Yay, the new(ish) 2018 Ford Mustang is here! It’s not all new, more like a timely refresh and updates here and there that will improve on things. Ah, but what the Lords of Dearborn giveth, they also taketh away.
Okay, let’s get the sort-of-bad-news out of the way. That rather nice 3.7-liter V6 that used to sit within the Mustang’s engine bay? That’s gone. A shame really, since it got really good mileage and could put out 300 horsepower. A lot of gearheads, I among them, thought that engine option was pretty much a performance/dollar leader.
Sad to see it go.
The entry level Mustang will now come with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, a four-cylinder engine that uses Ford’s “transient overboost technology,” exclusively tuned for Mustang. Ford says the 2.3-liter EcoBoost gives a torque increase under wide-open throttle acceleration, so that sounds good.
Let’s start with the inside, where we find Ford’s first 12-inch all-digital LCD screen. I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, but a “12-inch LCD screen” falls into the Big Honkin’ Screen category. The all-new instrument cluster is customizable and can be personalized with three separate views: normal, sport, and track. There’s also a new MyMode shtick in the Mustang, with a memory function, for saving favorite drive settings, like suspension and steering preferences.
Also on the “you can tweak it” end of things is the engine note. Drivers can adjust how the car sounds to serve up “an audible experience like never before,” says FoMoCo. There is an optional active valve exhaust system for the Mustang GT that offers “a fully variable soundtrack to match the entire acceleration range.”
I don’t think it’s a very good idea if you have a lead foot. No, I don’t think it will hurt anybody. Unless you have a lead foot.
Safety & Security
Ford says the new Mustang benefits from a vast array of driver-assist technologies. I will leave the truthfulness of the word “benefits” up to you. Personally, I think a lot of this “driver assistance” stuff is unnecessary and does for people what they should be doing anyway (like keeping it between the lines, dummy!). But hey, people seem to want it, manufacturers want to sell it, and, truth be told, I bet their legal departments are insisting on it.
The 2018 Mustang has bells and whistles like Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and Driver Alert System. It all breaks down into this: Pay attention. Pay attention! PAY ATTENTION! PAY ATTENTION YOU BIG DUMMY!
The new Mustang also continues Ford’s use of the pretty impressive SYNC Connect and FordPass system. This is the first time it’s on a Mustang. The FordPass app allows owners to start, lock, unlock, and locate their car on their smartphone. Handy. But all this is just icing on the cake.
What 100% (give or take) of Mustang buyers care about is performance. Yes, handling is important to them. And so is braking. But ultimately, it’s what’s under that long hood that really piques their interest. Residing ‘neath the hood is Ford’s evergreen 5.0-liter V8.
But, Ford hastens to point out the mill has been “thoroughly reworked” for more power and higher revs than any Mustang GT before.
All that extra power showed up with the first use of Ford’s new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection, low-pressure port fuel injection system on a V8. Without getting too bogged down, what this gets you on the strip, at the track, and on the street is stout low-end torque, high-rpm power, and improved fuel efficiency.
All this grunt is delivered to the tarmac via a manual transmission (both for the EcoBoost and the 5.0) that has been upgraded for optimum torque. The V8 transmission has been entirely reworked and now includes a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel to increase torque capability and deliver more efficient clutch modulation.
So gone are the days of that “klank-crunch-rrrRRRRrrrr” of Mustangs of yore.
If you’re more of an automatic cruising around kind of gearhead, then you’ll be happy to hear that Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission is offered with both the EcoBoost and 5.0 engines. The 10-speed has a wide-ratio span and optimized gear spacing, improving responsiveness and performance.
In case you are in doubt about the performance, contrasted to the previous six-speed, the new 10-speed transmission has quicker shift times and significantly lessened friction losses. The electronic control system is entirely new and includes unique tuning for the different drive modes. In case you want to feel like Nico Rosberg, there are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Ride & Handling
For those of you that care about more than just going fast (i.e. the smarter apes out there), the suspension has also been considered. There are new shock absorbers for better ride control, for example. A new cross-axis joint in the rear suspension increases lateral stiffness, while advanced stabilizer bars create sharper handling.
MagneRide dampers are a new option in the Mustang Performance Package too.
Nothing real new or radical here, just finessing of strokes, nudging of lines a little, a nip here, a tuck there.
The hood and grille have been lowered to produce a leaner look and to refine aerodynamics. The upper and lower front grilles have changed slightly, and the hood vents have a new position. The headlights are all-LED, a first, and fog lamps are available. The rear end also gets in on the party with revised LED tail lamps, a new bumper, fascia, and available performance spoiler. A dual tip exhaust is standard with the EcoBoost plant and the V8 mill Mustang GT gets a standard quad-tip exhaust.
Wheel choices? You get a dozen available alloy wheel designs. And you even get a fresh exterior color choice: Orange Fury.
The 2018 Ford Mustang goes on sale in North America this fall, so get in line, if you haven’t already.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.