Ford would like to focus on the new tech adorning the 2018 Mustang, which includes a huge new information screen and a lot of driver-assistance technology. Mustang enthusiasts, though, are more interested about what's going on under the hood. And now that Ford broke the performance barrier with the last-generation 'Stang's new chassis, we want to see what's new in handling as well. Both get some upgrades, which will make pony car nuts happier.
Under the hood, Ford has simplified the 2018 Mustang's engine offerings to two – a four- and an eight-cylinder – and has tweaked the transmissions that go with them. The four-cylinder is the already-proven 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that showed up in the last generation as a replacement for the 3.7L V6 before it. This little engine gets a bit of a tweak to improve torque output, though Ford has yet to tell us by how much.
Similarly, we're told that the big 5.0-liter V8 has been reworked. Ford promises more power and higher revolutions versus the previous GT, coming thanks to a new fuel injection system. The V8 is now a dual-fuel, high-pressure direct-injected engine with low-pressure port fuel injectors. This improvement increases fuel burn through better vaporization in the chamber.
Going with these engines are new transmissions. The manual transmission has a modified twin-disc clutch through a dual-mass flywheel to increase the torque delivery capability while improving clutch movement. In layman's terms, this makes it more difficult to "burn" the clutch during performance shifting.
The automatic transmission now offered for the 2018 Ford Mustang is a new 10-speed tuned to the Mustang's performance needs. This transmission goes with Ford's other introductions of high-gear transmissions for performance vehicles such as the Raptor pickup truck. Ford is promising faster shift times, better low-speed response rates, and more efficiency with this transmission, which replaces the six-speed automatic offered in the previous Mustang. Steering wheel shift paddles are offered as complements to this automatic trans.
Underneath the engine is a newly-refined chassis. The last-generation Mustang saw the advent of an independent rear suspension for the first time in this pony car. We witnessed that with the 2016 Mustang GT we reviewed. Now Ford has taken that a step further with a new cross-axis joint and improved shock absorbers on all models of the 2018 Mustang, which improves ride and lateral stiffness in the curve. Updated stabilizer bars help this even more. A new option is MagneRide dampers, which allow damper adjustment to further stiffen or loosen the ride quality as the driver wishes. This will be sold as part of the Performance Package for the car.
Ford's focus on the release of the 2018 Mustang, however, was with technology, not engines. Ford is now offering a 12-inch LCD screen for the dashboard as a new instrument cluster. Emphasizing customization, Ford is touting the new screen as the centerpiece for that, allowing the driver to fully customize what's being shown in the instrument cluster and driver information screens. Other customization options include body colors, wheel choices, and so forth.
Alongside that, the driver can also control some of the engine's sound – or at least how much of it is piped into the cockpit. As with previous generations of the Mustang, the V6 engine's sound can be created through the speaker system to give it a more robust, muscular track. The GT model has an active valve exhaust system that produces authentic sound that can be controlled by the Mustang's computer.
Driver-assist technology is also at the forefront of this new Mustang. In addition to adaptive cruise control and active braking for crash mitigation, the 2018 Ford Mustang also has options for Pre-Collision Assistant with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assist, and more. If you ever fall asleep driving a Mustang (which is theoretically possible, we suppose), Ford's Driver Alert System is now also an option.
In infotainment, the latest Ford SYNC Connect is available to the Mustang for the first time. This allows the Ford Pass smartphone app to access the car remotely for remote start, door lock/unlock, and more.
Most noticeable to observers of the new 2018 Mustang are its exterior design changes. These may be polarizing to some, though the more athletic look with a lower hood and updated aerodynamics are welcome. This comes at the expense of the grille, which is now narrower and more Focus-like than previously seen on the 'Stang. LED lighting all around the car is now the norm, but the previous-generation's controversial rear taillamps remain largely unchanged.
A new color is shown on the showcase 2018 Mustang unveiled in Los Angeles as Orange Fury. Inside, the Mustang has some styling changes focused mainly on materials choices and comfort options rather than design changes. We see the center console is changed, with vents on top and a larger touchscreen housing with busy buttons below, but the dashboard otherwise looks largely the same. Seating with the Mustang's traditional 2+2 remains as it was as well.
The 2018 Ford Mustang is slated to enter showrooms in North America in the third quarter of 2017. Ford has not yet announced pricing details.
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