Under the Hood: 2018 Ford Mustang – Autoversed
Under the Hood: 2018 Ford Mustang

When it comes to cars, a lot can change in a year. Take the Ford Mustang, for example. For 2018, Ford has given its iconic muscle car a makeover. The Mustang has a new look, updated engines, a new transmission, new tech — you get the picture. If you’re in the market for a new sports car and are considering American muscle, here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Ford Mustang.

There’s No More V6

Yes, the Ford Mustang is no longer offered with a V6. The two engines that remain are a turbocharged four-cylinder (the “EcoBoost”) and a V8. The good news is that the EcoBoost and V8 are both more powerful in the 2018 Mustang. Ford tuned the turbo-four to put out 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 30 lb-ft of torque. The Mustang GT (the V8) now makes 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 25 hp and 20 lb-ft of torque.

A six-speed manual comes standard on both the EcoBoost and GT Mustangs. If you don’t want to switch your own gears, there’s a 10-speed automatic transmission on offer. This unit replaces the six-speed auto offered in the 2017 model. The 10-speed automatic increases both performance and gas mileage. Ford says the Mustang GT will do 0-60 mph in under four seconds with the 10-speed automatic transmission and optional Performance Package spec’d. The 0-60 time on an identically spec’d EcoBoost Mustang clocks in at under five seconds.

In addition to performance gains, the 2018 Mustang does slightly better at the pump. The EcoBoost model gets an EPA estimated 21 mpg city and 31 mpg. The GT gets 15 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

One thing worth noting is that the track-oriented Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R were not updated for 2018. Those models still maintain the previous year’s body styles and engines, which isn’t such a bad thing considering that the 5.2-liter V8 engine these models share is good for 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque.

Performance Goodies

The optional Performance Package brings a bevy of goodies to both the EcoBoost and GT Mustangs. The package includes a Torsen limited slip differential, 19-inch aluminum wheels, larger brakes, a bigger radiator, and a tuned suspension. The Performance Package on the EcoBoost Mustang costs $2,495, and on the GT, it runs $3,995.

Optioning the Performance Package is required if you want to equip the 2018 Mustang with MagneRide dampers. Previously, the only Mustangs available with magnetically adjustable dampers were the GT350 and GT350R. Spec’ing MagneRide adds an extra $1,695 onto the 2018 Mustang’s total. Other performance options of note include an active exhaust, which costs $895 and lets you adjust the sound level of the Mustang GT’s exhaust note.

If you’re not planning on taking your Mustang to the track for hot laps, it’s probably best to pass on the Performance Package and MangeRide suspension system. Both packages drive up the final price and won’t make a noticeable difference in day-to-day driving. There is, however, one performance option that all Mustang owners should consider – the 10-speed automatic transmission.

The 10-speed auto offers better shift times than the six-speed manual. All 0-60 and quarter-mile times quoted by Ford were hit in Mustangs equipped with a 10-speed auto. In addition to boosting performance, the automatic also increases fuel economy. At $1,595 the 10-speed doesn’t come cheap, but it is one of the most advanced automatic transmissions on the market. It’s also the only performance option offered on the 2018 Mustang that makes a noticeable difference both on the track and in traffic.

A Literal Facelift And (Slightly) Upgraded Interior

One of the most noticeable features of the 2018 Mustang is its new front-end design. The hood has been lowered and the hood vents have been repositioned. The grille design has also been tweaked. For the first time LED lighting is standard on every Mustang, from the headlights to the turn signals and taillights.

The redesign is a little less noticeable when viewed from the rear. The 2018 Mustang has revised LED taillights and a new bumper. Models optioned with the Performance Package get a new decklid spoiler too. A dual exhaust is standard on all EcoBoost Mustangs, with a quad-exhaust standard for all GT models.

The biggest new interior feature on the 2018 Mustang is the optional 12-inch digital gauge cluster, which can be customized, and offers three different views. The center console remains mostly the same, but there is a new hand-stitched wrap on it. Other additions include padded knee bolsters and door handles, rings, and bezels finished in aluminum. The key fob has also been redesigned and an optional heated steering wheel is available.

Pricing and Trim Levels

The 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost starts at $25,585. That’s $610 cheaper than the 2017 model. If you want a convertible EcoBoost Mustang you’ll need to pay an extra $5,500. That’s a big premium, but it’s still cheaper than the price of a 2017 EcoBoost Mustang convertible’s MSRP of $35,695.

The 2018 Mustang GT has an MSRP of $35,095, an increase of $1,900 over the standard model 2017 Mustang GT. If you want a convertible Mustang GT you’ll have to pay a pretty penny. That’s because the GT Convertible only comes in the Premium trim level. A 2018 Mustang GT Convertible starts at a whopping $44,595, an increase of $1,900 over the previous model year. Despite not receiving any updates, the 2018 Shelby GT350 and GT350R each cost $1,000 more than their 2017 counterparts.

Like in 2017, the 2018 Mustang has only two trims to choose from: standard and Premium. Select the Premium trim and you’ll get an 8.0-inch touchscreen equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment technology. This package also includes heated and cooled front seats trimmed with leather, selectable driving modes, aluminum interior trim, and 18-inch wheels (EcoBoost models only).

How it Stacks up Against the Competition

The Ford Mustang’s biggest competitors are the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. The Challenger hasn’t seen a significant update in years, yet is still very popular with buyers thanks to an old school design and variety of V8 engines to choose from. It’s also the only muscle car available with all-wheel drive.

The Challenger certainly steals sales from the Mustang, but the two muscle cars appeal to very different buyers. Ford has made a concerted effort to make the Mustang handle better around bends, whereas Dodge only seems to care for straight-line speed. For this reason, the Mustang’s closest competitor –– both in sales and design –– is the Chevrolet Camaro.

The Camaro was completely redesigned for 2016, and like the Mustang it offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a burly V8. Unlike Ford, Chevy left the Camaro’s V6 intact. In terms of performance, the turbocharged Mustang is more powerful than the turbocharged Camaro (310 hp vs. 275 hp) and the Ford V8 puts out more grunt than the Chevy’s (460 hp vs. 455 hp).

The 2018 Ford Mustang is a solid buy if you’re looking for affordable power and performance. The Mustang hasn’t yet pulled away from the competition completely, but with this redesign it’s certainly put some more space between itself and America’s other muscle cars.

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