Southwest is delayed yet again. This is the third delay in four flights. But it does give me some time to write about the 2005 Ford Mustang which I rented for 2 days. First impression is the agressive styling which evokes the muscle car feeling with its long hood and wide stance. Its sweeping roof lines give it a nice proportion. But once you get in, not much about this base model has anything to do with muscle. Its all about cost. Hertz only had the base V-6 with the automatic, so I am sure the GT will be a different story, but I was sorely disappointed by the performance and ride of the Mustang. Starting from a stop is peppy and responsive, but going from 30 to 60 took quite a bit of patience waiting for the transmission to figure out what I wanted to do. The poor tranny would also often kick down two gears as it overcompensated for the laggy response, filling the cabin with loud engine noises. The beautiful gargle of the V-6 seemed more for show as any demand for performa!
nce stressed out the engine.
Speaking of the cabin, the best word to describe it would be plastic. Lots of it. Had Ford put more thought into the fit and finish, I wouldn’t mind the sea of dull gray plastic, but the smart design of the black dash top is marred by such poor decisions as a the circa-1991 map light cover and the faux-chrome circles around the tach and spedometer that the designers had cut to fit the steering column. But the worst offender of them all is the nasty cheap gear shifter that looks like it belong on a toy Tonka truck with an overdrive button that is tough to know where it is, poorly marked and impossible to see. When will American manufacturers start understand the need for better interiors? Afterall, isn’t this where the drivers spend the most of our time?
The rear axel is the other part of this car that really bothers me. As a cheap sporty car, it should have tight suspension without harshness. Unfortunately, this car delivers that with the front wheels, but the dumb rear suspension jarred me to the bone everytime we went over any medium size bumps. Even going over potholes would produce significant harshness that I haven’t felt in anything other than a off-roading Jeep. Body roll is minimal, but that rear axel feels like a relic. It certainly feels like someone cut corners on this mind-mannered car and produced a real mismatch.
On the positive side, the seats we’re supportive and comfortable with a good stereo system that had well-placed front speakers. The fuel economy also seemed good, although I do not have hard numbers. Trunk space was acceptable, but I wish it was a hatch. It had a very narrow trunk opening that was difficult to use.
My final verdict would be to take a look at some other more civilized yet sporty cars that provide more versatility. Unless you’re really in love with the look and history. Too bad the base model doesn’t do history justice.