While everyone was toiling away at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, I had an opportunity to slip away to Ford’s Performance Development Center in Dearborn for a sneak peek at the 2018 Mustang.
I learned a lot over about two hours; everything from how Ford will sell the new Mustang in 148 countries to how spice tones are making a comeback in the automotive color palette. But you probably don’t care, so let’s get right down to the stuff you really want to talk about.
Sitting at the top of the range, the 2018 Mustang’s available 5.0-liter V8 gets new port fuel injection in addition to direct injection (similar to the 5.0 in the F-150), and a compression ratio increase from 11:1 to 12:1. What results is a higher redline, more power, and better fuel economy. Ford has not released specific power or economy figures at this time.
Yes, the EcoBoost is still here. The turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine sees an increase in torque output and promises better acceleration at full throttle - though Ford has not shared any power numbers.
Meanwhile, the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 engine is history. It offers less power and worse fuel economy than the 2.3T. In my eyes at least, that’s rationale enough for dropping it from the lineup. I’ve already had a few people disagree, feel free to slug it out in the comments below.
A new ten-speed automatic transmission will be available with both the V8 and EcoBoost engines. Ford says the new transmission will manage quicker shifts and improved acceleration.
The six-speed manual transmission standard on all Mustang variants now feature a twin-disc clutch and a dual-mass flywheel. For drivers that row their own the result should be easier clutch modulation. As an added bonus the redesigned gearbox will also handle more torque.
MagneRide damping – as found on the existing GT350 – makes an appearance on the new ‘Stang as part of the Performance package. Ford promises a smoother, more compliant ride that can also hold its own in the bends. Underbody cladding makes for a far more aerodynamic car, which, combined with the new powertrain, we anticipate means the best fuel economy from a Mustang to date. No official figures have been released at the moment however, so stay tuned.
Ford’s worked with Michelin to fit the ‘18 Mustang with all-new Pilot Super Sport 4 tires for those opting for the GT Performance Pack. Staggered fitments are standard on the GT with 255-section tires in the front and 275 at the rear. There are also a whopping ten new wheel designs being offered for the new car.
As a muscle car for a younger, more tech savvy buyer (Ford hopes), the 2018 Mustang doesn’t disappoint. Front-and-center is a customizable 12-inch LCD instrument cluster that digitally renders gauges with needles and comet trails that change color based on how hard the car is pushed. Being a fully digital screen, Ford engineers have allowed quite a bit of user customization as well; but no, you can’t watch Netflix on it, I already asked.
Luckily for the purists, this all-digital instrument cluster is optional. It will be available on all Mustangs mid-tier and above, but analog gauges are still standard across the entire range.
While we’re in here, let me tell you that the 2018 Mustang gets a heated steering for the first time ever. I live in Canada, this is sort of a big deal.
For Mustang buyers, what should also be a big deal is the active safety and driver assist technologies that will be available on 2018 models. Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and Driver Alert System make their way to Mustang as the safety tech permeates more of the Ford lineup.
There are also new materials throughout the cabin, restyled seating surfaces, and an optional hand-stitched center console that Ford designers tell me was particularly difficult to execute. It all looks nice enough. There’s definitely a feeling of entry-premium inside the Mustang cabin, but it is subtle.
The 2018 Mustang GT will also be the first to receive what Ford calls an active valve performance exhaust system. Journalists at the preview event were given an opportunity to listen (on an iPad with headphones, obviously) to the new Mustang GT with active exhaust on, off, and the outgoing model. On its own, the new 5.0 GT already has a deeper growl than the outgoing model. With active exhaust on, it’s louder and more aggressive, but perhaps not as obnoxious as I’d want it to be.
Melvin Betancourt, the Mustang Exterior Designer, calls the new car “the best Mustang to date.”
You can decide this for yourself. But here’s what you’re looking for: the leading edge of the hood is now 0.8 inches (20 millimeters) lower, which essentially gives the front facia a pulled down look. The hood vents are new, and so is the grille. None of it decidedly better looking to my eyes, but then the outgoing car wasn’t at all bad looking to begin with.
The tri-bar rear lamps from a C-shape, but otherwise the rear is mostly unchanged. Both front and rear lamps are now fully LED as well. You’ll also be able to get Kona Blue paint once again. Joining it will be two other new colors, Orange Fury (pictured) and Royal Crimson (a deep purple-ish color).
There’s no word on pricing at this time, but given the dropped V6 and the move for a more premium cabin, we speculate a higher starting price for 2018 Mustang. The 2017 Mustang EcoBoost starts at $27,095 and the GT lists from $34,095, with destination. The new pony will be making its way to showrooms this fall.
Gallery: 2018 Ford Mustang
Today, Ford introduces its new Mustang – the world’s best-selling sports coupe and the company’s most advanced Mustang ever.
A host of improvements including new technology and design changes give owners ways to customize Mustang to their preferences, even better performance from more powerful engines and new MagneRide™ suspension technology. Customers have more ways than ever to personalize Mustang to make it their own, with three new paint colors, 12 distinct wheel choices and a customizable digital instrument cluster.
“The new Mustang is our best ever, based on more than 50 years as one of the iconic sports car in America and now, the world,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas. “Tapping Mustang’s enormous fan base, we’re bringing the new Mustang straight to the people – and introducing the new car across multiple social media channels, reaching millions.”
Technology for greater personalization
Mustang makes available Ford’s first 12-inch all-digital LCD screen in the dashboard. This all-new customizable instrument cluster can be easily personalized, offering three separate views. Customers can personalize the displays for normal, sport and track mode. All-new Mustang MyMode with memory function allows customers to save their favorite drive settings, including suspension and steering preferences.
The new Mustang is so customizable that even its engine note can be adjusted. Delivering an audible experience like never before, an all-new active valve exhaust system is optional on Mustang GT, with a fully variable soundtrack to match the entire acceleration range.
For the first time, Mustang benefits from a vast array of Ford driver-assist technology. Customers can feel more confident than ever behind the wheel with new features like Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and Driver Alert System.
Ford SYNC® Connect with FordPass™ is available on Mustang for the first time. When using the FordPass® app for smartphones, drivers can start, lock, unlock and locate their car for ultimate convenience.
Performance is at the core of Mustang DNA, offering drivers a unique thrill of acceleration and cornering for the ultimate fun-to-drive experience. On all models, new shock absorbers make for better ride control, a new cross-axis joint in the rear suspension leads to increased lateral stiffness, and innovative stabilizer bars bring sharper response and handling.
MagneRide damper technology is a new option with the Mustang Performance Package to optimize ride and handling in all situations.
The proven 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine continues to offer outstanding performance advantages versus the outgoing 3.7-liter V6. Using Ford’s transient overboost technology uniquely calibrated for Mustang, torque is increased for wide-open throttle acceleration.
Ford’s legendary 5.0-liter V8 engine has been thoroughly reworked. It is more powerful and revs higher than any Mustang GT before. This power increase was achieved with the first application for Mustang of Ford’s new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection on a V8 engine – delivering robust low-end torque, high-rpm power, and improved fuel efficiency.
The manual transmission for both engine options has been upgraded for optimal torque. For the V8, the manual transmission has been totally redesigned to include a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel to increase torque capability and deliver more efficient clutch modulation.
A new 10-speed automatic transmission, available with both EcoBoost and V8 engines, is the best automatic Mustang has ever offered. With a wide-ratio span and optimized gear spacing, this all-new gearbox helps deliver higher average power for acceleration – improving responsiveness and performance.
Compared to the previous six-speed, the new 10-speed transmission has quicker shift times, better low-speed tip-in response and significantly reduced friction losses. The all-new electronic control system includes unique tunes for different drive modes and features real-time adaptive shift scheduling to ensure the right gear at the right time. Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles allow drivers maximum manual control.
Energy in the design
Overall, the car’s exterior design is now more athletic, with a lower, remodeled hood and grille that deliver a leaner look and refined aerodynamics, upper and lower front grilles, and a new position for hood vents. For the first time the entire Mustang line will feature all-LED front lights including signature lighting, low-beams, turn signals, efficient projector high-beams and available fog lamps.
The rear of the car gets revised LED taillamps for a more technical look, plus a new bumper, fascia and available performance spoiler. Dual-tip exhaust is standard for EcoBoost® Mustang, while V8-powered Mustang GT gets a standard quad-tip exhaust.
With a dozen available alloy wheel designs and fresh exterior color choices – including all-new signature Orange Fury – enthusiasts can order a Mustang with the look they’re after.
Improved touch points and visual cues with a more premium look and feel characterize the new cockpit. The center console adds a new hand-stitched wrap with contrast stitching and padded knee bolsters while door handles, rings and bezels are finished in aluminum. Restyled seating surfaces feature new patterns and color choices, the instrument panel sports an updated Mustang badge and there’s a new key fob design. A heated steering wheel is optional.
Ford’s most advanced Mustang ever goes on sale in North America this fall.