The Ford Mustang captured the hearts of a huge group of Americans, and in its latest incarnation it continues to tug at heartstrings.
The 2010 Mustang GT is sleek, artfully styled and comes with a nifty interior that shows off what Ford can do when it puts its mind to it. The interior is sleek and polished as anything you might find in an expensive furniture store, complete with an array of chrome and textured materials that elevate the entire cabin.
The exterior sheet metal has retained some of car's historic shape, but it has been refined in the front and particularly in the rear to give the car fresh lines and new appeal. The 19-inch wheels only seem to add to the car's panache.
The seats are comfortable, the gauges and switches all seem to be in just the right place and the entertainment package, with a combination of traditional radio and CD player, as well as MP3 capability, is excellent. In addition, I thought the visibility from the cockpit was pretty good. Limited visibility had been one the drawbacks inherent in previous iterations of the car.
The Mustang also is equipped with Ford's Sync system, which provides voice-activated access to the occupant's personal cell phone and music through via the entertainment system built into the car.
Ford designers also spent a great deal of time and care getting certain embellishments, such as the horse in the middle of steering wheel.
The effort has paid off and I think even longtime Mustang fans will be impressed when they climb into the driver's seat.
The car also comes with an array of comfort and convenience features such as heated seats, ambient lighting and a Sirius Satellite Radio connection.
The Mustang GT I drove was powered by a 4.6-liter, V8 engine with a five-speed manual transmission.
The new Mustang doesn't weigh all that much, only about 3,400 pounds, and the 315 horsepower motor delivered plenty of satisfying punch as well as a pleasant amount of old-fashioned vroom.
Certainly the fuel economy is one of vulnerable spots in any car equipped with a V8 engine nowadays, particularly when gasoline is hovering near $3 per gallon.
Nonetheless, I was pleased that with a little bit of attention to the pressure on the accelerator and keeping to the speed limit, I managed to get slightly better than 20 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
In addition, Ford has elevated its game by providing the Mustang with the ride and handling characteristics that match up well against more expensive European-made sports coupes.
The ride and handling of the rear-wheel drive Mustang GT has been enhanced by the Electronic Stability Control, which is now standard and blends nicely with Mustang's traction control and anti-lock braking system, giving the car a relatively short stopping distance.
The other safety equipment on the car includes Ford's "Personal Safety System," which includes dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags and roll-over protection.
The 2010 Mustang also recently earned top 5-star crash-test rating from the federal government, thanks to the extensive use of lightweight, high-strength steel in its body structure, which enhances the vehicle's ability to protect the occupants in a crash.
The Mustang has long been one of Ford and Detroit's most cherished icons, and its enormous legion of fans stretches around the world.
So it's not easy bringing out a new Mustang, because the bar is set high.
The Mustang nation, however, has nothing to fear. The 2010 edition is certain to go down in history as one of the best ever.