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2013 Ford Mustang: First Drive

  • The long-time muscle car sales champ looks to regain its crown
  • New exterior design touches bring sophistication and a bit of aggression to the iconic design
  • Performance upgrades to engines and transmissions add even more sport

After making its retro-inspired debut in 2005, the current Ford Mustang has undergone multiple mechanical, technological, and styling tweaks that continue with the 2013 version. While these updates might not have the same appeal that the “rebirth of the 5.0” engine had a couple of years ago, they do show that Ford is never content to rest on its laurels, and continues to look for ways to separate the Ford Mustang from its muscle car competition, the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

New Design & Technologies

Starting outside, the 2013 Ford Mustang gets a cleaner, more aggressive appearance. A new front end has both a more prominent grille design and a new splitter. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights are now standard across the Mustang line. The GT trim adds functional heat extractors on the hood to assist in engine cooling. Around the back, a new glossy black panel connects the taillights, with the signature sequential turn signal now shining through “smoked” tail lamps.

New exterior colors include “Deep Impact Blue” and “Gotta Have It Green.” Optional heated mirrors that project the famous Mustang pony emblem on the ground are also new for 2013. New wheel designs and body-color rocker panels complete the updated look.

On the inside, a new 4.2-inch “productivity screen” is available and allows drivers to access both performance and fuel economy data. Mustangs equipped with the manual transmission now get hill start assist standard. Two new Shaker audio systems are also available.

A Worthy Track Competitor

For drivers looking to get the most out of their Mustang on the track, Recaro seats are available on both V6 and V8 coupes and can be trimmed in cloth or leather. Openings on these seats allow owners to customize the Mustang for their particular driving requirements, including wearing a helmet. While the limited edition Boss 302 is the true track Mustang, the GT gives it a run for the money. Borrowing some of the Boss 302’s technology, the 2013 Mustang GT now has 420 hp. While the Boss 302 is only available with a 6-speed manual, both the V6 and GT Mustangs can be fitted with a new “SelectShift” automatic transmission. The new auto transmission will actually let you stay in gear all the way up to redline, but unfortunately the only way to shift is via a button on the shifter; there’s no steering wheel paddles here.

Continuing with the track day theme, many new performance themed packages are available for both the V6 and GT models. Upgraded brakes, performance tires, and selectable steering are all options that can be included.

For our drive around the twisty back roads of Portland, we were given a Mustang GT Premium coupe with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Even in persistent rain, the Mustang stayed well planted in the corners, and the 12 hp gain helped power the car out of each curve and right into the next. The recently introduced 6-speed manual’s shifts were short and crisp with an easy clutch that made the sometimes-tedious task of shifting gears truly enjoyable. The optional Recaro seats keep you firmly in place, while being comfortable enough to make even long drives bearable.

What this means to you: For 2013, Ford has listened to its customer base, upgrading both the style and performance of the Mustang. With the base price of the V6 actually dropping $110 and upgrades to the GT adding only $590, the 2013 Ford Mustang appears ready to reclaim the musclecar sales crown.


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