2018 Ford Mustang: Not Just a Muscle Car Anymore

2018 Ford Mustang: Not Just a Muscle Car Anymore

The 2018 Ford Mustang is the recipient of a very comprehensive refresh, an arguably necessary one given the recent developments from its two main competitors: the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger.

Related: 2018 Ford Mustang First Drive: Ready to Pony Up?

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Both the Camaro and Challenger saw new high-performance variants debut in the past couple of years, with the 2017 Camaro ZL1 and 2018 Challenger SRT Demon each raising the bar in its own way. The Mustang updates don't include a new halo version of the car, but rather a significant update to its regular models, including both the EcoBoost (pictured above) and the GT.

Our gallery subject is a 2018 Mustang EcoBoost Premium fastback (aka coupe) in Lightning Blue paint, enhanced visually with the EcoBoost Performance Package. That package adds the rear wing; 19-inch, low-gloss black wheels; and 255/40R19 summer tires on the outside. That's in addition to numerous mechanical improvements, including a limited-slip rear axle, heavy-duty front springs, larger brake rotors and an upsized rear sway bar.

Speaking of mechanical improvements, the Mustang gets a few of those across the board, including a newly available 10-speed automatic transmission, more horsepower and torque from both Used Engine , and a MagneRide adaptive damping system (only available with the Performance Package already added). The Mustang that I tested came with both the new transmission and suspension, and I'm happy to report that both are stellar. With the car flipped into its most aggressive settings (Track mode), the Mustang turns into an agile, sharpened instrument with tight turn-in and excellent balance.

Inside, the biggest update is an available 12.4-inch, all-digital instrument cluster that changes its appearance based on the current drive mode. The driver can also choose different interior colors for the gauges and dials, including those on the dash, as well.

We'll get more into the Mustang's performance specifics in our forthcoming review, but I can say that I enjoyed driving the new Mustang much more than I anticipated. It's not just a muscle car anymore, but a true sports car.

Only one part of the Mustang EcoBoost I tested gave me real pause: the price. In addition to the Performance Package, the Mustang also added an Enhanced Security Package, Safe and Smart Package, the MagneRide adaptive damping system and Equipment Group 201A. The cost of adding all of those options packages and features, good as they were, drives the sticker all the way up to $41,375 (including a destination charge).

That's one pricey pony car.

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