Marc Christ Associate Editor
June 29, 2012
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

The seating options start with the standard cloth, and Premium package versions get leather-trimmed seats, available in an array of colors. Heated seats are optional, as are the Recaros. Available in either cloth or leather, these are available as an option on all V-6 and GT models--not just the Boss and GT-500.

The productivity screen is a 4.2-inch LCD located in the center of the instrument cluster. It allows the driver to monitor real-time coolant temp, air/fuel, cylinder head temp, oil temp, and many others. It also provides normal information like fuel economy and odometers.

The best feature of the screen is TrackApps. It allows you to measure g-forces, acceleration times (0-60, 0-100, eighth-mile, quarter-mile), and braking performance. It will save your all-time best, and there's even a tree to count you down before starting your quarter-mile test. A five-way button on the steering wheel controls everything so you can keep your hands on the wheel at all times.

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Then and Now

When the S197 Mustang was released in 2004, eight years ago, the '05 model year was innovative and new. By shelving the outdated-by-far Fox platform, Ford's new "retro" body was a homerun. Not only did the youngsters love the progressive styling, but the Blue Oval brought back once-lost customers that longed to feel that emotion that was lost somewhere between the mid-'70s re-badged Pintos and the "Ice, Ice, Baby" video.

The General had already ceased production of its F-body (Firebird and Camaro), and Chrysler (or whoever owned it at that time) hadn't produced a ponycar since '74. No matter, as Ford soldiered on with what has now become the star in a ponycar race, with both rivals vying for their own share. Iterations like R/T and SS have forced Ford to continue its assault with better styling, quality, technology, comfort, and power.

With 300 hp, the new-and-improved Three-Valve Modular engine had enough gusto to out-perform any leftover competition. The larger cabin, refined handling, modern interior, and retro styling made the new Stang irresistible to Mustang enthusiasts and run-of-the-mill car buyers alike.

A less-than-desirable slight rear body modification on the '10 Mustang overshadowed a metamorphic leap in interior styling, quality, and comfort. The nose had become more aggressive, and the engine in the GT was now pumping out 315 horsepower. The V-6 model was still anemic, as it barely got out of its own way without a tailwind.

Rumors swirled for over a year about a new engine bearing the 5.0-liter displacement that was so popular through the golden years of the Fox-body. Then, Ford made the announcement that the Five-Oh would be back in the '11 GT--and with 412 hp. We were all excited about this revelation--finally. Soon to follow would be the '12 Boss with 444 hp, and the V-6 was even a contender with 305 hp--the same as a '98 Cobra and more than an '05 GT.

The race is on in the ponycar segment, and Mustang is accelerating exponentially. The '13 is surprisingly different, in looks and feel. The GT is more powerful and poised, new options are countless, and up-to-date electronics and technology are spot-on. This is the best Mustang ever--undisputed.

"A True Showpiece"

There's no doubt that the last generation of Taurus/Five Hundred lacked mass appeal, especially to those looking for a thrill ride. But when Ford released the brand-new platform in '10 and offered up an EcoBoost SHO version, we tuned in. If you remember, we track-tested one and it ran 13.80s in the quarter-mile right out of the box. With 365 hp, it was the most powerful Taurus ever.

Although on the same platform, the new Taurus has been massaged and refined to be even better. We had the chance to drive it and the Flex on our trip to Portland to drive the Mustang. "It's a true showpiece for Ford," remarked Bill Gubing, chief engineer for Taurus.

All-new on the exterior are the hood, wider grille, lower front fascia, larger wheels, sleek headlamps, decklid, and taillamps. Everything inside is either new or improved. Small touches like the wrapped pillar trim, four-way adjustable headrests, and improved switch feel give Ford's flagship sedan a shove toward luxury.