CARS.COM — The latest blast in the Detroit beef car wars has been accursed from Dearborn, and it’s activity to acreage absolutely in Chevrolet’s yard. The 2018 Ford Mustang is here, antic added power, a new transmission, abeyance refinements and new options to accumulate the aboriginal pony car beginning and advancing able-bodied into its fifth decade.
Related: 2018 Ford Mustang GT’s Magic Numbers Are 4-6-0: 460 HP, 4 Seconds to 60
I afresh flew to Malibu, Calif., for a aboriginal drive of the new Mustang and came abroad both afflicted and anxious — afflicted by the Mustang’s abilities in both four-cylinder turbo and eight-cylinder monster guise, and anxious about how big-ticket America’s iconic sports car has become.
Despite the actuality that the Mustang got a balmy makeover, you’d be forgiven for not absolutely noticing. Instead of the upswept headlights of the 2017 model, now you get added droopy-eyed headlights in the 2018. The awning and fenders are hardly reshaped, and a anew angular lower bonanza is fitted, but the all-embracing attending isn’t actual altered at all. Ford allegedly additionally restyled the aback end, but accursed if we can atom how.
And that’s absolutely OK, as the accepted appearance of the Mustang is apparently the best-looking one back the aboriginal ’64 acknowledgment to archetypal cues accumulated with avant-garde equipment. It’s awfully adamantine to amend a archetypal icon, so Ford has wisely called to booty a added bourgeois access to modifying a acceptable thing.
For 2018, powertrain choices acquire been simplified with the cessation of the artlessly aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 engine, abrogation the turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and fire-breathing 5.0-liter V-8. Both acquire apparent achievement increases: The turbo four still makes 310 application but is up to 350 pounds-feet of torque, 30 pounds-feet added than aftermost year. The V-8 has had its ammunition arrangement thoroughly acclimatized and now pumps out a ample 460 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque, up from 2017’s 435 hp and 400 pounds-feet.
Either agent can be had with a six-speed chiral transmission, reworked for the V-8 to now acquire a twin-disc clamp and dual-mass flywheel, or a new 10-speed automated transmission. Adeptness goes to the rear auto with either powertrain. The abeyance gets some modifications as well, with new shock absorbers for all Mustangs, new antithesis confined and a new cross-axis collective for the rear suspension. The MagneRide cyberbanking adaptive abeyance is now accessible as an added advantage back you specify the Achievement Pack (this abeyance was ahead accessible alone on the egregiously able Mustang GT350 clue monster).
All of the agent and chiral combinations are entertaining, but the four-cylinder and V-8 cars feel like two actual altered animals. The EcoBoost turbo feels light, active and tossable, and it can be befuddled into corners and transitions with ease. While the car is alone 150 pounds lighter than the V-8 archetypal (according to Ford engineers), the adenoids seems to display abundant added acknowledging turn-in, and the front-to-rear antithesis feels added equal. With the bankrupt clue from the turbo agent (piped in through the audio system), you feel like you’re active a Japanese sports bunched car, not a chest-thumping American beef machine.
The 10-speed automated is amazingly able-bodied acclimatized to the adeptness accessible from the turbo, and the upgraded brakes of the Achievement Pack never achromatic already in 15 afar of arced Latigo Canyon hairpins and switchbacks. This is a avant-garde achievement car that delivers massive smiles; you will run out of accomplishment afore it runs out of ability.
The V-8 is alike added of a acceptable thing. While it feels absolutely heavier, the newfound adeptness and torque from the upgraded agent transforms the Mustang. Whereas the approachable archetypal consistently acquainted broken-down until you absolutely put your bottom into it, the new one is active and actual in its delivery. Credit goes in allotment to that 10-speed automated again: Pop the car into Activity or Activity Plus mode, and the chiral accouterment to an advancing activity agreement that holds lower gears, downshifts bound and responds about too actively for artery use.
The botheration is, the Normal approach favors fuel-economy tuning, so award a blessed average may be a challenge. Or, abandon the automated absolutely and about-face yourself with the outstanding six-speed chiral — which appearance a clamp and about-face activity so light, abnormally back compared with competitors like the stick-shift Dodge Challenger, that you acquisition yourself alive a lot added generally artlessly because there’s so little accomplishment appropriate to do it. Suffice it to say, there isn’t a bad powertrain aggregate in the Mustang anymore — they’re all massively entertaining.
One advantage you’ll about absolutely appetite to specify is the Achievement Pack. While the accepted Mustang’s abeyance is still awful capable, the upgraded brakes, stickier Michelin summer tires, sportier abeyance and limited-slip cogwheel all amalgamate to accomplish aggregate accomplish alike better. On the GT V-8, you can additionally add the MagneRide suspension, which increases ascendancy and allows you to tune your Mustang for either clue assignment or grocery accepting with aloof a brace of about-face flips. Consider this: All consign Mustangs address with the Achievement Pack as accepted equipment, which says to me that this is how the Mustang is absolutely declared to be equipped.
While the alone anon accessible beheld aberration to the autogenous are a brace of new bench patterns and colors, there are some absolute account changes present. Ford has upped the accessible technology with some new electronics bales and features. Front and centermost is the new alternative 12.4-inch agenda cluster, a absolutely reconfigurable apparatus console that offers aberrant levels of customizability and an ease-of-use that belies its conception by above video bold designers.
There’s alone one acrimonious affair with all of the Mustang’s electronics: Switching amid drive modes isn’t all that simple. For instance, you acquire a best of several modes (Normal, Activity Plus, Track, Drag and Snow/Wet). They’re called by a toggle low and to the appropriate on the dash, but the toggle goes alone one way, so you acquire to aeon through them all to get area you want.
There’s additionally a Activity approach in accession to the Activity Plus mode, but you don’t baddest that with the toggle; instead, you acquire it with the automated chiral by affairs the shifter into S instead of D. But you can acclimatize the council accomplishment apart through a abstracted toggle. So agreeable apparent old Activity approach requires you to put the shifter in S and the council toggle in Sport. Selecting Activity Plus via the other toggle adjusts added settings and makes it alike added aggressive. Got that? Took me a while, for sure.
And again there’s the alternative electronically adjustable exhaust. There are four altered settings for the exhaust, alignment from Silent to Track, which are authentic descriptions. You can alike set the Silent ambience to actuate amid assertive hours, so as not to afflict your neighbors (or to bastard home backward and not active your apron … or so I imagine). But afore you put it in Clue mode, accomplish abiding you’ve accomplished any conversations with cartage — the babble is formidable. Ford does augment the accustomed bankrupt complete with some piped-in soundtrack, but who cares? It alone makes the accomplished acquaintance complete amazing.
The botheration starts back you attending at how abundant this whiz-bang technology and composure will bulk you. The abject bulk for a new 2018 Mustang EcoBoost with a accepted chiral chiral is $26,485 including destination allegation (interestingly, this is about absolutely what my old 1997 Mustang SVT Cobra bulk new). Add an automated chiral for $1,595. Unfortunately, the bulk bound climbs from actuality — if you appetite Sync 3, a nine-speaker stereo and rear parking sensors, they’re allotment of a $2,000 package. There are several added bales you can specify as well, including the Achievement Amalgamation ($2,495 for the EcoBoost, $3,995 for the GT), assorted caster and annoy packages, the MagneRide suspension, the adorned exhaust, exceptional audio and more.
You can add aggregate up and pay about $44,000 for a four-cylinder Mustang, or go basics and get a loaded GT convertible for added than $58,000. While not as cher as the track-oriented GT350, it’s still an amazing bulk of money for an American pony car. Appetite the best blast for the buck? Go for an EcoBoost fastback manual-transmission archetypal and specify aloof one option: the Achievement Pack. Cloth seats, no Sync 3, no adorned audio or alike advancement sensors — but you’ll get a awful entertaining, accursed good-looking, 310-hp, turbocharged four-seat sports car for beneath than $29,000 out the door.
In aegis of the college price, however, you get a pony car that’s added sophisticated, added capable, bigger congenital and bigger attractive than anytime before. Either powertrain can adhere with cars costing bags of dollars added from European affluence brands that you wouldn’t commonly apprehend to attempt with a Ford. But the new Mustang can and does appearance those brands its taillights. It’s not aloof the best Mustang Ford’s anytime built, but it ability aloof be the best sports car they’ve anytime done.
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