2013 Ford Mustang Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 4, 2011

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2013 Ford Mustang Buying Advice

The 2013 Ford Mustang is the best car for you if you want a thoroughly modern version of the original pony car in fast, faster, or even-faster fastest form.

The 2013 Ford Mustang will likely add power to its top-line Shelby GT500 model but should otherwise carry over with only modest changes in preparation for a major model-year 2014 redesign. The 2013 Mustang will remain in stiff competition with its domestic-brand counterparts, the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. To bolster its cause, the high-performance 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is likely to get more power as a counterpunch to Camaro’s top ZL1 model and the Challenger’s SRT8 392.

Should you wait for the 2013 Ford Mustang or buy the 2012 Ford Mustang? Wait for the 2013 Mustang if you’re interested in all-out Ford performance and want to see what bragging rights an energized 2013 Shelby GT500 coupe and convertible might bring to the party. Buy a 2012 Mustang if you’d like to avoid the inevitable year-over-year price increases and want an extra year to enjoy your car’s styling and features before the model-year 2014 redesign makes them begin to feel old.

2013 Ford Mustang Changes back to top

Styling: Don’t expect visual revisions to the 2013 Ford Mustang, save perhaps an added exterior color treatment or a new wheel design. This four-seater will again be offered in coupe and convertible body styles that represent a modern take on classic Mustang styling. You’ll again get round headlamps, scoop-like indentations on each side of the car, and turn signals that flash in sequential order.

The 2013 Ford Mustang coupe and convertible’s interior design will also continue to pay homage to its 1960s and early-1970s forerunners. While it should retain its basic rectangular dashboard forms and round instrumentation and air vents, the 2013 Mustang cabin probably will continue with generally budget-conscious materials and switchgear and, in base-trim, a lifeless overall appearance. Trading up to one of the extra-cost Premium-trim versions should again dress things up with aluminum-look accents, and ordering the optional navigation system will again add an LCD video display to the center of the dashboard for a higher-tech ambience.

Bucket seats for the driver and front passenger will again afford good lateral support, yet remain sufficiently wide enough to comfortably accommodate occupants with a pronounced middle-age spread. While the 2013 Mustang will again furnish sufficient seat travel for long-legged riders up front to find their comfort zones, back-seat legroom will remain at a premium. Mustang’s rear seat best suits small children and is inhospitable for anyone with the front seats in their rearmost position. This is a common problem among sporty coupes, though the larger Dodge Challenger remains one of the rare models in this class to offer a reasonably useful back seat.

The 2013 Ford Mustang model range will continue to include the base V-6 coupe and convertible, the V-8-powered GT coupe and convertible, and the top-performing Shelby GT500 coupe and convertible.

While visual distinctions among the 2013 Mustang variants will continue to be subtle, expect the GTs to again be identified by their second set of round lamps in the grille and by “5.0” fender badges referring to the liter displacement of their V-8 engine. The 2013 Shelby GT500 models should again feature a slightly different front-end treatment, available racing stripes along the top and sides of the body, specific wheels, and various minor styling tweaks. Inside, the 2013 Shelby GT500 will continue to assume a higher-quality look with genuine aluminum trim, among other touches.

The performance-tuned Mustang Boss 302 is expected to continue for 2013 after its model-year 2012 introduction. This limited-edition model was inspired by the original Boss 302 from model-years 1969 and 1970. That car was essentially a street-legal rendition of the Mustang that competed in the Trans Am racing road-racing series. The 2013 Mustang Boss 302 will remain in coupe form only distinguished by a unique front fascia and grille that Ford says improves aerodynamics. Buyers should still be able to choose a hood that’s painted in white or black to match the car’s body-side stripes. Inside, the Boss 302 should again be highlighted by dark-metallic trim, a black pool-cue shifter ball, and suede-like upholstery. Expect the 2013 Boss 302 to feature a few minor visual tweaks and distinctive color choices to set it apart from the model-year 2012 edition.

Mechanical: The 2013 Ford Mustang base and GT models are unlikely to get any major mechanical upgrades. This means the base coupe and convertible should continue with an all-aluminum 24-valve 3.7-liter V-6. Unless Ford thinks it can give this V-6 more muscle without sacrificing fuel economy, base-model 2013 Mustangs should remain rated at 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. (Torque is the force behind acceleration while horsepower is the energy that sustains momentum.)

Not long ago, you had to choose a fuel-thirsty V-8 to get this level of horsepower or torque, but now 300 horsepower is considered entry level among Mustang’s peers. By comparison, the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro’s 3.6-liter V-6 should again manage 323 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque and the standard 3.6-liter V-6 in the 2013 Dodge Challenger likely generating 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque.

Still, Mustang’s pony-car class remains one of the few automotive categories in which V-8 engines still reign. To that end the 2013 Ford Mustang GT coupe and convertible will come with a twin-cam, 32-valve 5.0-liter V-8. Horsepower is likely to remain 412 and torque 390 pound-feet.

It’s possible, however, that Ford engineers might be motivated to increase output to keep the 2013 Mustang GT in step with the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS, whose 6.2-liter V-8 should again deliver 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque with manual transmission and 400/410 with automatic. Also in the picture will be the 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T; it’ll  continue with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which has thus far peaked at around 380 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque but could be boosted by the time the 2013s roll around.

The 2012 Mustang V-6 and GT should again offer a choice of an easy-shifting, short-throw six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The latter isn’t likely to gain a separate floor gate or steering-wheel paddles to enable manual-type gear control. But the 2013 Mustang’s automatic transmission will again include a "hill mode" that automatically selects the correct gear ratio for optimal performance while driving on an incline or decline. It also locks out sixth gear, holds lower gears for longer periods on uphill grades, and affords some engine braking to help minimize wear and tear on the car’s brakes on declines.

The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 coupe and convertible are good candidates for added horsepower in response to the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which debuted for model-year 2012 with a supercharged 6.2-ltier V-8 rated at some 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. The 2012 GT500 used a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 with 550 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Possibilities include more output for that engine or even new twin-turbocharged V-8. Either way, some reports peg the 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 at 620 horsepower or more.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 should again take the GT upon which it’s based to higher levels of performance. Modified with a specific air intake and crankshafts, the Boss 302’s 5.0-liter V-8 should again register 440 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The Boss 302 will continue to come with enhanced suspension, steering, exhaust, and braking systems to help maximize performance on the street or track. The Boss 302 will again be limited to the six-speed manual transmission, but will continue with an upgraded race-inspired clutch.

What’s more, aggressive drivers should again be able to disable the Boss 302’s traction and stability control systems to allow for tire-smoking launches and rear-wheel “drifting” through curves. The Boss 302’s system will again include an intermediate mode to enable moderate slip before those systems intervene to prevent skidding out altogether. Ford’s TracKey system allows Boss 302 drivers to switch from stock engine settings to full race calibration, with a two-stage launch control that allows drivers to pre-set a desired launch rpm for maximum off-the-line acceleration.

Though still up in the air as of this review, Ford may continue to offer a relative few race-ready Boss 302 Laguna Seca models, named for the California track at which Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Trans Am season opener in a competition-modified version of the original Boss 302.

Tradition dictates that pony cars, like most true sports cars, have rear-wheel drive. Compared to front-wheel drive, rear-drive spreads the weight of the powertrain over a car’s length for a better front-to-rear weight balance and allows the front wheels to concentrate on steering rather than also delivering power. Indeed, to minimize powertrain intrusion into the passenger compartment, a front-drive car places the engine and transmission in the nose of the car, directly over the wheels that both propel and steer. A few sporty cars, such as the Scion tC, Volkswagen GTI, and Honda Civic Si, perform well with front-wheel drive, but the configuration isn’t practical for cars at the Mustang GT’s performance level.

It’s certain the 2013 Ford Mustang will retain a solid rear axle instead of the more modern independent rear suspension designs embraced by the Camaro and Challenger. While this is an element carried over from another era, Mustang’s designers have rendered the worst of its negative attributes moot and managed to create a good-handling car with a relatively comfortable ride sans the added expense and weight of an independent rear suspension.  

Completely up to date will be the 2013 Ford Mustang’s power-steering system; it’ll again employ electric assist to enhance road manners and fuel economy by eliminating a conventional belt-driven hydraulic steering pump. The system can also counter steering wander triggered by crosswinds and crowned roads, and even compensate for the vibration of a mildly out-of-balance wheel. The 2013 Mustang’s steering system will carry over a model-year 2012 upgrade by featuring three driver-selectable performance modes: Sport for maximum feedback with the least  power boost; Comfort for maximum isolation (for relaxed cruising on a long highway ride, for example); and Standard to strike a balance for moderately engaging driving situations.

Federal regulation now requires all cars have antiskid stability control, and the 2013 Mustang will again use Ford’s StabiliTrak system to help prevent fishtailing in extreme or emergency handling maneuvers. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes will again be onboard for more secure stopping performance, and a limited-slip differential should also remain standard on all models to help distribute the force of acceleration between the rear wheels. Depending the model, the 2013 Ford Mustang should  again ride on  17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheels and tires as standard or optional equipment depending on the model.

Features: The 2013 Ford Mustang should continue to come nicely equipped, with standard features including air conditioning, a CD audio system with an auxiliary input for iPods and other digital devices, power locks and windows, a programmable garage door opener, and cruise control. It’ll also come with Ford’s Easy Fuel system that eliminates the gas cap in favor of a self-sealing fuel-tank neck. Among standard features will again be Ford’s MyKey system that allows parents of teen drivers to limit audio volume and vehicle speed as a way to encourage seat-belt use and responsible driving.

Choosing a Premium version of the 2013 Ford Mustang V-6 or GT models should again add such exterior dress-up items as a rear spoiler and lower exterior tape stripe, and such interior upgrades as power leather seats, a 500-watt audio system, and Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity. Premium models should again feature Ford’s Sync system that affords voice-command control of the audio system (including a connected iPod), the air conditioning, the optional navigation system, and other assorted functions.

There’s a good chance Ford could expand availability of its AppLink feature beyond just the Shelby GT500 for model-year 2013. AppLink integrates smartphone apps into the Sync system. For example, users can play and select among custom playlists from the Pandora Internet-radio music service via the car’s audio system.

Depending on model, expect 2013 Mustang options to again include a navigation system, a 1,000-watt Shaker audio system, heated front seats, rear backup camera, and, on coupes, a panoramic smoked-glass roof. And Shelby GT500 buyers should again be able to add Recaro-brand sport front bucket seats for added lateral support through sharp turns.

The 2013 Ford Mustang will again offer specific packages for the benefit of buyers seeking even greater levels of performance. The so-called Mayhem Mustang Package offered on base V-6 models should again come with an acceleration-enhancing 3.31:1 final-drive ratio instead of the standard 2.73:1, a stiffer suspension borrowed from the GT, a specially calibrated stability control system that allows added wheel spin before intervening, stronger brakes, and 19-inch performance tires.

A Brembo brake upgrade is again likely for 2013 Mustang GTs and would again include larger 14-inch Brembo-brand rotors and four-piston calipers up front and 11.8" rotors and two-piston calipers at the rear, along with 19-inch high-performance tires and the more-aggressive stability control system. Even 2013 Shelby GT500 buyers should again be able to ratchet up their car’s looks and handling via the optional SVT Performance Package that includes lightweight wheels, stiffer springs, a higher rear-axle ratio, 19-inch high-performance tires, and specific styling cues.

2013 Ford Mustang Prices back to top

Prices for the 2013 Ford Mustang weren’t available in time for this review, but don’t expect a dramatic increase over model-year 2012 Mustang prices. That means a base-price range of around $23,500-$41,500 for the 2013 Mustang V-6, GT and Boss 302 models and about $50,000-$55,500 for the 2012 Shelby GT500. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Mustang was $795.)

Base price for the 2013 Ford Mustang V-6 should be around $23,500 for the coupe and $28,500 for the convertible. The 2013 Mustang GT will likely start about $30,500 for the coupe and $35,500 for the convertible. Upgrading either of the V-6 or GT models with Premium trim should add around $4,000. Premium versions should again include an upgraded power driver’s seat, leather upholstery with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the faux-aluminum interior trim, and a 500-watt Shaker audio unit with Sirius satellite radio and the Sync multimedia control system.

Among the major options for the 2013 Mustang V-6 and GT, the automatic transmission should add around $1,200, and Premium-trim versions should command around $2,350 for the optional navigation system and about $2,000 for the available glass roof panel. The Mayhem Mustang Package on V-6 models that packs suspension, steering braking and wheel/tire upgrades should cost around $1,500, with the 2013 GT’s Brembo brake package priced near $1,700.

Estimated base price for the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 is $41,500. Don’t expect to negotiate much of a discount on the 2013 Boss 302; it should continue popular among Mustang collectors and you may even have to pay a premium if demand remains strong.

The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 should start around $50,000 for the coupe and around $55,000 for the convertible. Expect to pay around $4,000 for the 2013 Shelby GT500’s optional SVT Performance Package and about $1,300 for the ear-splitting 1,000-watt Shaker audio array.

2013 Ford Mustang Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Ford Mustang weren’t posted in time for this review, but we expect them to remain at or near model-year 2012 levels.

You’ll likely see fuel-economy ratings for a 2013 Mustang coupe with the V-6 engine and six-speed manual transmission of 19/29 mpg city/highway and 22 mpg combined city/highway. With the automatic transmission, expect 19/31/23 mpg. The convertible’s added weight should take its toll with a slightly lower rating of 19/30/23 mpg with automatic transmission. A few years ago these fuel economy numbers would be unheard of for an engine that generates in excess of 300 horsepower.

The V-8 powered 2012 Mustang GT should again be rated 17/26 mpg city/highway, 20 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 18/25/20 with the six-speed automatic.

For the super-high-performance models, expect the 2013 Boss 302 to rate around 16/25 mpg city/highway, 19 combined. The 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 should again carry the lowest fuel economy rating in the lineup at 15/23/17, and that could drop a bit if a higher-output engine is offered.

Expect Ford to again recommend premium-octane fuel for the 2013 Mustang GT and Boss 302 and require it for the 2013 Shelby GT500.

2013 Ford Mustang Release Date back to top

The 2013 Ford Mustang should arrive in dealerships in September 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Ford Mustang back to top

The Ford Mustang will likely see its next major makeover for the 2014 model year as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. With such a deep and recognized heritage, expect a revamped Mustang to stay true to its roots, with updated technology underpinning what should remain a retro-flavored exterior design.

Ford is not likely to tinker with the Mustang to the point it becomes unrecognizable, which is a lesson it learned in the 1990s when public outcry prevented the company from recasting this symbol of American sporty-car fun as a comparatively flaccid front-drive coupe. That car was eventually released as the since-discontinued Ford Probe and is missed by few enthusiasts.

Just how old-school the next-generation Mustang will remain is yet to be seen. The question of an independent rear suspension is foremost, but Ford’s buyer base and price and performance targets don’t make its introduction highly likely. Horsepower should remain healthy, though added engine technology might come into play to help maximize the Mustang’s fuel economy. Federally mandated corporate average fuel economy levels will increase by about 40 percent between the 2012 and 2016 model years, and every carmaker is looking into ways to meet the rules without sacrificing performance.

Planting one of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engines under the Mustang hood might not suit its image as an affordable muscle car. But it’s a near certainty Ford will give the car’s V-6 and V-8 engines direct fuel injection and selective cylinder shutdown (to idle cylinders selectively when not  needed) to maximize performance and fuel economy. It’s possible the next Mustang could include a start-stop system, similar to that used in hybrid cars, that automatically depowers an engine while decelerating and when the car is stopped, then automatically restarts it when power is required.

The Shelby GT500 model will likely continue as the next Mustang’s performance leader, but there’s no telling where the current horsepower wars among the three pony cars will end. If a 620-horsepower engine is rumored for the GT500, could 650, 700 horses be in the cards?

2013 Ford Mustang Competition back to top

Chevrolet Camaro: Fueled by aggressive styling, Camaro has been outselling the Mustang. It’s arguably the more technically advanced car, though it’s low roof creates a cabin with a closed-in feel. Rear-seat room and cargo space are no better than the Ford’s, and neither is the quality of cabin materials. Chevy is likely to add a convertible version of the high-performance ZL1 coupe for model-year 2013. As with the coupe, it should pack a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that generates 550 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. The rest of the line likewise affords admirable performance with a V-6 again expected to produce 323 horsepower and a V-8 that will likely generate 426 horses. Each should again drive the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Expect to see fuel economy around 18/30/22 mpg with the V-6, 16/24/19 with the V-8, and 15/23/18 with the supercharged V-8. Base prices for the 2013 Camaros should range around $24,000-$32,000, with the ZL1s priced around $50,000-$57,000.

Dodge Challenger: Styled to recall the 1970 Challenger and based on the chassis that underpinned the previous-generation Dodge Charger, this is the biggest pony car in the field. It should continue for 2013 with only modest changes. Whether it will continue beyond the 2014 model year is uncertain. In the meantime expect the car’s base 3.6-liter V-6 to generate 305 horsepower, with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 again producing a brisker 376 horsepower (maybe tweaked a bit higher if parent company Fiat is serious about remaining competitive with the Mustang and Camaro’s V-8s). The top-performer will again be the SRT8 version with a 6.4-liter Hemi that produces an exhilarating 470 horses, but doesn’t feel overwhelming around town in the process. Unfortunately, the Challenger is the largest among the three pony cars, and while this enables it to offer a uniquely useful back seat and a large trunk, its sheer girth tends to inhibit its cornering abilities. Fuel economy should again be rated 18/27/21 mpg with the V-6, 16/25/19 for the R/T and a mere 15/24/18 with the SRT8. Base prices should be around $26,500 for the V-6 SE model, $31,500 for the R/T. and $44,500 for the SRT8.

2013 Ford Mustang Next Steps