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2010 Ford Mustang GT - Click above for high-res image gallery

We spent a few precious hours in the 2010 Ford Mustang GT toward the end of last year. More recently, we were able to get a Kona Blue model in the Autoblog Garage, and this time, we spent a full week exploring the car's metropolis manners in between long rounds in the saddle, throwing the car over hill and dale... and around the track. This Mustang promises much, and on our First Drive, it delivered as promised. Follow the jump to see if it could do the same for an entire week.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

This particular blogger and Autoblog photographer Drew Phillips have had a running tête-à-tête concerning the Mustang. Phillips has extolled the car's blank-slate possibilities and massive performance for a massive bargain. I, conversely, have never really paid much attention to the Mustang, even though where I grew up they were thought so important to a young man's upbringing as to be considered one of the four food groups. Full Disclosure: I haven't even driven one since 1996, and that car was at least five years old – a GT that broke loose so quickly under my youthful foot that it's a wonder the car never wound up with the kind of body modifications you can only get from a ditch.

But that's in another part of the country, where the Mustang, like a horse, provides warm comfort. In Los Angeles, however, the Mustang is a rental car. Oh, there are plenty of Mustangs in the greater LA area, but if you happen to see one in the trendy parts, it's a safe bet that there's a Hertz contract in the glovebox... or else it's owned by someone who just moved out from that other part of the country.

So part of our quest was to see if the car deserves attention in The Big Smoke. The Answer? Yes. Yes, it does.

And that affirmation starts with the way it looks: the lines on the new Mustang are, finally, properly sorted. It's been a few generations coming, but Ford's designers have figured out which influences to use from the iconic models of the past and how to blend them without unnecessary frills. There is no part of this car's design that snagged our attention in a way that made us wonder "Why did they put that there?" What remains is a suite of firm lines and broad curves accompanied by the occasional crease that glare back as if to ask, "You lookin' at me?" The only part of the car that we kept coming back to and going "Hmmm..." is the now more rounded rear end, which in profile juts out so much it makes us think of a cantilevered shelf hanging out over a canyon. Compared to the tightly-cropped front end, it's a lot of overhang. Still, the coupe is drawn very well – the way the rear glasshouse descends into the tail and the way the car broadens from C-pillar to shoulder to wheel arch means you don't notice it unless you're looking for it.

Inside, the well-drawn line continues, but the dissection is a little more complex. The first encounter gets a definite thumbs-up. The seats look great, the stitching is well done, the door panels have beautiful symmetry and the scalloped dash is a nice touch. The plastic surround in the center console is pedestrian, but the overall look is well done, and the layout and buttons are terrific. The steering wheel is pretty, although its buttons need a little learnin' to get a manage on.

And the cabin has some fantastic touches. The ambient lighting is nifty, and even though it's everywhere, it avoids being annoying or gimmicky (even though we must admit that the first time we looked down and saw our feet bathed in blue light, like something out of Close Encounters, it took a moment to digest). The word "Mustang" in the sill plates lights up in the same hue, and there are also blue light rings in the cupholders. It might sound hokey now, but if you're looking for a quarter in the cupholder late one night, all of a sudden it's genius, and the cupholder has a cover so you never even need to know things are aglow in there.

We especially need to single out the touchscreen, which is so good that it really should make some luxury cars blush, and it couldn't be easier to operate. The reversing camera image is spectacularly bright – even at night – and comes with hash marks for range. The stereo and climate control screens feature big, simple buttons. The map resolution is first-rate and has a lane view to tell you which lane you should be in, and the navigation voice doesn't drown you with commands. The power windows are one-touch up and down for driver and passenger, the cupholders hold two full-sized drinks at the same time, and the individual taillights flash in sequence in the direction you're turning when you use the signal.

Of course, there were a few niggles. The dome light can't be turned off if the door is open, so you can forget about doing a sneaky late night flyby at Sally's house unless she's going to hop in the car Dukes of Hazzard style. The 12-volt outlet is in the cubby behind the cupholders. If you want to charge your phone, you have to keep it in the cubby if you want to close the lid, because the lid won't close over the charger cable. But if you keep the phone in the cubby, it's hard to get to quickly. The chrome bezels on the gauges also reflect in the windshield at night, and in this author's opinion, Ford went a little too retro with the gauges. The hash marks are so close together on the speedometer, and the needle is, relatively, so big, that the best you can do is get your speed to within about +/- 3 mph unless it's a number that ends in zero.

But we can and would live with all of that. Happily. Because this car is big fun.

Speaking of big, as America's car, the Mustang is done in big American style. Get in, and compared to some of its ostensible competition it's as if you went to the sports car drive-through and asked them to Biggie Size your grub (which is still, thankfully, a few steps down from the Dodge Challenger-size meal). The cabin is big, the seats are big, the steering wheel is big, the shifter stands tall, the shifts are long... it's all just... big. Whip it around a track after having been in a few closer-fitting cars, and getting in the Mustang feels like getting in a FedEx truck. But that initial feeling is where any comparison to a lorry ends.

The sound made by the Mustang's 4.6-liter V8, now rated at 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, is outstanding, a non-stop conversation that takes place between the exhaust and your ears. There is no language involved – you start the car and your auditory canal responds with, "Oh, hello!", knowing full well in your rumbling bones that this is how an American V8 is meant to sound and how you're meant to feel.

Throw the car in first and then, well, notice that there are only four gears after that. The idea of a five-speed transmission strikes us as archaic, but those five gears are arguably better used in the Mustang than some of the six-speed competition gets along with an extra cog. That doesn't mean it's faster, but it can be less work – on the track we shifted a lot more in other cars to stay in the power band, yet we didn't go any faster.

But it's plenty fast and a little loose – not sloppy, but yes, loose – even with the Track Pack. The additional goodies that come with the Track Pack option, like uprated brakes and dampers, a strut brace and limited-slip diff, do make a difference, but not a startling one. The regular car wallows a bit more, but the Track Pack still felt like it might be good for some extra cornering speed over non-equipped cars. Regardless, the brakes could still use some help – they won't quit on you, but they begin fading more quickly than expected when push came to shove. If you only have $1,500 to spend on making your Mustang faster, however, the Track Pack is probably worth it. If you have a little more, you're probably safe skipping it and getting your own parts – we'd start by firming up the suspension.

Don't get us wrong, though; the car is plenty fast – fast enough to acquit itself of some of its softer leanings. And while it might be a little cushy and the seats aren't exactly Recaros, the thing handles. Give us this car and $5,000 and we'll beat a bunch of people who spent a lot more. Give us this car and $10,000 and we'll spend part of that money painting pretty pictures on the Mustang's rear end because that's all most folks would ever see.

And it does have something that some of its faster-through-the-curves competition doesn't have: good highway manners due to a decided lack of frenzy. You can take a road trip in this car and emerge without that I-just-got-off-an-amusement-park-ride sensation where you bones are still jiggling hours after exiting the driver's seat. That means a lot.

All of which means that the basic Mustang template has only been expanded upon. It will still do the business at the drag strip and the Burger King on Friday night, and you can add a much wider ability to swallow town and (curved) track duty. And it's hot. And it's fast. And it's only $27,995 in base V8 GT guise. If you're looking for something not to like, best look elsewhere.

It's safe to assume that this car will have its home territories on lock. Will it actually get the attention it deserves in a place like LA? Well, that's for other people and their checkbooks to answer. But this blogger will admit to Mr. Drew Phillips, right here in public, "You're right about the Mustang. At least you're right about this one. I get it." We are pleased to report our week with the 2010 Mustang was spent astride one of the Four Horsemen, and his name was Conquest... well, maybe until the new Chevrolet Camaro comes along.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      excellent review!! if i were really in the market (not playing around with the idea) for this car it would have helped me a lot in making the decision, and given me quite a hard time not driving my car to the dealer after work to talk numbers...(ive already done that on an 08 bullit in dec. and ended up walking away pretty quickly)

      i absolutely love this 2010 mustang, i was on the fence with the previous model but this car just did it for me, excellent design work on fords part. a much more substantial car at a much better price...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Loving the new sheet metal! Those rear haunches are great.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It does look really good, i must say. Hopefully this is a bit hit for Ford, we all know they need a few big sellers. Now please bring over some Euro-cars and we'd be all set.

      • 6 Years Ago
      It's one of the nicest 'Stangs to come along. Seems to have it all together. The Camaro does not interest me in the least. I'd buy a Mustang GT.....well, that was until I got a ride in a 2009 Challenger.! It has a luxury car level interior, even including a back seat center fold down armrest, and lots of back seat leg room. It's very sleek looking and that 6.1 Hemi is, well.... a Hemi ! I was impressed how solid and quiet it was insde and expected a jarring ride. It was a sports car ride, without the jarring bummpy ride. It would be a Mustang GT, for me, if I wanted a Convert and the Challenger for a 2-door coupe.
      • 6 Years Ago
      a cheap V8 with a enjoyable ride sign me in

      but seriously Autoblog kill'd the "In The Autoblog Garage" moniker? Why god why!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Very nice write up. It's nice to see some of your comments in writing that were discussed during your podcast.

      It's interested that the Mustang V8 and the new Camaro V6 have nearly the same hp numbers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The hp numbers are mostly immaterial. The 304hp Camaro gets smoked by the Stang GT 0-60. Most people are thinking 5.9ish for the Camaro V6. MT got 4.9s for the Stang. And the leaked numbers for the Camaro SS were 4.7s. I don't doubt that .2 will be extended quite a bit in the 1/4 mile, but the reality is that torque is king, not hp.

        So, guys might enjoy bench racing their base V6 and brag to their buddies their Camaro has 300+hp, but should they pull up next to any Mustang north of about 1994, and they'll get their tater spanked.

        Now, if Ford will let us have some real fun, they'll put the EB motor in a Stang, throw a few lightweight parts on it and the FPP suspension parts and a bigger brake kit, and label it a GT350. And that would be about as nasty as anyone could ask for.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great review, I can't wait to take one of these for a drive.

      As for those wanting IRS in the Mustang, I personally prefer the live axle. You can still make the live axle handle extremely well (just talk to the guys beating porsches in GT3 and GT4). And for straight line accelleration, IRS is horrible. You cannot hookup with IRS. With a live axle, you can do wheel stands.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You think an IRS sucks for hooking up, try towing with one. Live axles with a locking diff are amazing at delivering power for towing. My Suburban wouldn't be half as useful with an IRS.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Its a matter of physics. With a solid axle, the tires camber and track will NEVER change. This allows the tire to always be perfectly flat on the road, and always provide sure grip from a stop.

        With IRS, the camber and track change. It will change different amounts depending on the design, but if the camber changes, less of the tire is in contact with the ground. If the track change as the back of the car squats, then you have already broken traction, wheel spin will ensue.

        Traction control is what keeps cars with IRS from spinning like crazy. And like I said above, show me ONE car with IRS that will do a wheel stand from a stop. Its very easy to do with a mustang, or any other car with a solid rear axle. That wheel stand shows that tires are gripping, not slipping.
        • 6 Years Ago
        IRS can't hook up. What nonsense, the Corevette's, the new Camero, the CTS-V, every car from BMW, Jaguar, Merc etc all seem to manage OK.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Probably the last V8 ever in USA cars. Next-up east German Trabants
      with cellulose-fiber side panels-- green, you know...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think they did a nice job on the 2010 Mustang, inside and out. I think the V6 base version will be relegated to women, car rentals and the non-auto enthusiast and spanked hard by the base Camaro. I think the SS will outgun and handle the Mustang GT due to a more modern chassis and bigger engine.

      Either way, it is a fantastic time for $25-35K sports/sporty cars. There are more choices than ever. Too bad car buying has taken a nose dive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        While the V6 Camaro may outpace the Mustang due to it's more modern base engine, I seriously doubt the SS will outshine the GT as much as people think. There's nearly a 400 lb difference in weight between the two. While I think the SS will outrun the GT for the first year, when the GT gets it's 5.0L engine, that will be over. It would be good to see the two on a road coarse together for 2011. They will then both be fully equipped and we'll see if the better suspension or the lighter chassis will win.

        I guess we shall see.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not bad. Funny enough, I've always been a bit of a Mustang fan (my automotive obsession started with my uncle's '67 Shelby GT350... I was 3 years old when I first fell in love. LOL) and to me, this is the best looking Mustang in a long, long time.
        I still believe though that this is gonna be a tough year for the Mustang, with the Camaro coming out (boasting a V6 that pretty much rivals Ford's V8, and IRS to boot). I read a review on Motor Trend yesterday of the V6 Camaro and even though it was a rough pre-production model, according to them it's really, really good.
        • 6 Years Ago
        This is some thing great from ford hope to own one version soon!!!

        excellent job by ford team!

      • 6 Years Ago
      Your reviews are getting better than the (not necessarily bad) ones of yore, Autoblog! Keep it up!
      I like everything about the new Mustang (I'll even stop griping about the live rear axle) EXCEPT for the base V6 and V8, which are sorely lacking compared to the competition.
      • 6 Years Ago
      There is gonna be many pissed off hombres when next year this car will have around 400 HP!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Like the 04 GTO owners?
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a kid of the 80's, I f*cking LOVE that there's Mustang vs. Camaro arguments again!

      I've been driving BMWs and Audis for the past 10yrs, would've never considered buying American in the >$30k range, but when my lease is up on my current car, I'll be taking a look at the Mustang and Camaro convertibles (and trying to convince the wife I can somehow afford a CTS-V).

      Where I never would've given them a second glance, I like the new cars coming out of Detroit.
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