The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2005 Ford Mustang GT Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Ford

Having watched the step-by-step development of the new Mustang by way of the buff magazines and the Detroit Auto Show I didn’t expect to be quite so taken by the retro charm of this wonderful automobile. When it’s suddenly a hands-on experience rather than an observational one it’s a different matter. In short: the new Mustang GT is the epitome of effective retro, visually, mechanically, aesthetically, and even auditorally,

The exterior styling is clean, neat and purely Mustang in nearly all its details; modernized, to be sure, but it couldn’t be mistaken for any other marque even from a great distance. The extra six inches in both length and wheelbase and 17-inch wheels give this Mustang a larger look than the previous generation. The front overbite with round headlights and classic grille emblem give it the aggressive feel of the original. The sculpted side treatment and roofline as well as the clean, crisp tail featuring simple three-panel taillights elegantly and emphatically say Mustang.

Open the large, heavy door and peer inside for more Mustang ambiance. The stepped ridge of the dash shades the classic instrument cluster, climate control vents and the center control console. Sporty leather bucket seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with polished aluminum spokes and the simple horn ring with Mustang emblem reflect the simplicity of the old Mustang but with updated charm.

I was thrilled that my test car came with the Tremec five-speed stick rather than the woosie automatic. Since I had not checked the specs I didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of performance but I would soon find out. I slip in the key and give it a twist. It’s as if I’m encased in one of the pony cars of my misspent youth. Ring-ding-varrrooooom. The exhaust note is perfect, the result of hours of development in the “listening lab” Ford brags. Clutch it, pop it in first and off the clutch, the Mustang jumps smoothly and quickly where I’m pointing it. My first impression: the “wow factor” is near the top of the scale.

I’m right back in 1967 cruising the gut in downtown Lansing with my pals looking for any loose women we might impress. The notorious Mustang Maggie from East Lansing makes the turn through Sully’s Drive-In looking pretty cool in the new ’67 Mustang her daddy bought to keep her happy. We certainly didn’t impress her, but we were sure impressed with her ride.

Back to reality I spent the first half day with the car being thoroughly impressed, not so much with its sophistication, of which is has plenty, but more with its feel and character. The driver is not insulated from the automobile in any but the most necessary ways. We can feel the torque (320 lb.ft.) and the power (300-hp) of the 4.6-litre, 3-valve-per-cylinder, overhead cam V-8 that runs on regular (87-octane) fuel. The five-speed manual shifter is smooth and precise but not in the way of the Japanese or even German performance cars. And the dual stainless steel exhaust system emits a rich retro rumble that enhances the V-8’s demeanor. It is distinctly American.

Handling is nothing like the original – fortunately. In the old days, pushing hard in anything other than a straight-line meant wild, sloppy maneuvers. This new baby corners briskly without discernable lean, squeal or sway. With a new remarkably stiff chassis (30% stiffer than the last generation), unusual “reverse L” MacPherson-strut front suspension and a three-link solid rear axle stabilized with a Panhard rod and outboard shocks, this ‘Stang can be pushed hard without white knuckles. Dive into a 90-degree right-hander on a country two lane in second gear and push hard through the corner with no worries, mate.

Fuel economy is listed on the sticker as 17 city and 25 highway. I averaged about 21 in a variety of driving environments.

The new Mustang comes in 4 basic iterations: the GT Deluxe and Premium, and the V6 Deluxe and Premium. The bottom-of-the-line V6 Deluxe starts at $19,400. Our test car is the GT Premium with a base price of $25,705. Standard on our test car are 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, deck lid spoiler, fog lamps, stainless steel dual exhaust, power leather seats, the usual power stuff, 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, traction control, 6-CD in-dash/MP3, and plenty of other expected goodies. Extra cost items on this one include upgrade to Shaker 1000 audio system for $1295 (standard is a Shaker 500 system), anti-theft system for $295, interior color accent package $175, interior upgrade package for $450, wheel locking kit for $50, front seat side airbags for $375 and bright machined cast aluminum wheels for $195. With a destination charge of $625 it stickers out at $29,120.

Perhaps my favorite part of the interior upgrade package is the “MyColor” ™ instrument panel lighting scheme. Choose the dash glow to match your mood, even if you have 125 separate moods to match. I sort of liked the soft purple, but I’m not sure what that says about my mood.

The new Mustang, on the market for barely more than half a year, is outselling the other hot American car, the Chrysler 300. A consumer survey by Edmunds.com in May named the new Mustang the Most Significant Vehicle of the Year by a wide margin over the Chrysler 300. First year production is sold out.

After a week with the new Mustang I can see why.