet and damp with wet road surfaces. With all the power, there was a tendency for the rear end to wander, so concentration was required. Actually, with a car like this, concentration is required anyway. I felt that the Corvette was a bit more civilized than the Mustang for general driving.

However, having driven both versions over some great roads, I believe strongly that the GT would be great on dry roads and over any road twistiness you can find. I did get a chance to play with it on a couple of my favorite roads and it did well.

In 1965, my wife and I owned the first fastback Mustang in central New Jersey. While this isn’t a great accomplishment, we did like the car and had a lot of fun with it. Children forced us to get a more practical car.

The fastback styling of the 2005 Mustang GT is more reminiscent of the 1967 style in that it’s more muscular, where the `65 was light. I like the new styling better.

The front seats are comfortable with great side support. There are rear seats, but legroom is tight, so the rear is best left to small children.

Compared to the `04 Mustang, the new car has a wheelbase that is 6 inches longer with the wheels pushed out to the corners giving it a more muscular stance. Interior room is improved, but that improvement is primarily for front-seat passengers.

Our `65 was pitiful on damp or wet roads because it was way too light in the rear. The `05 is better, and it has more power. Our `65 also had a small trunk, which made it tough for touring. The `05 has a 13 cubic foot trunk that is more practical. Both had fold-down rear seat backs to improve carrying capacity.

I don’t remember what our fuel economy was with the `65, but the new GT averages a tad more than 20 mpg, which was great considering the fact that I was tromping on the accelerator often enough just to hear the sound from the muffler.

Overall, the `05 Ford Mustang GT is a good car with great road manners. I believe that for more normal driving, the V6-powered car will get you there just as well and will do it more smoothly. But don’t ignore the GT; it’ll give you a good time, too.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate