2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Convertible Reader Rental Review

John Muir as soon as wrote, “The world is large and I wish to have an excellent take a look at it earlier than it will get darkish,” and whenever you’re pushing 60, as I’m, “the darkish” isn’t simply an summary idea anymore – it’s fairly actual.

Fortunately, being a guy-of-a-certain-age additionally has its’ perks, certainly one of them being the means to pack your baggage and get the hell out of city at will, so whereas the nice people right here in Denver have been coping with climate finest described as “winter hell,” my woman and I have been having fun with a few sunny days at Disneyland, and a lazy Sunday with completely nothing to do earlier than our early-evening flight house. It was an ideal alternative for a day journey, and a peek on the Hertz web site revealed an ideal experience: A Mustang convertible. A couple of clicks later, we’d booked the automobile and a Lyft to John Wayne Airport to select it up.

Fifty-eight years right here on Earth have taught me that there aren’t many issues in life extra fantastic than experiencing wanderlust, and for those who love automobiles, I hope you get the possibility to search out yours gazing down the lengthy hood of a drop-top Mustang, with early morning California sunshine kissing your brow, your love at your aspect, and nothing in entrance of you however eight hours of nothing to do. We toyed with hitting the vacationer sights in L.A., however the breeze pointed us west, in the direction of the ocean, and that’s the best way we went – first to Huntington Seaside, then down the Pacific Coast Freeway.

As excellent automobile days go, one spent cruising prime down on the PCH is one for the books – the climate and surroundings are spectacular, and residing all of the weirdness and wonderfulness of southern California with somebody you like is one thing it’s best to expertise. Sadly, I can’t fairly say the identical about our Mustang, which proved to be an alternatively pleasant and cranky journey companion.

The Mustang in query was a 2021 EcoBoost Premium, with the identical 2.3 turbo-four present in all kinds of Ford merchandise, mated to a 10-speed computerized. As you’ll be able to see, the automobile’s as drop-dead horny as the driving force. In actual fact, I’d say this era of Mustang is among the best-looking automobiles you should purchase for almost any value. As an outdated Jaguar advert as soon as proclaimed, “attractive will get away with it,” and the Mustang’s seems make its inherent limitations – primarily, a non-usable again seat and a tiny trunk – loads simpler to miss. However for a carefree day spent cruising in California sunshine, does that stuff actually matter?

The Premium trim included ventilated “ActiveX” (learn: Pretend leather-based) seats, a giant touchscreen with inscrutable HVAC controls (which fortunately weren’t wanted), and selectable drive modes. The toggle switches on the console have been a pleasant contact, as was the tongue-in-cheek “Floor Velocity” marking on the speedometer. So outfitted, our renter would retail for $40,515, per Ford’s build-and-price web site.


The convertible prime is a breeze to make use of – a single pull and twist on the lever behind the rear-view mirror releases the highest, and it folds electrically behind the rear seats rapidly and silently.

With the highest down because the Almighty meant, the drive mode switched to “sport,” and “Inexperienced Onions” on the stereo, it was off to Huntington Seaside, the city Jan and Dean made well-known as “Surf Metropolis”.

To my shock, the “Surf Metropolis” factor wasn’t simply PR – no, there weren’t two swingin’ honeys for each man, however there have been loads of surfers on the market on that morning, using waves within the frigid water. One surfer struck up a dialog with us.

“We don’t have this again house,” I mentioned, and after little question noting our distinctly non-California-esque our bodies and untanned pores and skin, he guessed we have been from Minnesota. After I informed him we have been from Colorado, he mirrored for a second, merely replied, “cool,” and hit the waves once more.

The native surfer-dude vibe isn’t unintended. Huntington Seaside proved to be a considerably funky, laid-back form of place – additional up the seashore, there was a playground, a grassy knoll with hammocks, and a church service led by a guitar-playing pastor. It’s the type of place {that a} non-Californian like me would consider as “typical So-Cal,” however the day would show that there isn’t any typicality to this place in any respect.

The place subsequent from Huntington Seaside? We regarded north on the seashore, the place you might clearly see the haze of Lengthy Seaside harbor, an unmistakable signal of Los Angeles’ nightmare sprawl, and determined to move to the clearer southward skies and Newport Seaside.

The Mustang was proving to be a snug cruise accomplice on the PCH drive, however the phase to Newport Seaside, which was completed in average visitors, uncovered some nasty character flaws in its powertrain setup.

On paper, the substances for strong efficiency are there – the turbo-four produces 310 horsepower and a not-inconsiderable 350 lb-ft of torque, and TTAC checks of the guide model of this automobile discovered it to be a legit performer. Even with the automated, instrumented checks present EcoBoost Mustangs are able to 0-60 runs within the low-five-second vary, which ought to have made our renter a tad faster than my very own automobile, a Jetta GLI, and that automobile’s no slouch. However in visitors, the Mustang felt out of kinds and gradual – there was at all times a contact of turbo lag, adopted by the 10-speed attempting to determine its subsequent transfer, which was nearly inevitably to carry the present gear or upshift, even in “sport” mode.

Accelerating was distasteful for the gearbox, however decelerating made it downright cranky – it led to an unseemly “bucking” really feel, not in contrast to the dreaded “Energy Shudder” sensation you bought from the outdated DCT items within the Focus and Fiesta, which happy solely class-action attorneys. Our rental had paddle shifters – a extremely helpful efficiency driving device that, when executed correctly (as they’re in my GLI), present about eight- or nine-tenths as a lot transmission management as you’d have with a guide – however the Mustang’s transmission simply saved shifting it doesn’t matter what, making the paddles into decorations. The transmission triggered the Mustang to develop a break up character – a horny, highly effective, extremely competent, and cozy cruiser that desires to go quick and has the expertise to take action, with an Eeyore transmission that tells it to not.

However simply because the Mustang’s transmission was throwing us curves, so did the PCH – the pleasant funkiness of Huntington Seaside pale behind us, and we entered Newport Seaside. On reflection, I wasn’t fairly ready for the show of ridiculous wealth that unfolded in entrance of me.

Don’t get me mistaken – I don’t resent cash. I grew up in one of many wealthiest neighborhoods in St. Louis, in a house that may go for 1,000,000 bucks at the moment (and for those who’re aware of St. Louis actual property, you understand the type of home 1,000,000 buys), with two Benzes within the driveway at any given time. Denver definitely has greater than its share of wealth on show as effectively. Cash shouldn’t be a tradition shock for me, however I used to be greater than a bit gobsmacked by the ridiculous, over-the-top “Platinum AMEX” really feel of Newport Seaside – the squads of Vary Rovers and Teslas, the Ferrari and Maserati sellers a number of hundred toes from a McDonalds, the yacht marina simply off the PCH, and the infinite procession of $3 million stucco McMansions.

Think about a Neiman-Marcus retailer reworked right into a metropolis, and you’ve got Newport Seaside. And like a Neiman-Marcus, the antiseptic, generic really feel of all of it was placing – every little thing was completely manicured, buttoned-down, designer. Each blade of grass trimmed, each hair on each head coiffed. You may really feel the snobbery simply driving down the road. The spoiled-brat child at McDonald’s who took our order for Shamrock Shakes didn’t even thank us. She was most likely upset that her mother and pop made her earn her personal cash when everybody else on the day college is getting two-grand month-to-month allowances (some extent that my inside adolescent finds eminently truthful). Would somebody surf in Newport Seaside? Completely, if there was a Botox clinic on the seashore.

Trying again, if there had been something within the Ferrari dealership to have a look at (there wasn’t), we’d have caught round Newport Seaside for a bit, however pretentious wealth isn’t our factor, and we have been glad to go away the place behind. So was the Mustang. Because the street opened up a bit on the best way to Laguna Seaside, our pony bought an opportunity to point out its cruising chops, that are appreciable – it’s a relaxed, refined driver, and even with the awful transmission and with out the V-8, the torque makes it feels effortlessly highly effective, as a automobile like this needs to be. The Mustang’s conversion from coupe to convertible is effectively executed – with the highest and home windows down, wind buffeting and cowl shake have been minimal. General, our 20,000-mile-old Mustang was strong and rattle-free. I by no means bought to open the Mustang up, however I did word that the chassis’ sinews have been evident, and the steering had applicable heft and first rate really feel. This can be a large automobile that by no means feels large, and transmission points apart, it may be pleasant to drive.

The subsequent cease on the PCH split-personality parade was Laguna Seaside, which might be simply as monied as Newport Seaside however doesn’t like exhibiting it. It jogged my memory of a California model of Boulder – a spot the place individuals who have gobs of cash consider themselves as unpretentious as they drop 10 grand on a path bike or $300 on sneakers made out of responsibly sourced supplies and hand-assembled by indigenous Costa Ricans (who generously donate 3.8 p.c of the proceeds to climate-change safety). Nonetheless, it was a breath of recent(er) air after the Nip-Tuck ostentation of Newport Seaside.

From there, it was on to Dana Level and San Clemente, most likely finest generally known as the place the place Richard Nixon spent his winters planning out fiendish payback towards all of his actual and imagined political opponents. San Clemente had its personal “touristy” allure however nonetheless felt extra down-to-earth than the locations we’d been. On the town, the roads get twisty and slim, and regardless of being a giant automobile, the Mustang dealt with all of it with ease.

After a late lunch in San Juan Capistrano, it was time to start out heading again towards city for our night flight, and we determined to check out just a little California Freeway Life on Interstate 5. Surprisingly sufficient, visitors was gentle – fact be informed, I-25 on a typical Sunday afternoon in Denver is much worse. The Mustang proved to be a wonderful freeway cruiser, and with the highest down and home windows up, noise ranges have been low sufficient to carry a dialog at 75-80 mph. I attempted some passing maneuvers to see if the transmission points have been an “in visitors” factor, however the gearbox proved its rock-solid consistency by being mule-headed at freeway speeds as effectively.

With the approaching of sundown, it was time to determine some supper (which turned out to be dessert on the Cheesecake Manufacturing unit), gasoline up our Mustang and get it again to Hertz and start the regrettable strategy of going house. Transmission points however, the Mustang had confirmed itself a first-rate accomplice for our California journey.

A few hours later, our 737 left the bottom. My girlfriend put her head on my shoulder and dozed off, and because the lights of Southern California and our little PCH playground receded behind us, with nothing however the darkish of the desert Southwest forward, that Muir quote ran via my head once more.

I’m not going to be right here eternally; the identical could even be true of Mustangs. Whether or not you’re speaking about your individual mortality, or the mortality of pony automobiles – a minimum of as we all know them – the darkish is on the market. However it may be chased away for a spell, and cruising the California coast in a drop-top Mustang along with your love is an effective way to do it. Subsequent time, perhaps we’ll chase it away going north, in the direction of Santa Barbara, or perhaps we’ll examine the mid-mod homes in Palm Springs.

However regardless of the place we go subsequent, if we lease a Mustang once more, it’ll have a V8.


The outdated journalism main in me was vexed by the transmission points in our Mustang after I bought house. Was our renter a nasty apple? Did Hertz “de-tune” it to maintain it from being abused? The latter appeared doable, and would make sense – a number of years again, Nationwide was dumb sufficient to lease me a V8 Challenger whereas I used to be in Florida on a three-week enterprise journey, and the very first thing I did after leaving the rental company was to carry out the primary of 148 lurid smoky burnouts I did through the journey. Clearly, it’d be good to protect towards dingbats like me.

So, within the title of journalistic equity, I made a decision to check out an computerized Ecoboost Mustang from an area dealership. The one I examined wasn’t fairly as dangerous as our renter, nevertheless it had lots of the similar behaviors – even in sport mode, it was fast to upshift, gradual to downshift, and “bucked” when decelerating.

A little bit of analysis signifies that this seems to be a identified challenge with this automobile, in accordance with Ford boards. Maybe a few of our renter’s points stemmed from a hard-knock life at Hertz, however this can be a efficiency automobile, so I’d argue that tough driving needs to be “engineered in,” so to talk. If 20,000 miles on the clock triggered the transmission points our instance had, how dangerous would it not be at 50,000 miles? I’d say one of the best reply to that query can be to keep away from the automated mannequin altogether.

At this level, you’re saying, “who cares – the Mustang to get is the one with a V8 and a stick,” and also you received’t get any argument from me there – I drove one a number of years again and it was nice. However alternative is at all times good, and if you wish to save a couple of dollars, a guide EcoBoost mannequin is a fine-driving automobile in its’ personal proper and a very good efficiency worth.

[Images courtesy of the author]

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