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The Ford Mustang sure might look and sound much like the pony cars of the past, but it definitely lives in the present. Just like the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, the current Mustang isn't just a one-hit wonder, capable of packing huge V-8s for quarter-mile sprints. That's still part of it, for sure, but handling is now also part of their core set--as is the sort of true sports-car finesse that you might have never expected.
While the Mustang still does have a live-axle layout in back, it's surprising that it handles just as well as some other vehicles with more sophisticated origins. And V-6 models are no longer the compromise they once were. Entry-level buyers get a 305-horsepower V-6 that can turn in 0-60 mph times of about 6.0 seconds, plus fuel economy of up to 31 mpg on the highway when teamed with the six-speed automatic--which for 2013 gets SelectShift manual control.
The V-8 catapults the Mustang into a whole other performance category. The 5.0-liter V-8 thumps out 420 horsepower (up from 412), and the exhaust calls it out to the world with a richer, almost exotic note. The Mustang's electric power steering, which gets a multi-mode setting for steering boost for 2013, is precise if not always well-weighted, and overall the Mustang is far more fun to drive on a curvy road than models of the not-so-distant past. The race-ready Boss 302 gives you what you need for the track--including a higher-output, 444-hp V-8.
The 2013 model year brings some more modern details to the Mustang's classic look. The entire lineup gets projector-beam headlamps, with two strips of LED lighting flanking them, and LED lamps used in back, with a dark-tinted look. The front grille has been amped up a bit, while the lower airdams are neater and thinner. And a clever new night-lighting option, called the pony projection light, beams a pony emblem on the ground next to the doors.
The Mustang's cockpit has the upright dash and big, beautiful gauges with color-shifting lighting and metallic trim, a good blend of Sixties style and today's touchscreen sensibilities. There's no MyFord Touch yet, but new for 2013 is a Track Apps feature that lets you time your own acceleration or quarter-mile times.
Coupe and Convertible editions can be had with either powertrain. Coupes are the way to best enjoy the Mustang's dynamics, with the glass panoramic roof, but the Convertible is still one of the best drop-top picks if you need a back seat.
Parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, and HD Radio are all items that are now offered in the Mustang. But the real allure is in customization and performance options. Of course, you can customize the 'Stang with all the hood scoops, paint schemes and decal packages you need to fondly remember those glory days. And for 2013 we're intrigued by the GT Track Package that’s new and only offered on manual GT Mustangs. It includes a 3.73 axle, an upgraded radiator, performance brake pads, and the Boss 302’s Torsen differential—in addition to the larger front discs, 19-inch alloy wheels, and summer performance tires that are already a part of the Brembo Brake Package.