A ten-speed automatic, three new colors, and ten new wheel designs join the options list.
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.