2018 Ford Mustang GT further defines iconic muscle car

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Nearing the end of its sixth decade, the Ford Mustang is among the few remaining iconic American-made cars. It began as an affordable sporty coupe. For 2018, it’s undergone a refresh to showcase its muscle car masculinity.

The Mustang legacy has endured multiple generations, reconfigurations and engine types. But it still resembles its debuting style, highlighted by a long hood and short rear deck. It was a new look for its time in 1964, and the Mustang’s success helped launch competitors like the AMC Javelin, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Pontiac Firebird and Plymouth Barracuda.

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is handsome, powerful and defines muscle cart.
The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is handsome, powerful and defines muscle car. Images © Bruce Aldrich/2018.

The Mustang’s current generation debuted in 2015, but its makeover is substantial. The new Mustang gets a more aggressive front-end collection, including standard LED headlights and available LED foglights, and a lower hood with new vents.

Ford has also revised the LED taillights and rear fascia and added quad exhaust tips for the GT trim. The new Mustang also gets four spoilers, new stripe options and more wheel choices.

Distance alert, a lane departure warning and pedestrian detection are also included. There’s also a pre-collision assist system that adds automatic emergency parking to the forward collision warning system.

The interior features a new customizable 12-inch digital instrument cluster with Track Apps, a heated leather steering wheel and revised interior trim. Toggle switches control driving modes and add to the car’s coolness.

Although the 2018 edition is available with a turbocharged 2.3-liter base model, the Mustang GT, with a direct injected 5.0-liter V8 with 460 horsepower, my test vehicle, is the showcase.

The Mustang has always personified how a muscle car should look. It’s powerful, handsome, and eye-catching on the open road. This year, with its massive engine and sub-four-second 0-60 miles per hour acceleration, the Mustang can further boast.

With its exterior color of Orange Fury (one of 11 exterior color options), the Mustang is a particularly proud beast of a machine. Its gnarly growl and ebony gloss black-painted 19-inch aluminum wheels further add to its outgoing persona. Mustangs have always attracted attention; Nothing is subtle.

An ever-diminishing selection of cars are available with manual transmissions, but the new Mustang is meant to be driven. It shifts smoothly and advances at its best at highway speeds. The engine growl becomes a purr, but there’s still plenty of power if a quick lane change is needed.

A new 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters is also available, but Ford reports more than half of the buyers to date have opted for the manual transmission. Also new is a quiet start feature so owners can keep on good terms with their neighbors during early morning departures. But the Mustang’s growl is too good to muzzle.

With its upgrades, the 2018 Mustang isn’t a bargain. The base price is slightly more than $39,000. With all option packages included, the sticker is slightly more than $53,000.

Economy isn’t the Mustang’s strongest attribute, with averages of 15 miles per gallon in the city, 25 miles in freeway driving and 18 miles per gallon combined.

A few other shortcomings:

* The Mustang is classified as a four-seater, but the rear seats are best reserved for petite adults or children.

* Entering and exiting is a chore. The front seats adjust well, but getting into rear cabin requires gymnastics abilities.

* The push-button engine start button is oddly positioned on the dash.

Nevertheless, the 2018 Mustang GT ideally defines the muscle car segment. As a final character builder, a large rendition of the famous Mustang logo illuminates at nightfall below the driver and passenger doors. All hail the mighty Mustang.

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