2013 Ford Mustang Review
Ford's retro pony car continues to impress.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 1st, 2013
Ford's famous pony car, the Mustang, is due for a redesign for the 2015 model year, and internet speculators are predicting that the car will ditch its retro-themed design when the next generation model launches. While we don't believe everything we see on the internet--hey, did you know you could make $7,500 a month just by working from home? Click here!--we have seen images of the Ford Evos concept car, which could preview the next Mustang, and it's decidedly futuristic.
No matter what design direction Ford takes with the next Mustang, the current model is still delightfully retro, which looks that remind buyers of the original car from the '60s. The 'Stang isn't just in terms of looks, but overall attitude. It still uses a "live" rear axle instead of an independent rear suspension, its interior is still behind the times, and it's still available with fuel-sucking V-8 power.
You can have your Mustang in one of four flavors: base V-6, GT trim with a 5.0-liter V-8, track-ready Boss 302 (this limited production model will be going away after 2013), and top-dog Shelby GT500. We've driven all four (see our separate reviews on the Shelby and the Boss) and no matter what Ford does with the next car, we're gonna miss the current car and its unapologetic love of the past.
On the Road
In the old days (think '80s and '90s), base Mustangs were derided as "insurance beaters" or dismissed with the sexist "it's a secretary's car" line. This is because base-engined cars looked like the high-powered V-8 Mustangs, but were far slower. They were also easier to insure, thanks to the less-powerful engines. Well, base Mustang buyers can now get the last laugh over their insurers, since even the base V-6 makes 305 horsepower.
For those who wonâ€™t be satisfied with "only" 305 ponies, the 5.0-liter V-8 in the GT makes 420 horsepower. Nostalgia-driven Mustang fans will welcome the return of the "5.0" badging, and those who quibble over semantics will note that unlike the "5.0" V-8 available in the '80s and early '90s, this is a true 5.0-liter: no rounding up from 4.9 liters.
With either engine, acceleration is anything but slow. The base car has enough grunt to get the driver in trouble with the law, making us wonder why anyone would spend the extra cash for the V-8.
That changed when we drove the V-8. The V-6 felt tortoise-like by comparison, thanks to the aforementioned 420 horses and 390 lb-ft of torque. While the GT's competitors offer more power (Camaro SSs max out at 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, the Dodge Challenger R/T maxes out at 375/410, and a Challenger SRT8 is rated at 470/470), all of those vehicles also weigh more. The Mustang is the lightest of the American triumvirate of pony cars, and it shows on the road.
That doesn't just apply to acceleration. Both the V-6 and V-8 models feel light on their feet in the corners, almost to a fault. There's a fine line between being nimble and being jumpy, and occasionally the Mustang crosses it. The Camaro and Challenger feel more stable and planted, but they aren't as fun. Conversely, the Mustang is fun, but it requires more concentration. The biggest fault here is the steering--it's light and disconnected in both models, giving relatively little road feedback, although it's slightly better in the GT. Using the driver-selectable steering modes doesn't help to improve steering feel much.
Our GT tester came with the six-speed manual transmission, while our V-6 had the six-speed automatic. We found the clutch and shifter to be appropriate for the class, the clutch was heavy without being tiring, while the shifter was a bit on the notchy side but still fun to row.
Both cars use the same retro design that the Mustang has traded on since 2005, and the look still hasn't gotten old. It's the same long-hood, short-deck silhouette that the Mustang has used since its inception in the '60s, and it's a classic shape. We like the GT's look better, since it gets a different grille and adds hood louvers, but both cars look fantastic. A 2010 refresh has helped keep the retro look from getting tiresome.
The cabin is by far the car's worst overall asset. The rear seat is a torture chamber for anyone larger than a toddler, the swing-up center console lid is too easily opened by a misplaced elbow, the buttons look dated, and even the front seating areas feel cramped. While no car in this class has a great interior, the Mustang is by far the worst.
From a performance perspective, the 'Stang is still tough to beat. The Camaro and Challenger are both damn fine cars, but the Mustang is the best all-around performer in the class. It also strikes the best balance between high-performance driving and sedate urban cruising.
The V-6 offers performance at a relative bargain (if the low $30,000 range can be considered a bargain), while those who want the most power and the best exhaust note will opt for the V-8, even at the expense of sticker price and more frequent trips to the gas pump.
We'll miss the retro theme when the current car is gone, but if Ford can continue to build on the car's current strengths while fixing some handling woes and improving the interior, we won't miss it that much.
Specs, Features, and Prices
Engine: 3.7-liter V-6 or 5.0-liter V-8
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
Drive Wheels: Rear-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway (15/26 w/ V-8)
Base Price: $26,200 (V-6), $34,300 (V-8)
As-Tested Price: $33,220 (V-6, includes $795 destination fee), $39,475 (V-8, includes $795 destination fee)
Available Features: leather seats, air conditioning, dual exhaust, split-fold rear seat, Sync infotainment system, driver-adjustable steering, limited-slip differential, satellite radio, MyKey security key, 4.2-inch center stack screen (GT), dual-zone climate control, Brembo brakes (GT), reverse parking assist system, 19-inch wheels, Recaro seats (GT)
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2013 Ford Mustang, click here: 2013 Ford Mustang.