Ford Mustang may be growing older, but it still exudes a fun-loving attitude

By Paul Borden

(February 10, 2019) MIAMI — Ford's Mustang will soon reach “senior status” as its 55th birthday fast approaches, but it still is very much the same young-at-heart vehicle as when it was unveiled at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964.

Especially in convertible form, the 2019 Ford Mustang exudes the same “life is short, have fun” image evoked by those early Mustangs, which fans dubbed 1964 1/2 models because of the timing of the launch. (For the record, Ford, which took orders for 22,000 Mustangs that first day, had advertised it as a 1965.)

That’s no doubt an important part as to the Mustang’s ability to survive for over five decades without a break in production, but not, I think, the only key.

So to is its versatility.

If you want to experience the full effect of what the Mustang offers in the way of a traditional America Muscle Car, you should go for the Mustang GT with a 5.0-liter V8 under the hood pumping out 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque to its rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission and the dual exhaust emitting all the proper sounds.

You can go full bore with the Bullitt coupe model that marks its return for 2019 or the Shelby GT350, each with a 5.2-liter V8 rated at 526 hp and 429 lb.-ft. of torque.

But if a price that starts at over $46,000 is out of your league (as it is mine), or you want something a little less thirsty than a V8 that drinks premium fuel at the rate of 15 miles-per-gallon city and 24 highway, the Mustang also is offered with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine that boosts those figures to 20/28 while still delivering a lively driving experience.

This is not the sluggish 4-cylinder introduced in the Mustang II back in the 1970s and phased out in 1993. Far from it. It actually led to Ford’s phasing out of the V6 that once served as the base engine in the updating Ford gave the Mustang for 2018.

Using premium fuel, the Ecoboost-4 is rated at 310 horsepower at a peak 5500 rpm with maximum torque of 350 pound-feet at 3000, so it is no slouch. It has been clocked with a zero-to-60 mph time of less than a second off the V8’s 4.6 seconds.

Of course, the Mustang also is noted as much for the V8’s throaty sounds as it is looks and performance, and you can still get that with the Ecoboost by adjusting the exhaust to one of four settings — Quiet (for a late night arrival in the neighborhood), Normal, Sport, or Track.

My test Mustang convertible came with the a 10-speed automatic transmission that shifted so smoothly you’d have thought it was a CVT (thankfully, it wasn’t). You can also shift gears manually via the usual steering wheel-mounted shifters,

Inside, Ford has given the Mustang several upgrades. It seats four, if not in luxury at least in comfort without the Spartan-like ambiance of past models. You still have to crank a latch at the top of the windshield for lowering or securing the soft top, but it’s an easy operation.

Standard equipment in the Premium version includes headlamps with LED signature lighting, LED taillights with sequential turn signal lighting, 12-inch LCD instrument cluster, dual zone electronic climate control, leather-trimmed seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, two Smart charging USB ports, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, keyless access and push-button start, selectable drive modes (Sport adds to the experience), and Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system, which I found very user-friendly.

All that is covered in the starting MSRP of $37,355 (including $995 destination and delivery).

A couple of options, a package that included navigation, the automatic transmission, and a rear deck spoiler, ran the total of my test vehicle to $42,440.

What I liked about the 2019 Ford Mustang Convertible: Hey! It’s a convertible! What’s not to like? OK. The turbo-4 engine offers a bit of practicality to go with a fun driving experience. The capability of setting the exhaust notes to your personal taste (Normal, Quiet, Sport, Track) also is a nice feature.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Ford Mustang Convertible: It’s a given that the back seat is going to be cramped since it’s a convertible, but it's also extra difficult to get back there, especially with the top up. Trunk volume is only 11.4 cubic feet, but you don’t need to make any special adjustments before lowering the cloth top.

Would I buy the 2019 Ford Mustang Convertible? Sure would. U.S. News & World Report ranks it right behind the Mazda Miata in sports cars. But with those two vehicles being so different, the Mustang essentially is No. 1 in its class.