Originally went to buy a Cougar - couldn't make the deal. Went over to Ford and drove a used Mustang. Most of the miles have been highway and the Stang is nothing but fun to take on a trip. Mileage has been outstanding - upper 20's and occasionally getting into the 30's. Changing the stock 15" wheels out for the 17" Mach 1 wheels made it even sportier and better handling. Even though the car is now 6 years old I still get compliments on it's sporty looks. Car has been flawless and reliable. Admittedly it is a little tough to drive in snow so it has been the summer time trip car.
Performance of the V6 - has enough spunk for the average driver as well as good fuel economy. Also the aggressive looks makes it stand out.
When I went to the dealer to pick up the car, I passed a Focus in the lot selling for the same price as what I paid for the Mustang. Figured I got a much better car. After 106,000 miles, I couldn't be happier. Only thing I had to replace beside wear items was a idle pulley for $11. Brake pads lasted 60K miles and did not put brake dust on the wheels. I get 21 mpg with the alcohol/gas mixture they sell in Houston. Performance tires made the car handle much better in the rain. Engine accessibility with the v6 is excellent. Parts are cheap at parts store (not dealer).
Styling, color, reliability.
Better cloth for the interior. better sound system.
After 6 years, its still a thrill to drive this car. This car is my daily driver, and it has never let me down. Only maintenance problem that I have ever had was a fuel filter replacement ($200). If you want to keep the stock tires on it (Goodyear Eagles z-rated), be prepared to shell out some cash. Average z-rated tires last about 20-25K before needing replacement. The car seems to get lighter in the front at higher speeds, but then settles down around 70-80. Very throaty exhaust with tight suspension for turning. Finally, I've never lacked power to get out of the path of bad drivers. The 265 horses it comes with, makes it feel like the muscle car it was designed to be.
Overall muscular look (only if you keep the z-rated, wide tires on - otherwise it would look wimpy). Comfy interior, kicking stereo, tight suspension, power at the fingertips.
Lose the rear spoiler, change the position of cup holders (other reviewers are right, two cups of java get in the way and you can't shift), make the door panels more attractive and lose the mini-indentions placed for style (at least I think they were). Trunk is okay, but layout could be better.