For 2018, the Ford Mustang has been redesigned with a lower hood and grille, and a new front splitter to improve handling and reduce fuel consumption. (Manufacturer photo)

For 2018, the Ford Mustang has been redesigned with a lower hood and grille, and a new front splitter to improve handling and reduce fuel consumption. (Manufacturer photo)

Ford Mustang is still a fantastic beast in 2018

A power boost to the V-8 engine and some tech enhancements make the sports car roar.

The car that inspired the term “pony car” in 1964 is still in the race and galloping better than ever.

For 2018, the Ford Mustang has revised front and rear styling, a power boost for its 5.0-liter V8 engine, retuned suspension, a new 10-speed automatic transmission, and newly available infotainment and driver assistance technology.

There are four trim levels for the 2018 Mustang coupe: EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT and GT Premium. The 2018 Mustang convertible is offered in all but the GT trim.

EcoBoost models have a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine producing 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. That torque rating is an increase of 30 lb-ft over last year’s model.

The V6 Mustang is not in the lineup for 2018.

Engineers went wild with the 5.0-liter V8 for 2018, an effort resulting in 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, creating a more powerful and higher-revving Mustang GT than any before it.

The standard six-speed manual transmission for both engines has been upgraded, and in the case of the V8 has been completely redesigned to accommodate the torque boost.

City/highway/combined fuel economy ratings for the EcoBoost engine are 21/31/25 mpg with a manual transmission and 21/32/25 mpg with an automatic. For the V8 engine, the numbers are 15/25/18 mpg with a manual gearbox and 16/25/19 mpg with an automatic.

My test car was a GT Premium coupe equipped with the new 10-speed automatic transmission and a $3,995 GT Performance Package. Covered in gorgeous Lightning Blue paint complemented by dark 19-inch multispoked wheels and quad exhaust tips, the car was a stunner.

Starting the engine produced another visceral reaction when the monster V8 woke up with a magnificent roar and then settled back into a wonderful rumbling purr. (I have to use lion instead of horse analogies here because whinnying just doesn’t work.)

An $895 optional feature called Active Valve Performance Exhaust lets the driver select between varying levels of exhaust volume, including quiet, normal, sport and track modes. The feature is so enjoyable I’d have named it Active Valve Entertainment Exhaust.

Among the new driver-assist technologies on the 2018 Ford Mustang are a driver alert system, lane keeping, and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection including distance indication and automatic emergency braking.

Other new items available for 2018 include a 12-inch digital LCD instrument cluster, a heated steering wheel, and navigation.

Performance and handling characteristics of the 2018 Ford Mustang GT were what I expected to experience on the limited testing grounds of public roads monitored by dedicated police officers. Acceleration on the highway is exhilarating, and tight twists on the backroads are taken well but not with the same sureness and enthusiasm as some other sporty cars. Mustang’s brakes, however, can’t be beat.

Changes to the passenger cabin are minimal for 2018, which is good for Mustang enthusiasts. It has the classic Mustang understated look, not much stowage space, and a nearly unusable rear seat if you’re thinking about putting passengers back there.

The limited amount of practicality found in the 2018 Ford Mustang will not, and should not, dissuade any car equestrian enchanted by this fantastic ride.

2018 FORD MUSTANG GT PREMIUM COUPE

Base price, including destination charge: $39,995

Price as driven: $52,265

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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