Revival of a Legend
Many drivers and automotive publications regard the 2012 and 2013 Boss 302 among the best Mustangs ever created, especially up to that point in time. The focus on both raw power and the overall driving experience, being livable as a daily driver while still offering a lot on the track, means that this two model year edition is beloved by enthusiasts the world over. As a good compromise between the regular Mustang GT and the all-out Shelby GT500, the style, handling, and sound of the Boss 302 have already solidified its place in the saga of Mustang heritage.
The bad news is that only a few more than 4,000 models were built for each year, meaning that these rare Mustangs are highly-sought-after and can get pricey.
2012 and 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Overview
|Specifications||2012-2013 Boss 302
||$40,310, $47,305 (Laguna Seca)
|Horsepower + Engine
||444 hp, Hi-Po 302 cubic inch Ti-VCT 5.0 liter V8
||Fastback 2-door Coupe Only (4 or 2 passenger)
||188.1 inches long x 73.9 inches wide x 55.1 inches tall
||17 city/ 26 highway
|Fuel Tank Capacity
The original Boss 302 had a two-year run from 1969-1970. Designed by Larry Shinoda, it offered a 302 cubic inch small-block V8, numerous track-inspired changes, and a unique livery and body. This potent Mustang was built as a direct competitor to the pony’s biggest rival, the Chevy Camaro. The car was such a hit that Ford decided to revive the namesake in 2012.
2012 and 2013 Boss 302 Features
Born out of the Coyote 5.0 liter engine, the modified version used in the Boss 302 Mustangs is known as the “Roadrunner." An additional 32 horsepower was squeezed out by using a new, unique intake manifold, revised camshaft, and revised cylinder heads, among other tweaks. There’s no supercharger on this naturally-aspirated engine as there is on the blown GT500. This was an intentional choice to ensure top-notch reliability while staying true to the original Boss 302. The engine is DOHC with 32 valves with sequential multi-port fuel injection. It requires 91 octane fuel or higher.
With stickier tires and tighter handling, the Boss 302 is ready to help you put that power down to the road in a controllable manner. Most drivers will find that the Boss 302 offers vastly improved cornering and that it keeps the back end more planted through hard turns. The electronic steering is re-tuned for enhanced feedback and turn-in. The suspension is manually adjustable on all four tires, with five different settings of firmness. From the dealer, the tire firmness is set to a more comfortable “2," leaving room to crank up the level to “5” for full track use. The car is also slightly lowered from the height of the base Mustang GT.
To add even more allure while keeping you safe on the street and hot on the track, the Boss 302 comes with two different keys. One is a standard silver key, the other is the red track key, the “TracKey." The TracKey changes some 300 parameters of engine calibration to optimize the set-up for track use. You’ll get TracMode powertrain race calibration and two-stage launch control.
It wouldn’t be a Mustang without a great exhaust note, and the Boss 302 doubles down on making sure you’re always enamored with the sound. In a so-called “surround sound exhaust” format, the Boss 302 actually features a quad exhaust system. There are two rear outlets in the usual positions, plus dual side outlets behind each side skirt. This brings that sound even closer to the driver and provides an amazing aural experience.
EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 city/ 26 highway MPG are actually the same as the regular Mustang GT, but in the real world, efficiency will all come down to how you drive it. And if you’re spending weekends driving hard at the track, expect quite a bit lower.
Known technically as the 500A equipment group, the Boss 302 trim is undoubtedly a variant that was designed for spirited use on the track. While there are enough creature comforts to make it a liveable daily driver, there’s nothing luxurious about the cabin. The Recaro seats are 4-way manually adjustable, but you do get power windows, locks, and mirrors. Dark aluminum trim on the instrument panel and a unique gauge cluster further differentiate the Boss 302 from more run-of-the-mill Mustangs. Also unique to the Boss 302 is the black 8-ball-style shift knob on the short throw shifter.
The Laguna Seca trim receives a special rear badge with an outline of the famous race track
You don’t have to make any sacrifices in the cabin compared to a regular Mustang GT though. You’ll still get Bluetooth connectivity through the SYNC infotainment system. Plus, there's a 4.2” color LCD display instrument cluster with MyColor illumination and Track Apps. Steering wheel-mounted controls let you adjust the cruise settings, audio, and the information screen. For a luxurious touch, you can get Alcantara microsuede on the steering wheel and optional sport seats.
The only options, apart from the addition of the Laguna Seca package, were the Recaro bucket seats, which came with a Torsen helical differential, and Boss 302 car cover with embroidered floor mats. The Torsen diff came standard on all Laguna Secas.
The Laguna Seca trim, equipment group 501A, turns the Boss 302 into an even more aggressively-tuned animal. It’s named for the famous Laguna Seca Raceway in California (the Spanish phrase Laguna Seca literally translates to English as “dry lagoon”).
From the rear seat delete alone, you can tell that the Laguna Seca is a car made for the race track, not ferrying multiple friends to the grocery store. About 18% of the 2012-2013 Boss 302 Mustangs were Laguna Secas, making them even more rare and sought-after. You can immediately differentiate the Laguna Seca in appearance by noting the aggressive front splitter and larger rear spoiler. A peek inside the cabin will let you know that the rear seat is in fact removed, replaced with a cross-brace for increased torsional rigidity.
The Laguna Seca package added features such as:
- 19" x 9" front and 19" x 10" rear Sterling Gray-painted machined aluminum wheels with Pirelli™ P Zero™ Corsa R-compound competition performance tires
- 3.73:1 gear ratio with TORSEN® helical rear differential
- Unique rear springs and larger stabilizer bar
- Front brake cooling ducts and front air splitter
- Rear seat delete with cross-car X-brace
- Recaro sport cloth bucket seats with “BOSS 302” embroidered logo
- Red or gray (2012 or 2013 respectively) side stripes, mirror caps, and rear spoiler
- Red painted roof in 2012
2012 and 2013 Boss 302 Differences and Comparison
If you’re lucky enough to be deciding between a 2012 and 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302, you, fortunately, won’t have to fret too much over performance differences. These cars had exactly the same engine and mechanical bits between the two years, with identical horsepower and torque output. 2013 added a tire mobility kit and hood extractors to help reduce heat, plus some fancier technology inside the cabin. But in terms of pure racetrack capability, you’ll hardly lose out by opting for 2012.
With that said, the addition of TrackApps does give drivers some fun, if not totally necessary, features. You can easily take a look at G force in each direction with the digital accelerometer. There’s also the ability to measure times like 0-60 mph, 0-100 mph, and quarter-mile times, as well as 60-0 mph braking. There’s even a virtual drag strip Christmas tree-style light timer set-up that will give you an even more fun way to launch.
While the 2012 Boss 302 offered the spectacular Competition Orange color, 2013 brought Grabber Blue and Gotta Have it Green. The full color list with total production numbers is below, which can give you an idea of how difficult it might be to find each paint job:
2012 Boss 302
- Competition Orange (1,135)
- Race Red (721)
- Performance White (589)
- Kona Blue (553)
- Yellow Blaze Metallic Tri-Coat (252)
2013 Boss 302
- School Bus Yellow (856)
- Race Red (798)
- Gotta Have it Green (792)
- Performance White (672)
- Grabber Blue (435)
2012 Laguna Seca
- Black (613)
- Ingot Silver (151)
- Grabber Blue (1)
- School Bus Yellow (1)
2013 Laguna Seca
- Black (501)
- School Bus Yellow (262)
2013 added a tire mobility kit and black side mirrors. Like the other Mustangs, HID headlamps and LED-surround taillamps became standard. Also added were an updated grille and splitter, plus new functional hood extractors. The grille is noticeably changed on 2013 models, curving upwards in the middle noticeably. Some detractors regard this as a more “bulbous” look and prefer the 2012. However, the “fog lamp deletes” (the blank circles of where the rally-style fog lights would usually be) on the 2013 model are removable. Taking them off can open up the grille to get even more air flow.
2012 vs 2013 Laguna Seca Differences and Comparison
Laguna Seca in 2012 featured a red rear cross-brace, red stitched “BOSS 302” logo on the front seats, red front grille surround, red roof, and mirror caps, red BOSS 302 side stripes, and red rear spoiler. This contrasted incredibly with either of the two available production colors: black and Ingot Silver. A single instance of a Grabber Blue and School Bus Yellow 2012 Laguna Seca were auctioned off.
For 2013, all of these parts were gray (or white in the case of the front seat logo) instead of red, giving a much more subtle and understated look with the black exterior paint color. For a more bold look, the other available paint color for this year was School Bus Yellow.
Interestingly, the color black was only available on Laguna Seca trim for these years, not on the regular Boss 302 Mustangs.
Whether you think the Laguna Seca or the “plain” Boss 302 is a better pick for your lifestyle, it’s hard to go wrong with either one of these rare, highly-sought-after Mustangs. Those who are fortunate enough to own one should enjoy them, whether that’s on the street, track, or both!
Image Credit: Mustangs Daily, Cars.com, Car & Driver, Automobile Magazine, Top Speed, MotorTrend