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2018 Ford Mustang: Drops V-6, Gains New Tech

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 1/17/2017 GREG FINK
2018 Ford Mustang: Drops V-6, Gains New Tech© GREG FINK 2018 Ford Mustang: Drops V-6, Gains New Tech

Between model years 1987 and 1993, the Ford Mustang could only be had with either a 2.3-liter four-cylinder or a torquey 5.0-liter V-8; a six-cylinder wasn’t on the menu. Now history is poised to repeat itself with the introduction of the 2018 Ford Mustang, which drops the current car’s naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6 and leaves Ford’s updated pony car with only two engine choices: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder and a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter Coyote V-8.

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Of course, today’s Mustang engines are much more powerful than those of 25 years ago. While Ford isn’t ready to talk numbers, the company notes that the 2.3-liter has been updated to incorporate a new overboost function. We expect the revised engine, currently rated at 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, will boast numbers closer to the version found in the Ford Focus RS, which is rated at 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft.

The Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 also has been revised. Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann states that the only truly carryover piece from the current 5.0-liter is the crankshaft. Along with a new fuel-delivery system employing both port and direct injection, the updated V-8 also revs higher than before. A quad-pipe exhaust system replaces the current dual-pipe unit, and, as on its fiercest competitor, the Chevrolet Camaro, there’s an optional variable exhaust system that keeps things quiet at lower rpm but amps up the noise courtesy of valves that open when heavier throttle is applied.

Both 2018 Mustang engines are mated to either an upgraded six-speed manual transmission or a new, optional 10-speed automatic. In the case of the V-8, the manual transmission also incorporates a twin-disc clutch and a dual-mass flywheel. Additionally, all 2018 Mustangs are treated to retuned dampers, new anti-roll bars, and revisions to the rear suspension bushings, while cars equipped with the Performance package gain the GT350’s electronically adjustable magnetorheological dampers, another piece of tech already on the Camaro.

The biggest visual change is for cars equipped with the Performance package, which inherit a gaudy new functional rear wing. Although Ford notes that the Subaru WRX STI–like piece has been thoroughly tested in the wind tunnel, the company will allow Performance package buyers to opt out of the big trunk-mounted picnic table. The rest of the Mustang’s exterior updates are more restrained. Ford says the front fascia cribs styling details from the Ford GT supercar, although we’re still searching for the likeness. Redesigned headlights and taillights use LED technology, while the hood, rear fascia, and trunk appliqué have been lightly retouched. The overall look is less retro but still inherently Mustang.

Inside, the cabin benefits from padded knee bolsters, soft-touch upper door panels, and an optional heated steering wheel. Although the current Mustang’s gauge cluster survives in lower-spec 2018 models, a new 12-inch digital cluster also makes its debut. It offers three viewing modes: Normal, Sport, and Track. Normal largely mimics the look of the analog cluster, Sport elongates the tachometer to put higher revs at the top, and Track mode eliminates the analog speedometer and tachometer, replacing the speedo with a digital readout and the tach with a longitudinal setup at the top of the cluster. Finally, Ford is incorporating the latest automated safety technology into the Mustang, with a pre-collision system that can also detect pedestrians, plus lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

Look for the 2018 Ford Mustang to go on sale this fall. Pricing for the base four-cylinder model is likely to stay close to today’s $27,095 Mustang EcoBoost, while the GT with V-8 should add approximately $500 to $1000 to the base price of today’s $34,095 model.

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that the 2018 Mustang GT’s twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel are sourced from the GT350. Ford has since clarified that the parts are not shared.—Ed.

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