By Joe Wiesenfelder on November 14, 2011
The Ford Mustang has been updated for 2013 with new front-end styling, some exterior tweaks and more power for the V-8 GT.
The most dramatic changes are in the front, where the grille protrudes even farther than before, and a lower grille on the bumper's bottom half 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 seem to be for show. Not so for the vents on the 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 projectors. The lights we can't wait to see in person are the pony projection lights: More than simple puddle lamps that illuminate the ground alongside the car, the 2013's side-mirror-mounted lights 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.
Powertrain changes include a small output increase and a giant leap into the 21st century. Using some of the tricks that deliver 444 horsepower to the Mustang Boss 302's 5.0-liter V-8, the regular GT's 5.0-liter is now rated at 420 hp, an increase of 8 hp. The optional six-speed automatic transmission now includes a sequential manual shifting mode. Controlled by a switch on the gear selector rather than steering-wheel shift paddles, the feature might be more of a baby step than a giant leap, but you have to start somewhere.
Interior changes include the option of adding cloth or leather Recaro-brand sport seats — previously found only on the Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 — to the V6 and GT trim levels.
Also new is 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, similar to readouts offered for the past several years on some Chrysler and Dodge SRT models.
Two new stereos, the eight-speaker Shaker and nine-speaker Shaker Pro, are optional. What the Mustang doesn't add is the controversial MyFord Touch control system.
Ford further cannibalizes the Boss 302 for the sake of 2013 GT owners with the GT Track Package, an option that includes the Boss' limited-slip differential along with an engine oil cooler, upgraded radiator and performance brake pads. Available only with a 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.
Clicking on any image below will launch a larger photo gallery; you can browse through them by hitting the right and left arrow keys.
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe