There are few things better than cruising next to the ocean on a sunny day in a convertible, breathing in the salty air and getting a little sun on your face.
It's even better when you're behind the wheel of a 2016 Ford Mustang
Convertible with the heart-pounding 5.0-liter engine. That definitely rounds out the picture.
During a recent quick test, I discovered that the Mustang Convertible is more fun than ever, and just as beautiful.Design
I have always loved the design of the original Mustangs from the 1960s. And while this newest iteration of the Mustang is definitely modern, it has a clear resemblance to the classic car - inside and out.
Each Mustang comes standard with dual exhaust and high-intensity discharge headlights.
My particular design faves include the sculpted lines on the hood and the tri-bar taillights with the sequential turn signals.
Mustang was completely redesigned for the 2015 model year, entering its sixth generation. This model features a lower stance, side rear fenders and a new grille.
Inside, the materials and touch points received a major upgrade, and the toggle switches on the center stack are both classic and modern at the same time. The test vehicle had the optional navigation, and I liked how it was integrated into the center stack without being obtrusive.
I also liked the location and ease of operation of the power hard top. I could easily unlatch the lock on the top with one hand, and then a simple push of the button lowered the canvas top.
The test vehicle added the California Special package ($1,995), which added 19-inch ebony black machined-aluminum wheels, black mirror caps and hood vents, ebony leather/Miko suede seat inserts with red contrast stitching, hood and side strips, performance front splitter, raised decklid spoiler and unique black upper and lower grilles.
In other words, it was a pretty stunning vehicle.Ride & Handling
The rear-wheel-drive Mustang now comes with three powertrain options: a 3.7-liter V-6, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost and a 5.0-liter V-8. While I'm sure the 4- and 6-cylinder engines are quite lovely, I was ecstatic that I had the V-8 and a couple hours of open road.
The 5.0-liter V-8 engine delivers 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, and it is a thing of beauty -- from the sound that it emits to the instantaneous burst of power. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, but the test vehicle (unfortunately) had the available 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters ($1,195).
Don't get me wrong, this is a really nice and quick transmission. I just think the manual would have been more fun. I did play around with the manual mode, but it just wasn't the same.
The Mustang was stable at high speeds, and comfortable for the long haul. The stiff structure gives an excellent connection to the road - I just wouldn't want to encounter any potholes while driving a Mustang.
Fuel economy varies based on engine and transmission. The EPA estimated city/highway/combined mileage is as follows:
V-6, manual: 17/28/21 mpg
V-6, automatic: 19/28/22 mpg
I-4 EcoBoost, manual: 22/31/25 mpg
I-4 EcoBoost, automatic: 21/32/25 mpg
V-8, manual: 15/25/19 mpg
V-8, automatic: 16/25/19 mpg
Considering that I was in the GT with the V-8 engine, I'm pretty pleased with my as-tested combined fuel economy of 20.3 mpg.Tech & gadgets
While I appreciate things like navigation, blind spot monitoring and push-button start - all of which are available on the Mustang Convertible - I have to say the coolest tech feature on the Mustang Convertible are the track apps. Which are standard.
The Track Apps feature electronic line-lock and launch control as well as an accelerometer, and acceleration times. You can also save top times, last results and brake performance. This is a fun toy, especially if you have a closed course to play with.Trims
The convertible version of the Mustang has three trims, each with a different engine, standard features and package options. The standard transmission on all models is a 6-speed manual.
V6 Convertible: This base model is really well equipped with the 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 engine and standard features such as cloth seats, Sync, automatic headlights, LED sequential taillights, 17-inch Sparkle Silver painted aluminum wheels, two smart-charging USB ports, Track Apps, intelligent access and push-button start. Base price is $30,545.
EcoBoost Premium Convertible: This mid-level model adds the 310-horsepower 2.3-liter I-4 engine as well as the following standard features: selectable drive modes, 18-inch Magnetic Gloss painted/machined aluminum wheels, heated and cooled front seats, leather trimmed seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, SiriusXM Radio, Sync 3, aluminum foot pedals and pony projection lights. Base price is $36,045.
GT Premium Convertible: This model comes with the top-of-the-line 5.0-liter engine and standard features such as 13-inch rear brake rotors with single-piston calipers, 14-inch front brake rotors with 4-piston calipers, air extractor hood vents and launch control with the manual transmission. This is also where the Black Accent Package, California Special Package and GT Performance Package are available. Base price is $42,795.
The test vehicle was a GT, which added the California Special Package, Shaker Pro Audio System, automatic transmission and voice-activated navigation for an as-tested price of $48,480.Safety
The Mustang convertible has all the standard safety systems you'd expect such as the driver's knee airbag, dual front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags and an SOS post-crash alert system. What's more, the rear-view camera is also standard.
Available safety features include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a reverse sensing system and adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration perform all crash tests on the Mustang Convertible. But what tests they do perform yield good results. NHTSA only tests the convertible for rollovers, for which it gets 5 Stars.
IIHS is a little more comprehensive, testing moderate front overlap and side crashes as well as head restraints and seats, for which the Mustang Convertible gets "Good" ratings.
Not sure what the safety ratings mean? We break it down for you here (INSERT LINK: /what-do-safety-ratings-really-mean).New for 2016
The Mustang was all-new for the 2015 model year, so changes for 2016 are minimal. There are a few new appearance packages, including the Black Accent Package, California Special and Pony Package. Other additions include Sync 3, optional over-the-top racing strips, black roof panel offering and hood vent-integrated turn signals.
A few of my favorite things
What I really love about the Mustang Convertible is that it actually has usable trunk space. My husband and I were able to fit two suitcases and two backpacks in the boot, and still manage to drive with the top down. Ford says that the trunk is actually large enough to accommodate two golf bags.
With the top up, the Mustang was really quiet for a canvas-top convertible. There was a little wind noise but nothing untoward or obtrusive.What I can leave
I honestly don't have much to say here. The Mustang Convertible is fun to drive, beautiful and comfortable. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be that the test vehicle came with the available automatic transmission. A car like this should be driven with a manual.The bottom line
With the interior upgrades and multitude of engine options, the Mustang Convertible, which has always been pretty nice, gets even better in its sixth generation.
I loved the 5.0-liter V-8 engine, but the horsepower is probably a bit superfluous for an everyday driver. If I were going to buy a Mustang Convertible, I'd opt for the middle-of-the-road EcoBoost model, which delivers plenty of fun with 310 horsepower and the benefits of outstanding fuel economy.
Of course, I'd stick with the standard manual transmission. But I'd leave it at that, no options necessary, and get a nicely equipped, fun-to-drive convertible for $42K.Read more from Jill CiminilloLincoln Navigator: The anatomy of a concept car Auto Peeves: Awkward elements that cause frustration Ford demonstration simulates drunken impairment
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