2006 Ford Mustang
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The new generation retro-style Mustang was an immediate hit after being introduced for 2005 and has led Chevrolet to consider bringing back a retro version of its Camaro and DaimlerChrysler to produce a retro-style Dodge Challenger.
A retro-style concept Camaro and retro-style concept Challenger were among the biggest hits at large 2006 auto shows.
The Mustang, which debuted in mid-1964, has been walking away with all the American small sporty car marbles because the Camaro was dropped after 2002 and the old Chrysler Corp. discontinued the Challenger after 1974.
The Camaro was introduced as a prime Mustang rival in 1967, and the Challenger debuted as a late Mustang competitor in 1970.
The Mustang has something Japanese cars lack: heritage and an All-American image. The Mustang convertible is an especially iconic car because the first Mustang sold was a convertible with a rumbling V8.
The $19,115-$31,145 Mustang comes as a rear-wheel-drive two-door coupe and convertible in base V6 and higher-performance GT V8 versions, with Deluxe and Premium trim levels. Base models also come in lower-priced Standard versions.
Due later this year is a Shelby Cobra version with a mighty supercharged V8. (Legendary car builder Carroll Shelby made a race car version of the 1965-66 Mustangs.)
All Mustangs have a 4-wheel disc brake setup. Anti-lock brakes with traction control are standard on GTs, optional on base versions. There's no anti-skid system, but front-seat side airbags are offered.
The Mustang coupe has 50/50 split-folding rear seatbacks, but it's not available in the convertible.
The GT is neck-snapping fast with its 4.6-liter 300-horsepower V8, but the Mustang is no slouch with its 4.0-liter 210-horsepower V6 either.
Despite prices of $29,965 and $31,145, the GT is the best Mustang convertible bargain because no other soft-top comes close to providing 300 horsepower for the money.
Mustangs and V8s just naturally go together, but you can get a Mustang V6 convertible for as low as $23,940.
New Option Package
Both V6 and V8 shoot power through a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Estimated economy for the V6 is 19 mpg city and 25-28 on the highway, while the V8 provides 17 city and 23-25 on highways. The higher estimated economy is obtained with the manual, although the automatic-transmission figures probably are higher in real-world driving.
Anyway, with stiff gasoline prices, it's welcome news that only 87-octane fuel is recommended for either engine.
Rigidly Built Convertible
Steering feels just right, and the firm-but-supple suspension and an engine set far back for the best weight distribution help provide sharp handling. The convertible's ride is comfortable on most roads because the Mustang chassis team gave the soft-top slightly softer springs. The GT coupe rides a little harder, with the best coupe ride provided by the Mustang V6 because its taller sidewalls help cushion bumps.
The anti-lock brakes provide especially good stopping power. The pedal is a bit soft, but has a linear action.
Good Power Top
A Mustang convertible looks good with the top up or down, and there isn't much wind noise or buffeting when it's lowered at normal highway speeds.
Long doors are awkward when getting in and out in tight spots, but seats are fairly high to prevent occupants from having to "fall in" or "climb out."
Outside door handles are large, but inside handles are small and feel flimsy.
Tight Rear Seat
There's a large retro-style speedometer and tachometer with markings that make them look like those in my long-gone 1967 Mustang. But auxiliary gauges for such things as fuel level and engine temperature are small. And seat belts are difficult to fasten in the convertible.
There isn't much interior storage space. Climate controls have a low-grade feel, and audio system controls should be larger. But the ignition switch is easily reached, although it's on the steering column and not on the dashboard. Nicely placed dual console cupholders help prevent spills.
Reasonably Sized Trunk
The heavy hood must be held open with a prop rod, although it's easy to reach fluid filler areas. The V8 isn't hidden by a big plastic cover, as is the case with many cars, because Ford apparently wanted the engine's nifty composite intake manifold and tuned exhaust runners to be seen.
This car lacks the refinement and overall quality of some sporty imported autos, but there is nothing quite like a Mustang.