2009 Ford Mustang Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 2, 2009

The 2009 Ford Mustang is a sport coupe that won’t appeal to everyone, but some will appreciate its retro style and power-over-poise attitude.

To write this comprehensive review, TheCarConnection.com read the latest reviews on the new 2009 Ford Mustang. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove several Ford Mustang editions, including the limited edition Bullitt, and added driving impressions and details about this American pony car.

Ford marketing types have used the phrase "a steed for every need" when referring to the Mustang lineup. 2009 Mustang body styles include a 2+2 coupe and convertible. Both body styles seat two comfortably, and the rear seats are more than adequate for kids. Adults won't mind short trips stuck in back, but the operative word is "stuck."

Three main powertrains are available for the 2009 Ford Mustang: a base 4.0-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8, and a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. Automatic and manual gearboxes are available, depending on the model. And depending on which model you choose, the amount of power on tap varies tremendously. The Mustang V-6 rings in with 210 horsepower (coupe and convertible); the V-8-powered Mustang GT with 300 hp (coupe and convertible); the Bullitt V-8 coupe with 319 hp; the Shelby GT500 with 500 hp (coupe and convertible); and the limited edition Shelby GT500KR coupe with 540 hp.

If you can afford a V-8, get one. The V-6 nets you only a 1-mpg increase in the city and highway, so it's hardly worth dealing with the engine's coarseness and lack of power compared to the step-up 4.6-liter (with 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the five-speed manual transmission).

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On the road, the 2009 Ford Mustang GT is the model for enthusiasts. Despite the aged solid-axle layout, the suspension does well in soaking up imperfections while keeping the tires in contact with the pavement. The Mustang GT is an easy car to drive quickly on the track because it responds to the helm and throttle with equal aplomb. The car possesses very good balance.

The interior is fun, with sporty styling cues, though the quality of materials ranks far behind that of some modern sportscar rivals. The exhaust rumble from the V-8 is pleasant. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise, but this isn't a luxury car. First made standard in ’08, side airbags remain in place on all 2009 Ford Mustang models.

At the top of the Mustang lineup is the top-performance Shelby GT500. Powered by the iron-block 5.4-liter Triton V-8 with a supercharger, it churns out 500 hp through a six-speed manual gearbox. Its suspension features plenty of unique performance pieces, and the brakes are massive 14-inch, four-piston Brembos. Both front and rear brake discs are vented. The GT500 offers a completely different driving performance that lacks finesse but has more than enough power to, at least in some cases, make up for it.

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2009 Ford Mustang

Styling

The 2009 Ford Mustang exudes retro and modern cool, with a dose of pony car muscle for good measure.

Particularly in the automotive arena, the decision to recall the styling of an icon is a tricky proposition. With the current Ford Mustang, Ford scores a bull's-eye on the high-reward target and does an enviable job of blending 1960s Mustang design with modern-day themes.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com all agree that the styling on the 2009 Ford Mustang is a huge success, and Ford's sales numbers support that sentiment. ForbesAutos declares that “thanks to retro design cues and gutsy engines, the current version, which debuted in 2005, successfully captures the brawny coolness of the groundbreaking 1967 original.” Regarding the exterior, Edmunds feels that the Mustang's 2009 incarnation "stands out thanks to its big grille, round headlights, side sculpting, tri-bar taillights and, on the coupe, triangular quarter windows."

Other styling packages receive enthusiastic thumbs-up from reviewers, especially the 2009 Ford Mustang Bullitt edition, which Road & Track says "just exudes 'cool.'" Styling on the Mustang 2009 is particularly aggressive on the Shelby versions, with Cars.com finding that "the headlight enclosures angle in more sharply" and "the hood is fitted with two openings designed to vent heat" on the GT500KR. ConsumerGuide lists the numerous other styling options as including "coupes and convertibles" offered in both "Deluxe and Premium trims," along with the Shelby GT500 and the Shelby GT500KR, a "limited-edition coupe that is only available through select Ford dealers." While both convertible and coupe versions of the Ford Mustang 2009 feature retro styling, Kelley Blue Book reports that, on the convertible, "Styling details from the original and second-generation Mustang convertibles are strongly evident, especially in the grille, rear deck and side scoops."

The interior styling of the 2009 Ford Mustang doesn't quite live up to the ultra-exciting exterior, though it doesn't have any serious flaws. Edmunds finds the interior styling to be "eye-catching," though they disapprove of the "hard, monotone plastics" that abound in the base models. ConsumerGuide summarizes the interior as "disappointing," although they give credit for the cabin's "eye appeal." Of the Ford Mustang Bullitt edition, Cars.com reports that the "interior is simple and clean," with a "hand-machined aluminum dash" and "charcoal black leather seats" that bring "sophistication without being flashy."

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2009 Ford Mustang

Performance

The 2009 Ford Mustang runs from mild to truly wild—and rides reasonably well, too.

To be called a sportscar (especially a modern-day Detroit muscle car), a vehicle has to perform admirably on the open road. The 2009 Ford Mustang, especially the top-end models, gallops on the straights and even goes around the corners with ease.

The various trim levels and versions of the 2009 Ford Mustang offer several different engine choices. Cars.com lists those options as a "4.0-liter V-6" that "produces 210 horsepower," a "4.6-liter all-aluminum V-8" that "pumps out 300 hp," and a "319 hp" version for the Shelby GT. The "supercharged Shelby GT500" offers a "500-hp rating," according to Car and Driver, and Popular Mechanics says the Shelby GT500KR comes with a "540-hp supercharged 5.4-liter V8."

The Ford Mustang's 2009 lineup offers different models that feature engine performance ranging from good to ground-shaking great. The most affordable pony car is the V-6-powered base Mustang 2009. Edmunds finds that "acceleration is respectable with the V6, regardless of whether you choose the fun-to-shift manual or the responsive automatic." With the 2009 Ford Mustang GT and its torquey V-8 engine, there is a huge improvement in acceleration, while losing only 1 mpg in both city and highway driving compared to the V-6. Kelley Blue Book feels that the "GT is clearly faster and more refined, and its V8 is one feature many male buyers wouldn't dream of sacrificing." The 2009 Shelby Mustang GT500 boasts a 500-hp engine that ConsumerGuide says is "strong at any speed, though not as brutally fast as other cars with 500 hp." Carroll Shelby and Ford have teamed up to produce the 2009 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR for the pony car speed merchants, which features a supercharged 540-hp model that Popular Mechanics feels "offers plenty of torque at low revs" and "gains speed with an ease that speaks of 540 horses."

Ford offers several transmissions for the daunting task of efficiently transferring the substantial power of the Ford Mustang 2009 to the road. The Shelby GT500 and GT500KR offer six-speed manual transmissions, and Edmunds adds that "all Mustangs are rear-wheel drive." Kelley Blue Book states that both the Ford Mustang coupe and convertible feature a standard "five-speed manual transmission," with an optional "five-speed automatic."

Today's Ford Mustang 2009 does have an Achilles' heel: its less than adequate fuel economy, which for the Mustang GT with manual transmission is rated at 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The six-cylinder engine on the Ford Mustang is slightly thriftier, delivering an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway. Of course, the highly prized 5.4-liter V-8 mills powering the Shelby editions drink still more petrol, which the EPA rates at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.

The high-end models of the Mustang have improved handling, earning praise from Cars.com, which says that the Ford Mustang's steering has "a satisfying, confident feel." TheCarConnection.com also applauds the Mustang's road manners. For the convertibles, Kelley Blue Book claims that "the rigid body results in far less cowl shake...giving the Mustang a real sense of solidity." The convertible suffers slightly from the increased weight associated with the folding top, but less than you might expect. Edmunds feels that the Ford Mustang boasts "reasonably precise handling through the corners and a surprisingly compliant ride," while ConsumerGuide finds that the "V6s have good cornering moves." The much more powerful GT500KR also handles well, with Popular Mechanics declaring that "the ride is surprisingly compliant" and "the steering effort has entirely tolerable levels of effort."

In terms of occupant comfort and drivability, the Mustang redeems itself somewhat. Autoblog feels that the Mustang is "easy to live with on a daily basis,” while Road & Track considers the ride to be "firm but not unpleasant" on the Bullitt-edition Mustang.

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2009 Ford Mustang

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Ford Mustang shows its muscle-car roots in less flattering ways when it comes to room, comfort, and materials.

Despite continuous improvement, the 2009 Ford Mustang is still a brawling muscle car that suffers from some predictable flaws.

For the Mustang, 2009 models offer interior space that is decent and comfort. ConsumerGuide finds "good headroom and legroom, but the cabin feels cozy due to low seats, a high dashtop, and tall windowsills." Autoblog appreciates the front seats' "power fore-aft and bottom cushion angle adjustment along with inflatable lumbar support" that help improve driver comfort and "keeps you planted in the appropriate position relative to the steering wheel." Cars.com adds that the Ford Mustang "has two front seats and two rear buckets that might qualify as seats but are not for most adult passengers."

As is the case with most pony and muscle cars, cargo room isn't by any means ample in the 2009 Ford Mustang, and the Mustang 2009 has one or two other flaws. Several reviews read by TheCarConnection.com critique the poor placement of the two cup holders, with Autoblog saying that tall items "can interfere with your forearm when shifting." Regarding storage space, ConsumerGuide reports that "the size and shape of the opening" for the trunk "makes loading even moderately sized cargo a challenge," and inside the cabin, "storage is sparse, with the door map pockets being almost useless."

Other aspects of the interior of the 2009 Ford Mustang are lacking, if not in styling, then certainly in quality. ConsumerGuide thinks that "most switchgear feels cut-rate, and padded surfaces are almost non-existent." Kelley Blue Book finds that "some of the plastics around the console, door panels and speaker grilles feel flimsy and hard to the touch," and Edmunds feels that the base Ford Mustang 2008's "hard, monotone plastics" are "disappointing at any price point," but upgrading the interior "helps somewhat." Kelley Blue Book summarizes reviewer sentiment by saying that "a few less hard-edge plastic surfaces would go a long way to turning a good interior into one that's great."

On the convertible version of the 2009 Ford Mustang, reviewers determine that road noise is uncharacteristically minimal with the top down, and when the top comes up, extra shakes are not intrusive. ConsumerGuide is quick to criticize the Ford Mustang 2009's sound characteristics, finding "marked engine noise and coarse-surface tire thrum," and the "V6 growls and booms unpleasantly as revs rise."

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2009 Ford Mustang

Safety

The 2009 Ford Mustang scores well in crash tests, but it lacks some of the dynamic features to complete the package.

The 2009 Ford Mustang performs well in crash tests and offers a good deal of safety equipment on up-level versions.

In a variety of collision simulations from independent crash-testing authorities, the Ford Mustang 2009 scores very well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Mustang 2009 models its best rating of "good" for side-impact tests, while the Mustang scores the second-best rating of "acceptable" for frontal offset collisions. Achieving a perfect score of five stars in front and side impact tests, as well as a five-star rating for rollover risk from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2009 Ford Mustang convertible tests impeccably well.

Kelley Blue Book notes that the "GT Deluxe adds...anti-lock brakes" as standard equipment, but the V-6 Mustangs aren't similarly equipped. Edmunds points out that safety features include "four-wheel disc brakes and front seat side airbags...standard on all Mustangs," but cautions that "neither stability control nor full-length head curtain airbags are available" on the V-6 versions of the Ford Mustang. The lack of stability control is surprising in a sportscar, as nearly all of the Mustang 2009's competitors reviewed by TheCarConnection.com feature some sort of stability or traction control system. However, Motor Trend points out that the Shelby GT500 and GT500KR both feature standard "traction control."

In terms of another critical safety characteristic, driver visibility, ConsumerGuide reports that on the Ford Mustang "outward vision is good in coupes, but the convertible top leaves wide over-the-shoulder blind spots" when raised. Car and Driver is quick to point out that new safety features for Ford Mustang include "front-seat side airbags," which greatly improve the car's overall safety rating.

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2009 Ford Mustang

Features

The 2009 Ford Mustang provides a veritable bounty of trim levels for pony car enthusiasts to choose from, as well as some good standard features. For audiophiles, the Shaker 1000 sound system is a must.

Features abound on the model lineup for the 2009 Ford Mustang, as the car comes in four different trims as well as coupe and convertible models. For 2009, Ford has added more standard equipment to the popular "Premium" arrays offered on the Mustang V-6 and GT, including Sirius Satellite Radio, satin aluminum instrument panel trim, ambient lighting, and upgraded interior trim.

The many trims of the 2009 Ford Mustang bring several different standard features. Automobile says that the Bullitt edition adds "unique gauges," and the Shelby GT500 variants offer a standard "interior lighting package" and the "Cobra emblem," according to Motor Trend. ConsumerGuide reports that the Ford Mustang Base trim comes standard with "remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, [and] digital-media player connection," while the Premium version gets an "upgraded sound system" and "in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer." Cars.com adds that the Ford Mustang brings the option to hook up the CD/MP3 changer to an optional "1000-watt Shaker 1000 stereo" on the GT.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com like the features list of the Mustang 2009, as they’re a thoughtfully mixed blend of retro options and modern conveniences and luxuries. Kelley Blue Book finds that noteworthy optional features on the Ford Mustang include "leather seating, navigation, [and] sport bucket seats." Other cool touches include the multicolor interior lighting, a seemingly endless variety of color combinations, and a Shaker 1000 sound system, which ForbesAutos says features "MP3-playback capability." There’s also a new, optional GT Security Package, which includes an active anti-theft system and wheel-locking kit. Brilliant Silver clear-coat metallic is yet another new exterior color for the pony car.

The convertible version of the 2009 Ford Mustang sports a power-folding soft top, which Kelley Blue Book says "folds nearly flush when retracted, giving the car a clean, powerful profile." While the top can be a bit tricky to operate, it is a welcome feature for those nice, sunny days tailor-made for cruising with the top down in a Mustang.

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Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 7
Features 8
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