By on December 12, 2013

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Long-time TTAC readers will recall that we tested a Hertz Penske GT around MSR Houston earlier this year and were thoroughly charmed by the factory-modded Mustang. There’s no doubt that the Penske is significantly superior to a standard Mustang GT, but if resale values for them once they leave the Hertz fleet follow those demonstrated by the 2006 Shelby GT-H, you’ll never get a bargain on one.

However, the black-and-yellow bomber wasn’t the only special-edition Mustang that Ford built for Hertz this year, so if you’re willing to be a little flexible on specification, you can buy a pre-abused Coyote-engined GT Premium for twenty-five grand or less…

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In 2012, Hertz ordered a run of blue-with-white-stripe Mustangs for its “Adrenaline Collection” program. The cars were popular enough, both as rentals and as resale units through the Hertz secondary-sale showrooms, that the company decided to do it again for 2013. This time, the color was Ingot Silver, with unique-to-Hertz stripes, a larger rear spoiler, and louvred covers for the rear windows. A 2013 Mustang GT Premium equipped to the same standard, minus the external gingerbread, would retail for $37,380.

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Compare that to the “no-haggle” but almost certainly negotiable price of $25,995 for a used one, and you can see why Hertz rarely has any trouble shucking-off their old ponies. On the other hand, for similar money you can get a manual-transmission model with a single owner and lower miles, so the ex-rentals can’t truly be said to be aggressively priced. Of course, many of the people who buy cars from the rental-to-retail places do so because those outlets are very good at getting people financed.

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Some percentage of these Mustangs have yet to leave the rental fleets, and that is how I ended up behind the wheel of one in Los Angeles last week. The rate was laughably steep — $196 for twenty-four hours, including a couple gallons of gas — because I did it on short notice and I was interested enough in the non-Penske Hertz GTs to make a model-specific reservation.

My first impressions weren’t good; the car was dirty and the door had a slight sag in it. It’s worth remembering, when you’re shopping ex-rental cars, to remember that the major companies self-insure for damage. They have their own bodyshop contracts and CarFax won’t clue you in on any damage suffered during the rental tenure. As fate would have it, I never drove the car during the day, so I didn’t have a chance to look at how well the paint matched.

The general rule about modern Mustang interiors is that the plastic wears like iron and the leather wears like butter. This was certainly true on my 26,400-mile rental example, which had plenty of visible and tactile wear to the seats, steering wheel, and shifter. The seats were deeply creased but the door panels and dashboard looked effectively brand-new. I can still remember renting a 1996 Sable many years ago that had similar mileage but which already showed fading in the plastics after a year in the California sun. This modern Ford suffers from no such issue.

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The rode-hard-and-put-away-wet aspects of this particular pony were also present in the running gear. The transmission was reluctant to shift at full throttle and didn’t exude confidence in low-speed operation, hesitating on the 1-2 and 2-3 even when there wasn’t a lot of torque being applied. The brake pedal was long enough that I canceled my plans to wind the GT out on the 405, lest I find myself unable to stop in reasonable time.

The five-liter V-8, however, remained as strong as I’ve come to expect, and with the exception of the hesitant gearchanges this ragged-out GT Premium would be easily capable of keeping pace with a Penske or any other auto-tranny 2013. I continue to prefer this outstanding modern engine to the General Motors LS series in pretty much all its incarnations, including the direct-injection variant in the new C7. Twenty years from now, LeMons races are going to have the raw pace of Grand-Am GS thanks to a surfeit of thundering thirty-two-valve Mustangs. I can’t wait.

As a Premium, these cars all have the mid-power (but non-SYNC) Shaker sound system, reconfigurable interior lighting, and uprated center-instrument display. They also have nineteen-inch wheels, which on the Los Angeles freeways seemed perfectly fine but probably would be a bit of a hassle anywhere winter heaves the roads. Be aware that it won’t be cheap to replace the tires, either — and if my rental was any indicator, they’ll all need a set, or at least a pair for the rear.

The rest of the Hertz Premium GT is standard Mustang fare, both good and bad. Twelve-second quarter miles, indifferent ride, long hood, limited visibility, surprisingly decent mileage, sequential turn signals, twin-bar running lights, a constant rumbling drone from the tires and the transmission and the exhaust. The aesthetic package has its merits — the center stripe is quite nice — and its difficulties — have those rear-window covers ever added anything to looks of any S197? It’s not the Mustang I’d buy for this kind of money; that would have to be a six-speed manual, and I’d cheerfully trade the Premium trimmings for the Track Pack. But this is a good solid American car of the kind that simply isn’t made very often. It has panache, power, a well-proven platform, and it ticks most of the boxes for a weekend cruiser. You’ll see plenty of these at Quaker Steaks and Sonic drive-ins during the years to come.

Good car, but before you pull the trigger, consider what these rental Mustangs suffer. They all have stories, and not all will be good ones. This one would be worth passing over.

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47 Comments on “Rental Review: 2013 Ford Mustang GT (Adrenaline Collection)...”


  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    This line:
    “I continue to prefer this outstanding modern engine to the General Motors LS series in pretty much all its incarnations, including the direct-injection variant in the new C7.”

    Although completely subjective (and I strongly agree with you), will generate some rather heated GM enthusiasts. “How dare you hold an engine above the pinnacle LS-series, especially a ‘Ferd’!”.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    this is why I really don’t care for leather seats in any way, shape, or form (Oxford comma.) Inevitably the seating surfaces become shiny and cracked, and since automotive “leather” is loaded up with so many sealers and polymers it’s effectively not leather anymore.

    It shouldn’t be a stretch to be able to get a “premium” trim level with *nice* cloth seating surfaces. As it is, you either get mouse-fur or burlap.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      That all depends upon the quality of the leather. I have leather seats in my 11-year old Saab that are like new. I had a Toyota Previa that had leather seats that were good for about 10 years before they started showing cracks.

      In many ways, cloth could be superior to leather in that it is both less cold in the winter and less hot in the summer. To some extent, I suppose performed leather seating that is heated and cooled fixes this problem.

      But one of the advantages of leather is the ability to keep it clean and, if it is decent leather, its durability.

      That the seats in J.B.’s car showed signs of obvious wear suggests that Ford cheaped out on the leather. Looks and smells good in the showroom; not so good for the long haul.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I have an old Mercedes 450SL with MBTec seats. I find the perforated vinyl equal in comfort to leather in both hot and cold weatehr.
      It still looks new while I have seen much newer models with worn and cracked leather seats. Good synthetic trumps leather over the long run.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I had light beige leather in an ’96 Eclipse and in the 3 years I owned it the seats stained and wore BADLY. The cloth seats in my Dakota are perfect after over 10 years and this is my weekend fishing transportation device – rode hard and put away wet for sure. The leather on my ’03 Z is already cracking on the side bolsters, thus long term outlook is not good. At home I’ve noticed the same thing: had two leather sofas, both showed terrible signs of wear after what seemed like short periods of time, so we switched to microfiber this time around.

        However I do agree the quality of the leather is a BIG factor because my brother has an expensive leather sofa that while softer now hasn’t discolored or cracked at all and he has two kids plus a dog jumping on it all the time!

        Never understood the thrill of leather, sure it feels nice but only in mild temps. Here in FL its gets too hot, so I’d rather have cloth.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        vinyl has the unfortunate property of hardening and cracking once the plasticizers evaporate away.

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        I hear you. When I got my Mercedes ML, I wasn’t excited at first about having “fake leather”, but the driver’s seat shows no wear at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron2013

      I must disagree. a quality leather interior last longer, is more comfortable, and easier to clean than any cloth interior. A cheap leather interior doesn’t wear well, but neither does cheap cloth.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        I fell in love with a 328i (over the internet), but when I got to the dealer and realized it had vinyl seats instead of leather…well, I left with a 335 with the sport and premium package. Given the maintenance costs of the 335 (and ignoring the fun) I still wish the 328 had real leather.

        Although Ford’s leather has improved over the years, it’s still a far cry from the beautiful, rich leather found in the premium brands. Stick your head in a Lexus, and you’ll know what real leather should smell like.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Yeah, and good luck finding decent cloth anymore.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    FWIW, one of my law partners bought a GT when the new model was introduced, fully tricked out for track duty. (This would have been a couple of years ago now.) Lately I have been noticing a blue Focus ST in the garage. I asked him if he had noticed that car; he said “yeah, it’s mine.” Next question: “What about the Mustang?” Answer: “It was killing me on gasoline.” I don’t think he was ecstatic over the trade. Like many of those who have reviewed the car, he complains about the torque steer compensation system and, of course, a car overpowered at the front wheels drives much differently than one that is overpowered at the rear wheels.

    Ferdinand Peich was right 25 or so years ago when he ordered the folks at Audi to develop the AWD “Quattro” system because he was reluctant to keep adding more power to the front wheels . . . in a day when “more power” meant something over 160 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      He was worried about gas cost, but just took a hit on a car half paid off to finance something? People’s financial sense sometimes…..

      Should of just got a V6 model with the track pack. Would get over 30mpg, probably not much off from the Focus, and still be a better drive, and probably faster too. I’m still waiting for somebody to do a comparison of a V6 Mustang and Focus ST; they’re in the same price range, offer around the same fuel economy, performance, etc.

      I doubt Ford would let any of the major rags do such a thing. TTAC, you have been challenged.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I can imagine a DC area commute with hundreds a month in gas costs, with multiple fill ups per week. But the numbers would still be close compared to the cost of replacing a depreciated car with a new car.

        And then the correct answer is either a Mustang V6, or, better yet, keep the GT and get, for example, a stripper Fiesta SFE for the commute.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Often it’s not a question of the absolute cost; it’s a question of where you spend your money. Others have said, that on public streets the performance difference between the V-6 and the 5.0 is almost never usable; and I think that’s true. On the street, the V-6 would probably smoke the Focus in a straight line. On a track, the higher top speed of the Focus probably would prevail. This guy tracks his car some, and the biggest problem with the V-6 is the 120 mph limiter, and the driveshaft that grenades if your remove it and go faster.

          The point is, for most of the time, a lot of what you’re buying with the GT is bragging rights, the cool rumble of a V-8, and a big fuel bill. That may seem like a good deal initially; but the equation often changes over time.

          if it were me, I’d skip the Focus and buy the Fiesta. The back seat in the Focus is disappointingly cramped anyway; who cares if the one in the Fiesta is a little more cramped. Even when everything else isn’t equal, light cars are more fun to drive than heavy cars; and the Fiesta is significantly lighter than the Focus. This is especially true with FWD cars, which is the key to the success of the original Mini Cooper, as well as to BMW’s 21st century re-imagining of that car.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      15/26 vs 19/29 vs 23/32

      Thats the EPA on the GT vs the V6 vs the ST. It is not substantial enough to matter. If I drive my GTI like a grandma I can pretty much match the ST, and if I drive it like it wants to be driven I pretty much match the GT. I sincerely doubt that the ST is going to be any different in the real world than my GTI, you will have to be very dedicated to driving slowly to get that 23/32. If he is highway commuting in the GT then he isn’t going to save much… perhaps around town he will see a bigger difference. But to those people thinking a V6 Mustang has some magically high fuel economy, really, its not that big of a savings.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Interesting to hear on the leather wear. I skipped that option to keep things cheap, and while the cloth seats have held up well so far, I’m not a fan on how they feel or look. I was thinking once the car is paid off, maybe I’ll have the interior rear done. Either find a wrecked car being parted out, or now that I’ve heard this, maybe just get a upholstery shop to re-do them for me in the leather.

    Never been a big fan of the 13′ update. If used, I’d go for a 11′-12′. Same everything underneath and better looks to boot, plus lower property taxes being a few years older. Either way, kids in high school ten years from now are going to have some awesomely fast cheap cars to select from…….

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Long-time TTAC readers will recall that we tested a Hertz Penske GT around MSR Houston earlier this year and were thoroughly charmed by the factory-modded Mustang.”

    Really, I don’t remember you being as charmed by the Mustang as by the counter attendant. ;)

    “Derek and I roared up to the remarkably well-proportioned young woman doing the checkout. I estimated her to be the same age as my college diploma. Still, faint heart never won fair lady.

    “What time do you get off, baby boo?”

    “One o’clock,” she replied.

    “You want to go to the cabaret with us?”

    “Mayyyy-be. Like to ride in that car a bit.”

    Anyway, the leather thing is interesting. I have a “leather” office chair purchased from WalMart for the princely sum of $50. The tags fully disclose that it is 30% leather on the seating surfaces and pure vinyl on the back and sides. I have dutifully wiped leather protectant on the chair at the end of every week letting it sit undisturbed on the weekend (or at least 24 hours if I’m coming in to work that weekend.) The chair after 16 months of wear and tear still looks new.

    I have noticed that 20 year old Lexus usually look pretty good in the leather along with Cadillacs but Mustangs and Infiniti’s are often torn up. I wonder if it has more to do with care than anything else?

    Although automotive leather will never return to the thickness and richness of say 1950 Rolls Royce.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      My office chair is a leather Recaro car seat mounted on a tripod, wheeled pedestal that I bought in 1987. There was a company who made those chairs back then. Today, there are a few cracks in the leather (to which I have never applied any cream, etc.) but none of them go all the way through.

      More than care, the issue is the initial quality of the leather in the first place. It’s easy to make thin leather that feels good and soft when new. That leather will not have great longevity. It’s more difficult to take thicker leather and work it until it is soft and pliable; but that leather will have more longevity. You can easily see this in shoes.

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    Does Ford use Adaptive Logic for shifting?

    I feel like all rentals shift like crap for the first few days. Maybe I adjust to them. I recommend putting the trans into ‘sport’ / ‘grade assist’ on rentals if you need smooth shifting right away. Take it off for highway work though as it locks out top gear.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I had one of these reserved for last weekend at SFO. But they did not get one back in time, so none available when I got there. Consolation prize was a MB E350. Kind of a boat, and the tranny was awful. Should have tried an ATS.

  • avatar
    mjal

    I’m sure I’ll have disagreement, but I like the modern vinyl seats that are standard equipment in most German sedans.
    They’re not like the vinyl seats of old, wear like iron and don’t crease, look close to leather, and in my opinion are nearly
    as comfortable. I much prefer them to cloth seats.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      I miss the days where vinyl seats came as standard in the most cheapest and basic of all cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I’m guessing that’s the same vinyl found in Mini Coopers and yes, it’s very nice. I have a buddy who has worked in car dealerships for the last 25 years, first time he rode in my Mini he assumed the seats were leather til I told him otherwise.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    The leather wears even worse with the 401A “Premier Trim” option package (the one with the stripe). When looking at pics from owners they usually look like an elephant was driving after only a few thousand miles. So far the standard leather (400A) is wearing far worse than the thrones in my IS350 which looked practically new after 5 years. But the priorities for the money allotment are quite different for those two cars so I’m not surprised about the cheap material sourcing. That and the IS was also garaged at work which isn’t an option for me now.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    The body work is one of the chief reasons I’d never buy an ex-rental, at least one that’s ever been to a body shop. They are literally done in bulk on the cheap to the lowest bidder. Body panels won’t line up after, paint looks like a rattle can done sloppy, bondo everywhere.

    Even with cars I hate, it’s a shame to look at a 1-2 year old car that looks like it 15 years old already.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I have one rule for car buying, NEVER buy any used car> Period. I have seen a lot of abuse inflicted upon those cars and will eventually come back to haunt the unsuspecting new owner.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    I guess this was one of those rental car cases where it wasn’t the 25,000 miles on the odometer that’s the problem, it was the 100,000 quarter-miles. And reading the article, I’d surmise Baruth contributed his share of ‘em.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Another Ford POS. When the best thing you can say about a 26K mile car is that the interior plastics are holding color, you are in big trouble. No wonder the Mustang is sinking like the Titanic.

    ” The transmission was reluctant to shift at full throttle and didn’t exude confidence in low-speed operation, hesitating on the 1-2 and 2-3 even when there wasn’t a lot of torque being applied.”

    The transmission in the 2011+ cars has been known to be garbage. The 2010- cars were fine. Made in China…yay!

    It’s no wonder why the Camaro and Challenger, taken as a whole, are superior cars.

    Ford quality at it’s finest

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Somehow I suspect your a paid GM employee sent to sabotage anything Ford related.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I’ve never met anyone who said “Meh, I don’t know. Guess I’ll go for the Camaro this time”. Pony car people are pretty absolute in their desires.

      I find the ’13 a great visual update from the ’10-’12 line. But from the driver’s seat, the hood is too high, and the dorky retro gauges suck – give me full 3/4 scales, not 1/2.

      The ’15 is pretty sweet but I haven’t sat in one yet to see if the hood has been lowered…

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      I’m not a fan of all 3 of those cars, but I’ll take the Mustang simply for the fact that being the oldest design means you can still see somewhat ouf of it. The Camaro and Challenger are coffins, and the Camaro’s interior is super cheap.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I love the GRM sticker Jack, just gave me an idea of what to do with mine. As much as I like the current mustang, you illustrate why I hate used performance cars. I’m sure any driveline issues that might show up will in these cars (though I believe the manuals were the ones failing). My new rule is that I won’t buy any car Jack has rented. I can’t imagine they were treated well.

  • avatar
    debo

    I am the proud owner of a 2007 Mustang GT convertible, standard shift, all black that I bought new, left over in August 2007. I think it was because it was a standard shift. The perforated black leather seats are comfortable, but at 43,000 miles, a lot of it on long road trips, they show more wear than on a previously owned Lincoln Town Car that we selvaged at 155,000 plus miles and my 2008 Explorer leather seats with 53,000 miles. Both of these vehicles have smooth leather seats. I think that is the difference. I have short commute in my Explorer which means a lot of in and outs of the driver seat. I save my Mustang for vacation and special trips, so not too many in and outs of the seats and both the driver and passenger seats are equally worn looking.
    I am a grandmother, so I drive my Mustang carefully. I had to have the GT V-8 for acceleration when passing and the sound at start up. I have no desire to risk it racing at a light. At my age, it would look ridiculous, plus the ’07 only has 300 hp. I consistently get 23 mpg, but would get 25 if I didn’t let my husband drive it. He likes the fast start. But I am the primary driver. I plan to keep it until my license is taken away, probably at least 25 years more. Living in Massachusetts, this means putting it away every winter in dry storage.
    Everyone has their opinions about every car maker, and American brands get less respect. Remember that Ford did not take government money to stay in business, and their models dominated fleet sales for years (Crown Vic, Town Car, Econoline, F-150 to name a few).
    My first Ford was a ’74 Mustang MACH 1, 2+2, that was a total piece of crap, but it still helped Ford out in the first gas crisis of 1974. Despite being rusted out at 4 years old, I still sold it for to the first person who looked at it because it was a Mustang MACH I, priced low due to the rust.
    But the most reliable car I have ever owned, and at my age, that is quite a few, even though I get attached and keep them a long while, was a ’95 Explorer, also a 5 speed standard. Bought it brand new, took good care of it, and drove it to the selvage yard in 2011 with only 120,000 miles on it. It was still shiny with an immaculate interior, but too rusted underneath to put any more major repairs to it.
    Yes, I love Fords and Lincolns. My husband drives a 2011 MKS, also with perforated leather seats. It is too young to show any wear yet, but even though it has no growl at start up, its V-6 has the same hp as my Mustang GT. It is without a doubt, the best Tauras Ford makes! It does not come close to replacing the Town Car. Oh, well.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      That’s awesome to hear about a grandmother driving a GT convertible 5-speed. You remind me a lot about my own mother. She has an SUV for bad weather/grandkid toting duty, but much prefers driving her Jaguar XK8 convertible.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Nice review, but one minor error:

    “As a Premium, these cars all have the mid-power (but non-SYNC) Shaker sound system”

    All Premiums come equipped with SYNC — including this one, as the rectangular badge at the bottom of the center stack indicates.

    SYNC is the older voice-command system; MyFord Touch is the newer touchscreen system.

    To complicate things further, MFT isn’t available on the current Mustang; higher trim models have a separate, non-MFT nav system (which is arguably better in many respects).

  • avatar
    Reino

    Just curious, how do you find out which Hertz branches have these cars? I go on the website and pick one of the adrenaline cars, then asks for a location and date. I’ve searched a variety of airports, and always get the result: “The product in your selection is currently unavailable.” It seems like these cars don’t really exist.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    Another reason not to spend $27K for an ex-rental 2013 GT Premium is that there are plenty of new ones still around that you can get for not a lot more than that.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Funny enough, driving a Taurus Limited today and thinking of this article, I did notice the leather seats looked and felt pretty bad and do not wear well at all. This car had 18,000 miles on it.


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