Next to that YouTube video of a baby panda sneezing and the bassline to "Hypnotize" by Notorious B.I.G., one of the greatest sounds you'll ever hear comes from the Ford Mustang's 5.0-liter V-8 when you stand on the throttle. As much as I enjoy the Mustang's V-6, it doesn't compare to the larger engine in sensory experience, and I spent much of my weekend in the green muscle car wishing it had two more cylinders.
There is plenty to like about this car, however. I'm happy to report that the optional Recaro seats are just as brilliant in road driving as they are on the track, and the performance package tweaks make this car a decent handler and sprinter. Although the V-6's noise doesn't measure up to the V-8's, I was still impressed by it. It doesn't have the harsh, gritty tone of the 3.5-liter Ford EcoBoost engine, but it's also not a smooth BMW in-line six, either. That's actually a plus for the Mustang V-6: its throaty growl is a bit rough and a bit unpolished -- just like the Mustang it powers.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
I long believed the golden age of Mustangs ran from 1964 through 1973, but I can't help but wonder if 2013 is again a benchmark year for Ford's venerable pony car. Yes, its platform and styling are starting to show their age, but just look at this lineup. We have a GT with a screaming 5.0-liter V-8, a track-tuned Boss 302 that eats BMW M3s for dinner, and a rip-snorting, 650-hp Shelby model that - when the conditions are right - can hit that magical 200-mph mark.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of just how good today's Mustang is lies with the least powerful Mustang money can buy. The subpar "secretary special" six-cylinder model is a thing of the past, thanks to the fact that Ford ditched the lethargic 4.0-liter in 2011 in favor of its DOHC 3.7-liter V-6, which serves up 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The engine is sufficiently peppy to keep my lead foot happy, although I can't help but miss the 5.0's willingness to rev, along with its amazing sound and immense torque. The optional V-6 performance package does lend the V-6 car some of the suspension goodies typically relegated to more powerful Mustangs; body roll seemed to be kept in check, but I'd love to drive a car without the package back-to-back on a track to see the improvement firsthand.
It's also interesting to see how Ford keeps the Mustang's aging exterior interesting, if only to the Mustang fan base. The recessed LED taillamps are neat, but echo the 1970 car, as do the twin strakes in the projector-headlamp assemblies now standard across the board (fittingly, this year's Boss 302 has also moved from the '69's C-stripes to the '70's hockey-stick design). That's neat, but none of this addresses the interior materials or the awkward driving position. Here's hoping those issues squared away when Ford finally launches a full redesign for the 2014 model year.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
This is one hell of a paint color. I disagree with the name "gotta have it," but this green is definitely an attention-getter. I sent my Mustang-owning college roommate a pic of it and he immediately went on and on about how he's been admiring the color since it was released. Even he, however, isn't convinced that he'd like to actually live with this hue. Thirty years from now, though, I think it'll be a nice color to have on one's vintage Mustang.
This V-6 engine has plenty of power to quickly merge with traffic or even chirp the tires on the shift into second gear. But I don't think I could ever be really happy with a Mustang that lacked the quintessential burble of a V-8. In fact, the sound of this engine doesn't make me want to rev it much at all, which is the opposite of the V-8s that are available in various Mustangs. (I frequently tell people that if I had unlimited funds, I'd buy a $43,000 Boss 302 as my track car). This heavily optioned V-6 car is perfectly nice, but I'd rather spend almost the exact same money on a bare-bones GT with the optional Brembo brakes.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor