Full 2009 Ford Mustang Review
What's New for 2009
The Ford Mustang rides into 2009 with standard and optional equipment changes. The V6 and GT Premium trims receive upgraded interior trim, multicolored ambient lighting and satellite radio as standard. Those trims also get a new glass roof option.
Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Mr. Ed. What's missing from this list? There's another American steed famous for entertaining its fans for nearly half a century -- the Ford Mustang. Having weathered oil crises, ugly styling crises, increasing emissions standards, corporate turmoil and unending penny-pinching over the years, the Mustang is a true survivor. While rival pony cars have been sent to the glue factory, the original has only grown stronger and more popular.
In case you've been locked in that glue factory yourself for a few years, you'll be interested to learn that today's 2009 Ford Mustang hearkens back to the glory days of the 1960s with classic muscle-car looks and classic muscle-car power. The V8-powered GT model boasts 300 horsepower and driving dynamics that, in a departure from Mustangs past, are actually pretty impressive in spite of the car's old-school solid-axle rear suspension. And the Mustang Bullitt version, which debuted last year, takes the nostalgia to a new level with styling and trim inspired by the classic Steve McQueen movie car, along with a sport-tuned suspension, modified exhaust and upgraded brakes. If we had our pick of regular V8 Mustangs, the Bullitt would be the one.
On the other hand, we'd skip V6-powered Mustang models. Their losing combination of 210 hp and SUV-like fuel economy is hard to appreciate in this time of $4-a-gallon gas. If you're going to drive a gas-guzzler, it had better offer thrilling acceleration as a trade-off -- the GT does, but the V6 does not.
Another con to consider is the Mustang's lack of refinement -- both in handling and interior quality. Competitors like the BMW 128i, Mazda RX-8 and Nissan 350Z are superior on both counts. However, the Mustang's style, available V8 power, respectable handling and affordable price will always find takers in this muscle-car-loving land. Even as Chevy and Dodge resurrect their pony car nameplates with the Camaro and Challenger, there's no doubt the legendary Ford Mustang will remain an American favorite.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ford Mustang is available as a coupe or convertible in four trim levels: V6 Deluxe, V6 Premium, GT Deluxe and GT Premium. The V6 Deluxe includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The V6 Premium adds upgraded 16-inch wheels, a power driver seat and a Shaker 500 upgraded stereo with six-CD changer. The convertible versions feature a power vinyl top with cloth material as an option. In addition to its V8 engine, the GT Deluxe comes with all the V6 Deluxe's features plus 17-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, foglamps and sport seats. The GT Premium adds the Shaker 500 sound system and leather upholstery.
There are a number of option-package and special-edition Mustangs available. The V6-powered Mustangs can be equipped with the Pony package, which includes firmer suspension tuning, 17-inch wheels, foglamps and a unique grille. The GT appearance package offers chrome exhaust tips, a hood scoop and an engine cover with the Mustang emblem. Both Premium trims can be upgraded with a comfort group that adds heated front seats, a power passenger seat and an auto-dimming mirror with compass. There are also interior trim upgrade packages available.
The Mustang Bullitt is considered an options package for the GT Premium coupe. It adds a cold-air-induction setup, unique exhaust and suspension tuning, high-performance brake pads, a front strut tower brace, 18-inch alloy wheels and special interior and exterior alterations. There are also two cosmetic packages available -- the GT California Special and the Warriors in Pink. Proceeds from the latter benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer activist organization.
Individual options, depending on trim level, include 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a glass roof, the upgraded Shaker sound system, remote ignition, Bluetooth, iPod integration and a touchscreen navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
All Ford Mustangs are rear-wheel drive and come standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional on all versions except the manual-only Bullitt. The Mustang V6 is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 210 hp and 240 pound-feet of torque. Given this output, fuel economy is disappointing at 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined -- the same as Ford's 262-hp Flex SUV. The Mustang GT features a 4.6-liter V8 with 300 hp and 320-lb-ft output worthy of its muscle-car looks and heritage. With a manual transmission, the GT goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and clears the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds. Its fuel economy is 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
Four-wheel disc brakes and front-seat side airbags are standard on all Mustangs. Antilock brakes and traction control are optional on the V6 models and standard on the GT. Neither stability control nor full-length head curtain airbags are available.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2009 Ford Mustang earned a perfect five stars for front-impact protection and side-impact protection of front passengers. The convertible got a five-star rating for rear side protection, while the coupe got four stars. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Mustang scored "Acceptable" (the second highest of four ratings) in frontal-offset tests and "Good" (the highest rating) for side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
With its dual-hooded dash, three-spoke steering wheel and old-school gauges, the cabin of the 2009 Mustang gives more than a nod to the past. Yet this is not an outdated ergonomic mess – the controls are simple and the seats are comfortable, though they could use more lateral support for enthusiastic drivers. Both the Mustang coupe and the convertible offer seating for four, and average-size adults can sit in back with little problem. Trunk capacity is pretty good, with 12.3 cubic feet in the coupe and 9.7 in the convertible.
That's where the compliments end, though, as the Mustang features an abundance of rock-hard plastic and other unpleasant materials that make the car feel cheap. In particular, the rubber-trimmed metal hand brake operates and feels like it belongs on a John Deere grain harvester. Springing for upgraded trim options helps somewhat, but there's no getting around the Mustang's industrial feel.
Acceleration is respectable with the V6, regardless of whether you choose the precise bolt-action manual or the responsive automatic. The Mustang GT provides the quintessential muscle car experience, of course, with loads of torque available right off the line and an exhaust note to match. The four-wheel disc brakes do an adequate job of reining in the Mustang, as a stop from 60 mph takes a bit less than 125 feet. Despite its switch to an all-new platform a few years ago, the 2009 Ford Mustang continues to use a rather basic solid-axle rear suspension design. This allows Ford to keep the pricing low, yet careful tuning has resulted in reasonably precise handling through the corners and a surprisingly compliant ride.