You won't have any trouble recognizing the 2013 Ford Mustang when it goes on sale this spring, but it will feature noticeably revised styling and technology.
Styling changes to the 2013 Mustang include a new lighting design, a more prominent grille, a dominant splitter, a new hood, body-colored rocker panels. Up front are small high-intensity headlights accented by a pair of LED bars. At the rear is a new tail light design with three LED ropes that form the three-bar tail lights. The tail lights have a smoked appearance and a high-gloss black panel across the rear that visually connects them. As before, the tail lights blink sequentially when signaling a turn. New wheel designs come in a choice of finishes in 17-, 18- and 19-inch sizes.
The 2013 Mustang GT will feature new heat extractors on the hood designed to let hot air out of the engine compartment for better cooling. New LED fog lights come standard on the 2013 Mustang GT.
The fresh styling is intended to add more emotion to the design and to look more modern while remaining respectful to Mustang heritage. Our impression when we saw the 2013 Mustangs for the first time the night before the November 2011 LA Auto Show was that Ford succeeded.
A new SelectShift Automatic transmission adds a manual shifting feature to all Mustang automatics. When in manual mode, the SelectShift Automatic will change gears only when the driver selects them; it won't second-guess the driver with an override shift, so drivers will have to pay attention when in manual mode. The 6-speed manual gearbox will still be available but will include Hill Start Assist, which keeps the car from rolling back when starting off on a slope.
New Track Apps lets driver monitor acceleration and braking performance and G forces in corners on a track via a new 4.2-inch LCD productivity screen provides. The driver controls the display via a five-way button on the steering wheel. The application measures fuel economy, 0-60 and quarter-mile acceleration performance. We're guessing the Track Apps will be less expensive than Porsche's Sport Chrono. Measuring performance is a great way to improve driving technique and a great way to spend a day.
Walk out to the 2013 Mustang at night, press the unlock button on the remote and puddle lights on the mirrors cast an image of the Mustang pony on the ground to light your way. Pretty neat. New colors include Deep Impact Blue and Gotta Have It Green.
Inside, optional Recaro seats are available trimmed in cloth or leather. The Recaro head restraints are designed to accommodate helmets for track events while opening in the seatbacks allow passage of a racing harness. New Shaker audio systems offer eight or nine speakers and up to 550 watts of power.
The 5.0-liter V8 engine in the 2013 Mustang GT will deliver 420 horsepower, says Ford, an 8-hp gain over the 2012 model. A new GT Track Package features a higher-numerical 3.73 rear axle ratio to go with the manual gearbox for quicker acceleration performance. The GT Track Package will also include an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, Performance Friction brake pads, the Brembo Brake Package, a Torsen differential (from the Boss 302), and summer performance tires.
The 2013 Mustang Boss 302 also features revised styling with a special grille with covers where fog lights would normally be that can be removed for improved cooling on track days. The 444-hp engine and other Boss 302 features carry over unchanged.
The Boss 302 is available with new graphics, including a School Bus Yellow design with new reflective hockey stick graphics honoring the Bud Moore-prepared Mustang that Parnelli Jones drove to win the SCCA Trans-Am manufacturer's championship for Ford. The reflective stripes come alive when light hits them. The Boss Laguna Seca model has new Sterling Gray accents with a choice of black or School Bus Yellow.
The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will boast 650 horsepower, a 100-hp increase over the 2012 model. Ford said the 5.8-liter V8 with aluminum block will deliver 600 foot-pounds of torque and claimed this last figure will make its 5.8-liter engine the most powerful production V8 in the world. Nearly every part of the powertrain has been optimized for more horsepower, including a new TVS supercharger, new cross-drilled block and heads, updated camshaft profiles, a new carbon fiber driveshaft, upgraded clutch, transmission and rear axle, and an updated cooling system. Ford said its engineers put a lot of effort into gear selection to effectively put all that power to the ground for maximum performance.
Overall, the GT500 was designed to be a balanced package for improved handling and driver control at speed. Ride quality is said to be improved during normal everyday driving. AdvanceTrac has been retuned, and it can be turned off completely for driving on a racetrack. An Intermediate Sport mode allows the driver to dial the system back for pushing hard on a track without completely disabling the system, a useful feature for safety or for consistency in inconsistent conditions. Adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers are available that are designed to be tuned for street or track. Additional oil coolers for the engine, rear differential and transmission are available, also beneficial for track use. It sounds to us like the car is even more serious than before yet should be easier to live with. Ford said the 3,850-pound Shelby Mustang will avoid the federal Gas Guzzler Tax. The 2013 Shelby GT500 will offer a new aerodynamic design with a revised front fascia and splitters to manage the air at 200 mph. Ford says it delivers more downforce at 160 mph. We won't try to verify that unless Ford invites us to Le Mans.
We're guessing the 2013 Shelby GT500 will retail for just under $50,000 for the coupe and just under $55,000 for the convertible. But that's just a guess. We don't know.
Ford Sync has been updated for the 2013 Mustangs, also.
Shoppers will be able view a myriad of color combinations for the new Mustangs online. The new Mustang was revealed the night before the LA Auto Show November 2012. We had a chance to preview the online ordering system and found it entertaining and useful for choosing colors, wheel designs and other equipment for a Boss 302. This may help avoid being surprised when that specially ordered car arrives looking a bit different than envisioned.
No matter which model or color combination chosen, the 2013 Mustang looks to be a winner, improving on the superb current model. We're guessing the 2013 Mustangs will be priced similarly to the 2012 models.