IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:

The 2018 Mustang boasts a sophisticated platform, a surprisingly robust turbo 4-cylinder engine, a fairly upscale interior, and excellent driving manners, all while retaining the nameplate’s characteristic heritage and charm.

BUT…

Not surprisingly, the back seat is cramped, the V8 is thirsty, and prices rise quickly as those tantalizing options are added.

WORTH NOTING:

For hardcore performance enthusiasts looking for a racetrack-ready machine, Ford offers the Shelby GT350. It has a 526-hp naturally aspirated 5.2 V8 and starts at $55,845.

WHAT IS IT?

The Mustang is Ford’s long-running sporty/performance machine; it’s the car that invented the term “pony car.” It comes as a 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible, each offering a choice of two engines: an “EcoBoost” turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder with 310 hp, or a 5.0-liter V8 with 460 hp. Both engines are available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a new-for-2018 10-speed automatic. A veritable smorgasbord of performance, technology, and personalization options is available, including upgraded “Shaker” audio systems, heavily bolstered Recaro sport seats, park assist, heated power mirrors, ambient interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, 19-inch wheels on performance tires, and Brembo-brand 6-piston front disc brakes.

WHAT’S NEW?

The Mustang sees a significant revamp inside and out for 2018. A styling refresh includes new front and rear fasciae, a lower hood with new hood vents, and LED lights all-around. The chassis has been retuned with new shock absorbers and other updates, and Ford’s MagneRide adaptive suspension is a new option. Inside, interior trim elements have been updated, and a heated steering wheel and customizable 12-inch LCD digital instrument cluster are available.

Other newly available equipment includes lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, an active-valve performance exhaust system for GT models, and Ford’s SYNC Connect system with Ford Pass smartphone-app remote-access capabilities. The 310-hp V6 engine is dropped from the lineup, leaving the EcoBoost 4-cylinder—which now has increased torque—as the base engine. The GT’s 5.0-liter V8 is revamped for more power and better fuel efficiency, gaining 25 more horsepower for a total of 460.

FUEL ECONOMY

Fuel economy ratings for 2018 were not yet available as of this writing. For 2017, the EPA rated the turbo 4-cylinder at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway with manual or automatic, and the V8 at 15/25 with manual and 15/24 with automatic. Choosing the convertible body style or available EcoBoost or GT Performance Packages exacted a fuel-economy penalty of 1-2 mpg. Premium-grade gas is recommended for both engines.

VALUE IN CLASS

The Ford Mustang has an enviable history as one of America’s best-loved vehicles, and the current model does its legendary forebears proud—and not just in terms of good looks and nostalgia. Thanks to its up-to-date design and plethora of cutting-edge technologies, the 2018 Mustang makes a strong case for itself against a broad range of sporty/performance-car competitors. It’s not quite the bargain it once was, but a broad model lineup and lengthy list of options mean that there’s a Mustang to suit a wide variety of purses and preferences.

BASE PRICE RANGE $25,585 – $44,595
BODY STYLES 2-Door Coupe, 2-Door Convertible
AVAILABLE ENGINES Turbocharged 310-HP, 2.3-Liter 4-Cyl.; 460-HP, 5.0-Liter V8
DRIVE WHEELS Rear-Wheel Drive
BUILT IN USA
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 15-30 MPG

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