2010 Mustang GT CoupePosted on July 7th, 2009
All-new pony car gets power and performance enhancements
By Nina Russin
Pony cars are an American religion. Forty-five years after its introduction, the Mustang remains a favorite among muscle car enthusiasts. It’s not a car for everyone, but for some drivers, it’s the only car.
It’s iconic status makes the Mustang hard to write about. While I’ve driven and written about most Mustang models since the early 1990s, I don‘t have the deep knowledge that writers who specialize in the car do.
The drive test that follows isn’t directed towards readers who are looking for inside scoops on the car‘s engineering, or want information on the aftermarket. My goal is to see how well the new Mustang fits the needs of buyers looking for a sport coupe that also meets their active lifestyle needs.
With that in mind, I decided to take the 2010 Mustang GT on a 1000-mile road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Durango Colorado. The roads ranged from four-lane divided highway to twisting two-lane paved roads through the Colorado Rockies, and long stretches of high desert in between.
I had no doubt that the Mustang GT’s 4.6-liter engine would have ample power to muscle up the steep grades between Phoenix and Flagstaff, but I was also interested to see how the change in altitude would impact the car’s fuel economy.
Scarcely-traveled stretches of two-lane road through Navajo country would be a good test of the suspension. With any luck, we‘d encounter at least one thunderstorm.
Day One: North to Flagstaff
The first part of the trip took my husband and I through Phoenix on the overcrowded 17 freeway. We found ourselves jockeying for position with fellow Fourth of July travelers as we wove through packs of semis and fifth wheels lumbering up to altitude.
There are times when low-end torque comes in handy. The steep grade below Sunset Point is one of them. When impatient drivers tried to cut in front of vehicles circumventing slower trucks, a loud belch from the Mustang’s exhaust told them that their best option was to pull in behind me.
North of Sedona, I was able to open up the throttle through a series of wide, sweeping turns. One of the biggest differences between classic Mustangs of the 1960s and the new GT is steering and suspension performance.
Engineers incorporated features from the Bullitt Mustang, including bigger wheels and tires, retuned shocks, springs and stabilizer bars. The result is excellent steering feedback, most noticeable on twisting roads.
Day Two: Navajo country
The stretch of highway running through the Navajo reservation between Gallup and Shiprock, New Mexico sees serious winter weather. Since the roads are sparsely traveled, they aren’t as damaged as sections of the upper Midwest. But they’re a far cry from the slick highway surfaces in and around Phoenix.
While engineers tuned the Mustang suspension for aggressive driving, components are compliant enough to absorb frost heaves, and a few errant potholes.
It’s common for drivers to drop passengers on the side of the highway: there were several occasions when the car in front came to a grinding halt, and we were forced to put the Mustang‘s antilock brakes to the test.
The two-lane road between Farmington, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado climbs to over 7000 feet, before descending into the town. Not only was this stretch of highway the most scenic part of our trip, it was also the most fun to drive.
The optional 3.73 rear axle package on the test car includes dual piston front brakes and recalibrated electronic stability control, as well as the performance rear end. Pirelli summer tires keep the Mustang‘s wheels glued to the road.
The coupe’s large rear window gives the driver good visibility, although the high decklid makes it hard to judge the back of the car when parallel parking. Outside mirrors do a good job of compensating for blind spots in the rear corners. Although the GT’s powerdome hood limits visibility, it shouldn’t be a problem for most drivers.
Day Three: Fourth of July
After two days of driving, I was ready to spend some quality time in my running shoes. I spent Fourth of July morning running the Animas River trail through Durango. Though the town’s 6500-foot altitude is a challenge for flatlanders, the cool morning air was a refreshing change from the hot Phoenix summer.
Later that afternoon, I spent some time poking around the Mustang interior. Cues from classic Mustangs are everywhere, from the larger-than-life steering wheel to the coupe’s two-tone leather sport seats.
As with many two-plus-twos, the Mustang seats two adults up front and small children in back. Even with the front seats moved forward, there is very little rear legroom, and not much headroom, thanks to the car’s aero profile.
Although the steering wheel is too large to be ergonomic, I can understand the designer’s intent, making it the interior focal point. The front seats were comfortable for our day-long drives, although I found the seatback angle difficult to adjust. The lever is easy to reach from the side, but almost impossible to use once seated.
The center console and instrument panel have all the accouterments new car buyers look for: iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-volt power point for recharging electronic devices, XM satellite radio, heated seats, and generous-size cupholders.
Ford Sync, a downloadable hard drive, is standard equipment. The newest version includes 911 notification and vehicle diagnostics.
A standard digital information display in the gauge cluster lists average and real-time fuel economy, distance to empty, distance and elapsed time. An ambient temperature gauge in the center screen comes in handy driving at altitude.
The new GT has a similar metal shift knob to the Bullitt model. I wish that the designer could wrap his hand around the metal bulb when summer Phoenix temperatures climb over the century mark. It took over thirty minutes for the knob to cool down enough to touch. In the meantime, I drove with a Turkish towel over it.
The trunk is average size for a sport coupe: it had plenty of room for our luggage and gear, though it’s not long or deep enough for some large cargo.
Day Four: South to Sedona
As I headed south through New Mexico to Arizona, I kept and eye on the digital fuel meter. According to EPA estimates, the GT averages 19 miles-per-gallon, 24 mpg on the highway. Since most of our driving was on the highway, I expected our average fuel economy to be close to 24 mpg.
What I didn’t expect was for the Mustang to exceed the EPA figure. Our average fuel economy for the thousand-mile trip was over 26 miles-per-gallon. Engineers calibrated the engine so that it can run either on regular or premium fuel.
Ford’s capless fuel filler uses a rubber seal in place of the traditional gas cap. It eliminates an unnecessary piece of hardware, while complying with federal toxic emissions standards.
Day Five: Home to Phoenix
Having spent four days driving the 2010 Mustang GT, I have to commend the Ford team for recreating the classic model in a contemporary format. The Mustang has a refined ride that makes it a viable daily driver, while maintaining its muscle car feel.
Standard safety features including antilock braking traction and stability control enhance the Mustang’s performance on wet and uneven roads. While I would still like to see a six-speed manual gearbox, I was pleasantly surprised by the fuel economy the five-speed transmission offered.
The all-new Mustang GT is on display at Ford dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A modern muscle car, the Mustang remains true to its heritage, while incorporating all of the safety and electronic technology today’s car buyers look for. Engineers did an excellent job on the steering and suspension systems, making the 2010 model a good choice for car enthusiasts who plan to use the car as a daily driver.
Dislikes: Cramped back seats. The metal shift knob is impractical for drivers living in hot climates.
Model: Mustang GT Coupe Premium
Base price: $30,995
As tested: $33,725
Horsepower: 315 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 325 lbs.-ft. @ 4250 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: N/A
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: 16/24 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $850 delivery charge.
One response to “2010 Mustang GT Coupe”
I just smoked a corvette in my mustang! hahaha suckas!
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