2013 Mustang New Car Test Drive
The 2013 Ford Mustang features a facelift and comes out bigger, bolder, cleaner. It's a change, not just a tweak. The 2013 Mustang resembles a Steve McQueen Bullitt Mustang, its mouth shaped more like '70 Mustang than a '65.
The Mustang was redesigned for 2005 and got rave reviews for its looks, totally capturing the old Mustang but still looking contemporary. The styling tweaks since then have made it even better, and that holds true for the 2013 Mustang.
A black eggcrate grille opens wide over the bumper, with a clean and full chin, fascia, and air intakes, and just a tidy flat-black horizontal spoiler at the lip. The triangular rear window masterfully evokes the roofline of original '65 Mustang, replacing its fake louvers with glass.
We're less enthusiastic about the interior of the 2013 Mustang. Reviews all end up saying that the materials are okay considering the price of the car, remember it's only a Mustang, and we can't argue. The steering wheel lacks imagination, and that's disappointing.
However the cloth seats are great; cloth can easily be a deal-breaker, and in the Mustang it's not. In fact, the cloth seats fit better than the leather, maybe because they grip better. The optional Recaro seats in either cloth or leather are excellent. There's good head and leg room up front, and visibility through the windshield is good, especially for a low-slung coupe. There's considerably more room and better visibility in the Mustang than in the Chevrolet Camaro.
Naturally, the two-passenger rear seat is no place for adults. Rear-seat headroom is limited by the rake of the coupe roof, and leg room is minimal, even with the front seats moved forward. That comes with the territory of such a car and its shape and is a small price to be paid for such proportions.
The retro instrument panel in the V6 and GT models clings too hard to the theme, we think. Having retro instrumentation on a car with modern performance like the Mustang is like having a telephone with a cord. The optional Shaker audio system is acoustically superb. Ford's SYNC system works well to choose music, but we had trouble operating it with voice commands.
The Mustang convertible has a power fabric top and glass rear window. Trunk space in the convertible is reduced to 9.6 cubic feet, from 13.4 cubic feet in the coupe. The coupe has standard 50/50 fold-down rear seats that vastly expand the cargo space, by opening the trunk all the way to the front seatbacks.
The V6 makes 305 horsepower, more than V8 muscle cars, and it does not sound like your father's V6. It's a fairly high-revving engine, reaching its horsepower peak at 6500 rpm and its torque peak at 4250 rpm, so it's good to play with. The manual transmission is the way to go if you like to play, because it's so good. And the manual comes with Hill Start Assist, so no worries about coasting backward when starting off on a steep hill. The automatic, meanwhile, does have a manual-shift feature it's awkward to use.
The Mustang V6 is EPA-rated at 19/31 miles per gallon City/Highway. However, we didn't get anywhere near that, running it hard on twisty two-lanes.
Mustang GT has a smooth, rumbling and growling 5.0-liter V8 engine. And with 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, it snaps your neck on the way to a quarter-mile time of about 13 seconds flat. That's quicker than the Chevrolet Camaro SS, even with its huge 6.2-liter engine and 426 horsepower. But the Mustang is 230 pounds lighter, and that makes a big difference in acceleration, also handling.
The Boss 302 makes 444 horsepower with the same engine. But if you order the Track Package and Recaro Package on the GT, you can get most of the Boss for much less of the money. However the Boss has non-retro instrumentation, that's way cleaner. And it's a Boss 302.
Brakes are good. Ford engineers have revised the braking system of the Flex, Taurus, and Mustang, and the feel is powerful without being overly sensitive. And with the Boss 302 and Shelby GT 500, when you increase the size of the front rotors to 14 inches and add four-piston and six-piston calipers by the Italian company Brembo, you've got the best stopping power money can buy.
The chassis and electronic power steering is adjustable to Comfort, Standard or Sport. The names of the modes are apt. Comfort mode kept the ride comfortable when driving over rough pavement, Sport mode improved responsiveness on winding roads. We found the electronic stability control effective without being intrusive.
The 650-horsepower Shelby GT 500 joins the 2013 Mustang lineup. You read that right, 650 horsepower.
The Mustang could be a four-wheel football team, with its lineup of 11 cars: Mustang V6 ($22,200), V6 Premium ($26,200); V6 Convertible ($27,200), V6 Premium Convertible ($31,200); Mustang GT ($30,300), GT Premium ($34,995); Mustang GT Convertible ($35,500), GT Premium Convertible ($39,300); Boss 302 ($42,200); Shelby GT 500 ($54,200), Shelby GT 500 Convertible ($59,200). (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Mustang V6 models use Ford's 3.7-liter engine making 305 horsepower, and a 6-speed manual transmission standard, with 6-speed SelectShift automatic optional. Also standard are a 2.73 rear axle ratio, 17-inch aluminum wheels, electronic power steering, stainless steel dual exhaust, HID headlamps, LED taillamps, capless fuel filler, manual air conditioning, tilt steering wheel with controls, cloth seats, and 50/50 rear folding seats (not convertible).
The V6 Performance Package includes a strut-tower brace, larger front sway bar and SVT rear sway bar, stiffer front springs, upgraded brake calipers with performance pad, 19-inch painted aluminum wheels, 255/40R19 summer-only tires, higher stability control calibration, black side mirrors, 3.31 rear axle, and unique engine cover (manual transmission only). There's also an Equipment Package ($295) and Tech Package ($1295). For the Premium models, there's a Comfort Package and Electronics Package.
Mustang GT models use a 5.0-liter V8 making 420 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of torque, with the same transmission selection, 3.73 rear axle, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Equipment and options closely match the V6 packages. The Premiums have reclining front bucket seats, a Shaker audio system, and ambient lighting.
Boss 302 uses a pumped-up version of that V8, with 444 hp and 380 foot-pounds, and 19-inch aluminum wheels. Also Brembo front brakes with four-piston calipers on 14-inch rotors, adjustable shocks, 3.51 rear axle ratio, four-gauge cluster, suede wrapped steering wheel, dark aluminum instrument panel, unique Boss cloth seats, side and rear exit exhaust system, rear spoiler, classic Boss 302 striping, grille, front splitter and engine cover. Recaro cloth is optional, as is a Laguna Seca track package ($6995).
Shelby GT 500 coupe and Convertible mean business with a 650-horsepower and 600-foot-pounds 5.8-liter supercharged intercooled V8, mated to a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, with 6-piston Brembo calipers on 14-inch front rotors. Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers, 3.31 rear axle ratio, Torsen differential, black-vented aluminum hood, GT 500 striping, and Shelby Cobra front fascia, splitter, and spoiler. Also creature comforts such as leather seats, ambient lighting, LCD message center, suede steering wheel, satellite radio. With the SVT Performance Package ($3495), a Shelby GT 500 is capable of, gulp, 200 miles per hour. Extra oil coolers, aerodynamics, and 20-inch wheels.
Safety equipment on all Mustangs includes front and front side airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitor, and Ford's MyKey system, which allows car owners (parents) to limit the speed and sound system volume, when they hand the keys over to others (teenagers).