2013 Ford Mustang GT Premium review:

2013 Ford Mustang GT Premium

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CNET's car came minimally optioned in the cabin, although Ford's Sync system is standard in the Mustang GT. As such, I easily paired my iPhone with the car and could make calls using voice command, merely by saying the names of people in my contact list. Sync also reads incoming text messages, but this capability unfortunately only works with a limited number of phones.

2013 Ford Mustang GT
This 2-line radio display is inadequate for showing music libraries from connected devices. Josh Miller/CNET

Sync also gave me voice command over any music source I plugged into the Mustang GT's USB port, letting me request music by artist or album name, for example. Which was good, because the dashboard interface for selecting music is extremely tedious to use.

As CNET's Mustang GT did not have the navigation option, I was stuck with the two-line radio display. To browse my iPhone's music library, I had to press the Menu button and then turn the tuning dial to find the Play Menu. Push the tuning dial in for OK, then turn it to choose among the different music categories, such as artist or album. Push it in again, then turn it to select the individual track, album, artist, or genre desired. One more push to start playback. Yes, voice command was much easier.

With the iPhone, or just about any Android, I could have also used Bluetooth streaming for audio, but of course there would have been no means of selecting music through the car's stereo interface.

The navigation option would have put an LCD in the dashboard, which would include a better interface for selecting music. I have found Ford's most recent navigation system subpar, most recently in the Focus Electric, as it takes too long for its GPS to find the car's location and the maps take too long to refresh. Luckily, the Mustang GT still uses Ford's older, hard-drive-based navigation system, which works much, much better. It is a worthwhile option, especially considering that the Mustang GT can work as an everyday driver due to its ride comfort and reasonable fuel economy.

Beyond phone and music player support, Sync includes some telematics services, such as 911 Assist. This feature detects if the car has gotten into an accident, and connects an emergency operator with the car through the driver's paired phone. Sync also integrates more than 10 apps with the car, such as NPR, Pandora, and Stitcher, letting the driver access Internet audio content using the car's own voice command and controls. Sync's app support works much better with Android than iOS, due to the fact that an iOS device must be plugged into the car's USB port.

2013 Ford Mustang GT
This big sub sits in the trunk of the Mustang GT, joining 2 other subs with the Shaker Pro audio upgrade. Josh Miller/CNET

The Mustang GT's real tech showpiece is its Shaker audio system. In CNET's car, that system was upgraded to Shaker Pro, which not only includes two subs in the doors, but another subwoofer in the trunk, making a total of nine speakers. Powered by a 550-watt amp, this system was able to get very loud and output impressive bass. I liked how the system's sound was barely distorted at high volume, and the looks on pedestrians' faces as I rolled by, giving them the thumpety-thump treatment.

However, the system's midrange sounded hollow. All that wattage did not translate into rich vocals or audio in higher frequencies. It was certainly clean-sounding, but I did not derive the same amount of enjoyment from music as I would have from a system with better midrange speakers.

This 2013 Ford Mustang GT came with the California Special package, and looked particularly good. The hood rises up, giving the car a performance stance, but there was a bit of fluff I did not like: the fake brake vents sticking out of the rear fenders. Ford should leave that stuff for the aftermarket decorator crowd. I had more fun with the interior ambient lighting, which could be customized to a ridiculous degree. And even cooler were the Mustang template puddle lights, a must-have on any new Mustang.

2013 Ford Mustang GT
This cool feature turns the puddle lights into Mustang emblems. Josh Miller/CNET

Tech specs
Model 2013 Ford Mustang
Trim GT Premium
Power train 5-liter V-8, 6-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 20 mpg
Navigation Optional hard-drive-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Digital audio sources Smartphone apps, onboard hard drive, iPod/iPhone, USB drive, Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary input, satellite radio, HD Radio
Audio system 9-speaker, 550-watt Shaker system
Driver aids None
Base price $34,300
Price as tested $40,230

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