Updated for 2013, the Ford Mustang has new front-end styling, some other exterior tweaks and more power for the V-8-powered GT. The rear-wheel-drive sports icon, available as a coupe or a convertible, also comes with a V-6 and is available in higher-performance Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 versions, the latter of which is the most significantly re-engineered of the 2013 lineup. Rivals include the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Hyundai Genesis coupe.
Though it's still modeled after the late-1960s classics, the Mustang continues to evolve. The most dramatic changes for 2013 are in the front, where the grille protrudes even farther than before, and the lower grille is now as large as the top one, though only a portion of it actually admits air. Likewise, the vents that flank the lower grille are for show. Not so for the vents on the GT's new hood; they're functional heat extractors.
Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are now standard on the Mustang V6 and GT, and LED accent lights join the main headlight assemblies. Similar to simple puddle lamps that illuminate the ground alongside some cars, "pony projection lights" on the 2013's side mirrors project the Mustang pony logo onto the street.
Ford replaced the previous generation's black rocker panels with body-colored ones for "a more premium appearance," the automaker says. The change also makes the Mustang appear lower to the ground. The full suite of wheels, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, has also been redesigned.
The faceted rear end introduced in 2010 continues in the 2013, but there's now a gloss-black panel between the taillight clusters, whose signature three segments are more delineated than before and employ LEDs.
For 2013, the Mustang's instrument panel adds a 4.2-inch display between the gauges that provides trip-computer and performance information in a colorful, high-resolution format seen in other Ford models. A new Track Apps feature displays g-forces and acceleration and braking times. It's similar to readouts offered for the past several years on some Chrysler and Dodge SRT models.
New options include two new stereos, the eight-speaker Shaker and nine-speaker Shaker Pro. Cloth or leather Recaro-brand sport seats — previously found only on the Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 — can now be added to the V6 and GT trim levels. What the Mustang doesn't add is the controversial MyFord Touch control system.
Under the Hood
Powertrain changes include a small output increase and a giant leap into the 21st century. The GT's 5.0-liter is now rated at 420 horsepower, an increase of 8 hp. The optional six-speed automatic transmission now includes a sequential manual shifting mode that is controlled by a switch on the gear selector rather than steering-wheel shift paddles.
The GT Track Package option includes the Boss' limited-slip differential along with an engine oil cooler, upgraded radiator and performance brake pads. Available only with the standard six-speed manual transmission and 3.73 rear axle, the package includes everything in the current Brembo Brake Package. The Brembo option package itself now extends to the GT with either transmission, and Mustang V6 buyers who opt for the automatic can now get a Performance Package, too. The 3.7-liter V-6 engine's output is unchanged at 305 hp.
The Mustang includes the federally required antilock brakes, electronic stability system and frontal airbags. There are also front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags with a head-protection extension.
The ultimate Mustang has received more changes for 2013 than the other models. A new supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 produces 650 hp and 600 pounds-feet of torque that's good for a claimed 200 mph top speed. The outgoing model's supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 made 550 hp and 510 pounds-feet of torque. With the engine come new gear ratios for the six-speed manual transmission, a new clutch and a new carbon-fiber driveshaft. The dual exhaust is new as well. The Brembo-brand brakes are also upgraded with new six-piston front calipers and larger rotors and pads all around. The optional Performance Package includes an adaptive suspension and electronically controlled Torsen limited-slip differential. (Back to top.)
Like the 2012 model that revived the name, the 2013 Boss 302 has a 444-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 380 pounds-feet of torque and drives the rear wheels through a short-throw six-speed manual. It rides lower than the Mustang GT and has manually adjustable shock absorbers. It has 19-inch black alloy wheels fitted with summer tires. The unique front end features a large, low-riding splitter that reduces front-end lift while also channeling air to the cooling system. An electronically controlled limited-slip differential and Recaro-brand front seats are optional. The racetrack-optimized Boss 302 Laguna Seca comes without any rear seats, adds a cross-car brace in back for a stiffer chassis and gets an even firmer suspension and other performance upgrades.
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