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2018 Ford Mustang: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2018

The 2018 Ford Mustang shows a perennially popular pony car moving in tune with the times. Yes, the moment has come for this generation's midlife revamp. It's a thorough update, as will become clear throughout this review.

The changes are listed in the What's New section below, but the main takeaway is that these modifications are overwhelmingly positive. Considering this generation (the sixth) is the best Mustang there's ever been, then this car is even more compelling.

The exterior design is sophisticated, sporting an assertive grille, classic proportions and trademark triple-slat taillights. The independent rear suspension is a major asset and Ford has a depth of knowledge to make its cars handle well.

What's New for 2018?

Big changes in the engine bay (no more V6; a new 10-speed automatic transmission, more power) and improvements to the suspension are accompanied by a restyle of the front and rear ends, along with some revisions in the cabin. More driver-assistance features are offered, plus an adaptive suspension, 12-inch digital instrument cluster, 2-mode exhaust, remote start and a heated steering wheel. The Shelby models don't have any power boosts for this year.

What We Like

Awesome V8; fuel-efficient turbo four; sports-car handling; refined ride; stylish, high-quality interior; fearsome Shelby versions

Want We Don't

Tiny back seat

How Much?

$26,485-$64,245

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive Mustang range starts with a turbocharged 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder developing 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. With the revised-for-2018 6-speed manual transmission, consumption is estimated at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. These figures are identical with the new 10-speed automatic transmission and body style makes no difference.

The GT's updated 5.0-liter V8 throbs with 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, while achieving 15 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined (manual) in the coupe, or 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined (auto). These figures apply to the convertible as well.

A bespoke V8 propels the Shelby GT350, turning a 5.2-liter displacement into 526 hp and 429 lb-ft. It only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and is estimated to achieve 14 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined, if anyone really cares about that.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Ford Mustang is offered in EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium and GT Premium trims as a coupe or convertible. There's also a GT coupe and the coupe-only Shelby GT350/GT350R.

The EcoBoost coupe ($26,485) and EcoBoost convertible ($32,705) come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, keyless entry/ignition, LED headlights, LED sequential taillights, a dual exhaust system, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt-telescope adjustment, a rearview camera, a 4.2-in screen, a self-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, Track Apps (a program that records performance data during track driving), electronically lockable front brakes (Ford says they're to help warm up the rear tires, but people will use them for burnouts) and a 6-speaker audio system with two USB ports and an auxiliary input, plus the MyKey system with parental controls for geofencing, speed limit, stability control, audio volume, radio content, seat belt reminders and low fuel warnings.

The EcoBoost Premium coupe ($31,500) and the EcoBoost Premium convertible ($37,000) have 18-in alloy wheels, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded infotainment system, a 9-speaker stereo, an 8-in touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

The GT coupe ($35,995) echoes the regular EcoBoost's features but with the V8 engine and bigger brakes. The GT Premium coupe ($39,995) and GT Premium convertible ($45,495) add the EcoBoost Premium's equipment inventory.

Some features of the higher trims are available as options lower down. A Performance package (coupe only) adds 19-in wheels of a different design with summer performance tires, auxiliary gauges (including a boost gauge for the EcoBoost), a sport-tuned suspension, a larger radiator, bigger brakes, shorter gearing, a performance rear axle, a stability control system with a higher threshold and aluminum interior accents. The GT's version has Brembo brakes up front and a Torsen (torque-sensing) limited-slip differential. The Performance package also brings eligibility for the adaptive suspension.

Depending on the trim, other options include 20-in wheels, a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, a digital instrument gauge, navigation, rear parking sensors, driver's-side memory settings, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Brembo brakes and a Torsen diff are standard in the 2018 Mustang Shelby GT350 ($56,745), which also comes with Recaro seats and an adaptive suspension. Heated/cooled power-adjustable front seats are an option.

The GT350R ($64,245) brings its own aero kit, plus 19-in wheels made from carbon fiber. It also saves weight by ditching the rear seat, infotainment system, air conditioning and tire inflation kit. These features may be reinstated by choosing the Electronics and Technology packages.

Trunk space in the coupe is 13.5 cu ft. The convertible's trunk accommodates 11.4 cu ft.

Safety

The Mustang comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, seven airbags in the coupe (front, front-side, knee and full-length side curtain) and five airbags in the convertible (which lacks the side-curtain airbags).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the coupe a full five stars across the board. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been similarly impressed, giving the coupe its top score of Good for the tricky moderate-overlap front impact test and the same accolade to the convertible for side-impact protection.

A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is available, and the optional adaptive cruise control feature includes a radar-based forward-collision warning system that preloads the brakes.

Behind the Wheel

There's nothing rough, just classy materials, attractive gauges, supportive seats and cool metallic toggle switches. Optional Recaro bucket seats are form-fitting and perfect for the track, but tight for broader types. And while no one expects a sport coupe to accommodate 6-footers behind the front row, the back seat is a squeeze even for kids.

The EcoBoost 4-cylinder turbo delivers impressive refinement and a healthy punch of midrange torque, but it tapers off toward the redline. And the reedy sound of a 4-cylinder under acceleration seems out of place in a Mustang.

The GT's V8 is a winner, delivering its 460 hp with a quick-revving and progressive character. The 6-speed manual shifter makes it a blast to run through the gears.

It's in the corners where the EcoBoost has the advantage, thanks to superior balance from a lighter engine. In comparison, the GT feels relatively nose heavy. The distinction is subtle, though, and the GT is still wonderfully agile.

A more obvious difference is in the GT350, where energetic acceleration is matched by reassuring braking and confident handling.

The steering is quick and accurate, while the independent rear suspension does a great job of both smoothing out bumps and remaining settled. Even the GT350 is surprisingly civilized in this respect. The mix of athletic handling and compliant ride makes this one of the most usable high-performance machines.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 BMW 2 Series -- The Mustang is more sophisticated than ever and that brings the 2 Series into play. No burbling V8 here, but razor-sharp handling, equal or better interior quality and superior maneuverability make up for it.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro -- Superb. Absolutely worth considering if shopping for a Mustang.

2018 Dodge Challenger -- The Challenger is much-improved, especially its handling, but it's still the largest and most cumbersome of the traditional muscle car trio. However, it does have a proper rear seat and that 6.4-liter V8 is beautiful.

Used BMW M3 -- Another iconic car with a perfect mix of high speed and fine handling. Put it this way, if Steve McQueen had driven an M3 in that famous movie car chase, it would have been a lot shorter.

Autotrader's Advice

As if anyone had to ask. Of course we'd recommend the V8 version. The Mustang should dazzle and rumble.

Find a Ford Mustang for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Ford Mustang: New Car Review - Autotrader