When you review a lot of cars, some weeks are more forgettable than others and some are quite memorable. My tester this week will be a memory that stays with me my entire life. Some of you may be aware, but I now have a book out nationally called Mustang by Design. In this book, I tell the story of Gale Halderman who was the designer of the original Ford Mustang. What does all this shameless self-promotion have to do with this week’s car review? Well, I drove the 2018 Ford Mustang GT. But I drove it to Gale Halderman’s barn, which is now converted to a museum devoted to his career and all things Mustang. And on that day, there was a huge Mustang car show where Gale, my co-author Jim Halderman and myself signed copies of the book for the first time. This was my first ever book signing, and I got to roll up to this event in a Fury Orange, fast-as-hell, Mustang. It made me feel like a rockstar, arriving at my first-ever book signing in such a sweet ride.
At the car show, in a field full of Mustangs (literally 200+ Mustangs were there), my tester stood out. That’s how impressive it was. The Fury Orange paint coat helped, but the growl of that 5.0-liter V8 engine fit right in along with all the other horsepower on display that day.
The refreshed looks for this model year keep the Mustang current, since it is 54 years old. But what I really appreciate about this Mustang is some of the design elements that are a clear tip of the hat to Gale’s original design, the one that launched this iconic pony car. The three tail lights on the back, topped by a sexy spoiler, hold up over the Mustang’s entire design history. The side scoop is still there, which is a Gale Halderman original. But, make no mistake, the 2018 Mustang is thoroughly modern and styled in an aggressive manner.
Earlier this year, I drove the Ecoboosted Mustang. A four-cylinder Mustang seems blasphemous, but it was good and peppy. But, to be a true muscle car you need a V8 and my tester had that muscle car growl through all eight cylinders. And sure the 460 horsepower and 420 lb./ft. of torque are fun and impressive, but what knocked my socks off most was the new 10-speed automatic transmission. Sure, purists will want a manual transmission, but this 10-speed is the best transmission I’ve experienced this year. It flung the shifts around in such a smooth way, I looked down and before I knew it, without even sensing many shifts, I was in ninth gear. And the engine was purring along the entire time. The steering is crisp and responsive, and the braking was confident. The rear-wheel drive performance and squatty ground clearance made it hug the road.
The four-passenger Mustang has a nice interior. It crosses the line from macho, muscle car styling to near luxury like amenities in the front seat. The back seat is cramped with very little legroom, I didn’t even want to have my 16-year old petite daughter sit back there. Up front there’s heated and cooled leather seats and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The new Ford Sync 3 system is drastically better than the previous generation and now integrates perfectly to smart phones with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 12-inch touchscreen is attractive and well placed in the center stack. A 12-speaker sound system is outstanding, but also can over power the beautiful sound of that V8 engine.
The original 1965 Mustang was priced at just over $2,300 with lots of customizable options. Though the price has changed, today’s Mustang is still reasonably priced and certainly has a lot of customizable options as well as a slew of aftermarket parts. My GT had a base price of $39,095, which is an attractive price considering all the power you get. With numerous options my tester’s final price was $50,570.
I’m obligated to always talk about fuel economy. But nobody buys a V8 muscle car with an eye on fuel economy. That being said, the Mustang had an EPA rating of 16 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. Despite my heavy foot, I still went over 20 mpg on average during the week.
After my passion project of Mustang by Design, this iconic pony car has a special place in my heart. But I couldn’t think of a more appropriate or memorable way than arriving at a car show and book signing in this hot, modern and classic car.
2018 Ford Mustang GT
Price/As tested price………………………. $39,095/$50,570
Mileage…………………………………… 16 mpg/city; 25 mpg/hwy
Engine……………………………………… 5.0-liter V8
Horsepower…………………………… 460 hp/420 lbs./ft.
Transmission…………………………… 10-speed automatic
Drive Wheels……………………….. Rear-wheel drive
Final Assembly Point………………………. Flat Rock, Michigan