2010 Ford Mustang Convertible review:

2010 Ford Mustang Convertible

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The five-speed automatic offers merely a few low ranges, rather than manual gear selection.

Making passing maneuvers on the freeway, the engine felt reasonably powerful and responsive. It only makes 210 horsepower, but its 240 pound-feet of torque give it some thrust. The five-speed downshifted with plenty of drama, leading to big, noticeable power curves as the engine speed went up and down.

Ultimately, the only thing that impressed us about this engine was its fuel economy. Ford gives EPA numbers of 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which sound a bit meager, but in our testing it managed to stick slightly above 21 mpg, not bad considering some of our driving routes.

Out in the twisties, the Mustang's heavy steering didn't give us much confidence, and the automatic transmission was definitely not sport-tuned, offering no aggressive downshifting. Worse, there is no manual shifting option, merely three lower ranges, letting us keep the car in third or below.

But the hardness of the suspension paid off somewhat, as we didn't feel much body roll in the corners. Ford faced some criticism over the Mustang's live rear axle, which doesn't lend itself to serious high-performance driving, so the company packed the suspension with stabilizer bars and antiroll equipment.

With the bad audio system and the brutish handling, we weren't really digging the 2010 Mustang, but then we got to the coast. With clear skies and temperatures in the high 60s on Highway 1, we put the top down and requested Sync play some 1970s rock.

The Mustang Convertible hits its stride on the California coast.

Suddenly, everything came into place. People in other cars, trapped in the confines of Toyotas and Volkswagens, dripped with envy. We could see it in their faces. The Shaker audio system, which had somehow ceased to rattle the speakers, shared tunes such as Hooked on a Feeling and Black Betty with bystanders as we cruised by. The sun felt good on our unprotected heads, the open top offering panoramic views of cliffs and blue ocean water.

Everything was perfect, until we had to put the top up again and get back on a congested freeway for a desultory trip back to the garage, the memories of open-top cruising quickly fading.

In sum
Ford has released many good, high-tech models over the last couple of years, but the 2010 Ford Mustang Convertible isn't one of them. It benefits a bit from technologies such as Sync and Sirius Travel Link, but seems resolute in maintaining a primitive feel. Even though our car didn't come with the navigation option, we give it credit for availability, but where other Ford cars with these systems would score higher for cabin electronics, we had to mark it down for the awful audio system.

Performance was fairly average, with a couple of high points tempered by the harsh suspension and the heavy handling. The power train wasn't particularly high-tech compared with other engines and transmissions Ford has available, but it did deliver on fuel economy. The Mustang earns high marks for design, as it remains a distinctive car even in convertible form.

Spec box
Model 2010 Ford Mustang Convertible
Trim Premium
Powertrain 4-liter V-6
EPA fuel economy 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 21.6 mpg
Navigation Optional hard drive-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3 compatible single CD
MP3 player support iPod, Zune, and most other brands
Other digital audio Onboard hard drive (with navigation option), satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary input
Audio system Shaker 8 speaker 500 watt system
Driver aids Rear view camera
Base price $28,995
Price as tested $31,325

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