2018 Ford Mustang
Though it's as emblematic as ever, the Ford Mustang is now more modern and much better to drive than it has been in recent memory. It continues to blend classic style inspired by the 1964 original and pony car performance with an affordable price tag.
The lineup includes the Mustang coupe detailed here, the Mustang Convertible, and the hot-rodded Shelby GT350, which comes with a formidable 5.2-liter V8 engine.
Ford updated the Mustang with an updated design on both ends, more tech inside (including an available digital instrument cluster), and powertrain tweaks. Notably, it axed the V6-powered model.
The Mustang has always been about style and performance; well, almost always. At any rate, the 2018 model delivers in both areas with a muscular look characterized by a wide grille positioned low on the front fascia, sharp headlights, and a long, plunging hood. Out back, the lights pay homage to the original model. The proportions are spot on and pure pony car. Ford channeled its past without going full-on retro like the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Beetle.
Step inside and you'll find a sporty dual-cowl dashboard design, easy-to-read vintage-inspired gauges, and an oversized three-spoke steering wheel. Buyers who want an added touch of tech can order an optional digital instrument cluster, a first in the nameplate's long history. Ford's SYNC infotainment system and a color touch screen both come standard.
When called upon to haul people and cargo rather than deliver impressive performance numbers, the Mustang functions fairly well - the rear seats can hold two small adults in a pinch (though long journeys aren't recommended), and the trunk offers a respectable 13.5 cubic feet space.
Under the hood
The Mustang's base engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that uses a turbocharger to make 310 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. It's closely related to the turbo four found in the Focus RS. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a 10-speed automatic is offered at an extra cost. Of course, rear-wheel drive is the only configuration offered.
Buyers after more power can order the Coyote 5.0-liter V8, which delivers 460 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. Transmission options are the same as above. Equipped with the V8, the Mustang performs the benchmark zero-to-60-mph sprint in a little under four seconds when the driver engages Drag Strip mode.
Fuel economy checks in at 21 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg in a combined cycle when the Mustang is equipped with a four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. Selecting a V8 lowers those figures to 16, 25, and 19, respectively.
Standard and optional features
The Mustang comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, cruise control, A/C, a six-speaker sound system, a CD player, cruise control, a push-button ignition, LED lights, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, a 4.2-inch color screen in the center stack, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and selectable-effort power steering.
The list of options includes a 5.2-liter V8, a 10-speed automatic transmission, a bigger touch screen, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, ambient lighting, a MagneRide suspension, a remote engine starter, navigation, selectable driving modes, and an upgraded sound system.
Buyers also have several option packages to choose from. Some bundle visual add-ons, while others bring more meaningful upgrades like bigger brakes, an upgraded suspension, and a larger radiator.
All Mustangs regardless of trim levels are fitted as standard with dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag in addition to traction and stability control systems, a post-crash alert system and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Pre-collision assist, lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian detection are offered at an extra cost.
The Mustang's arch rivals are the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. Looking outside the pony car segment opens up numerous other opportunities, including the Mazda Miata, the BMW 4 Series, the Volkswagen GTI, the Audi A5, and the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins.