Preview: 2018 Ford Mustang

 

Detroit, MI – The Mustang still seems fresh off its 2015 redesign, but it will pony up more power, technology and style, while offing its base V6 engine for the 2018 Ford Mustang coming this fall.

“If it doesn’t look good, it’s not going to sell.”

The most surprising aspect is that the still-fresh Mustang will receive a noticeable tweaking of its nose and tail. Mustang design director Melvin Betancourt says that style is by far the key purchase reason for the iconic Mustang, ever since it was originally launched – creating a sales sensation, as well as a slate of rivals – in 1965.

“If it doesn’t look good, it’s not going to sell,” said Betancourt, at an advance preview of the refreshed ’18 Mustang at Ford’s Dearborn design studio.

The first Mustang he worked on was the 1999 model, and though he moved in and out of Detroit over the years, he also worked on the 2005, 2012–2013 Boss Mustangs, various aftermarket-focused SEMA Mustang concepts, as well as the 2015 and now 2018 version as design director.

As a Mustang enthusiast and current GT350 owner, Betancourt’s one of many aficionados on the Mustang team, as well as at the company itself. Plus, it’s apparently the “most popular” car on Facebook, with 8.4 million Likes on its page, according to Mark Schaller, the Mustang’s US marketing manager.

It’s not only the car’s longevity that has made it popular: Schaller notes the Mustang has been featured in over 3,000 movies and TV shows. That’s not counting the long line of music videos it’s in, either, with Aerosmith’s Crazy, Nelly’s Just a Dream, Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend, and Armin van Buuren’s This is What It Feels Like, among many others.

The Mustang’s sharpened front end features standard LEDs on all models, a lower hood line, and more vertical instead of horizontal lines in the grille, as well as new hood vent locations. Out back, there are now futuristic-looking LED tail lamps, and two exhaust outlets on every Mustang: two tips on the four, quad tips on GT V8 models.

So what’s under the hood now?

Ford is still keeping exact power figures to itself for now, but promises more horsepower and torque for the revised 5.0L V8, and more torque for the breathed-upon 2.3L four.

But the more traditional V8 will offer a new and very advanced engine note: an active exhaust system can be adjusted for the car’s addictive V8 bellow to become louder or quieter. So it’s no longer just a choice between “Sport”, “Comfort” or “Sport+” modes, but multiple levels of aggression that can be set and stored, or quickly adjusted for a late-night arrival.

Ford officials say it’s a first in its class, with only a handful of expensive performance coupes offering similar systems.

The company also promises better acceleration in both four-cylinder and V8 Mustangs, though again with no specifics. But takeoff will be helped in both by a new 10-speed automatic, with new lower gears and a taller overdrives for better fuel economy.

Handling-wise, all Mustangs receive new shocks and suspension tweaks. The big news, however, is a new MagneRide suspension now available on the Shelby GT350, finally catching up to the Camaro’s advanced suspension hardware that became available in powerhouse ZL1 models in 2012, and Camaro SS models in 2016.

Considering the pricy Ferraris, Audis and Cadillacs that also offer MagneRide, that’s some real high-end trickle-down performance technology making it to mainstream muscle cars these days.

Programmable tach and shift light brings wow factor inside

The Mustang’s new laser-sharp 12-inch LCD screen that replaces the traditional gauges adds visual flair to the cockpit. The tach can be reconfigured to be a highly visible straight line that stretches from left to right high up in the binnacle in front of the driver.

If that’s not visible enough, revised Track apps allow you to program in an actual shift light, or a drag-style tree that’s much larger than the one offered in the current ’Stang.

This is exactly the type of performance-infused fun Mustang owners love.

Ford has also increased active safety technology with pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, along with more common technologies such as lane-departure warning/assist and distance-alert systems. Plus, the Mustang can now connect to a Ford app that allows you to remotely start, lock/unlock and locate your car in a parking lot.

The current base Mustang with the 3.7L V6 starts at $26,898, while the slightly better equipped EcoBoost 2.3L four starts at $29,898. While Ford of Canada has yet to announce pricing details, this new pony car will likely start between those figures, and given the extensive and high-tech changes, likely closer to that $30k mark.

Pony up: in power, style, tech and (likely) price 1/17/2017 11:00:00 AM