In the beginning, Lee Iacocca created the Mustang.
But the concept was without form, and void.
And Iacocca said, let there be lights, round headlights and rectangular tail lamps. Let there be a big optional V-8. Let there be an iconic machine named after a plane but branded as a horse.
With Iacocca's blessing, the Mustang became fruitful and multiplied, subduing the Earth's highways, taking dominion over Michigan Avenue and beyond.
That was just the beginning
Through Divine intervention or just the handy work of Iacocca's team, the Mustang has become a legend -- 9 million strong. And it has endured -- even through the dark ages of the '80s until the Mustang returned in 2004, a prodigal coupe regaining its father's love.
Thankfully, the evolution of the Ford Mustang continues. It doesn't take the U.S. Supreme Court to tell me the survival of the auto world's fittest will always begin with intelligent design.
The 2010 Ford Mustang is living proof that smart changes can make a great machine even better. Ford helped raise the pony car craze from the dead when it rolled out the fifth-generation Mustang in 2005. And from that redesign, the Mustang begat the 2008 Bullitt, a limited-edition vehicle that has become the model for the next generation. Amen.
Power begets power
During the revelation of the new Mustang, a few Doubting Thomases accused Ford of not changing out the power train -- calling the 2010 Mustang an updated model, not the next generation.
I say "hogwash." This Mustang is new through and through. Even the tried-and-true 4.6-liter V-8, the standard engine on GT models, gets a cold air-induction system to boost the horsepower to 315. (Colder air can hold more fuel, so if you push colder air into an engine, it can more efficiently burn fuel, thus, more power.)
The 4-liter V-6 engine produces 210 horsepower and 240-pound-feet of torque, giving the base Mustang a nice torquey ride when you hit the accelerator. It's not more powerful than the 2009 model, but power is relative. The original Mustang shown at the World's Fair in New York City so many years ago included four engine options and started at 105 horsepower.
Both engines are mated to either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. With both engines, the manuals have nice short throws and clicks through the gears quickly and cleanly. The automatic feels smoother, especially when hitting the accelerator.
Furthermore, through lots of tweaking and adjusting, engineers were able to increase the Mustang's gas mileage for both engines. The 4-liter V-6 now hits 18 miles per gallon in the city (up one mile per gallon) and 26 mpg on the highway. The V-8 increases one mile per gallon in both city and highway driving, now achieving 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
So despite the doubters, the 2010 Mustang offers more power, but more importantly, its redesigned exterior adds some fresh styling, the interior is significantly upgraded and the ride is much more comfortable. The differences are as clear as old and new, and a testament to the work done by everyone at Ford, from the designers and engineers to the skilled line workers in Flat Rock.
Its main competitors -- the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro -- may offer more power, but Ford offers a significant weight advantage. The V-6 Mustang tips the scales at 3,300 pounds, which is 400 pounds less than a similar Camaro and 500 pounds less than a Challenger.
Ride feels smooth
To smooth out the ride, Ford once again looked to the Bullitt. All models now come with a three-link rear suspension, and the new GT models have had their suspensions tuned to the Bullitt's specifications -- a late change to the new Mustang but one worth every penny of overtime.
Electronic stability control is standard, and it includes a sensor to detect side-to-side skidding. This system will keep you on the straight and narrow, no matter what your intentions or bad driving.
The new tuning on the suspension has removed much of the Roman chariot feel in the previous generation. It's quieter on the highway, with only that engine note whispering in your ear. On both the V-6 and V-8, Ford added bigger exhaust tips to bring out that throaty rumble.
The steering feels firm in your hands with good resistance and holds well through big corners. Its big tires stick to the road like disciples to their leader during good times.
The interior is beautiful, and it's the upgrade Mustang needed to seriously move forward. A more rugged interior, such as the one in the current Mustang, may please enthusiasts and Ford fanatics, but it's never going to convert customers accustomed to more luxurious cars.
The dash now flows across the cabin, a piece of aluminum highlighting the center of it. The heater vents are sunk into the dash and the gauges are nicely outlined with a sparkle of chrome accents. It's complete and satisfying.
Ford replaced all of the hard touch points with softer, more appealing spots. The emergency brake was also shortened and no longer pushes up against the center stack. That may seem insignificant, but it was the single most important change for me. Whenever I drove a Mustang on a long trip, my knee would rest against the edge of the emergency brake. At the end of some journeys, I would have a bruise on my leg.
While this change may only affect me, I'm certain everyone will appreciate the new curvy center console.
Version adds Sync
Sitting in the driver's seat, you feel powerful: King of the Cabin. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is apparent from every angle.
Ford also added Sync to the 2010 model -- something that should have been included earlier. The hands-free infotainment system, which merges your phone, iPod and navigation system, remains the best and most comprehensive voice recognition system available. Push a button and listen to Cake. Push the same button and buy tickets to Cake's concert over the phone. Push the same button and get directions to the show. See, with Sync, you can have your Cake and see it too.
Almost every piece of the exterior has been overhauled. (Only the roof remains from the previous generation.) The front end looks more substantial thanks to the power dome hood. In the middle of the grille is an all-new pony to represent the Mustang for the future. The V-6 model features fog lamps in the lower fascia and the GT models pull the fog lights up into the grille.
The Mustang's profile is strong and athletic. The fenders push out slightly and give the car a rippling muscle look. It's Sampson with long hair. All four corners of the Mustang are cut off, helping accentuate the car from every angle.
While I like the Mustang's new face, I love the work designers did to the back. The look is clean, simple and slightly raised. The new sequential tail lamps pay homage to the past in a modern way. The moment you click on your turn signal at night, the people behind you will know instantly that you're in a new Mustang.
This Mustang is the complete package. Mustang fans may have overlooked some of the last generation's shortcomings, but new customers will be pickier -- and this pony car addresses the most common nits to be picked.
As it rolls into dealerships in the coming days, everyone will see a new interpretation of the only pony to never become extinct. The Mustang has evolved when the others have died off and come back to life like so many junkyard Phoenixes.
They will see the family resemblance to past Mustangs and appreciate the work of the car's creator 45 years ago.
In the beginning there was the Mustang. And it was good.
Now it is even better.
Scott Burgess is the auto critic for The Detroit News. He can be reached at (313) 223-3217 or email@example.com.
2010 Ford Mustang
Type : Five-passenger, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe
Price : $20,995
Engines: 4-liter V-6; 4.6-liter V-8
Transmissions: Five speed automatic or manual transmission
Power: 4-liter: 210 horsepower, 240 pound-feet torque; 4.6-liter: 315 horsepower, 325 pound-feet torque
EPA gas mileage :
V-6: 18 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
V-8: 16 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
Exterior : Excellent: New look gives it a more powerful stance and beefier front end. The chamfered corners add sophistication and sequential tail lamps a modern/retro feel.
Interior : Excellent: Better materials inside, a more comfortable cabin and well-designed center console make this a much plusher ride.
Performance: Excellent: Ride and handling are excellent and the Mustang is extremely quiet. Additional power is not that noticeable, but you don't need any more.
Safety: Excellent: Sophisticated stability control keeps you pointed in the right direction, and the full complement of airbags will help in case you're not.
Pros: Powerful, well-priced and fun, the 2010 Mustang offers a connection to the past but a glimpse of the future at the same time.
Cons: Lack of room in the second row keeps adults from riding back there for long periods.
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