When Ford Motor Company announced earlier this year the
retirement of most 'traditional cars' from its U.S. lineup by 2020 to instead
ramp up production of higher-volume crossovers, sport utilities and pickup trucks;
the Blue Oval company went to great lengths reassuring the motoring public its
iconic pony coupe survived as one of the lone exceptions.
names including Taurus, Focus, Fusion and Fiesta fell out of favor with
consumers flocking instead to crossovers and even pickups as family haulers
(Ford's F-150 light-duty pickup continues as America's best-selling vehicle).
Mustang, always bucking trends, remains a
constant at Ford dealerships since its arrival in the mid-1960s as an affordable,
stylized, power-packed compact coupe proudly serving as the corporate halo
vehicle. A practical family hauler it is not, but the 'experiential'
thrills bridge generation gaps. Categorize Mustang as a 'want,' not a
The bright 'orange furry metallic tri coat' 2018
Mustang cycling through the Chicago press pool was on its final stop before
retiring as the 2018 model year comes to a close and 2019s now dominate the
testing fleet. Plus, seasonal summer-racing tires adorned rims; no
match for an early November dusting of snow. Mustang's
standard rear-wheel bias strongly encourages genuine snow tires when plodding
through Chicago's winter mush (or simply hibernate Mustang until Spring).
the dusting melted away, Mustang got to play. Got a thumb's up in the Mariano's
parking lot from a fellow Fifty-something appreciating either the Mustang's
heritage, its bright orange exterior, or both.
2018 Mustang a significant mid-cycle refresh of the sixth-generation effort
introduced in the 2015 model year. Mustang celebrated its fiftieth
anniversary during the 2015 redesign.
whittle the number of engine selections from three down to two in
2018. Gone is the mid-level, 3.6-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower
leaving a returning 2.3-liter turbocharged four cylinder (which Ford markets as
Ecoboost) generating 310 horsepower and the highly recommended 5.0-liter
naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) V-8 welcoming 460 horses (up from 435)
thanks to increased cylinder compression ratios.
engines come standard with a tweaked six-speed manual transmission (with V-8
editions sporting closer spaced gears and twin disc clutch) for smoother shifts
while a new-for-2018 optional ten-speed automatic arrives adding quicker shift
times and reduced friction losses. It replaces an outgoing six-speed
A third Mustang trim, of the low-volume sort,
includes the Shelby Mustang GT350 armed with 526 horsepower. In the not-to-distant
future, Ford plans to make available a hybrid-electric powertrain in Mustang.
in at a relatively hefty 3,700 pounds, the compact Mustang V-8 includes
electronic power assist steering, resulting in a lighter-than-expected
wheel-feel effort. Mustang's manual transmission is not designed for
novices, as a sturdy left foot must synchronize with the braking right to
maximize the V-8's potential.
On the outside, a lower
restyled long-length hood includes two functional air vents. The
entire lineup now includes bejeweled LED headlights and revised LED tail
lights. Tri-bar tail lights return again (and blink in syncretic
1-2-3 time when summoning turn signals) and front head light housing also
includes smaller tri-bar salutes. The galloping chrome horsy returns to its
appointed location within the honey-combed patterned center grille (also making
an inside appearance upon the three-point steering wheel hub).
for rather prominent blind spots, side-view mirrors employee low-tech but
spot-on effective upper corner concaves, highlighting what may be lurking close
by. Mustang GT enjoys quad-tipped exhausts while four-cylinders make by with
Mustangs also harkens back to an era
when keeping cool equated with open-air convertible tops. In 2018 both engine
choices come either as a hard-top fastback or a soft-top convertible (both with
standard, ultra-modern air conditioning inside).
starts at $26,675 for a four-cylinder, manual transmission fastback. Our
tester, a V-8 fastback GT, checked in at $35,095 with $9,890 worth of options,
and a $900 destination charge for a $44,985 bottom line.
$9,900 of options includes $495 for the can't-miss orange fury tri-coat paint,
$895 for the 'quiet ride' performance exhaust, $2,000 for dual-zone temperature
controls and SYNC 3 featuring satellite radio with compact disc player and
$6,500 performance package (magnetic ride dampening, torsen rear axle, black
deck-lid spoiler, aluminum wheels).
A new stand-alone
inside option available in V-8-powered GTs for 2018, an all-digital,
customizable 12-inch LED instrument cluster with unique displays when choosing
between normal, sport and track driving modes. Our tester featured
the traditional dual, deep-set analog gauges centered by a digital window.
retro touch along the bottom of the center dash pays homage to earlier
Mustangs: chrome-plated push tabs for selecting the emergency blinker, traction
control deactivation and drive mode selection (normal, sport, track,
snow). Adjacent to the left: a well-marked, circular, electronic,
chrome push-button orb located conveniently afar from steering wheel
The optional performance exhaust 'quiet mode,
' a segment first, is selectable via steering wheel face buttons
interacting with the Instrument panels digital window. While the V-8's romantic
rumbling exhaust notes remains a reminder of the 460 ponies running around
under hood, the quiet mode setting minimizes audio jolting of neighbor's ear
drums if starting Mustang before the break of dawn. In addition, sport and
normal exhaust settings remain available and music to driver's ears.
climate settings include small chrome push tabs mimicking rotary-type dials
with a rectangular push pad monitoring air speed. Selecting fan
direction requires a romp through the in-dash touch screen.
neither Mustang nor its two-door Chevrolet counterpart, the Camaro, gained fame
for comfy back seats or ginormous cargo carrying opportunities. Ford
does get bragging rights with a slightly larger two-person back seat (preteens
or pets primarily), but static rear windows limit ventilation
options. Mustang's surprisingly ample trunk (13.5 cubic
feet in hardtops) includes strut-like hinges smartly located outside the cargo
area. Row-two seatbacks fold down with a 50/50 split contributing to a bit more
Independent rear suspension finally became a
Mustang staple across the model line during the 2015 redo, retiring an almost
stone-age solid rear axle. The solid rear axle performs admirably
during zero-to-60 straight-line encounters, but permit unforgiving
rock-and-roll results during day-to-day commuting. Independent rear suspension
brings forth comfort and handling nuances.
seating positions continue closer to the ground than conventional crossovers or
sedans, merits of independent rear suspension are immediately felt upon lower
backs of aging drivers.
Mustang slurps regular 87-octane
fuel within its 16-gallon tank while Camaro's appetite requires higher-priced
premium. As with a growing number of redesigned vehicles, Mustang employs a
self-sealing fuel lead negating the need for a plastic twist cap.
eye-popping day-glow type exterior color choices include: lighting blue, triple
yellow tri coat and race red.
2018 Ford Mustang
Price as tested: $45,885
Overall Length: 188.5 inches
Height: 54.3 inches
Overall Width: 75.4 inches
economy: 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,705
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000
Assembly: Flat Rock, Michigan