I don’t gamble much. I will play blackjack or poker with the friends sparingly. If I bet on a game, the wager is usually non-monetary. Slots do nothing for me, and I only know how to bet the field, and 6&8 on craps. I also don’t like spending double digit dollars for a can of beer. I hate busy bars where I have to jockey for position to get the bartender’s attention. So, what the heck does a guy like me do in a major city where all of this exists in vibrant form? That’s easy: rent my childhood dream car.
(Full Disclosure: I wanted to drive a Ford Mustang so bad, I found one on Turo, and rented it when on vacation in Las Vegas. All photos are from the Turo page)
This is the first year of the latest iteration of the legendary pony car. The huge refresher back in 2015 brought independent rear suspension to the mix. For 2018, some tweaks to the engine brings the power from 435 to 460, and torque is up to 420 from 400. Higher compression ratio, direct and port injection, and a spray in cylinder liner vs. a steel liner are the reasons for the bump.
This pony was equipped with the GT Performance package 1. This package comes with larger Brembo six piston front brakes, Micheline Pilot Sport 4S, a Torsen 3.73 limited slip differential, and a handful of other goodies. It also ticked off the active valve exhausts and Magneride Suspension. I’ll get into the exhaust later. The MagneRide was a game changer. Being able to switch it between comfort and sport depending on the drive appealed to everyone involved.
I need to put a section here for Turo. Turo is becoming my favorite company of all time. What you see is what you get. There’s no “premium car or similar”, you can search for the exact make and model you are looing for. The booking process is seamless. No meeting with rental agencies and re-entering your information after already reserving online. Prices are reasonable for the most part. Since the owners of the vehicle set the prices, you can come across absurd rates like an individual offering his Dodge Durango SXT for $225 a day. But you can also stumble across a Challenger Hellcat for $150 a day. I may never rent from another company ever again.
The Mustang continues its tradition of copping retro cues and bringing them into the 21st century. The three bar tail lights are there; and yes, they are sequential. Personally, this isn’t my favorite looking design of the retro era (2005-present), but it works. I am a sucker for the S197 style from 2005-2009. I had magazine clippings and posters of that Mustang all over my bed room. The front end has a dangerously low splitter that made me very nervous over entrances as well as parking curbs. Luckily, no splitters were harmed during the trip.
The rear end is what ties me in. From the quad exhaust tips to the wide and low butt with those iconic tail lights, this is unmistakably a mustang. I was a fan of the raised decklid spoiler you get when you opt for the performance pack. It was the right medium between obnoxious wing, and useless looking bump. The black roof, and fender stripes are a nice touch that aren’t too tacky. Whatever angle you look at it, it looks fast.
The interior mixes contemporary and retro looks very well. I loved the toggle switches at the bottom that controlled traction control, drive modes, and other functions. The gauge cluster can be changed for user’s preference. It came with the RPM tach as a linear bar and digital RPM and speed gauges. You can change it to the traditional two round gauges, but I left it as is. The big screen was easy to read, and easy to use. I kept it on the radio screen and used phones for GPS. Cooled seats are a luxury, and no matter how much I say I don’t need them, I want them.
The sound system was the standard 9 speaker system. There is an optional premium system that was not optioned for this vehicle. The owner did hook up a JL audio subwoofer and amplifier in the trunk. It was properly installed in the trunk rather than put into a sub box and taking up trunk space. With the settings tuned to max, it bumped. But it wasn’t overbearing and teeth rattling. I am a stickler for a decent sound system and was impressed with my experience listening to the radio. I did have trouble connecting to the Bluetooth system. I was not sure if it was on my end or theirs, but we could not get the Bluetooth to hook up. For a rental, I don’t condemn the vehicle for a small setback; having satellite radio made up for it.
I did have some uncertainty about the seating comfort. These did not come with the optional Recaro seats, which may have been in my favor. My wide hips and love handles don’t sit well in tight hugging seats. These seats did a great job keeping me in without squeezing the Thanksgiving meal out of me. The back is manually adjusted and is power adjustable fore/aft and up/down. My stature is short legged and long torso. I found a generous amount of headroom when sitting in the vehicle. For a few trips, I managed to pack four adults into this vehicle. When sitting normally, the front seats touch the rear seats. I had to scooch the seats forward a bit. This car is not made for long trips, but getting four adults to the Vegas Strip is doable.
This thing is rowdy. I come from driving a 4 cylinder van, and a 49cc scooter. This car has over 2.5 times the power that my van has. When I first got to the car on a chilly Friday morning, my first thought was, “Please don’t stall in front of my father in law.” But that first start up was exhilarating. I felt it though my soul. Getting the car moving is relatively easy. The clutch was light enough for me to find the engagement point. It’s been over a year since I’ve driven a stick; and that was a Jeep Renegade. The transmission shifted well. Light throws that felt engaged when you’re in a gear. This was my first powerful manual car I’ve ever driven. I was so excited. I was so scared.
For the first few blocks, I kept the car in the default mode. Even in “Comfort” mode, there is so much potential power on tap. I pulled onto a major road and performed a standard “Michigan turn”. Meaning turning right and making an immediate U-turn to head leftward. As I was exiting the U-turn gingerly applying the gas, I chirped the tires. This was in “comfort” mode and traction control all the way on.
I pulled aside to check out the apps and features. I discovered line lock. Unfortunately, I did not use line lock. The rear tires were already showing wear, and didn’t want to risk the $250 charge if caught. Although I never got to experience smoky American burnouts, it didn’t take much to break the rear loose. I tweaked the settings to my liking. Sport+ mode, which is the last setting before the lawless track mode, and track mode in the exhaust. This gave me some freedom with a little security. The only modification on this car was a fancy Borla Atak exhaust system. A quick search online shows that this is a $2,700 system that works with the active valves. Oh boy it works well. I kept the exhaust in track mode all trip. It’s one of the best sounding cars I have heard in person.
This car pulls hard. It plants you into your seat. I wish I had a lawless place to use all of it. I would find myself merging onto highways with a gleaming smile on my face. The brief moment from 35-70 to get up to traffic speed is erotic. I can feel it getting loose in the first three gears under load, hence why I kept the traction control on. Driving in tunnels and parking garages is intoxicating.
Daily driving is attainable in the Mustang. Whether it’s bumper to bumper traffic, or heading outside of town for some sightseeing, the car is easy to operate. Visibility is acceptable. I had the most trouble looking out the rear window than anything. I relied on my mirrors mostly to see behind me. I had to be really careful on some entrances and speed bumps. For a city full of exotics and fancy vehicles, there are a plethora of opportunities to do some damage. I’ve never driven something so low to the ground, and I succeeded with no issue.
This car came with all the current safety goodies: blind spot detection, adaptive cruise, rear camera, rear collision warning, etc. The blind spot detection was a game changer, and helped with the smallish rear visibility. Navigating the mustang through tight areas was a challenge, mostly due to the uncertainty of the front end. I really was conscious about the long hood and even longer splitter. I spared no risk, and took 3 even 5 point turns to get around.
This Mustang could be had for $65 per day on Turo. For something with so much power and amenities, I find this to be a bargain. The total cost for a Friday-Sunday Rental was $308 (a fresh tank of premium gas was calculated in the cost). In real life, this car can be bought for upwards towards $50,000. A lot of that cost comes from the track package, active exhaust, and MagneRide suspension.
I had so much fun in this thing. The combination of power and sound is intoxicating. I would run out of money immediately if I owned this. It’s hard to hate this fun machine. So there you have it. When you don’t like gambling, hate overly expensive drinks, dislike crowded bars, rent a sweet car and rev it to the sky.