$21,862 - $48,892

2018 Ford Mustang Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.8

The Ford Mustang is refreshed for the 2018 model year, and many of the changes involve the powertrains. The old V6 base engine has been banished from the lineup. Instead, your options are a turbocharged four-cylinder or one of two beefy V8s. All are powerful and quick. The Mustang is more than just a straight-line sprinter, though; it also handles winding roads with ease and provides a smooth, stable ride.

  • "The new Mustang GT is largely the same car as last year but the modifications have made it more refined and potent. Make no mistake, it's still a beast of a muscle car. The added power and slicker-shifting manual transmission make the GT even more fun." -- Autoweek
  • "The 5.0-liter V8 is a gem. It's powerful and remarkably docile." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2.3-liter car's handling limits are a bit less heroic and more approachable than the GT's – it rolls on less aggressive summer rubber – but it ate up the serpentine mountain roads like a polished pro nonetheless." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Mustang EcoBoost models feature a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. These EcoBoost models feel plenty quick and have good acceleration, but they just aren’t as fun to drive as the GT models.

Mustang GT models come with a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. GT models can really move, and they have a few more horsepower and a higher rev limit than the V8-powered Camaro SS, which will surely delight Mustang fans.

A six-speed manual transmission comes standard with either engine, and a new-for-2018 10-speed automatic transmission is available. The manual definitely completes the sports car feeling, but the automatic also makes an excellent pairing with either engine. Also new for 2018 is an optional performance exhaust system.

There are also two high-performance trims. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R each feature a 5.2-liter V8 engine that produces 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The GT350 offers a number of performance upgrades, including a stiffer suspension and larger brakes. The GT350R also only seats two people, and its main purpose is to race on a track rather than drive on the street. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission in GT350 models.

With the base engine and transmission, the Mustang gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those aren’t spectacular ratings for a sports car, but they’re on par with fellow muscle cars like the Camaro and Challenger. Mustang GT models are rated at 15 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, and Shelby GT350 models get 14/21 mpg city/highway.

  • "The manual transmission and V8 engine may be the hottest setup. And it's the one we'd put in our own garage. But you certainly don't need either one to have an excellent Mustang. The upgrades to the Ecoboost combine with the ten-speed to make the base Mustang feel much quicker." -- Autoweek
  • "We also got a chance to flog a base turbocharged 2.3-liter version … kitted out with the Performance package and the 10-speed automatic. It proved to be a fine understudy to the muscled-up GT. Torque is up to 350 lb-ft now, an increase of 30 lb-ft. There's plenty of power underfoot; we expect it to bust out a five-second zero-to-60-mph run, and the harsh resonances this engine used to emit have seemingly been quelled." -- Car and Driver
  • "No such nostalgia for the GT's 5.0-liter Coyote V8, which is both a powerhouse and a sweetheart. Despite being way down on displacement compared to the 6.2-liter LT1 … in the Camaro SS, the Coyote makes more power but a bit less torque: 460 hp and 420 lb-ft are on tap, and it can rev 1,000 rpm higher. It's tractable, pulling hard from down low, but like any great naturally-aspirated V8 things get hair-raising as revs build. This motor loves to rev, and its muscly snarl turns into a modern twin-cam scream as it nears its 7,500 rpm redline – and it's a streetable DOHC V8 that doesn't fall on its face below 3,000. It's the stuff of muscle car dreams." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The Mustang comes standard with rear-wheel drive. The steering is sharp and road grip is excellent – two reasons why the Mustang feels so dynamic on winding roads. It also delivers its incredible nimbleness without sacrificing ride quality.

There are five selectable drive modes (including the new-for-2018 Drag mode) that alter driving dynamics to your liking. You can add the MagneRide damping system, which adjusts to road conditions in real time to provide a smoother ride and better handling. Other performance upgrades, like a stiffer sport suspension, are available as well.

  • "Complementing the suspension is the Mustang's well-sorted steering, which offers a healthy amount of resistance while delivering inputs to the front wheels in a linear and responsive manner. The Brembos are sports-car-proper as well and grab the rotors deliberately and progressively. And the sticky Michelins offer grip for days." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Steering feel is a bit distant, but it dives for the corners with razor-sharp precision and scythes through bends with zero drama. The car was pinned to the road as if pressed into it by the great engineer in the sky, seemingly tethered around the torturously tight turns –which allowed us to pin the throttle aggressively even across pavement heaves. Nor was the firm ride unduly harsh, likely a benefit of the MagneRide dampers – something we've long appreciated in Camaros." -- Car and Driver
  • "As pleasant as the Ecoboost is around town, it just doesn't sound very exotic or special when the revs climb. Still, the roughly $40,000 Performance Pack and Magneride-equipped cars we sampled were balanced, fun and supple over rough roads. Ecoboost Mustangs are about 170 pounds lighter, and most of that weight comes right off the nose. So, these four-cylinder cars feel agile on a winding road. We drive this car as well as the Mustang GT we tested in sport mode most of the time, which never became too stiff or harsh. It's clear the folks retuning the Magneride suspension sweated the details." -- Autoweek

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