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July 9, 2012

2013 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe

by Mark Savage

Mustang is Ford’s home run hitting all-star

Ford continues to belt home run after home run with its Mustang lineup and the newly freshened 2013 Ford Mustang powered by a stout V6 is the latest round-tripper.

Ford touches all the bases here, looks, speed, handling and ride. My test car was a light (Ingot) silver Premium model, so just up from the base Mustang. Both feature the same hot rod V6, a 3.7-liter motor that cranks an impressive 305 horsepower. But the base starts at a modest $22,200 and the Premium at $26,200.

The Premium model includes, among other upgrades, a 370-watt Shaker audio system along with Microsoft’s Sync system to help you select radio or other audio options via voice.

All the Mustangs for 2013, the model just prior to its 50th anniversary edition, get some styling upgrades. Up front are small LED light bars next to the main, now high-intensity, headlights. The grille is muscled up with new Shelby GT-like upper and lower grille inlets and there are new functional hood vents. In back the taillights remain three bars, but segmented LEDs now with smoked center lenses, a classy look.

If you’re a muscle car purist you’ll likely want to stick with the notchy 6-speed manual that is standard on the Premium and base models. But the test car opted for Ford’s silky smooth 6-speed automatic, a $1,195 option. I prefer a stick, but these shifts are virtually seamless and there’s a button that allows you to shift manually if you prefer. Even with the automatic, the test car tips the scales at just 3,525 lbs., pretty lean for a muscle machine.

This is not the beast you might expect, riding on a modest 107.1-inch wheelbase and just 188 inches in length, the Mustang is trim. That, coupled with its strong V6 gives it a low power to weight ratio of just 11.3. Impressive!

So tromp on the metal clad gas pedal and Mustang gallops up to highway speeds in short order. No, it doesn’t sound like a V8, although that’s available for several grand more. Still, the V6 offers a pleasant, sporty exhaust tone and will cruise the highway at 70ish without much effort.

The EPA rates this at 23 mpg city and 31 highway, an improvement from its most immediate predecessor. While I had notched considerably better in a previous drive, I got just 20.8 in about 70% suburban and city driving. I had anticipated better.

The test car added a $1,995 performance package that adds a 3.31 ratio limited slip rear axle. That certainly contributes to the car’s performance, as do the Goodyear Eagle F1 19-inch tires in that package. Also part of that deal is side mirrors painted to match the car’s body color and painted aluminum wheels, here a darker gray to give the five-spoke wheels a racier look and contract it with the lighter silver body color.

Handling is firm and sporty, allowing the Mustang to clip off corners with precision. The three-spoke steering wheel delivers a racy feel without being too heavy. And those Goodyear tires provide excellent grip but also deliver a good ride. Some sport coupes feel too harsh on city streets, but the Mustang’s ride is well cushioned and controlled. I never felt uncomfortable even on our area’s roughest roads and railroad crossings felt smooth.

As I’ve mentioned in past Mustang reviews, there’s independent front suspension to help with the handling and ride, but a live rear axle, which traditionally has been a little on the bouncy side. Yet Ford’s engineers have discovered how to tame that so the back-end feels well planted and well sprung. Mustang also has stabilizer bars front and rear.

Braking is impressive too, with the Mustang boasting big discs front and rear, along with ABS and traction and stability control.

I’ve really liked the Mustang’s interior the past few years and this was another good one, with black soft textured dash and brown leather seats with brown leather door inserts. Dash trim is mostly a brushed metal look with pewter like trim on the console and center stack.

The Premium coupe upgrades to those leather seats and adds stylish and youthful brushed metal trim. I love the look, along with the saddle brown leather seats with its contrasting cream colored stitching. The main parts of the cushions are perforated leather too, providing cooler summer seating.

The seats are well contoured and comfortable, with particularly good back side bolsters. The Premium includes a power driver’s seat too, including lumbar support. But the seat back angle is manually adjusted. Head and legroom are good up front, but the back seat space is limited. A couple pre-teen kids will fit back there, or for a short time a moderate sized adult could ride in back.

There is one bugaboo though. The big round stereo speakers stick out from the door trim a bit too far and can make it hard to get your feet out of the car when in a tight parking spot where you can’t open the door all the way.

Mustang’s gauges are good looking too with two big round ones doing the heavy lifting and the fuel, trip computer and others in the middle. There’s a manual tilt steering wheel too, although it does not telescope, but it does include cruise and radio buttons on the hub.

Radio buttons and knobs on the center stack are modestly sized, but easy to see and use. Also the touchscreen for the radio and navigation system is fairly easy to use and a bit larger than in past models, however, I’m not a fan of its split screen format. That’s part of the test car’s electronics package, which includes navigation, and runs you $2,340. I’d save the dough!

The test car also added a security package for $695. Seeing as this is a pretty hot car, this might be an excellent investment. Also note this car is key-started, not employing a push button.

After adding a $795 delivery charge the silver test car hit $33,220. That’s still moderate for the power and fun this car delivers. But by not loading up with electronics, you can still corral a Mustang for less than $30 grand.

For that you get a sleek muscle machine with a decent sized trunk, gorgeous sheet metal, a powerful but efficient V6, good handling and a great ride. This is still one of the best automotive bargains out there, especially if you want an interesting ride that gets you a lot of thumbs up from other drivers!

PS … This plain silver model really needed a racing stripe to liven up its looks!

Fast Stats: 2013 Ford Mustang V6 Premium

Made in: Flat Rock, Mich.

Engine: 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V6, 305 hp

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,525 lbs.

Wheelbase: 107.1 in.

Cargo: 13.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 19/31

Base Price: $26,200

Dealer’s Price: $23,789

Major Options:

6-speed automatic transmission, $1,195

Electronics pkg. w/navigation, $2,340

Security pkg., $695

V6 Performance pkg. (19-in. tires & painted aluminum wheels, painted side mirror, 3.31 ration limited slip axle), $1,995

Delivery: $795

Test vehicle: $33,220

Sources: Ford, www.autos.yahoo.com

Photos: Courtesy of  Ford

Hits: Beautiful car, excellent power, good handling and ride, with sharp looking interior. Seats are well contoured, engine tone is sweet, trunk offers decent space and pricing is moderate for 305 horses.

Misses: Speakers stick out of door edges too far. Not fond of split electronic screens for radio/navigation, etc. Gas mileage was disappointing, given its EPA rating.

Ride along with Mark in the Mustang Boss 302.

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