2006 Mustang New Car Test Drive
The Ford Mustang is an American success story. Forty years after it created an automotive niche all its own, Mustang is both true to its roots and better than ever.
The 2006 Mustang is available as both a coupe and a convertible, powered by either a V6 or a V8 engine. The V6 Deluxe comes well equipped for less than $20,000. The Mustang GT boasts a multi-valve, overhead-cam V8 that produces 300 horsepower. Both are available with a manual or automatic transmission. More importantly, both deliver the bold styling, rear-drive performance and affordability that have been Mustang hallmarks for decades.
Retro inspired, to be sure, the Mustang is nonetheless a thoroughly modern car. Launched for 2005 with a clean-sheet design, the Mustang is faster and more agile than ever. It's also quieter and better built (even the convertible), and it rides more smoothly. Its interior is a throwback to the original Mustang, but it's also functional and well finished. For 2006, a new Pony Package gives V6 Mustangs all the show, if not the go, of the V8. The V8s are available with trendy new 18-inch wheels for 2006.
A family car, the Mustang isn't. Interior space is limited for a car of its exterior dimensions, and the back seat might better be described as a package shelf. Its solid rear axle can get bouncy on bad pavement, and we advise snow tires (four of them) for Mustang owners in the Northeast or Midwest. Yet the 2006 Mustang holds true to an idea that still appeals to people of all ages decades after it was launched.
The Ford Mustang has been an icon of American performance since its introduction in 1964. It created the pony car genre, and after 40-plus years of competition with the Barracuda, Camaro, Firebird and others, it's the only one left. We, and a few hundred thousands others, are glad it's still here.
The 2006 Ford Mustang lineup probably seems more complicated than it really is. Mustang is available as either a fastback coupe or convertible, each with either a V6 or V8 engine. The V6 models focus on value, while the V8 GTs focus on performance. All come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but all are available with a five-speed automatic.
The rest of the difference comes down to trim. The V6 Standard coupe ($19,115) comes well equipped, with one-touch power windows, power mirrors and door locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD, tilt steering, speed control, rear window defroster, 16-inch wheels, and a split-folding rear seat. Its 4.0-liter overhead-cam V6 generates 210 horsepower.
The V6 Deluxe coupe ($19,215) adds 16-inch machined-face aluminum wheels. The V6 Premium coupe ($20,090) adds 16-inch wheels with chrome spinners, a 500-watt audio system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability, and a six-way power driver's seat.
The Mustang convertibles are subdivided in the same fashion, with the same equipment plus a power-operated folding top: V6 Standard ($23,940), V6 Deluxe ($24,040) and V6 Premium ($24,915).
New for 2006, the Pony Package offers V6 buyers V8 show without the engine. The package includes a firmer suspension, a custom grille with fog lamps, Pony emblems and 17-inch wheels.
In addition to its 4.6-liter, 300-horsepower V8, the Mustang GT Deluxe coupe ($25,140) adds in-grille fog lamps, complex reflector halogen headlamps with integral turn signals, a rear spoiler, and performance tires on 17-inch wheels. The GT Premium coupe ($26,320) comes with the 500-watt CD changer and Aberdeen leather-trimmed sport bucket seats.
The GT Deluxe convertible ($29,965) and GT Premium convertible ($31,145) have the power-operated soft top.
Mustang options include the five-speed automatic transmission ($995), an active anti-theft system ($255), a 1000-watt audio system ($1,295), an interior upgrade package with satin aluminum trim ($450). The GTs are available with 18-inch wheels ($195).
Safety features on all Mustangs include dual-stage front impact airbags and three-point belts for all seats. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on the GTs and optional on the V6 models ($775). Front passenger side-impact airbags ($370) are optional on all models, so be sure to order them as they are designed to offer torso protection in a side impact.