Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 13, 2012
Photos By: Courtesy Ford Motor Company

If you thought Team Mustang would sit back and bask in the glory of the new Coyote 5.0L engine and Boss 302 for the next couple of years, think again. In the final 24 months before an anticipated full make-over for the 50th anniversary model (rumored as a mid-'14), Mustang is stepping up its game for '13 (available spring 2012) with fresh front and rear styling, a few more ponies for the GT, a lot more power for the Shelby GT500, and totally new graphics for the Boss 302. Not to mention new standard equipment and option packages to enhance the driving experience, especially at the track.

Most notable is the fresh front end styling. The sleek nose from '10-'12 has been replaced by more aggressive upper and lower grille openings, similar to the '10-'12 Shelby GT500. It's accompanied by a new hood with functional heat extractors on the GT and Boss 302 models, along with a more prominent splitter.

Mustang fans have been vocal in their criticism of the latest Mustang's angled taillights. For '13, Ford has taken a cue from the '11-'12 Shelby GT350 by painting the rear panel black, which tends to connect the taillights to soften the angular appearance. The taillights themselves are revised with a smoked appearance and separate LED "ropes" to accentuate the Mustang's traditional tri-bar design. Sequential turn-signal operation returns.

Lighting plays a large part in the '13 Mustang revisions. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights are now standard for all, while "pony projection lights" are offered for the mirrors to cast an image of the pony emblem on the ground when the unlock button is activated.

Thanks to the R&D from the 444hp Boss 302, another eight horsepower has been added to the Mustang GT's Coyote 5.0L, taking the new V-8 from an already-impressive 412 hp to an even 420 hp.

Other changes include body-color rocker panels, revamped wheel selection (from standard 17-inch to optional 19-inch for GT and V-6 Performance Package), two new colors (Deep Impact Blue and Gotta Have It Green), availability of leather or cloth Recaro seats in the V-6 and GT, and optional hill start assist for manual transmission Mustangs to help keep the car from rolling backward on slopes when accelerating from a stop.

Proving that Ford "gets it" when it comes to performance driving, a number of new options are aimed at owners who plan to put their '13 Mustangs on the track. A six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission offers a choice between fully automatic shifting or manual control by using a button on the side of the shifter. For manual GT Mustangs with the 3.73 axle, the GT Track Package adds an engine oil cooler, upgraded radiator, performance brake pads, and a Torsen differential, plus everything found in the Brembo Brake Package--14-inch vented front discs, unique 19-inch alloy wheels, and summer performance tires. For the first time, the V-6 Performance Package is available with the automatic transmission. There's even an available LCD productivity screen between the tach and speedometer that measures g-forces, acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and braking times, complete with countdown starts.

Or if you'd rather put your performance in the sound system, the '13 Mustang is available with a pair of optional audio systems--the Shaker with eight speakers and 370 watts or the Shaker Pro with nine speakers and 550 watts.

Mustang fans have been vocal in their criticism of the latest Mustang's angled taillights.