2018 Ford Mustang GT: More Pony Power with exterior and tech enhancements

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

After 54 years of Pony power and nearly 9.5 million vehicles sold, the Ford Mustang continues to be the premier Pony in 2018, with choices to personalize Mustang to their owner’s preference. Mustang underwent its last complete redesign in 2015, and it has tweaked-up for 2018 with a sleek new design, more advanced tech and improved performance enhancements.

Improvements for this year include such exterior augmentations as a redesigned grille, lower hood and hood vents; a grille splitter for improved aerodynamics and better handling and fuel economy; redesigned front fenders; upgraded chassis for improved ride and handling; 12 available wheel options; standard LED headlamps; redesigned tri-bar LED taillamps, LED turn signals and available fog lamps, redesigned rear Quad exhaust tips standard on Mustang GT and three new exterior colors -- Orange Fury, Royal Crimson and Kona Blue.

The cabin gets such step-ups as a pulsing start button; SYNC® Connect with FordPass™; a digital spinning wheel on the all-new available 22-inch all-digital instrument cluster; restyled seating surfaces with new patterns and color choices; available heated steering wheel with upgraded leather; new hand-stitched dashboard and center console with contrast stitching and padded knee bolsters.

Performance advancements include available Active Valve Performance Exhaust with four available modes, and Quiet Start®, which lets owners schedule hushed engine starts; available MagneRide® damping systems; available Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S high-performance tires for improved wet grip, dry grip, braking and handling; electronic line-lock that lets drag racers pre-heat their tire rubber for improved traction; five drive modes including normal, snow/wet, sport, track and new drag mode; and the two engine choices gallop with more force – the 5.0-liter V-8 improves to 460hp and 420 lb-ft and can be mated to an available 10-speed automatic transmission; and 2.3-liter Ecoboost® keeps its 310hp but improves torque to 350 lb-ft.

The Mustang Fastback GT model I tested gained a standard quad-tip exhaust, heated steering wheel and rearview camera. The athletic and muscular Mustang GT is 188.5 inches long and 75.4 inches wide. Height is 54.3 inches for the Fastback and 54.9 for the Convertible, on 107.1-inch wheelbase. With the 5.0-liter engine, the Fastback has a curbweight of 3705 lbs., and V-8 Convertible weighs 3852 lbs.

The cabin is well thought-out and intuitive and this year’s revamp is packed with tech, infotainment and pampering. Premium trim level features give the interior a luxury look and feel, with a hand-stitched wrap for the center console armrest, a look that is mirrored across the instrument panel and down the sides of the center stack. And centerpoint is a 12-inch all-digital cluster is an industry-first video game-like animation of a spinning alloy wheel kicking up a cloud of smoke when line lock is activated and engaged.

Headroom is still a bit tight for taller drivers and passengers and cozy for average-size inhabitants at 37.6 inches (Fastback). Legroom is spacious up front at 45.1 inches and a knees-in-the-chest 29.2 inches in row two. Shoulder room measures 56.3 in front and 44.7 in the rear.

True to Mustang DNA, my test Mustang GT has stampeding power. The 435-hp V-8 was muscular and attentive. The manufacturer says that with the $3995 Performance Pack -- Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, limited-slip differential, six-piston front calipers, enhanced chassis and additional front-end bracing, the Mustang GT could blaze to a manufacturer’s estimated sub-four second 0-60 time and 11.9-second quarter. My test ride was not equipped with that option, and I still dashed from zero to 60mph in 4.7 seconds during a 13.3-second quarter-mile. On the highway, you have ground-hugging stickiness, cornering confidence -- though the electric power steering system lagged a bit -- and quick and precise shifts from the 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Mustang GT is rated 16/25/19 (automatic transmission) and 15/25/18 (manual transmission), and I averaged 18.2mpg in mixed-use tests.

The 2018 Ford Mustang is available in Fastback and Convertible configurations. The Fastback is available in four trims: EcoBoost® Fastback ($25,680), EcoBoost® Premium Fastback ($30,695), GT Fastback ($35,190) and GT Premium Fastback ($39,190). The Convertible has three trims EcoBoost® Convertible ($31,180); EcoBoost® Premium Convertible ($36,195) and GT Premium Convertible ($44,690). The Shelby GT 350 version starts at $57,240.

My test GT Premium Fastback with the 5.0-liter engine, dual-exhaust tips, leather-trimmed heated and cooled front seats, SYNC®3, heated mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, and selectable drive modes with toggle switches, was bathed in cool Orange Fury paint for an extra $495. I prefer a stick (manual 6-speed for the Pony), but my ride came with a 10-Speed SelectShift® Automatic Transmission for $1,595.

The 401A Premium Plus Package added $2200 for a 12-inch LCD Digital Instrument Cluster with MyColor®, Premier Trim with Color Accent Group, Heated Steering Wheel and Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System. The Ford Safe and Smart Package added $1495 for Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High Beam, BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping System, Memory Driver Seat, Mirrors and Ambient Lighting, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support and Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers. Destination charges of $900 put the sticker-as-tested at $45,875 (and some incentives may be available, so check with your local dealer.)

To check out the new Mustang and a showcase of more than 3000 Ford vehicles spanning more than a century, visit the largest all-Ford event in the world, this year’s Carlisle Ford Nationals at the Carlisle, PA Fairgrounds, June 1-3. And if you like Mustangs, there is a 50-year anniversary of the Bullitt Mustang with the all-new Bullitt Mustang on display; a 50th anniversary Shelby Mustang GT500KR exhibit and a sea of Yellow Mustangs, Black Ponies and Red Mustangs, all lined up along multiple rows from Mustang registries. There will even be a Ford Parade and Street Party with some 400 vehicle on parade Saturday night, June 2, in Downtown Carlisle.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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