53 years ago, the Ford Mustang burst onto the scene and changed the game forever. It wasn’t the first muscle car ever built, but it did birth the term “pony car,” which went on to describe such classics as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, and Plymouth Barracuda. If Ford stopped making the Mustang today, its place in history would be cemented.
Thankfully, the iconic ‘Stang is still going strong. A revamped 2018 model is due out later this year, and even though it’s technically a mid-cycle refresh and not a new generation, there’s plenty to digest. From horsepower to headlights, here’s everything we know about the 2018 Ford Mustang.
Design: A polarizing pony
Ford debuted the 2018 Mustang and 2018 Mustang Convertible online following the leak of a promotional video on YouTube. Thus far, the design has proved quite polarizing.
The update brings new sheet metal from the A-pillar forward. The headlights are smaller than the current offerings, and they each get three short strips of LED daytime running lights. It’s a modern interpretation of one of the original Mustang’s defining styling cues that cleverly provides the 2018 model with a new lighting signature. A redesigned bumper and horizontal turn signals round out the updates up front, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t say that the current model looks, well, meaner. Maybe it’ll grow on us. Out back, the Mustang gets a redesigned rear fascia with standard quad-tip exhaust. Add three new paint finishes and 12 wheel choices, and you have the sum total of the exterior adjustments.
Inside, the vehicle gets a new dashboard fitted with a digital instrument cluster. The revamped Mustang is actually the first Ford product to get one, but for more on the car’s interior gadgetry, scroll down to this roundup’s Technology section.
Performance: More power, more gears
Modern Mustangs are more civilized and refined than they’ve ever been, but the vehicle is still a sports car at heart. In fact, the 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350R won the Performance category of our Car Awards last year, beating a Lamborghini Huracan and a Mercedes-AMG GT S on track day to do so. Moving forward, Ford doesn’t seem to be slowing down a bit.
Ford is dropping the V6 entirely for the 2018 model year, leaving buyers with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and a 5.0-liter V8. The automaker hasn’t divulged specifications for either yet, but the brand says the EcoBoost gets more torque and the V8 has been “thoroughly reworked” to make more power and rev higher. Currently, it makes 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of twist, while the four-pot spits out 310 hp and 320 lb-ft.
The car’s six-speed manual has been upgraded for better torque delivery all around, but on the automatic side, there’s a newcomer. The six-speed slushbox is gone for 2018 and in its place slots a new 10-speed for both engines, one that Ford calls the “best automatic Mustang has ever offered.” It’s quicker, more responsive, and more efficient than its predecessor, and the vehicle’s new electronic control system can alter its character with a variety of drive modes. These modes can also tailor the car’s soundtrack, because the refreshed ‘Stang offers active exhaust valves for increased auditory control. To bark or not to bark, that is the question.
In addition to more straight line speed, the revamped Mustang borrows the MagneRide adaptive suspension setup from the GT350R as part of the optional Mustang Performance Package. We were enthralled by the GT350R’s handling prowess on a track, so we can’t wait to see what trickles down to the GT and base model.
Specialty models: GT500 and Mach 1
There are more niche Mustangs on the market than you can shake a shifter at, and for 2018, that doesn’t appear to be changing. As we reported late last year, a new Shelby GT500 is in the works and it has the 707-hp Dodge Hellcat in its sights.
The rumor is the 2018 GT500 will boast as much as 740 hp from a new 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8, all of which will be channeled to the rear wheels through an unconfirmed transmission. The GT500 is also set to benefit from Ford’s recent investments in lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. In addition, Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires will help drivers make the most of the eight-cylinder’s prodigious amount of power. The car will undoubtedly look like a petrol-fueled demon on four wheels (we mean that in the most respectful way), and hopefully we’ll get to see it during the 2017 auto show season.
That’s not all though, because a brand new Mustang Mach 1 is heavily rumored for 2018 as well. Not seen since 2004, the Mach 1 Mustang is known for over-the-top styling and huge performance gains compared to the GT. The previous generation included variants that brought back classic badges like the Boss 302. What will the new one have in store? We can’t wait to find out.
Technology: The smartest ‘Stang ever
The Mustang is a performance-first machine, but Ford has packed more high-tech features into the pony car than ever before. That’s a pretty standard automaker line to be honest, but this time, it’s actually true. The 2018 model is the first Mustang ever to feature driver-assist technology like pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, a lane-departure warning system, and lane-keeping assist. Owners can also use a dedicated smartphone application called FordPass to start, lock, unlock, and locate their car.
And as we hinted at earlier, the Mustang gets Ford’s first all-digital 12.0-inch instrument cluster in front of the driver. The LCD unit offers three separate themes that are fully configurable, mirroring the normal, sport, and track driving modes. Drivers can also save their favorite suspension and steering preferences, bringing this long-standing muscle car into the 21st century.
Release date and price: Fall 2017
According to Ford, the 2018 Mustang will go on sale in the third quarter on 2017. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet, but for reference, the 2017 EcoBoost Mustang starts at $26,195 while the GT starts at $33,195. We’ll be updating this page when the official MSRP is released, so make sure to check back.