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First drive: The 2013 Ford Mustangs

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Published on Mon, Mar 19, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

2013 Ford Mustang

The 2013 Ford Mustangs under the Portland rains

By Roy Nakano It’s hard to believe, but we are approaching the Ford Mustang’s 50th birthday. Last week, LA Car was invited to a preview of the 2013 Mustangs in Portland, Oregon. Today, the embargo is lifted on our driving impressions. We are happy to report: Everything is A-OK at the OK Corral for 2013. There was a time when Mustangs came in two basic flavors: The six-cylinder secretary’s car and the V8. The secretary’s car was a poser—essentially a sheep in wolf’s clothing. It was equipped with an anemic, economy car motor, skinny tires, and steel wheel covers. Fast forward 49 years, and there are no more secretaries and no more secretary cars. The base V6 Mustang churns a whopping 305 horses. By way of comparison, that’s 45 more horsepower than the V8 Mustang GT of just ten years ago (2003)!

2013 Ford Mustang

The V6 Mustang

It doesn’t stop there. For 2013, both the V6 and V8 can be had with a six-speed automatic transmission that Ford calls SelectShift (resurrecting a familiar name from the past). The SelectShift offers the driver a choice between fully automatic operation and manual control. The system is controlled with a selector button on the side of the shifter—toggle it up for a higher gear, down for a lower gear. It’s both logical and simple to remember. We wish Ford had included paddle shifters, like it does on EcoBoost-equipped Flexes and Tauruses. It looks like that will have to wait. On the other hand, the SelectShift unit does have one leg up on the competition: Unlike many other automatics with a sequential manual shifting option, SelectShift won’t second-guess the driver with an override shift. With the gearbox in the Mustang, manual control is truly manually controlled, allowing the driver to hold a gear right up to redline if desired.

2013 Mustang V6

We drove this V6 Mustang Convertible through the twisties of northern Oregon

We drove a base Mustang through the Oregon twisties, and can confirm that even the base model is a driver’s machine. The 305 horsepower V6 cranks out 280 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm, and we can feel it while accelerating through the mountainous roads of northern Oregon. While the Sport mode does a good job of keeping the automatic transmission in the right gear during spirited driving, the SelectShift’s manual gate is a joy to use. We kept waiting for the transmission to override our gear choice, but it never happened—once you choose a gear, it stays in that gear. The handling on even the base car is remarkable. This is no wallowing American barge from yesteryear. This puppy can negotiate turns like a skilled politician. It’s not the GT, but there is an app to make it handle like one. For 2013, the Performance Package is available on both the manual transmission and automatic V6. With the smaller motor’s lighter weight, this makes the base car even more responsive on winding roads. All this and a highway EPA rating of 29 miles per gallon—that’s quite a feat.

2013 Ford Mustang

The Portland rains can't keep this Mustang GT/CS from looking good

While the V6 Mustang is remarkable, Ford didn’t ignore the V8-equipped GT for 2013. The 5.0-liter engine in the GT is now rated at 420 horsepower. Ford says it learned a few things from developing the high-output 444-horsepower Mustang Boss 302, and the engine team was able to adapt several of the designs to the new 5.0-liter GT motor. There’s a new GT Track Package for 2013. It’s for Mustang aficionados who what to push their car even further on the track. Available only on manual GT Mustangs with a 3.73 axle, the package provides the owner with an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, performance friction brake pads and the same Torsen differential that’s on the Mustang Boss 302. The GT Track Package includes everything in the current Brembo Brake Package, with 14-inch vented front discs, 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires.

2013 Mustang Boss 302

The 2013 Boss 302 now emulates the striping on the 1970 Boss

And to go along with all this performance, there’s an available 4.2-inch LCD screen with Track Apps. This option enables the driver to monitor performance measures such as g-forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and displays braking times, complete with automatic and countdown starts. The changes for 2013 are not all mechanical. For the new model year, the Mustang gets a more prominent grille and splitter, standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, signature lighting, painted body-side rockers, LED taillamps, mirrors with pony projection light and a new wheel lineup. For the GT model, there are functional (yes, functional!) heat extractors on the hood. Ford says they are specifically placed and designed to help move hot air out of the engine compartment and cool the engine.

2013 Ford Mustang

When the current Mustang was introduced in 2010, many didn’t like the taillight treatment. Ford evidently listened, and so for 2013, the rear of the car has been updated with a high-gloss black panel that connects the taillamps. Keeping the sequential turn signal Mustang is known for, the taillamps have a smoked appearance that we think look pretty trick. Moving to the side of the car, the rocker panels running along the car are now body-color. Also new on V6 and GT coupes are optional leather-trimmed or cloth Recaro seats. These are the same ones that are currently available on the Shelby GT500 and Boss 302. The Recaros’ lateral bolsters in the cushion and seat back ensure drivers with the support needed on the track during hard cornering and to deliver a comfortable ride. The seats come complete with integrated head restraints with ample room for drivers and passengers wearing helmets on the track (should that be your desire). Ford says the Recaro seats are the result of a global effort led by SVT along with the Mustang engineering group in North America, Team RS in Europe and Recaro.

2013 Ford Mustang

For 2013, two "Shaker" sound systems are offered

Since 2005, Ford has made a concerted effort to capture the spirit of the original and bring it forward into 21st century technology. In 2010, they brought it even closer, adding the kicked-up rear fender treatment, and filing off the corners to make the body hug the wheels more. For 2013, Ford makes the front end look more like the 1968 Shelby, while cleaning up its tail end with a 1969 Mach 1-esque treatment. All-in-all, a handsome effort—and a worthy prelude to the Mustang’s 50th anniversary. For more information about Ford products, go to

2013 Ford Mustang

Soft touch materials abound on the new Mustang interiors

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Ford Mustang Prices: $22,200 (V6 Coupe) $26,200 (V6 Premium Coupe) $27,200 (V6 Convertible) $30,300 (V8 GT Coupe) $31,200 (V6 Convertible Premium) $34,300 (V8 GT Premium Coupe) $35,300 (V8 GT Convertible) $39,300 (V8 GT Convertible Premium) $42,200 (V8 Boss 302 Coupe) EPA fuel economy rating: 19 city/29 highway miles per gallon (V6) 15 city/26 highway miles per gallon (V8 ) Engines: 3.7 liter DOHC 24-valve V6 305 horsepower at 6500 rpm 280 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm 5.0 liter DOHC 32-valve V8 (GT models) 420 horsepower at 6500 rpm 390 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm Transmissions: 6-speed manual with Hill Start Assist (standard) 6-speed SelectShift automatic with sequential manual shift mode (optional) Available: Spring 2012

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