2013 Ford Mustang GT: Will It Baby?S

I had a blast with this Mustang, and so did my kid. This was the first car that, when driven in it, made him actually say VROOM VROOM, loudly and with fist-clenched, drool-spraying glee. His dad was doing basically the same thing.

It's not going to shock anybody when I reveal that a Mustang GT isn't a particularly good baby car. It can be done, but it's by no means an easy solution to the problem of getting you and your offspring anywhere. That said, if you're even entertaining the question in the first place, you won't care. You can do it, and, for a certain set of parents, it's absolutely worth it.

I was reminded why I write these Will It Baby articles as I was fighting to cram my baby seat into the sleek, steeply-raked rear of the Mustang. There's really two main reasons. The first has to do with the federal LATCH baby seat-anchor requirements for every car made after 2000. According to the law, pretty much every car built has to have provisions to lock in a baby seat, even if the manufacturer of the car thinks the likelihood of the car actually hauling a kid is about the same as the car giving birth to a kid itself. It's the law.

It's sort of like the law that requires an internal, glowing trunk release in every car, even in cases like a Lotus, where you'd have to be pureéd to fit into the trunk. Absurd, yes, but the law's the law.

The other reason is to fight against the idea that having kids means you have to give something up, car-desire wise. Together, these two concepts form the essence of what I'm trying to do. With every car being at least technically capable of hauling a kid, I want to know exactly what it means to call a car's bluff, and really try it out.

2013 Ford Mustang GT: Will It Baby?S

See, that LATCH law was one of the biggest emancipations of gearhead parents in history. Everything built today meets at least some basic standard of safety for kid-haulage, which means there is no reason to get sucked into the SUV/Minivan trap if you don't want it. It won't be easy, there will be days you'll hate it, but in the end there's no reason you can't have a kid and a car you love, even love irrationally.

I bring all this up because in many ways the Mustang GT is the perfect example of this. It's safe enough for a baby, I did manage to get the baby seat in there and use it as my only baby car for a week, but it is, in every way, not a baby car. Using it in this context, surrounded by modern progressive urban parenting, is sort of like having a throw pillow with "Fuck All Y'all" embroidered on it by your grandma. It always feels a bit wrong, and by extention, you do, too. And that feels kind of good.

Practically, the Mustang has a few big strikes against it. The GT Premium I tested came with great Recaro racing seats up front that were supportive when you sat in them, and mean-spirited little bitches when it came to getting out of the way to give access to the rear of the cabin. The rear seat itself is pretty wide, but the roof is really low and really raked, so getting a toddler into the car and strapped into the seat is like trying to cram an Irish Wolfhound into a Pomeranian's crate.

Every angle and proportion is either too small or too far away, so you have to feed the kid into the car like a log into a locomotive firebox, and then you have to cram in as well to strap the kid in, since there's not enough opening to do it from outside.

2013 Ford Mustang GT: Will It Baby?S

Once in the car, the kid is comfortable enough, but anything dropped on the floor may as well have been sucked into a black hole since it requires a filleting to get your arms into the nooks and cavities around and under the seats. And this happens a lot with a kid.

Still, you'll forget all this when you're actually en route to wherever you're going. The Mustang GT, for all it's modern equipment and refinement, still manages to feel like a real, brutish muscle car. And it does have some fancy stuff in there, like a rear-view mirror with a tiny video screen that appears by black, black magic when you shift into reverse. I can't wait until these start showing up in junkyards to get my hands on one of these mirrors/video screens.

2013 Ford Mustang GT: Will It Baby?S

Back to the brute side. The 5 liter V8 makes a terrific, throaty rumble, and the sound is like some deranged siren that wants to see your ass dead or in prison. I drove the GT500 version of this on a track a while back, and while it handles better than it's Giotto-era rear axle would suggest, the soul of this car is still peeling out of a Dairy Queen. And the desire to stomp the gas, hear that engine, and feel the car surge forward is as stupid and intoxicating as some pills I've taken. This is both the biggest plus of the car and the most sobering failing. I'm sure if I had this car I'd do something stupid and crashy/illegal at some point.

So, if you want one of these as a kid car, put a picture of your kid on the dash so you won't constantly almost be killing/prison-orphaning them. I say a picture on the dash instead of turning around to look at the kid because the way the car is set up, actually looking at your kid in the back seat requires a neck transplant from an owl.

2013 Ford Mustang GT: Will It Baby?S

The front-seat room isn't hindered much by the baby seat, and the trunk is surprisingly big. Well, it's big, but the opening is somewhat small. It did manage to swallow my largest stroller, a big 3-wheeled jogger, but the actual process of getting it in the trunk is like helping a robot give birth in reverse. Lots of cramming, but careful cramming since you don't want to scratch anything or tear any of the rubber on the trunk rim. It's tricky.

Also, for parents on a budget (and, really, that's most of us) it's worth noting that this thing is thirsty. A muscle car being a gas-guzzler isn't exactly news, and if you think of it in terms of the 420 HP the engine delivers, it's not bad at all. But, in more objective, money-from-pocket terms, under 12 MPG is a pain. I only managed 11.8 MPG on average, and I wasn't driving like a maniac all the time.

If you've got between $35 and $40K you want to spend on a car, want something that feels and acts like a proper muscle car, and have become a parent, I really believe you can make this work. Doing so will have to be a partnership with you and the car, since you'll be paying for that terrific V8 rumble and head-jerky acceleration with convenience. The Mustang GT will baby, grudgingly.

So, here's the line you need to give to your spouse to make this happen: it's plenty safe, and almost any baby seat will LATCH right in. You'll have to volunteer to get the kid in and out, cram the stroller in the trunk, and never, ever bitch about how much you've pulled your back doing it.

If you start to get too frustrated, just rev the engine a bit and look at it again after you parked. It'll all make sense.

More Will It Baby:

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