Mustang V6: Looks are everything

By The Car Family

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With a swaggering stance, enough ripples to create interest in the under-thirty set, and an aggressive growl the new Mustang is in every regard a Wild West of a car. It is boisterous when pushed, inexpensive to maintain, and enjoys the outdoors as much as it hates slow pokes. Yes, the bargain priced Mustang proves what is old is new again for the 4-year-old Mustang and it all comes bargain priced.

Mom’s view: This is the kind of car that makes you want to tease your hair and wear pedal pushers. Its in your face fun and an affordable price. A base model with a powerful V6 engine can is priced well under $20,000 (US) and the potent V8 GT loaded can be lassoed for around $28,000 (US). Either way it is a lot of muscle for the money. However, the Mustang is not designed to be a quiet dance partner and although better mannered than its smaller ancestors, you won’t mistake the ride for anything but a muscle car. The gauges are deeply set into the dash making it difficult to read them with sunglasses on, the four high mounted air conditioning ducts dominate the dash, and the view over the bulbous hood makes cutting an apex difficult.

The stereo is fancied up enough to be frustrating if you have long nails because the AM/FM switch is minute, tucked close to the power switch, and this makes it difficult to activate. The seats also aren’t the most comfortable. The lumbar needs upgrading and the seatbelt cut across my neck and rubbed on my necklace.

Driving the Mustang was fairly easy. The V6 engine provides adequate power, but the exhaust noise is an acquired, but addicting, taste. The automatic transmission is very smooth, but if you feather foot it in low and suddenly let up on the gas it lets you know of its unhappiness at your indecision. The brakes are too spongy for my taste and the chassis, although stronger than before, is not ready for canyon runs in stock form. Overall, this is one of the best Mustangs ever. It isn’t perfect, but it isn’t priced that way either. A looker, no doubt, and one that you can easily modify to please.

Dad’s view: The suspension is adequate with a new three-link coil-over layout and Panhard rod holding the solid rear axle to the ground. The car is larger, heavier, and has more interior space than the previous generation Mustang. The more expensive GT version V8 version makes 300 horsepower. The steering is rack and pinion and isn’t as precise as you would need if you intend to do more than take a highway journey. If canyon drives appeal to you take your time, but when it comes time to park it in a tight mall parking lot you are going to love it. Disc brakes look impressive, but the stopping power is not linear, although adequate for normal driving. When you do run up against the ABS in an emergency stop it is very intrusive. In other words, the base Mustang is a good deal. For less than a Mazda Miata you get a lot more car, but not a lot more sports car.

Young working woman’s view: Getting in and out, as in all coupes, requires some indignity as the wide doors and low seats mean caution if you are wearing a dress. High heels can get in the way as the pedals are placed differently than previous models. Turning up the stereo can cover the tire noise, but the growl of the engine can’t. It is not that I don’t appreciate the sound of a potent engine, the Bentley Continental is the best, but the V6 just doesn’t jump off the line. Nevertheless, even with an automatic, it easily keeps up with traffic. The trick is not to misjudge the noise for fury. Overall, one of Ford’s best efforts and clearly destined to be a good seller for the young at heart.

College going male’s view: Our test Mustang was “Arrest me Red “and you can count on getting a lot of attention with it, most of that coming from the law. It does appeal to a certain type of maiden, but my time was limited, as I had to return to school to pursue my dream of staying in college forever. My biggest problem with the Mustang was the deep-set speedometer cluster. With a car this capable knowing how fast you are going is essential and the numbers were very difficult to read. The good part, outside of the potential of positive reinforcement from the opposite sex, were split rear seatbacks that folded flat giving you plenty of cargo touting room. I would buy the GT convertible, forgo the five-speed manual for the five-speed automatic, and revel in the fact that the Mustang has standard 4-wheel disc brakes. ABS, traction control, and 17 alloy rims. Don’t forget to check out my free song downloads at

Family conference: The new Mustang is a great improvement over past models and is attractively priced. Look for gas mileage around 20 mpg on unleaded, and more on the highway, but don’t plan on going unnoticed. Full of fun, somewhat practical, and an empty canvass waiting to be filled with some tempting options. Our favorite would have to be the highly anticipated Shelby convertible with its supercharged engine. Stay tuned, literally and figuratively. For a complete list of vehicle websites go to