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Friday, May 15, 2009

2010 Ford Mustang - Starting MSRP $20,995 – $35,995

By Kelsey Mays -

It's a bit odd that Detroit's healthiest automaker makes Detroit's least appealing muscle car. That said, the 2010 Ford Mustang isn't all that bad. Restyled inside and out, it boasts better cabin quality than the competing Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro, and it wins a number of small victories elsewhere, too. Many will find it a perfectly reasonable choice. An exciting one, though? Not so much. Muscle cars are chiefly about performance, and from the racetrack to the highway, the Mustang's aging architecture keeps it a few steps behind the competition.

The rear-wheel-drive Mustang comes in V-6 and V-8 variants (the V6 and GT, respectively), each with a base and Premium trim. Compare them to the 2009 model here. Either engine teams with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic; a convertible version is also available. I tested a stick-shift Mustang GT coupe and an automatic convertible with the V-6. There's also a six-speed manual available in the Mustang-based Shelby GT500, whose supercharged V-8 makes 540 horsepower.

The 2005-09 Mustang ranks as one of the great styling successes of its decade — a muscular interpretation of the mid-1960s original that's iconic even while ubiquitous. Its reskinned successor leaves me cold. The tail leans forward at an awkward angle, and the contoured taillights look less commanding than their rectangular predecessors. The reshaped hood encroaches too much on the grille and driving lights, which were among the outgoing Mustang's best-looking elements.

Fundamentally, of course, this Mustang doesn't stray too far from that one. The essentials remain — namely the blockish bumpers and '60s-throwback nose. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels replace last year's 16-inchers on the V6. Eighteen-inchers are optional on the V6 and standard on the GT and GT500 convertible; 19s are optional on the GT and standard on the GT500 coupe.

At 188.1 inches long, the Mustang is a couple inches shorter than the Camaro and nearly 10 inches shorter than the Challenger. The V6's turning circle, at 33.4 feet with the 17-inch wheels, is impressive. The available 18- and 19-inch wheels render a more average 37.7-foot circle.

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