The Ford Mustang's history spans just over half a century, but its sixth generation might just be the most complete yet. With a facelift for 2018 that adds some performance bits and some welcome tech, this latest pony car is even better.
What's New for 2018
One of the most significant changes for 2018 is with the Mustang's styling. Ford changed the design of the front and rear fascias, giving the front headlights a deeper appearance with the hood creating an eyebrow effect over them. At the rear, the tri-bar taillights continue, but Ford changed their shape at the top and bottom, giving them a parenthetical appearance.
Ford also made changes under the hood. The Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V8 engine now produces 460 horsepower (25 more than before) and an additional 20 pound-feet of torque for a total of 420 lb-ft. The entry-level 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder is new too, although it makes the same horsepower as before, with 310 ponies. But torque is up 30 lb-ft to an even 350, which makes this entry level engine far more entertaining than before. Ford put the Mustang's V6 engine out to pasture for 2018.
Six-speed manual transmissions are standard across the board, although a new 10-speed automatic – developed alongside arch-rival General Motors – is available on both the base and GT. Ford is also adding available magnetic dampers, which offer a more composed ride and more capable handling. Finally, a digital gauge cluster is available as a premium option.
Choosing Your Ford Mustang
With the V6 engine choice gone, Ford makes the EcoBoost turbo 2.3-liter four-cylinder the entry-level offering. The Mustang GT with its 5.0-liter V8 is the premium offering. There's also the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R – a 526-hp track machine that's listed separately. Both coupe and convertible body styles are available, but going to the soft-top adds $5,500 to the starting price. The 10-speed automatic transmission costs $1,595 across the board.
Fuel economy for the Mustang depends on body style and transmission. The EcoBoost coupe with the automatic returns 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 25 mpg. Equipped with the manual transmission, the EcoBoost Mustang returns the same mpg rating except for one fewer mpg on the highway.
The EcoBoost convertible with the automatic returns 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 23 mpg. The manual-equipped convertible returns similar mpg to the automatic save for one fewer mpg on the highway.
The 5.0-liter Mustang GT coupe with the automatic returns 16 mpg in the city and 15 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 19 mpg. Once equipped with the manual, the city and combined rating drop by one mpg. The GT convertible with the automatic returns 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for a combined rating 18 mpg. The manual GT convertible returns one fewer mpg across the board.
The Mustang is a performance car, even in its base trim. To reflect this, Ford offers a trio of optional performance packages – one for the EcoBoost and EcoBoost Premium, and a pair for the GT. The EcoBoost Performance Package adds a Torsen limited-slip rear axle, 19-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, summer tires, uprated front springs, larger brake rotors, pistons, and radiator, a performance rear wing, unique chassis tuning, and an upsized rear sway bar for $2,495.
For V8 lovers, the GT Performance Package costs more, at $3,995, but comes with even more gear. It takes everything from the EcoBoost Performance Package and then adds a few touches from the Shelby GT350, including a K-Brace for underbody reinforcement and six-piston Brembo brakes. The GT Performance Package Level 2 hasn't been priced yet, but will compete with the Chevrolet Camaro's 1LE package, promising track-focused performance by building on the base Performance Package. It adds a big front splitter and upgraded rear spoiler, as well as super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that are a full 1.5 inches wider in back. All the suspension bits the base packages upgrade, the Level 2 takes even further. All told, the Performance Package Level 2 promises the most performance-focused non-Shelby Mustang in years.
Not packaged with the Performance Package but highly recommended is the $1,695 magnetic dampers. Available on all Mustang trims, this popular technology has been a fixture on performance cars for years, promising rapid adjustability in the dampers. Owners can call up a firmer, more aggressive suspension for twisty roads or a softer, more relaxed setting for commuting.
There are four trim levels available:
This is now the entry-level offering with its EcoBoost turbo 2.3-liter four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission. LED headlights and taillights are standard. The EcoBoost starts at $25,585 (prices exclude destination and handling).
The most noteworthy optional extra is the imaginatively named 101A Equipment Package. Priced at just $2,000, it adds a Sync3 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen, a nine-speaker audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, selectable driving modes, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, remote start, and a few small aesthetic tweaks. Adding this package is a no-brainer.
Optional packages include an Enhanced Security Package adds active anti-theft system, wheel locking kit and electronic-locking center console, and electronic steering column lock for $395.
For those looking for improved aesthetics, Ford is selling a Black Accent Package, which does exactly what its name suggests – it adds black aluminum wheels, black front and rear pony badges, and a black decklid spoiler for $995. An $895 Wheel and Strip Package adds 19-inch alloys and a pair of stripes on either side of the car.
Voice-activated touchscreen navigation is a $795 extra.
The EcoBoost Premium trim offers the same 310-hp engine, but adds a host of luxury features such as heated and cooled leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and launch control. The EcoBoost Premium starts at $30,600.
The EcoBoost Premium gets its own Equipment Group, this time wearing the designation 201A. And while the $2,200 price tag is slightly higher than the lesser Mustang EcoBoost's big equipment pack, it adds a lot more stuff. The headlining feature is the Mustang's all-new digital instrument cluster. The 12.3-inch unit is fully customizable and is largely focused on performance info and the driving experience, rather than managing navigation or infotainment, like the similar system from Audi. Beyond the new digital cluster, the 201A pack adds a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery, remote start, a wifi hotspot, and navigation.
Optional packages include those available on the base EcoBoost and the Carbon Sport Interior Package, adding leather-trimmed bucket seats with Alcantara inserts and carbon-fiber trim to the dash and shift knob for $1,195. The Safe and Smart Package adds adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, rain-sensing wipers, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warning with brake support for $1,495.
Starting at $35,095, the Mustang GT comes with a 460-hp 5.0-liter V8 capable of hitting 60 miles per hour in under a claimed four seconds. It adds a unique grille treatment, standard 18-inch wheels, and quad-tipped exhausts. Despite the extra power, this GT is largely analogous with the base Mustang EcoBoost, so cloth bucket seats and a spartan cabin are the order of the day.
The Mustang GT's 301A package adds all the same gear as the EcoBoost's 101A package and for the same $2,000 premium. In fact, aside from the aforementioned Performance Packages, the available option packages and a la carte features mirror the Mustang EcoBoost. Standalone features unique to the GT amount to an active exhaust priced at $895. This is a neat system that allows owners to shift the exhaust's volume on the fly, and even enable a Good Neighbor mode, that quiets the exhaust on startup.
The GT Premium is the V8 equivalent to the EcoBoost Premium, and its price climbs accordingly. Starting at $39,095, the GT Premium blends all the gear from the base GT with all the comfy content from the EcoBoost Premium.
The GT Premium is available with the Enhanced Security Package, Black Accent Package, Performance Package Level 2, Carbon Sport Interior Package, and Safe & Smart Package.
The EcoBoost Premium trim is a middle ground between performance and luxury. While it doesn't offer a 460-hp V8, the 310-hp 2.3-liter is plenty quick. With heated and cooled seats, automatic climate control, and a manual transmission, the EcoBoost Mustang is a very compelling offering.