Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's long-kept secret is out. After months of rumors and hearsay, along with a few carefully released sneak-peek photos, we now have the full story on the 2010 Mustang-and it's a lot more than what we were hearing. Everything that slipped from Ford insiders indicated updated sheetmetal-more like a '69, they said-and a vastly improved interior. What we're getting is that and a lot more, including more horsepower for the GT, handling inspired by the '08 Bullitt, and a pair of performance options that add 3.73 gears and other upgrades.

The 2010 Mustang has taken a generational leap in appearance. Where the '05-'09 Mustang resembled the '67-'68s, the 2010 moves ahead an era with a narrower front end that looks more like that of the '69s, with integrated turn signals that remind us of the twin corner indents in the '70 models. Front designs are unique to the V-6 and GT; the GT's foglamps remain in the grille, only smaller than last year.

Other than the coupe's roof, the 2010 Mustang's sheetmetal is all new, incorporating a "powerdome" in the hood, more aggressive wheel flares, a more pronounced "hip" in the rear quarters, and an angled rear end with new tri-lens taillights. In addition to a more muscular appearance, the redesign also lowers the drag coefficient (by 4 percent for the V-6, 7 percent for the GT) and reduces front aerodynamic lift (37 percent for V-6, 23 percent for the GT) to improve high-speed stability. With better aerodynamics comes less wind noise, which is also helped by relocating the windshield-washer nozzles from the hood to the cowl and moving the antenna from the passenger-side front fender to the rear quarter-panel.

The rear taillights take a cue from the aftermarket with sequential LED operation, while HID headlights are now available from the option list.

At first glance, the interior doesn't appear to be dramatically changed, but in reality almost everything is different, most noticeably the taller "centerstack," as Ford calls it, which can accommodate the premium level Ford SYNC system with voice-activated communications and navigation, 911 assist, and available reverse camera system. To make room for the larger center area, the round air registers from the previous five years have been replaced by rectangular registers, which lends to the cleaner dash appearance and also recalls the vent locations of the '67-'68 Mustang.

Also new inside is a one-piece soft instrument panel in seamless Thermoplastic Olefin skin. The speedometer and tachometer feature a more vintage look, including lenses that are circular cones capped off with a silver hub. We'll be the first to applaud the fresh console design with its flush armrest that doesn't interfere with shifting like the previous version. The steering wheel, with real aluminum spokes on premium models, at last has integrated audio controls.

The popular My Color ambient lighting system has been enhanced for 2010, now allowing 125 custom colors. The driver can also individually set the colors for the instrument gauge background; instrument halo lighting; ambient lighting in the footwells, cup holders, and door; and the "MUSTANG" logo in the door sills.

We mentioned the reduced wind noise, but Ford took additional steps to quiet the interior with the strategic use of sound-absorptive and damping materials in the dash, trunk, hood, headliner, and interior trim, making it easier for occupants to carry on conversations at highway speeds. Conversely, the engineers made sure that the Mustang's traditional induction sound makes it to the interior by including the industry's first Induction Sound Tube (IST), which pipes the sound of the induction system into the passenger compartment.

One reason for the IST is the new cold-air induction, which sends less induction sound to the interior but enhances the GT's power output to the tune of 15 hp, taking the Three-Valve 4.6L from last year's 300 hp to 315. Pioneered by Ford Racing, the airbox tucks behind the driver-side headlight to pull in cooler outside air from the front of the car.

Ford's 315hp rating was obtained with regular fuel, but more is available with the 2010 Mustang's adaptive calibration, which adds mid-range torque when higher-octane premium fuel is used.

The base 4.0L V-6 and the GT's 4.6L V-8 are both available with five-speed manual or automatic transmissions. For five-speed manuals, shifter improvements inspired by the Bullitt program are seen on the polished aluminum and leather-wrapped knob on the short-throw shifter.

Handling improvements for the 2010 Mustang came from Ford's experience with the '08 Bullitt and Ford Racing Mustangs. Springs, stabilizers bars, and shocks have been adjusted to better balance the ride, steering, and handling for base and GT models. Wheel and tire sizes are increased by an inch across the line, with a 17-inch standard on the V-6 and an 18-inch standard on the GT. A 19-inch Pirelli Summer tire is optional for the GT and comes with a Bullitt-inspired tower-to-tower brace to add torsional and lateral stiffness to the chassis. Seven different wheels are offered as standard or optional equipment, including two different 19-inch versions.

Standard for 2010 is the new AdvanceTrac traction control and antilock brakes. The system uses sensors to detect and measure side-to-side skidding conditions by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position, and steering wheel angel. When AdvanceTrac senses wheel slippage, it reduces engine torque and applies the brakes as needed. The system can be turned on or off with V-6 models. For the GT, AdvanceTrac can be run in on, off, or Sport mode, which allows for more aggressive driving while still retaining control.

Continuing the Mustang's performance tradition, a pair of optional GT Track packages allows buyers of manual transmission GTs to turn up the wick right from the factory. The GT Track I package includes a 3.73 rear axle ratio, performance front brake pads, and a recalibrated AdvanceTrac. To that, the GT Track II package adds performance rear brake pads, GT500 stabilizer bars and rear lower control arms, retuned struts and shocks, 19-inch Pirelli Summer tires, and carbon plates in the 3.73 differential.

The 2010 Mustang will be available as V-6 or GT models in base and premium configurations, with the premium package adding upgraded wheels, Shaker 500 audio, Ford SYNC, leather seats, MyColor instrument cluster with ambient lighting, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and other amenities. A V-6 Pony Package adds 18-inch wheels, unique grille, foglamps, unique lower tape stripe, rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tip. A glass roof will be available for coupes later in the model year.

The 2010 arrives in showrooms this spring, reportedly in March and just in time for the Mustang's 45th anniversary on April 17, 2009. Better yet, we get to look forward to January when Ford will reportedly introduce the 2010 Shelby GT500 at the Detroit Auto Show. We're also hearing about Shelby Automobiles' Super Snake package for the GT500, as well as a Terlingua package for the Mustang GT. There's no doubt we'll also be treated to new 2010s from Roush, Steeda, and other aftermarket companies. Thankfully, Ford has made sure that the 2010 remains aftermarket friendly for performance upgrades and visual personalization.

As for a much-anticipated Boss model, no one is talking. The more '69-like styling of the 2010 seems to set the stage for a modern Boss Mustang, but we'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we'll congratulate Ford and the Mustang team for a more substantial update than we saw from the '98 to '99 freshening. There's a lot of neat changes and improvements in the 2010 Mustang-and we'll take more horsepower anytime.

The Great Reveal
We've seen a lot of new Mustang introductions during this magazine's 30-year history. Most memorable were the '84 SVO and 20th Anniversary GT, the '87 Mustang GT, the '93 Cobra, the much anticipated SN-95 Mustang for '94, and the all-new '05 Mustang. These Mustangs were game changers that continued the Mustang's tradition as a world-beater. To be honest, we didn't think Ford could outdo the '05 introduction, but it did.

On an October evening at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar, Ford took the wraps off yet another dazzling rendition of the car that established the hot ponycar market 45 years ago. Ford rocked the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show with a Hollywood-style introduction for the 2010 Mustang that aired on the Speed Channel and at nine Mustang Club of America reveal events where enthusiasts could view a special live feed of the broadcast.

I had the good fortune of seeing this event in person along with thousands of other enthusiasts, media types, and celebrities. Ford offered a special invite to 45 Mustang owners whose cars would represent every model year produced since 1964. It was a special display with 44 Mustangs spanning '64 1/2 through '09.

Inside Barker Hangar, the 2010 reveal was the most dramatic introduction we've ever seen. Poised on shelves against soft blue lighting were landmark cars-the '67 Trans-Am hardtop, the '69 Tasca Super Boss and Mickey Thompson's salt-flat Mach 1, the '70 Trans Am Boss 302, the '86 IMSA Mustang, Bill Glidden's Outlaw Super Street GT, the '92 IMSA GTS Mustang, the '97 All-Sport Trans-Am Mustang, the NMRA Pro 5.0 Mustang (world's fastest small-block Mustang), the '08 Mustang Challenge FR500S, and John Force's Castrol GTX Mustang Funny Car.

Complementing these cars were the people who raced those cars-Carroll Shelby, Jack Roush, John Force and his daughter Ashley, Dorsey Schroeder, Parnelli Jones, Scott Pruett, and Lyn St. James. The energy was intense, and if your eyes weren't wet at least briefly, you weren't paying attention.

Speed Channel's announcers Mike Joy and Tommy Kendall hosted the broadcast and introduced the all-new 2010 Mustang to the world with a drifting exhibition by Vaughan Gittin Jr. in a 2010 version of the Falken Formula Drift Mustang.-Jim Smart

What It Was And A Lot More
The 2010 Mustang not only looks different, but also has improved or changed in many other areas. Here are the more significant changes: Exterior

New sheetmetal except coupe roofNarrower front end Slimmer headlights with integrated turn signalsFoglights: Smaller for GT grille Powerdome hoodAntenna moved to rearWasher-fluid nozzles moved to cowlRedesigned side mirrorsNew two-piece rear fasciaNew tri-lens taillights with sequential LEDsTrunk keyhole eliminatedMore compact pedestal rear spoilersCapless fuel filler systemLarger exhaust tips: 3-inch for V-6, 3 1/2-inch for V-8Available colors: Red Candy Metallic, Kora Blue,Grabber Blue, Sunset Gold, Starling Gray, Brilliant Silver, Black, Performance White, and Torch Red

Interior
One-piece instrument panelNew air register layoutSofter seat and armrest materialNew centerstack design with optional Ford SYNCRedesigned console with flush armrestAudio controls in steering wheelDual electronic climate control (optional)Outside temperature sensingShort-throw shifter with leather-wrapped knobUpgraded sound deadeners for quieter ride125 color options with optional MyColor instrument lightingInduction Sound Tube to pipe induction sound to interior

Engine
Cold-air induction for 4.6L; now 315 hp4.6L redline increased to 6,500 rpmDual-adaptive knock calibration

Suspension
AdvanceTrac traction control and antilock brakesNew spring, stabilizer bar, and shock rates17-inch tires on V-6; 18-inch tires on GT, with optional 19-inchBullitt tower-to-tower brace with 19-inch wheels