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The Ford Mustang has been with us since 1964. It is one of the most recognizable cars on the road. Whether you love or hate the Mustang, you have to credit the team at Ford for reinventing America’s pony car six times, and those are just the major redesigns.
2018 brings us a refreshed version of the sixth-generation car. Automakers will often breathe on a current-model car with a mid-cycle refresh, and for the Mustang, this comes in the way of a slightly revised front end. So why is the media acting as though Ford has killed their baby with a minor nip/tuck job few people will likely even notice?
What’s Been Changed
Ford made a number of changes to the Mustang for 2018, but changes to the car’s front end, despite a negative reaction from media and fans, really are not drastic. The car gets a lower hood that now features some modest vents. Extending past the hood is a revised set of all-LED headlights and a slightly revised chin spoiler. That’s it.
In its 50-plus year lifespan, the Mustang has seen some dark days. Remember the Mustang II? Even the Fox-body cars can only be called distinct at best — handsome isn’t even in the same zip code. The sixth-gen car is one of the best-looking Mustangs ever to grace American roads. Let’s not body-shame it for putting on some different makeup.
Beauty is, after all, only skin-deep. What’s this revised ‘Stang got to show off beyond the superficial? Quite a bit, actually. It gets two updated transmission choices, optional MagneRide shocks for all models, more power and a dynamic exhaust on the flagship GT, and it can even find its own parking spot!
More Than the Sum of Its Parts
The success of Chevrolet’s sixth-generation Camaro, which bowed in 2016, got Ford’s attention. So much so, in fact, that Ford is fast-tracking the 2022 Mustang for a 2020 release. But in the meantime, the existing car is still a very capable platform, and many of the updates people are not focusing on make the 2018 car the best Mustang yet.
Can we talk about horsepower? If Mustang aficionados live up to the hype of their own stereotype, this is a much more important topic than headlights and hood scoops. Thanks to the addition of direct and port injection, the Coyote V8 in the new Mustang GT will certainly deliver more horsepower.
If speculations are correct, that brings the GT’s output to 455 horses. That’s more than a BMW M4 with the performance pack, at half the price. And thanks to Ford’s new dynamic exhaust system, you’ll be able to bask in all of the pops, crackles and snarls God intended that V8 to make. M4 guy has to make do with a sonically enhanced leaf blower.
Those MagneRide shocks are nothing to scoff at either, an American invention even if they were originally a product of GM. For weekend warriors on a budget, an Ecoboost car sporting these dampers and the re-educated 10-speed automatic Ford is now offering on all models could deliver more smiles per gallon than just about anything on the road.
Perhaps a color change would help you warm up to the Mustang’s “pouty face?” Ford has expanded the available hues to 11, including Orange Fury, Royal Crimson and formerly limited-edition Kona blue. New alloy wheel choices are available to complement these finishes as well.
Looking to the Future
Even with efforts to rain on Chevy’s parade with a redesign in full swing, Ford isn’t giving up on the S550 version of the Mustang, and that will move units.
Rental car lots will be disappointed to learn the V6 Mustang has been discontinued, but the fact is no self-respecting Mustang driver was going to admit to driving a six-cylinder car with less power than the turbo four alternative. Plus, Ford can pocket a few more emissions points by eliminating the atmospheric six from the lineup.
As for emissions, there’s even a hybrid option in the works for that 2020 car. A cleanliness-oriented version of the Ecoboost with some instant torque on tap thanks to electric motors? Sounds more attractive than a V6 to me.
Those who think Ford has somehow dropped the ball with this Mustang refresh have succumbed to hysteria. So you’re appalled at the new front end? Great — go buy one of the many, many 2015 and 2016 cars out there and be happy with it. It’s a great car — even the Germans love it!
But don’t whine about a handful of minor cosmetic changes the jury’s still out on when the S550 is still unquestionably a masterclass in Mustang making.
(header image by CarBuzz)