A constant evolution for the Pony Car
PORTLAND, Oregon - Ford has opted for subtle changes to the Mustang for 2013. HID headlamps are now standard on every model, while changes to grille opening and the splitter move air in a more efficient and controllable manner through the radiator. Trim changes to the side graphics and body cladding (where used) leave the silhouette of the car unchanged.
Design-wise, the Shelby GT500 is relatively unchanged and the 2013 Boss 302 paint is done so that it pays tribute to the 1970 Boss 302, complete with hockey stick graphics on the side.
The traditional three tail lamps are now powered by LEDs. In an effort to combine functions and keep tail clutter to a minimum, the center taillamp of the three houses a series of white LEDs as well as reds. When reverse is selected, the reds go out and the whites shine through to act as backup lamps.
Longer option list
To broaden Mustang's appeal and keep potential buyers out of the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro, Ford made additions to the option sheets of the Mustang V6 and Mustang GT. Larger 19" wheels are optional on the V6 and included in the "GT Suspension" package that gives Mustang V6 buyers the handling and braking power of the GT. A new interior package on the V6 includes the Recaro bucket seats used in the GT and can be ordered in cloth or leather upholstery.
Now optional is the "Track Apps" package that includes the ability to time yourself from 0 to 100 km/h as well as measure your maximum G-force generation under acceleration, braking and in lateral forces. Keep in mind that this is intended for competition-minded owners and is not recommended for street use (yeah, right!). Ford expects customers from the Mustang GT ranks right through to Shelby GT500 purchasers to make use of this option.
Engines and transmissions
Powertrain choices remain the same for 2013, but the GT's 5.0L engine gets bumped up to 420 horsepower from 412. Shelby owners get the largest boost of all, as the old 5.4L V8 gets a displacement increase to 5.8L and a larger supercharger, raising output from 550 horsepower to 650 horsepower. A Tremec 6-speed manual will be used in the Shelby while other Mustangs will use a Ford 6-speed.
One of the best features of the optional six-speed automatic with manual mode is that it will hold the gear that the driver chooses. Programming is such that this automatic will act like a manual gearbox, which means you need to tug the lever to get the next gear. If you don't, the engine will bounce off the rev limiter at the top or nearly stall the car on the bottom. As Ford Engineering put it, it's "an automatic for those who can drive."
The straight and narrow
It may not seem like it in this day and age of sophisticated independent rear suspensions, but the 2013 Ford Mustang still uses a solid rear axle. In town, on cobble roads or broken pavement, ride quality is excellent. The tail stays planted to the ground under all types of acceleration and differing road surfaces, while lane changes are easy, thanks to large amounts of torque available through nearly the full rpm range. You can get the motor down to 1,000 rpm in 6th and still accelerate without obvious lugging which cuts down the work of driving a standard in heavy traffic.
Solid axles are best used for serious starts. When the light goes green at the traffic stop, you can start with enough vigour to clear the intersection quickly. In either the Mustang V6 or the Mustang 5.0, a jab of the throttle gets you enough room to move into the next lane even when the other driver is reluctant to let you. This also makes on ramp merging fun and easily done.
The long and winding road
Mustang engineers admit that most of their competition-minded customers are interested in drag racing, but their mandate is to make the Mustang the best it can be and that means going around corners well. First off, you can forget any idea that a solid rear axle holds the Mustang back when it comes to handling; suspension engineers have worked out a combination of suspension geometry and components that lets you hustle through corners easily.
On the electronics side, steering sensitivity on the electric-assist power steering can now be adjusted between comfort, normal and sport. Each setting tightens up the turn-in to the point where you feel like you have a street-legal race car set up.
With steering, body lean and seating comfort under control, Mustang handles tight and winding roads with ease. Cornering can easily be done above the posted limits and, as an added bonus, the passenger doesn't even realize it.
The best part is that most buyers won't realize how good the changes are until they drive one for a while, then the grin will just get bigger every time they go for a drive!
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