While retailers seem to push it earlier every year, the US holiday season gets fully underway after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. In anticipation of the season, Ford and Fisher-Price have revealed what they call the most advanced Power Wheels ever, a mini-Mustang that's sure to drive its way onto many a child's wish list. This pint-sized Mustang aims for a realistic look and ride, complete with traction control, a built-in sound system and other Ford-inspired tech.
Called the Smart Drive Mustang, the new addition to the Power Wheels family of battery-powered kids' cars features styling and technologies derived from the real Mustang. While it's tough to miniaturize the Mustang's iconic curves and dimensions convincingly, the car was developed from actual Ford design data for as much realism as possible. We'll let you decide if it was a successful effort.
The big news on this mini-Mustang, though, is the Smart Drive computer control system, a first for Power Wheels. Just like a real car, the Smart Drive Mustang relies on its computer to monitor and adjust systems during driving. Traction control detects wheel slip and adjusts motor speed to keep momentum smooth over the likes of wet grass and bumpy ground. The powertrain can also ramp speed up and down for quick starts and stops, instead of more simple motor on/off action. A tilt sensor monitors vehicle angle to prevent rollover by shutting down the motors when angle approaches critical level.
The Smart Drive Mustang also has a few infotainment-style features. A backlit LED touch interface allows for top speed adjustment between 1 and 5 mph (1.6 and 8 km/h) and displays battery charge level. The built-in sound system features the biggest speaker ever installed in a Fisher-Price product. That speaker belts out engine notes recorded from the actual Mustang, which even rise and fall with acceleration/deceleration. The sound system also has an auxiliary input for playing music from an external device.
"Mustang is one of our best-selling sports cars," says Gary Collins, senior manager of design at Power Wheels. "For the Smart Drive Mustang, we wanted to amp up the realistic driving experience to make the feeling of getting behind the wheel even more thrilling for kids."
The Smart Drive Mustang will be available in December in blue or pink for US$360. It is currently on display at the LA Auto Show, which is open to the public through Sunday, November 27.
Watch two Smart Drive Mustangs race through the office in the video below.