2015 was a big year for Ford. It launched two all-new versions of its icons, the F-150 and the Mustang. The F-150 shed over 700 pounds by switching over to an aluminum-intensive construction. Despite an enormous amount of skepticism, the F-150 is still the best-selling vehicle in America, and its competitors will soon be following suit and building their trucks out of the lighter stuff too. As for the Mustang, it was arguably the biggest leap forward for Ford’s pony car since the Fox body cars bowed back in ’79. The solid rear axle was gone, replaced by a fantastic independent suspension. Up front, the 2.3 liter EcoBoost inline four was introduced, proving once and for all that you could have a true American muscle car without a V8 under the hood.
Needless to say, these two created quite a splash — so much so that we barely noticed it was time for a mid-cycle refresh. Ford dropped details on the ’18 F-150 earlier this year; the Mustang, too, has had its turn.
There’s certainly a difference up front, as the hood has been lowered a full 20 millimeters for a sharper, meaner look. But there’s much more to Ford’s new pony car than a new scowling face. From interior and tech to engineering and performance, here are 10 things you need to know about the new Mustang before it hits dealerships later this year.
1. Lots of new sheet metal
Unlike the ’18 F-150 redesign, which kept revisions limited to grille, lights, bumpers, and tailgate, the Mustang is all new from the A pillars forward. There’s a new rear fascia too. The result is a car that looks lower, wider, and meaner than the current ‘Stang.
2. The Mustang has been snakebitten
As the Mustang continues to move away from its retro styling cues of the recent past, the design team took inspiration from a contemporary: the red hot Shelby GT350. There’s a lot of Shelby in the new car’s sloping nose, more aggressive front fascia, hood vents, quad-tipped exhausts, and rear diffuser. And there’s plenty of go to accompany the show: Ford claims that the new GT will got from zero to 60 in under four seconds.
3. It fits in with the rest of the Ford lineup
Shelby visual cues aside, the Mustang’s new LED headlights and daytime running lights sit behind redesigned, kinked glass. If they look familiar to you, that’s because we’ve seen similar designs on the redesigned-for-2017 Fusion, Focus, and Escape. It’s a subtle way of showing common DNA between the Ford lineup without taking away from the Mustang’s muscular looks.
4. Bye Bye, V6
The Mustang’s base engine, the 3.7 liter “Cyclone” V6, has been largely unchanged since 2011 and can trace its roots back to the Cologne V6 of 1962. As of 2017, the Cyclone is no more. Accounting for less than a quarter of sales since 2015, the V6 model will be dropped from the Mustang lineup. With the EcoBoost and GT getting better fuel economy and more power, we can’t say the 6 will be missed much.
5. More power from familiar engines
With the V6 a thing of the past, the 2.3 liter EcoBoost inline-four and 5.0 liter Coyote V8 need to pick up the slack — luckily, they’ve already been doing most of the heavy lifting. Power is now an impressive 460 horsepower, up from 435 in ’17 models. To achieve this, the 5.0 liter has been significantly revised and will see both high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection. This not only improves low-end torque and lets it rev better, but increases fuel efficiency too.
As an option for the V8, there’s the available Active Performance Exhaust, which allows you to hear everything the 5.0 has to offer when you want and go stealthy when you don’t, all at the push of a button. As for the 2.3 EcoBoost, output remains the same at 310 horsepower, but torque has increased from 320 to 350 pound-feet.
6. Transmissions in transition
The biggest powertrain revisions come from the Mustang’s choice of gearboxes. The old six-speed automatic is out, replaced by Ford’s new 10-speed transmission. The new box reportedly accounts for noticeably faster shifting and better fuel economy, regardless of the engine it’s attached to. As for the six-speed manual: That survives, but was reworked to handle the increased torque of the 2.3 liter EcoBoost. For the GT, the trans has been redesigned with a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel to handle the extra torque and improve clutch feel.
7. Suspension revisions galore
We love it when cutting-edge tech from halo cars trickles down to the rest of a lineup, and that’s the case here. For 2018, GT models will be available with the same MagneRide adaptive dampers currently found in the Shelby GT350. With a similar system already offered in the Camaro SS, that’s going to make the next Mustang-Camaro shootout one for the ages.
8. A nicer place to spend time
The Mustang already had a great cockpit, so Ford made a few incremental changes to make a good thing even better. There are a number of new upholstery options, an upgraded leather steering wheel, and some nicely-weighted new switch gear. But the big news is behind the wheel. …
9. The digital revolution is here
In the 2018 Mustang, Ford is introducing its first-ever 12-inch all-digital instrument cluster. For purists, analog gauges will still be standard, but Ford tells us the digital cluster will be as customizable as the car’s drive settings. Paired with Ford’s new Sync3 infotainment system, this Mustang will be the most advanced pony car to ever come from Dearborn.
10 . More options to choose from
For 2018, buyers will be able to choose from no fewer than 12 different wheel designs. As for paint, three new colors are coming (Orange Fury as seen here, Royal Crimson, and the return of Kona Blue) to augment the current palette. Between the engine and transmission combos, suspension, tech, and interior options, the Mustang is harkening back to the mile-long options lists that defined it way back in the ’60s.