The More It Changes, The More it’s The Same
It’s been a long time since I’ve been behind the wheel of a Mustang—seven years, to be exact. Mustangs have improved during that time, but they still feel the same. The V-6 model of this review has more horsepower than the V-8 powered car of the 2005 model I drove. It also has larger wheels, and gets better gas mileage. Yet, the growl of the engine, the solid feel of the chassis and the stiff ride are what I remember from the last time.
The Mustang’s styling has evolved over the years. For 2013, it gets tweaked some more. The most noticeable change is to the nose, which now sports standard Xenon headlamps and a handsome Shelby-like grille, with a chrome Mustang logo in the center. At the rear, the designers gave their pony-car a set of new taillights.
The interior carries over much the same. It’s a straightforward, almost retro look, with a high-mounted dash, a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and the classic two large gauges for speed and engine revs on the instrument panel. The center control panel features neatly arranged buttons for audio and air conditioning right below a six-inch display screen.
The Mustang seats four, but those in the rear have limited head- and legroom. The backseat is best suited for small, agile kids. However, the folks up front have better accommodations, with well-bolstered bucket seats, although the passenger side on my test car could have used a height adjuster. The trunk has a decent amount of room (12.3 cu.-ft.) but a small opening.
The Mustang comes both as a coupe and convertible, and in four levels of trim. The primary difference between these trim levels is performance. The base model gets a 3.7-liter V-6 that produces a substantial 305 hp. The GT is equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 that pumps out a heftier 420 horses, and the Boss 302 comes with a similar V-8, but has even more muscle with 444 hp. At the top of the list is the awesome Shelby GT500 with a 650-hp, supercharged V-8. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, and six-speed automatic is optional on the base and GT versions.
My test car was a base coupe with a couple of options. The first was the Premium package, which included leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, a Shaker sound system, satellite radio and iPod/USB interface. The second was the Performance package, which delivered a number of upgrades, like 19-inch wheels, a stiffer suspension, beefed up brakes.
I found driving this Mustang was a mixed bag. The V-6 was a willing performer, and delivered a pleasing growl as it revved higher. The manual gearbox was a tad stiff, but had short throws from gear to gear. This Mustang could get to 60 in less than six seconds. It also averaged 21.2 mpg in mixed driving.
However, the Mustang felt heavier than its 3675-lb. curb weight, and it was not exactly nimble. The steering is quick, although it returns little feedback to the driver. The brakes feel strong, and deliver straight stops when asked to bring the Mustang down quickly from speed. However, the solid rear axle, a relic from the first Mustangs, limits the Mustang’s cornering ability. Hit a bump in the middle of a turn, and you may be in for more excitement than you expected. And, if comfort is more of a priority to you than optimum cornering speed, you might want to skip the Performance package.
Mustang pricing starts at $22,995 for the entry-level coupe, and ranges up to $59,995 for the Shelby convertible—quite a spread. My base coupe, with the Premium and Performance packages, had a MSRP of $28,990.
Classic Mustang Styling
Lots of Power
Not So Nimble