Ford has given its marquee Mustang sports coupe a significant overhaul for the 2018 model year and it’s already ruffling feathers.
Designers have resculpted the Mustang’s hood, lowering it and giving it sleeker lines. The hood, along with the redesigned grille, have already split opinion among members of the auto press and Mustang fans, but up close it looks refined and poised. Ford’s promo materials really don’t do it justice.
As rumored, Ford has jettisoned the V6 engine in the Mustang, narrowing the available options to a 2.3-liter four cylinder EcoBoost and, of course, a 5.0-liter V8. Ford is promising more low-end torque out of both engines, and more horsepower out of the V8. Ford has yet to release the raw numbers. Both engines are available in a 6-speed manual and a new 10-speed automatic.
Ford has made a number of engineering decisions in the new Mustang to give muscle car enthusiasts control over their drive. An example of this is the optional active valve exhaust that can be near-silent while pulling out of the driveway on a Sunday morning and then set to roar with that distinctive V8 engine note on the open road.
Performance nuts will welcome the addition of Ford’s MagneRide suspension to the Mustang. MagneRide, which is a catchier name than “magnetorheological damper,” allows the driver to tighten up the suspension for sportier performance. This upgrade was previously only available on the Shelby GT350. Similar technology has been found on the Mustang’s chief rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, since 2015.
The Mustang boasts some clever tricks on the inside, too. Ford has made available a 12-inch all-digital instrument display cluster that can be personalized to suit the driver. Drivers on a road trip might pay closer attention to fuel consumption and available range. If they’re hitting a mountain road, or even the track, they can keep an eye on the red line and speed.
Ford saw Mustang sales dip 13% in 2016 and while it’s a clear pack leader when compared to the Camaro and the Dodge Charger, sports cars are currently a tough sell, especially for younger drivers who are flocking to crossover SUVs. The 2018 refresh, especially the improved technology and focus on the smaller engine at the expense of the V6, might be enough to reverse the trend.