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>> It's about as iconic as production cars get--it's a Ford Mustang. And from the beginning Ford has always made sure there's a pure and affordable version. But is that just a nice way of saying it's a bit of a letdown? We've got one of the cars--a convertible yes, but the V6, the more garden variety. Let's check the tech.
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>> Our mustang carries a color that reaches back to the old days--they call it Sunset Gold Metallic now, but it's basically the same hue that was humorously named Freudian guilt when it was first available by special order in 1969. Psychotherapy was kind of a new thing back then. Now our car is a premium but it doesn't have the head unit with the navigation and the big LCD; that's the one big upgrade we're missing. However, the premium cars do have the Shaker Audio System; they call it a Shaker 500--500 watts, those big old horsey speakers in the doors that have never set right with me, but it's a system that sounds more muscular than it does finesse. That said the premium cars also have Sync. So Sync plus Shaker 500 gives you a pretty good head unit. Your sources can be any number of things. I've got a Zune here connected via USB here in the console, that's a rarity, only Sync really does that well; and as you can see I've got a full text display right there, again via a cable not wirelessly, but it works like an iPod and very few other cars support a Zune or other player this detailedly. We also have Sirius Satellite radio including six months of activation. You've got a six-disc in-dash CD changer with also MP3 disk ability, AM-FM radio, no HD radio here on the Mustang. If you've got the head unit that has the navigation system with Sirius travel link and all that stuff you 'd also have a hard drive in there and 10 gigabytes of that would be available for you to put the music on but not here. And of course because of Sync this USB jack here is not just good for players like this but also for thumb drives and you can also do Bluetooth, A2DP streaming like off my Blackberry here, and you've got a good old standard Aux jack in there as well. Now again keeping this car on the affordable theme, let's say we avoid the navigation head unit just as an exercise, you can still get a rearview camera in this guy--it's an ala carte option and it takes a portion of the rearview mirror. It's a little display but you can do it. Now one of the less necessary but still crowd pleasure features as part of Premium is this thing that they call Ford My Color. You can change the color of the gauge bands, you can change the color of the halo around the gauges and you can change or turn on or off the ambient lighting down in the foot wells. Unfortunately, the colors to me are all gaudy as well except for white; well there's one that matches the blue here also. And the bigger issue I have is when you change the colors on the IP you don't change any colors here on the center stack which kind of makes for a lot of mismatch. The base transmission's a 5-speed manual, I think I'd really look into that on the Mustang; however we've got the automatic and it's a real traditional automatic. It's 5-speed which is modern-ish but I really clings to high gears, it doesn't shift down really quickly, there's no sport mode, you've just got drive or 3-2-1 which don't really do much except for decelerating down hills. This is one of the more sleepy automatics you'll find on the market today. Like most modern Fords the cabin materials are a cut above and they make this car feel more pricey than it is when you're sitting inside of it. And Ford's interior styling team has done a great job of evoking the early Mustang dashboard without being slavishly retro. There's a letdown working under the hood on this car, again it's a V6, it's a 4-liter V6 with a paltry 210 horsepower and 240 foot pounds of torque. That's not great output from an engine of this architecture and this placement. Mileage is pretty good; you get 18-26 if you get the manual transmission; just 16-24 with the automatic. That's usually the other way around and that's a pretty significant difference. And part of the reason I'm down on this engine is because Ford's just about to roll out a new V6 that is smaller, a 3.7, and vastly more powerful 305 horsepower compared to 210. It's like night and day. Just don't buy one of these unless the dealer gives it to you. Wait for the new motor. Now the top on a V6 Convertible Mustang, any convertible mustang, is a pretty rudimentary affair; cloth top as you can see, let me get on the switch here and we can put it down. It's a simple canvas affair that I swear is mounted on the same frame they use in my 69 XL I mean this is old school technology. But it definitely works, goes down fairly quickly and notice it goes into a well that is basically where it attaches. There are no fancy doors or covers that are moving around robotically like on some convertibles and certainly retractable these days. It's a little bit up in the air here when it's down; a little bit of obstruction to your rearview mirror, but more than that it's kind of a sloppy mess when it's sitting here but again it's inexpensive but one good thing about it is, it doesn't take up any trunk space.
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>> On the road in this car we're reminded of what automatic transmissions used to feel like; not very sharp, lots of torque converter slip and slush at time; it's not a terrible experience but that in different gearbox and just 210 horsepower that's a formula for easy going cruising--nothing more ambitious. But more than one of us noted there's some essential Mustang-ness that helps this car be more than the simple sum of its parts. With the top down, some 70's rock playing and the sun over your head this car's okay. You buy a V6 Mustang because you want a Mustang; not some aggregation of its features. Okay let's price this Mustang--V6 Convertible about $30,000 proposition but get the premium, about $3,000 more to get Sync, Shaker 500 audio, leather interior, power driver seat, variety of other niceties, then $3,000 more on top of that for the itronics [assumed spelling] package, that would be the navigation system which we don't have, 10 gig of your own music storage and that's also going to bring along with it the dual zone automatic temperature control. Automatic transmission is $1,000; find a way to live without it. In fact, find a way to wait on this car until the new V6 comes out. That should be night and day difference.