Decisions, decisions.

In another one of those cases in which, due to scheduling, I had to make a last-minute change to my reservation and pick up a car at my local airport instead of a small suburban location, I was presented with a difficult choice: Chrysler 300, Chevy Impala, or Nissan Maxima. Three of my favourite rental cars for eating up miles of the stupid-slab, which I would be doing this week with a trip to central North Carolina, back to Atlanta, then over to near Tupelo and back to Atlanta, which would add up to somewhere north of twenty hours in the car before I turned it in. All three of these cars have earned my respect and admiration for not only being pleasurable to drive, but also for being really comfortable and ergonomically compatible with my obnoxiously big-and-tall physique. I was really in a dither about it and almost went with the 300, knowing that its days in production were numbered, but the little voice in my head said get the Maxima. Maybe that voice knew that I’ve been meaning to write one of these reviews on it, or maybe it knew that the current generation of Maxima is surprisingly quick and fun for what externally appears to be an average Asian sedan. In any case, I knew that I’d enjoy the ride.

The Maxima has a long history of being a satisfying car, often with a sporty edge. It traces its lineage all the way back to the Nissan Bluebird, known on US shores as the Datsun 510, which closely copied a lot of the chassis and powertrain details of the BMW 1600/2000 models. The 510 earned a reputation for excellent handling and better overall performance than would be expected from a low-priced Japanese sedan. I can personally attest to this as I had a 510 when I was in the 12th grade and it was fun enough that I still miss it. In the ’70s the focus got diluted with the successor 710, but then the 810 upped the game with a 6-cylinder engine, was renamed Maxima a year later, and has moved in more of a performance direction ever since. This latest Maxima is no exception, and it continues in the sport-sedan tradition established by Maximae of the past. It offers enjoyable road-handling and plenty of power in a refined package. The one in which I spent the week was the SV trim level, with a starting MSRP of $35,960.

I’m always struck in the Maxima at how the driver seat area feels long, narrow, and low, and I don’t mean any of that in a bad way. The seat can be adjusted farther back than I need, low enough for me to wear a hat, and the center console is rather high and close, although for me it was a bit too close- but more regular-sized people won’t have an issue with it, although those who do may find the console in the 2018 model a bit less intrusive. It’s a good fit, and I rarely need to shift my position in the seat to stay comfortable for the long haul. I can stretch out my legs past the pedals and there’s plenty of room before my left foots hits the wheel well. The seat itself is supportive, bolstered just right for my build, and has all-electric adjustments for fore/aft, seatback angle, and lumbar support. The seats are heated too, controlled by chunky rocker-switches in the center console. There are only two settings, and I found that the heat left a little to be desired. Even in the high setting, the heat was not as quick or as thorough as what I’ve come to expect from the seat heat in my five-year-old Mazda 3, and it seemed to be stronger in the backrest than in the bottom cushion.

The steering wheel is adjustable in tilt and telescope, and is quite comfortable to my hands. I’m not generally a fan of flat-bottomed steering wheels, as I think that they are one of the ultimate elements of boy-racer poseurism in road cars, and the one in the Maxima doesn’t remove much clearance from the bottom of the wheel to make legroom- and it doesn’t need to. But what it does do is make gripping the lower quadrants comfy, as it makes a little more room for your hands.

The rear seat is tight for a large person such as myself, and just plain lacks the headroom for the unusually tall. As in many cars, if the driver seat is far enough back to accommodate someone my size, legroom behind it isn’t great. The cargo space is roomy and the opening is large enough to allow bulky items in and out with ease, and there is a cargo-net that can be secured across the lower part of the opening.

The engine is a 3.5-litre, 24-valve V6 with continuously variable valve timing, and Nissan claim 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. It’s a peppy engine, lots of fun, and the continuously variable transmission does a good job of delivering power when you want it. Punch it and it goes- highway passes are easy and quick, although if you punch it hard enough you will get some initial torque-steer that will need minding, though not as bad as what you get with the Chevy Impala. Let me be clear here, this car is fun to put your right foot into and it goes with enough enthusiasm to make you want to put your foot into it. Be careful with it if you want to keep points off your license. The acoustic engineers did a good job too, giving the engine a nice growl under high power but quiet the rest of the time. Combine the eagerness of the acceleration with that growl, and you’ll enjoy every torque-steering moment of zipping down those on-ramps.

The transmission is a continuously-variable type that is a definite step forward over CVTs of the past. No high-rpm buzziness, and most of the time it acts like a conventional automatic, with discernible shift-points that are especially apparent during hard acceleration, and the aforementioned toque-steer can appear during the first two or three shifts during a good highway pass. There is also a sport-mode, selectable by a button in the center console. As with the sport-modes found in many other cars, this one raises the RPM points at which the transmissions shifts ratios, which makes acceleration more exciting. The downside of all the fun from the engine and transmission is low MPG. Nissan claims 20 city/30 highway, and of course it will be less if you enjoy the power too much. Another downside of this transmission is that in reverse the throttle becomes much less sensitive, which sounds like a good thing in theory but in practise it isn’t. Tickle the pedal a little to make a nice smooth backing maneuver and the car hesitates enough to make you wonder if it’s asking you, “you’re not serious about that, are you?” And backing uphill requires a large amount of right foot and enough revs to make you reconsider about backing uphill, despite how little work actually gets done.

The brakes are excellent- vented discs all around with electronic brakeforce distribution, and they do a great and unobtrusive job of eliminating speed. The 245/45-18 Continental tires are good and grippy, up to the task of keeping the Maxima’s 3565-lb curb weight planted. The car doesn’t feel that heavy in the twisties and is delightfully easy to put through the handing test.

The controls give you some options. As in pretty much every car these days, there is a touchscreen that controls audio, climate, vehicle settings and other things, and there is also a knob in the center console that can be used to control many of these functions as well. There is also the usual assortment of buttons on the steering wheel, controlling everything from radio volume to cruise control, and buttons for scrolling through the various screens that can be displayed between the speedometer and tachometer. This too seems to have become a standard arrangement for cars of our present era. The screen also of course displays what the rearview camera sees when the transmission is in reverse, but the camera lens is not well shielded from rain and the rearview image can be almost useless on rainy nights.

The cruise control is what Nissan calls Intelligent Cruise Control, which is of the type that adjusts for following distances. There are three levels of sensitivity, however the system defaults to the most sensitive level -which results in the greatest following distance- every time the car is switched on. If you prefer a different level, you must select this every time you get behind the wheel, and there is a button on the steering wheel just for this function. The cruise control also must be turned on for each drive in which you wish to use it, but that’s typical for most cars today. By comparison, the Chevy Impala’s cruise control remembers if you left it on- really convenient if you’re not fond of button-pushing. So how well does it work? Like all distance-sensing cruise controls I’ve used, it does the job of maintaining the distance quite well, but it lacks smoothness when the set distance is reached. The engine’s RPM can drop away rather suddenly, and if need be, the brakes engage to keep the following distance from going below the set amount. This can make for some abrupt surprise-decelerations, and the system is capable of bringing the car to a complete stop if the car in front of you stops, as I nervously learned while covering the pedal but resisting the urge to step on it. Please note, this automatic braking does NOT work when the cruise control is not engaged. Also, the cruise control will not engage if the radar antenna that senses following distance is obscured, the warning light and message for which came up several times while driving the Interstate in heavy rain. It will also dis-engage if the drive wheels lose traction, also learned in the deluge I experienced crossing Alabama.

So how did my Maxima do during the week’s travels? It did an impressive job of getting my butt down the road. Due to a mix-up with one customer’s information, I wound up making the trip to Mississippi unnecessarily, then going back to North Carolina the following day- so I ended up putting almost 2000 miles on the car in four days. The Maxima kept on trucking, eating up the miles and keeping me comfortable. The heavy rain mentioned above was rarely ever a problem and the car remained as well-mannered in the wet as in the dry. With excellent ergonomics, I did not find long hours behind the wheel to be noticeably fatiguing. The climate control kept me as comfortable as the seat did, and the performance-flavour of the car didn’t become obnoxious during long highway hours. The Maxima is easy to drive, easy to park, swallows a lot of luggage, and provides lots of grins in the curves as well as the straights, and it’ll keep you in comfort while it does. If you think the Maxima sounds like your kind of fun, go ahead and give it a look.

Good comfy cockpit with ergonomics that will accommodate almost anybody.
I’m not crazy about the diamond-patterned silver plastic trim. Almost anything would look better.

Another business trip, another airport, another rental car. Arriving in Cleveland on a sunny but cool day, I did the usual thing of running my eyes up and down the row of available cars, trying to choose one I’ll like. Compact SUVs, minivans, dull sedans…Oh hey, there’s a Camaro! A shiny, white hardtop version sat before me, looking inviting. First question: will my gear fit? A moment later I knew that it would, although the big Pelican case just barely slipped through the opening. The trunk itself is spacious enough, but be warned that large items may not make it inside.

I didn’t have far to go, but it was enough to tell if I would like this car. My customer was about an hour from Cleveland and my hotel was half an hour from my customer, and I had two days with the customer then home the third day. Not enough time for a full review, but I’d definitely have enough time with the Camaro to get an impression of it. So what did I think? Read on, intrepid car-fan!

First impression: It’s a bit claustrophobic inside. Not cramped by any means -unless you try to get in the back seat- but the black interiour surfaces coupled with high, small windows, makes for a feeling of being very contained. Most of the controls are easy. The temperature controls were a bit less intuitive but it didn’t take me long to figure them out, and in fact once I did, I had to admit that they were rather clever in terms of avoiding clutter: the chrome trim-rings around the two central vents double as the knobs to control the temperature and fan-speed. Give them a twist to adjust, and small LED displays next to them will show you the results. The ergonomics are good, even for my big tall physique, but between the small windows and high, dark dashboard, I definitely felt like I was sitting way down low, more so than revealed to be true when getting in and out.

With all the usual adjustments made, I was down the road. I’ll admit that I gave it a throttle-punch before I was actually on the public road, as there’s a long drive around the rental car center to get to the road, and the Camaro gave me a taste of what was to come. Its engine makes a fun growl, not too loud but no doubt groomed through careful application of acoustic engineering and judiciously-placed resonators, enough to be interesting without becoming an onerous drone after too long behind the wheel. The acceleration was good too- clearly not a high-performance variant, since you never get those in rental fleets, but definitely sufficent to give you some grins. Enjoyable handling too- no issues with traction, and the torque was pretty much where I wanted it and being rear wheel drive, did not result in any directional instability.

At freeway speed, the Camaro is easy to drive but does require a little bit of attention as the steering is just a bit quicker than most cars. Braking is quite good too, as I learned when I saw an old car that needed to be photographed after a quick U-turn. Everything works as it should. But there’s no escape from the claustrophobic impression, even in broad daylight, as the windows all seem barely better than gun-slits and the rear quarter windows are so small and the trim around them so deep as to make them completely useless and pointless in every regard except for maintaining a passing resemblance to the first Camaros of the late 1960s. But no worries; the car is still fun enough to take your mind off the poor outward visibility and you do get used to it.

There aren’t a lot of curves in Northern Ohio, and barely anything that registers as a hill- so I couldn’t get too crazy with the Camaro, but it told me enough via the posteriour-trouser interface to make me wish that there had been some more interesting geography around. But in this easy type of surroundings, this is car that you can easily guide over the countryside all day long. It’s easily maneuverable, responds well, and doesn’t ask too much of the driver at a moderate pace, and it’s not difficult to keep on top of when things gets a little more spirited.

Of course the inevitable question comes up: how does it compare to the Mustang? I recently drove a few Mustang convertibles, so it was easy to draw some conclusions. Let’s get that poor visibility out of the way first. Even with the limited windows of the raised convertible top, the Mustang is still easier to see out of. Ergonomics are a draw, at least for me. Cargo space -as if you really cared, in cars like this- is about even. The Camaro definitely sounds better. Another advantage I give the Camaro is that it has a LOT fewer menus and settings to figure out. It has a mere three driving modes (each easy to understand the use of), as opposed to the four or five basic modes in the Mustang, followed by two or three more each for the steering and transmission. The Camaro has livelier acceleration. On paper it seems like the better car, but in real life it’s more subjective. The Mustang still FEELS better overall to me, and if I could have it with the Camaro’s engine, I’d seriously consider never taking it back to the airport.

If you have a chance to try a Camaro, go for it. This is a car that has come a very long way in fifty years, and its hiatus from 2002 to 2010 was worth the wait for what came after. I definitely recommend it.

The news that Ford will be discontinuing all of its cars (as opposed to SUVs and trucks) except the Mustang came as a bit of a shock, even if it was fairly common knowledge that they weren’t exactly strong sellers. And to me it’s a sad sign of the market drifting into a state of decreasing diversity of choices, both in individual models and general types of cars. I’ll admit that I couldn’t remember the exact cutoff-date for Ford cars (all gone by 2020), but I thought of it recently during another rental car experience.

This wasn’t another of my frequent business-trips, for once. This time it was a vacation with my wife Jennifer up in scenic and charming Spokane Washington, where she has roots on both sides of her family. Spokane’s airport is on the small side, so instead of picking any car from the aisle as usual, the rental clerk listed a handful of available cars from which to choose. Nothing unusually nice available -I was hoping they’d see my status and give me a Cadillac or sump’n- but when I heard Ford Fusion in the list, I recalled how much I’d enjoyed the ones I’d had in my biz-travels (see my Rental Car Review, Dec 2017) and went for it, wondering if it would be the last one I ever drove.

The Fusion was a great choice for us on this trip. In previous trips to Spokane we’d had a Fiat and a Hyundai, neither of which dealt well with the rough, frost-heaved pavement prevalent in much of the city. While it doesn’t ride quite as smoothly as a Cadillac, the Fusion was smooth enough that only the very worst of the pavement caused us any discomfort. The hybrid powertrain also meant minimal fuel consumption, always a bonus when you’re on vacation. We drove around constantly all over town, and even made a trip to Coeur d’Alene Idaho- and only used half a tank in six days.

Speaking of the hybrid experience, Jennifer found it a bit strange at first- she described how weird it feels for a car that isn’t making any sound or vibration to be rolling, especially if it wasn’t going downhill. Weirder still, unless you’re listening for it, you don’t notice when the gasoline engine starts and stops. Everything about it is just S-M-O-O-T-H. The Fusion is easy to drive, but I did sometimes find myself turning the gear-knob the wrong way during moments of close maneuvers. And during those quiet, smooth moments off the line, the calmness of the whole experience makes you want to drive calmly- mostly a good thing, but you might find yourself driving a little too slowly at moments.

Honestly, the Fusion was the perfect car for a vacation. Smooth, unobtrusive, minimal effort required, comfy, it would be a great car for every day use as well. I’ve enjoyed every one of them that I’ve driven, and I’ll honestly be sad to see them go from the Ford lineup. And I was sad to see this one go at the airport. Goodbye, Fusion.

By Ben

It was another long day: up early in New Jersey, spend a few hours at a customer’s facility trying to keep their decrepit old equipment performing acceptably, grab some lunch, go to the airport, take a ride at thirty thousand and just barely doze a little enroute, then land in Nashville, pick up my luggage, then head to the rental car garage. A little bit of a walk, but at least Nashville’s airport doesn’t make you lug your heavy gear on and off a bus to get to the cars! This is followed by the usual drill: walk up and down the aisle trying to decide what to drive. Maybe I’ve been doing this too long, but lately I’ve become rather jaded about the rental cars I choose. Being a big-and-tall type, I need plenty of headroom. I also really prefer cars with ‘smart keys’ because the traditional rental car way of having both keys tied together on a loop of steel cable means that one key dangles against my knee, which is REALLY annoying. So I walk into the aisle and as usual, the first thing I see is a display of fancy cars that can be had for an upgrade fee, which my office won’t pay. Right in the middle of the fancy cars was a white Mustang convertible. I know that those are generally within the range I can choose with my Executive Elite status, so what’s it doing in the fancy section? Maybe it’s a GT or something; I didn’t think to investigate as I said to myself that it sure would be a nice car to try out. The Gods Of Vroom must have set me up for this, for just as I was putting that out of my mind, there it was: a black-on-black Mustang Convertible, right there in the regular part of the aisle. A black-on-black convertible? I guess even Darth Vader goes to the beach once in a while.

The open trunk beckoned me to see if my gear would fit. I’d passed on a hard-top Mustang before because I thought the opening looked a little small, and this one looked small too- but the Pelican 1620 case that contains my professional equipment was just able to slide in. The backpack-toolkit went right next to it, and so did my small personal bag. A surprising amount of other stuff would have been able to fit, just as long as it’s not particularly bulky and can be squeezed into the odd remaining peripheral spaces that the larger stuff can’t get into, such as an area across the forward end of the compartment that has reduced height due to the space above required for the compartment into which the roof retracts. If soft luggage is your traveling-style, you’ll definitely be OK. And besides, this car really only has room for two people to travel in any degree of comfort (more on that later) so you needn’t worry about a whole family having enough luggage-space.

With gear stowed, I took a seat and found that after adjusting the seat, headroom and legroom were more than enough for me. It took a moment to get familiar with some of the controls though. Most cars that use a smart key have an ignition button located on the dashboard to the right of the steering column. In the Mustang however, the button is down low just above the center console, but still an easy reach once you find it. Next to the start/stop button is a row of switches that control various system-modes (more on that later as well). The gear-lever is pretty straightforward, a simple stick with a round knob topped by a detent-button that sort of resembles a chromed version of one of those red covers that protect toggle-switches in action movies. The lever has the usual PRNDS…waitaminnit, S? More on that later too. But at that moment, the sun was already setting and I had two and a half hours of driving ahead of me, so pull it into D and hit the road.

I’ll admit that I can’t recall that I’ve ever driven a Mustang before. My brother had one a long time ago, but it was a decrepit baby-blue ’79 with four cylinders and an automatic. Chevettes routinely smoked it, and he often joked about ‘that awesome Mustang acceleration.’ I don’t think I ever drove it; I probably refused on principle. My aging ’83 Accord was much more fun. This modern Mustang felt comfy right away, easy to point down the road and keep between the lines. I surmised fairly quickly from the middling acceleration that it was a V6, par for the course in a rental-fleet version of a performance model. Not a slouch but no screamer either. But the next day I was at low speed and tickled the go-pedal a little oddly…was that a faint whine I heard? My curiosity piqued, at the next opportunity I took a look at the engine. Sure enough, that was a whine I heard: no V6, this powerplant was an Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder. Call me impressed. I would never have suspected a turbo-four, or a turbo-anything for that matter, because the power is so smooth and well-modulated that it doesn’t feel like a turbo at all. No weird power-curves from ballooning boost. No turbo-whine unless you’re at quieter speeds, have the top down, and tickle the engine just the right way and even then it isn’t very loud or distinctive. If you don’t like driving turbos, you’ll probably like this one.

But back to that first drive. The sun was setting and rain was threatening and I had some miles to make, so leave the top up and go. The driving was easy, but the soft top wasn’t very well noise-insulated, so when I passed trucks I double-checked that all the windows were up and the top was locked in place, because the noise was much more than I’m used to in closed cars. As for temperature, the top is quite well-insulated. On a 94-degree-day I felt the underside of the top in several places and it felt a nice neutral non-descript ‘room temperature’ in all of them, and the air conditioning was able to keep the car cool. Top down and things get even more fun. With the convertibles of the ’60s and ’70s you’d get a good strong blast of air to the back of your head, due to the eddy of wind that curls over the top of the windscreen and the fairly low rear deck. With this Mustang, however, the windscreen is long and shallow-angled, and the rear deck is fairly high in relation to the cockpit, and so the eddy is minimal. Most short-haired people won’t get too seriously mussed, although a hat still helps- as long as you’d rather have hat-hair than wind-mussed hair. This aerodynamic trick also means that if you raise all the windows, a surprising amount of air conditioning stays in the car. Just the thing on a day when you want to drop the top but it’s dang-hot.

Lowering the top is really simple and quick. There’s a locking-handle in the center, right by the edge of the top, and a slide-button between the overhead lights above the windscreen. Pull the handle to hinge it down, then give it a 90-degree twist, then push and hold the button rearward to make the top retract. The whole process takes ten seconds. If you’re the fastidious type, in the trunk you’ll find a pair of plastic covers that snap over the openings left on either side by the retracted top. To raise the top, simply reverse the process, and it takes the same ten seconds. The car does have to be stopped to perform either operation, but it does not need to be shifted into Park. One strange quirk is that when the locking-handle is turned in either direction, the radio temporarily mutes for about a second. I have yet to figure out why.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, although they have minor quirks. They have electric adjustment for fore and aft movement, but manual back-angle adjustment. There is also an electric lumbar-support adjustment, and with this one I actually needed to use a little support, while with most cars I’m most comfortable with the lumbar-adjustment at the lowest setting. The seats are also vented and can deliver either heat or air conditioning, although this feature worked much better in the first Mustang I drove than in the second one, which wasn’t as good as the third one (yes, I rented three Mustangs before I completed this review). I cannot comment on the comfort of the rear seats, as they appear somewhat cramped and have insufficient legroom for any use unless the front seats are adjusted for really tiny people. But their mere presence, along with their safety-belts will, in some places, get the car a MUCH lower insurance premium than it would get if everything else was the same but it only had two seats.

The rest of the interiour is stylishly appointed, with a look that is reminiscent of the Mustangs of the ’60s. It looks good overall but I do have some minor niggles about it. The second car I drove had cream-coloured inserts in the seats, and the inserts in the door trims should have matched. Also there’s some large silver trim on the dashboard which has a false ‘brushed’ look, which runs diagonally, and the diagonality of just seems a little awkward to my eye- but it’s better than plain old satin-finished silver paint, which is more at home in a Hyundai. At night you’ll notice coloured illumination in all the usual places, plus accent lighting in the footwells and the door-handles. If you don’t like the lighting, you can dig into the extensive menus and change the colour and brightness, and not everything has to be the same colour. For example, the instrument lighting and the ‘halos’ around the two big gauges can be independently coloured. Green numbers and purple halo? Orange numbers and green halo? Everything blue? It’s all possible. The instrument labeling is a bit much though. The tachometer has REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE spelled-out on its face, and the speedometer’s face is labeled GROUND SPEED. If you have any doubts about where you’re speed happens in a car, you have bigger problems than how fast you’re going. One of the screens that can be selected for the display between the gauges is labeled DIGITAL SPEEDOMETER, which is really obvious anyway. I can’t help but think that whoever was in charge of the labeling spent their childhood enthralled with the labeling on all the devices in the Bat Cave from the Adam West era.

The aforementioned menus for the dash display will take you through a plethora of various readouts and functions, every number a performance-enthusiast could want plus a bunch more. Then there are the switches next to the start/stop button. Among them is a MODE switch, which allows you to toggle between several driving-modes such as Sport, Sport+, Track, Dragstrip, and Rain/Snow. I only tried the first three. Sport sharpens the throttle response and raises the shift-points, and honestly, isn’t that much fun in ordinary traffic as it can make the going rather choppy. Sport-mode demands a lot of smoothness in your technique, which is something any race driver will tell you is needed to drive fast well. Track-mode seems to be about the same as Sport+ mode, but adds disabling the traction-control. I’m guessing that Dragstrip-mode enhances off-the-line performance, but how serious can this be in a comfortable car with an automatic transmission? Next to the MODE switch is one that selects between three steering-feel settings, Normal, Sport, and Comfort. Sport provides the most resistance in the steering and comfort provides the least. I found the resistance in Sport to be heavy and obtrusive. By contrast, I found Comfort-mode to be best, even in spirited driving, because the low resistance made it easier to steer precisely and without spending so much attention noticing the heaviness. The S position of the gear lever seems to be yet another sport-mode, so be smooth or just leave it in D.

One thing that did seem a little odd to me is that the stalks on the steering column and the screen for the radio and other systems are the same ones I’ve seen in the Fusion, as is the audible warning that sounds if you leave the lights on or open the door with the ignition on. To me, this cheapened my perception of the Mustang slightly, especially since the screen is very plain and lacks any real graphic style. On the other hand, there are some high-style touches like the illumination of the MUSTANG lettering in the door sill, or the Mustang-logo that is projected onto the ground from underneath the mirrors when you get into or out of the car at night. I know, not really very functional, but it does get your attention. The reverse-camera is quite good. You won’t need it much with the top down, but with the top up, rearward visibility and blinds-spots are both terrible and the camera then becomes quite welcome.

So you’re strapped-in, the top is down, and the road beckons. Driving the Mustang is enjoyable, generally easy, and it kept me interested. Acceleration is decent enough for most people, and if you want more, there’s always the GT. This car is smooth and the handling was quite satisfying, and while it feels solid, it doesn’t feel like you’re maneuvering 3500 pounds. The steering is direct enough to be sporty without being twitchy, and the brakes are definitely able to slow the car as much as you need. You can really get into taking the curves, and the seat-bolsters will hold you in place for them. Turn up the radio, put your arm on the windowsill, and eat up the miles. I drove on the Interstate for hours with the top down, and alfresco motoring at night is a real treat. Ford claims 20/28/23 MPG for the Ecoboost convertible, so it does have a thirsty side- but while it’s thristier than the Ecoboost Fastback, it’s more frugal than the GT Fastback (no figures available for the GT convertible).

All this fun does not come cheaply though. The Ecoboost Premium Convertibles I drove start around $37000, although I would probably trade the $1500 10-speed automatic for the no-extra-cost 6-speed manual, then put the difference toward the $2400 Ecoboost Performance Package. If you want the 5-litre V8, you’ll have to spend around $45000 for the GT. There’s a real plethora of wheel and tire options available too. If you want to get REALLY serious, for $57000 you can have the Bullitt edition, which includes some chassis and suspension upgrades and a limited-slip differential, among other goodies.

I enjoyed these Mustangs enough that if I had room in my garage and my wallet for such an impractical car, I’d be very tempted to take one home, and I’ll be sure to grab one again the next time the opportunity presents itself. You should as well.