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2007 Ford Mustang GT Coupe

2007 Ford Mustang GT Coupe photograph

What was tested? 2007 Ford Mustang GT Premium Coupe ($26,455).

Options: Comfort group ($575), interior upgrade ($460), side airbags ($380), active anti-theft system ($328), wheel locking kit ($50).

Price as tested (including $745 destination charge): $28,993.

There are a lot of reasons to hate this car.

It drives like a drunk pig. Its tiny back seat is a sadistic torture chamber. Its rear suspension could have been pulled straight from a medieval ox cart. And its dash feels like it's made from the same plastic as a Slurpee lid.

But there's one very compelling reason to love it.

It's a Mustang.

There's an all-American mystique about this car that nothing else can match, especially since General Motors murdered the Camaro. Right after Old Glory, Uncle Sam and the national anthem, nothing says "God bless the U.S.A." like a Ford Mustang. It's right up there with baseball and apple pie on the Americana scale.

Driving a Mustang on a sunny day with the windows rolled down and rock music blaring is an experience that makes you glad to be alive -- one of those things that everyone should do before they die. And if you haven't done it, you simply haven't lived.

The Mustang's oh-so-cool feeling doesn't come because it's a good car, though. Actually, it's a terrible one.

It has stone-age technology that your grandpa would consider old-fashioned. At a time when even the most brutish SUVs come with an independent rear suspension, the Mustang still has a live axle that makes the back tires slide around like they're made of margarine. Its handling is awful. Just awful.

But there's more.

Its flimsy dash would be an embarrassment in any other car. The back seat is only good for punishing your enemies. And it feels like Ford made it entirely out of concrete and the same plate steel the Navy uses to armor its destroyers, so its heavy weight makes it drive like a meth-fueled sumo wrestler.

Still, none of those things change the fact that you want to take it on the open road with the radio blaring.

Part of America's irrational love affair with the Mustang comes from the way it looks -- its classic American muscle-car stance perfectly blended with the clean, clutter-free lines of modern design. It's a beautiful, sexy car with a body that looks great from any angle. If it were a model, it would be on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing a thong bikini.

It's also plenty fast if you opt for the V8 engine. While the cheaper V6 lets you get the Mustang's cool look for around $19,000, the V8-powered Mustang GT (around $25,000) gives you the power to back up the car's muscular heritage. The 4.6-liter V8 makes 300 horsepower, enough to let you spin the Land O' Lakes tires any time you want. And that's what this car is really about. Through its stunning style and howling engine, it embodies the spirit and freedom of America. Especially the freedom to do a power slide into your office parking lot.

Pros: This car embodies America. It's a powerful, loud and gorgeous sports coupe that's remarkably affordable.

Cons: It's way too heavy, handles like a dizzy hippo and comes with a dash that feels like it was assembled by preschoolers.

RATINGS (1-10)
Style: 10
Performance: 8
Price: 9
Handling: 3
Ride: 4
Comfort: 3
Quality: 4
Overall: 8