A key to the unending appeal of the Ford Mustang is constant improvement without losing sight of the style and performance that made America’s original pony car a global phenomenon. And for 2013, Ford is again appealing to our driving senses with improvements at every level. Our focus this week is the reworked Mustang GT. It has everything you expect in a Mustang, starting a big 5.0.
Well, if you bought a 2012 Mustang, sorry - it’s great car, but the 2013 Ford Mustang is a whole lot better. And the improvements are spread throughout the car, from 8-more horsepower for our test GT’s signature 5-liter V8, to a pretty through upgrading of most everything you can see and touch, including the sheet metal.
The front end gets a malicious makeover with a tougher looking grille and front splitter. Also, all Mustangs now come with HID headlights and LED accents standard. Side rockers are now body colored on all models and there are 3 new wheel options, for a dizzying total of 12 choices. The rear end gets a little cosmetic surgery as well, adding LED tail lights to the sequential turn signals, bookending a now gloss black panel.
Inside, a new optional LCD screen in the gauge package includes Track Apps so you can monitor acceleration times, G-Forces, and the overall awesomeness of your ‘stang. The BOSS 302’s Recaro seats are now available throughout the lineup, in cloth or leather, and we highly recommend them, as they give great support and are even more comfortable than before. There are also some new audio options, like a Shaker Pro 550-watt system with 9-speakers.
We like that other Boss 302 parts have also trickled down and are now available as options, like a 3.73 Torsen limited-slip rear end. A new GT Track Package bundles a bunch of the Boss’ goodies, including updated engine cooling and 14-inch Brembo brakes.
Having been in dozens of Mustangs over the years, there’s not much that surprised us about our GT. It still puts the power down effectively, and gets you to the end of the ¼-mile in 13.5-seconds. We didn’t mind our car’s manual-shift automatic at all, as planting it in sport mode felt just fine to us. Still, times were not quite as quick as the last pure manual GT we tested, needing 5.1-seconds to hit 60. But, if your need is for ultimate speed, there’s always the 662-horsepower Shelby GT 500, which we will have for you in just a few weeks. We have no complaints at all about this latest 5-point-0, however; it sounds great and revs strongly all the way to its 7,000 RPM red-line. Horsepower now rates 420; torque remains the same as last year at 390 pound feet.
While the brakes aren’t quite up to European sports car standards, they are solidly near the top of the pony car ranks, taking just 111-feet to stop from 60. The only thing we could ask for would be a little more initial bite. Even without the SS Camaro’s independent rear suspension, the Mustang GT still outshines it when it comes to tight twisties, thanks to its lighter weight and very good balance for such a big car. There’s still just the teeniest bit of understeer, but not enough to hinder the nice, quick turn-ins. If you don’t like the amount of steering feel, you can dial in more or less with variable assist, and of course steering with your right foot is always an option as well.
With many engine and transmission options, Government Fuel Economy Ratings vary greatly; but our V8 GT with automatic rates 18-City and 25-Highway. And we averaged a fine 21.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Making for an Energy Impact Score of 16.5 barrels of oil consumed per year, with annual CO2 emissions of 7.3 tons. There are more customizing options available than ever before, to truly make your ‘stang’ a unique steed, and you can do that right on Ford’s website. The V8 GT’s price starts at $31,095, but a heavily optioned car like ours can easily top 40-grand. If that’s too rich for your blood, the 305-horsepower Mustang V6 begins at only $22,995. The V6 automatic can now add both manual-shift mode and a Performance Package.
What’s truly amazing, is even though the Mustang has been around for almost 50 years, it still has the same light-on-its-feet/power-on feel it always had. So, it’s still a true red-white & blue winner when it comes to big performance on a modest budget. The only way you’ll be disappointed with any 2013 Ford Mustang is if they go and come out with an even better one next year.
Engine: 5-liter V8
Torque: 390 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.5 seconds @ 108 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.3 tons/yr