This touchscreen is a must-have for Mustang owners
I recently brought my 2013 Mustang into the 2020s with a single mod, and you know what? I should've done it sooner.
Sometimes, the best mods you can possibly do have nothing to do with body control or acceleration. Sometimes, the best mods are simply the ones that can make your car the best it can be at just being a car. After all, these things hardly ever live their entire lives in the canyons or the track. They have to get to and from there too. Oftentimes, we may not have the luxury of owning a separate car to play the daily driver game, and so our enthusiast toys have to pull double shifts.
This Mustang of mine pulls double shifts in the canyons and on the commute.
Fortunately, I had about $900 in spare change between the couch cushions to burn on a fix for one of my biggest gripes with my 2013 Mustang. Courtesy of American Muscle from whom I had bought many parts before, I present to everyone a single item that'll encourage any "outdated" car owner to hang onto their geriatric platforms just a little while longer. Behold! A screen. The future is now!
Produced by Navos, which appears to be an in-house brand for American Muscle much like their SR performance parts and AMR wheels, the screen retains a near-identical appearance to the rare SYNC screens offered from the factory. In fact, the most obvious sign that it's no mere Ford part is the lack of a disk slot in the middle of the control panel.
Install was fairly easy. It's just a little tedious as you'll spend quite a bit of time disconnecting wires and routing new ones through the dashboard. Thankfully, every little wire is plug-and-play and blessedly labeled. There's extra goodies in the box to appeal to varying specs of Mustang, some of which you may not even need. There's removable buttons that replace the blanks in the climate controls to enable the heated seats and extra wires to retain use of the backup camera, all factory options that someone's Mustang may or may not have equipped. Mine had neither, so the hour-and-thirty-minute install was cut short by a few minutes and a couple steps.
Just be careful when removing the old radio. It comes out as a single unit which you can pry out with a flathead in case you don't have a panel removal tool (although, I imagine those orange brick separators in Lego sets will work fine too). The danger is in not breaking the plastic clips that hold it. They're flimsy and removable, so don't lose or snap one like I did. The more you take apart the inside of an S197-generation Mustang, the more you realize just how shitty every piece of plastic feels. At least all those years of growing up around Legos prepared me for this install.
Without a factory backup camera, the Navos screen greets you with this every time you go into reverse.
So how does it work? Pretty damn lovely. It's no exaggeration when I say this brings my car into the next decade with a crystal-clear screen graced with near-smartphone-like touch response. The graphics for the built-in navigation is a little cartoonish, and it's a hair laggy, but that can be bypassed with Google Maps when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Beyond the standard bass, treble, and mid-range sound adjustments, there's an actual equalizer for more fine tuning much like a BMW stereo system. With it, I was able to squeeze out quite a bit more low-range than I ever could just maxing out the bass on the stock head unit.
It wasn't all sunshine and reverberating plastic panels, however. This unit would have been pretty much perfect had it not freeze on me. Granted, it had only ever frozen on me once in the two months I've used it, but it was the most infuriating glitch. In factory touchscreens like in my family's cars, I was used to the idea of screens being able to crash and reset themselves on their own. In this, it wouldn't reset on its own, and there was no way to manually initiate a reboot from inside the car. After an annoying commute home and a quick scroll through a forum, I had eventually solved the issue by disconnecting the battery and essentially resetting the whole car. Not ideal, but thankfully it proved to be a one-time fluke.
Final verdict: not bad at all. Is it worth the iPhone-level price? I would say so, and I won't let that earlier bug ruin the fact that this is an overall outstanding product. It retains the appearance and functionality of something that would've rolled off the assembly line years ago, but is powered by software that would be right at home in today's new cars. It's easy to use and easy to install, and American Muscle sells variants for more than just my Mustang (their last-gen F-150 screen is rad as hell).
Thanks to this, trips around town are just a little more enjoyable, and I strongly encourage folks to snag something like this for their own cars. Why splurge on the whole new ride for its creature comforts when you can just buy the creature comforts themselves? You got to love technology sometimes.