Now 37 years old, the Mustang is quickly approaching middle age. But if it's going through a mid-life crisis, nobody is noticing. The Mustang is as popular as ever.Ford's sport coupe has outsold GM's F-bodies -- the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird -- the last six years in a row. This is in spite of the fact that the Mustang has suffered a performance disadvantage since its redesign in 1994.
There are four models: the V6 Coupe, the V6 Convertible, the GT Coupe and the GT Convertible. All models can be ordered in either deluxe or premium trim. There is also a standard trim available on V6 coupes only. All V6 models have a 3.8-liter pushrod engine that makes 190 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 225 foot-pounds of torque at 2,800 rpm. Power is acceptable, though V6 Coupes definitely have a rental-car stigma attached to them.
The GT Coupe and Convertible are more in-tune with what pony cars should be. Equipped with a 4.6-liter SOHC V8, GT output is listed at 260 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 302 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. If that still isn't enough, you should know Ford has brought back the SVT Mustang Cobra this year. Because of production problems with '99 SVT Mustang Cobras (they weren't making the power they were supposed to), Ford took the car off-line for 2000 to get everything sorted out.
The Ford SVT Mustang Cobra is a high-performance Mustang that has been heavily modified by Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT). Available in either coupe or convertible, the SVT Cobra's main calling cards are a totally different engine, a revised suspension, and an improved interior. The Cobra's firepower comes from a 4.6-liter, 32-valve DOHC V8. While based on Ford's family of modular V8s, the Cobra's engine is considerably more advanced. The engine produces 320 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 317 ft-lbs. of torque at 4,750 rpm.
All Mustangs offer drivers and passengers supportive, upright front chairs, well-placed controls, clear views out the front and side windows, and acceptable dashboard and seat materials. For 2001, Ford upgraded the center console by adding a larger rear cupholder and repositioning the front cupholder, power point, tissue holder and parking brake boot. The standard, deluxe and premium trim groups offer varying levels of standard and optional equipment, with the premium trim group being the most inclusive.
Another advantage of the Mustang is its demeanor on the road. The Mustang's suspension allows the car to be predictable during hard cornering and side-to-side weight transfers are progressive for added stability during high-speed lane changes. The braking and steering have also impressed us. Rough pavement can make the ride uncomfortable in base- and GT-model Mustangs, however, as the rear suspension still uses a solid rear axle.
The Mustang has always been crashworthy, offering drivers and front-seat passengers a high level of protection as rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All-speed traction control and antilock brakes are standard on most trim levels. Ford thoughtfully provides a traction-control defeat switch for those people who like roasting the rear tires on a regular basis.
As for the rest of us, Mustang is one of the most recognizable nameplates on the road. And since the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird are scheduled for termination in 2002, the Mustang may be the only pony car left for the new millennium.