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2018 Ford Mustang Reveals More Than Just a Controversial Face

2018 Ford Mustang

After luring journalists away from last week’s Detroit auto show for a sneak peak, Ford is ready to show the world its new 2018 Mustang.

That face. Online backlash was moderate to severe when leaked b-roll footage of the new ‘Stang appeared online last night, with some wags claiming the updated model must be unhappy. Beneath the downturned face, however, there’s a host of upgrades designed to satisfy performance-minded enthusiasts.

On that front, ‘Stang purists can breathe a sigh of relief. The 5.0-liter Coyote V8, rumored to be replaced by a 4.8-liter unit, won’t disappear after all. But one long-running engine choice had to skip this party to attend its own funeral.

2018 ford mustang

Okay, we’ll get to the looks later.

As we reported recently, the 3.7-liter V6 has vanished from the 2018 Mustang’s order list, leaving only four- and eight-cylinder powerplants under the hood. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder emerges as the base engine, newly energized with overboost technology designed to push torque past the existing 320 lb-ft during full-throttle acceleration.

There’s a lot more happening inside Ford’s reworked 5.0-liter V8, which adopts port and direct fuel injection for optimum performance at all engine speeds. Horsepower, torque and fuel economy should see significant improvements, though Ford isn’t saying how significant. Leave ’em wanting more, and all that.

The EcoBoost model gains an optional 10-speed automatic jointly developed by Ford and GM, replacing the previous six-speed. Expect that base engine/10-speed combination to boast attractive gas mileage numbers. The same automatic will be available on the high-torque engine it was designed for, joined by a redesigned six-speed manual boasting a twin-disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel.

Ford says the automatic, which comes with paddle shifters, contains custom tunes for different drive modes.

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Because the automaker wants each driver to tailor the Mustang to his or her driving preferences, the 2018 Mustang is more configurable than before. An active valve exhaust system gives drivers the ability to literally pump up the volume of their exhaust note, as well as turn it down in polite neighborhoods. MagneRide damping is available to Performance Package buyers, and your favorite suspension settings can be accessed via the Mustang MyMode system’s memory function. Drivers can also alter steering stiffness through the same feature.

Underneath, all Mustangs benefit from upgraded shocks and stabilizer bars, as well as a cross-axis joint in the rear suspension to keep those back wheels firmly in line.

Safety usually comes somewhere after “Number One” on a Mustang buyer’s list of must-haves, but Ford let 2018 models have it nonetheless. The healthy dose of driver safety aids available on the 2018 ‘Stang include Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and Ford’s Driver Alert System. Who wouldn’t be alert in this thing?

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Now, for that face. Ford claims it looks meaner and more athletic, though some would say it just looks frowny. I’d argue there’s a taste of Jaguar XKR in the new look. Regardless of what you see in the face, the automaker claims the redesigned prow increases airflow to the engine and, thanks to a hood that’s eight-tenths of an inch lower, improves aerodynamics.

In a move that could please the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, all of the 2018 Mustang’s lamps go LED, while the taillights see a mild tweak. Ford designers carefully added a new bumper to the rear — something few will notice — and added quad tailpipes to the V8 model, bolstering the vehicle’s visual athleticism. A new spoiler rises well above the lip, causing this author to worry about a return to a troubling trend from yesteryear.

Ford decided to shake up the model’s color choices, too. In a paint salvo fired at GM and FCA, “Orange Fury” joins the roster for 2018.

Love it or not, the new Mustang goes on sale this fall.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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