2012 Ford Mustang V-6 Convertible
While it’s true that most Mustang fans lust after the V-8 models, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, reality sets in. The V-6 is more affordable, and has basically the same good looks as the GT. And it gets better fuel economy: 19 mpg city/30 highway versus the V-8’s 18 and 25. We had the opportunity to try out a Mustang convertible — a V-6 with the six-speed automatic — through scenic Colorado. Little did we know the drive would offer so much variety: freeways at elevation and narrow two-lane mountain roads, rain and severe heat, top up and top down in all environments.
When we arrived in Denver, it was triple-digit hot. That was a sign that it was time to move to higher elevations, so we got on the freeway and headed toward Aspen. As mentioned above, our blue tester came with the 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic. As tested, it cost $37,220. Providing shelter when the weather turned sour was a black soft top. To put the top down, we just had to unclip two clips and push a button, going from sheltered to sun-worshipper in less than 15 seconds. Once we got to slightly cooler climes, down went the top. However, that was fairly short-lived, and dark clouds became a sudden rainstorm. Fortunately, the top goes up in less time than it takes to put it down. Another plus is that because this isn’t a power-retractable hardtop, when the top is down, you don’t lose any trunk space. Because of spotty rain, we drove whenever we could with the top down, but there were times when the rain proved too much. We experienced more top-up driving than we had hoped for, but that turned out to be about 60 down/40 up, which isn’t bad.
There are certainly pluses and minuses with this car, some of which we noticed right away. For example, the convertible’s iconic lines are still eye-catching. In addition, driving top-up and top-down, the cabin was surprisingly quiet. The HVAC controls on the center stack aren’t the most beautiful, but they are very easy to use. When it comes to convenience and ergonomics, the Mustang is excellent. It took little time to get everything just right for a scenic drive.
But there were some disappointments, too. Heading out of Denver, we wanted to control the transmission as we climbed to higher elevations. We quickly discovered there are no paddles, and the shifter only allows shifting between First, Second, Third, and Drive. When put in Drive, the shifts are too slow. In addition, the ride felt marshmallowy in turns, yet that didn’t translate into a comfortable ride. Sure, on freshly paved roads, it was great, yet once the surface got rough, jarring bumps were transmitted through the seat and steering wheel. That’s something that’s likely caused, at least in part, by the live rear axle. Additional structural rigidity would help, but with V-6 models, that kind of upgrade is only offered with the coupe. At the track, the Mustang hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and completed the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 95.3 mph. Both are impressive numbers. Braking from 60 was a decent 124 feet. And during our test, we got 21.5 mpg, with a combination of hill climbs, spirited driving on twisty mountain roads, all with the engine a little out of breath — and being pushed harder because of it — at Rocky Mountain altitudes.
This is not as much a sports car as it is a highway cruiser. (The V-8 Mustang leans more toward sports-car attitude.) Driving hard through curves reveals some of the car’s weaknesses. However, if you look at this as a comfortable way to soak up the world around you — sights, sounds, smells, and all — then have fun with the quick acceleration, set the stereo to the right station, and enjoy the experience of open-air driving.