2013 Ford Mustang Review
The 2013 Mustang interior doesn't keep up with the exterior, which is disappointing. The standard steering wheel, even on the Boss 302 and Shelby GT 500, looks like it was borrowed from some nondescript sedan; we wish Ford had instead borrowed the lovely steering wheel from the new Taurus SHO.
The trim and soft plastic on the dash are appealing, especially in faux aluminum, though there are some hard plastic bits, namely in the doors, and flimsy plastic hinges on things. The overall shape of the dash is undramatic, but the dash layout and switch panels are uncomplicated and effective. Most controls are big buttons, although climate and radio are big knobs. Premium and up models have standard ambient lighting in five selectable colors.
We think retro instrumentation has worn off. We don't really care to be reminded of the 1970s every time we look at the speedometer or tachometer, and that's what you get with the V6 and GT. On the Boss and Shelby, the numbers on the gauges aren't retro, and they're way more pleasing. We like how Ford pulls off the exterior retro style, but instruments are another matter. You don't just look at them, you use them. Retro-looks good, retro function bad.
On the base Mustang V6, you get a small fuel and temp gauge, inserted into the speedo. There's also what Ford calls a four-gauge cluster, which is digital information in a box between the retro speedo and tach. But it's distracting to have to click arrows on the steering wheel to read the numbers called a gauge.
On some models the 4.2-inch LCD screen between the tach and speedo provides more vehicle information, accessed by using that five-way button on the steering wheel. It displays not only basic information, but test-pilot things like air/fuel mixture and cylinder head temperature. It features Track Apps, which displays g-forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and reveals braking times. It also does automatic and countdown starts. It's a toy, not a need, nor is it much use for most drivers.
The cloth bucket seats that come standard are terrific. They hug the body with material that's rugged. The leather seats on the Premium models don't seem to be shapely enough or have enough bolstering for the Mustang expectation. However, the optional Recaro seats available for on all models in cloth or suede are so great that we'd say they're a good investment, if not necessity.
For a rumbling V8, the Mustang GT is quiet inside, and the V6 is even quieter. So the Shaker Pro audio system can blow your head off. Like Ford says, a complete acoustic experience that simulates being at a live performance. There are two Shaker sound systems; in the Mustang GT Premium it's eight speakers and six channels, while the Shaker Pro with nine speakers was found to be so loud during testing that extra sound-absorption material was added to the Mustang.
Ford's problematic MyFordTouch is missing but not missed in the Mustang. However there is SYNC with voice command, which works well to choose music. Voice-activated navigation is available on upper models.
Drivers of all sizes should be able to find a comfortable seating position. The steering wheel tilts, although it doesn't telescope, and we wish it would. There's good head and leg room up front, and visibility through the windshield is good, especially for a low-slung coupe. There's considerably more room and better visibility than in the Camaro.
Naturally, the two-passenger rear seat is no place for adults. Rear headroom is limited by the rake of the coupe roof, and leg room is minimal, even with the front seats moved forward. That's nothing new. It comes with the territory of such a car and its shape. Small price to be paid for such proportions.
The side mirrors have convex blind-spot panels in their top outer corner, a rearward visibility solution that we like at least as much as electronic blind spot lights and beepers with all their false alarms. The coupe's rear pillars don't block over-the-shoulder visibility, but it's hard to see out the back in the convertible with the top up. The optional back-up camera and reverse sensing system help. The Mustang has a lower beltline than the Camaro, allowing better visibility to the sides. The advantage became especially apparent when we compared a Mustang and a Camaro on an autocross course. We could easily see the cones from inside the Mustang, but not from inside the Camaro.
The Mustang convertible comes uses a power fabric top and glass rear window. The top is released with two slick latches within the driver's reach. The top and frame drop behind the rear seats. The vinyl tonneau cover must be installed manually, and costs an additional $160. The convertible top's storage space also reduces trunk volume nearly one-third. The Mustang coupe's trunk has 13.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is comparable to that in a compact-to-mid-size sedan. The opening isn't particularly big and the lift-over is high, but the coupe's 50/50 fold-down rear seats expand cargo volume substantially.
Next: Driving Impressions