2018 Ford Mustang: Less is more with EcoBoost model

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Like other automotive icons, the Ford Mustang is unmistakable. Its long hood, short rear deck, pony badge, overall styling and unique debut by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on April 17, 1964, have all added to the sports car’s legacy.

The Mustang’s current generation debuted in 2015. The showcase model for 2018 is the direct-injected, 5.0-liter V8 with 460 horsepower. It defines automotive testosterone for the masses and is the most powerful Mustang to date.

The 2018 Ford Mustang has been restyled for 2018 and is available with the engines and in multiple trims
The 2018 Ford Mustang has been restyled for and is available with engines and in multiple trims. Images © James Raia/2018.

But what if you don’t need all that power and the corresponding constant growl of the big beast?

The alternative is the base model 2.3-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder, Ecoboost coupe with 310 horsepower and a 10-speed automatic transmission. With the same interior and exterior makeover as its stablemate, the less powerful Mustang is still an attention-grabber.

But a base model the EcoBoost isn’t. The standard equipment list is long and varied: keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 4.2-inch center display screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports and a six-speaker sound system.

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

The 2018 Ford Mustang is available in 11 exterior colors, including Triple Yellow.
The 2018 Ford Mustang is available in 11 exterior colors, including Triple Yellow.

The Performance package, available on EcoBoost and GT trims, include different items. The former, included on my review vehicle, features 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, revised cabin trim, power front seats, a nine-speaker audio system and dual-zone automatic climate control. The eight-inch touchscreen includes an intuitive infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 5.0-liter, V8 Mustang is impressive in many ways, notably its 0-60 miles per hour acceleration in 4.0 seconds. But with the power comes a constant gnarly growl. The more restrained EcoBoost model is a second slower as if it makes a difference for the majority of daily drivers. The benefit is a quiet ride at all speeds, complemented by a smooth transition through the gears.

A few disappointments loom. While Mustangs are classified as two-door, four-seat vehicles, the second row is marginally adequate. And while the front seats adjust well, the rear seats aren’t easily accessible; the entry and exit are restricted.

The 2018 Ford Mustang continues the brand's iconic legacy.
The 2018 Ford Mustang continues the brand’s iconic legacy.

Push button starting mechanisms are slick. But the nearly hidden location of the start-stop button on the dash diminishes the convenience.

One small cool feature: a large rendition of the famous Mustang logo illuminates at nightfall below the driver and passenger doors.

Economy isn’t the Mustang’s strongest attribute, but the smaller engine is rated at 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 32 miles per gallon on the freeway. It’s more than 20 percent better than its big brother.

The legacy of Ford Mustang and its long nose and short rear deck continues in 2018.
The legacy of Ford Mustang and its long nose and short rear deck continues in 2018.

Ford offers 11 exterior color options for the Mustang, Orange Fury to Triple Yellow. The former was featured during a recent test week with the V8; the latter was offered in a more recent test of the EcoBoost model.

The Mustang for years was also considered a bargain among sports cars. But it’s no longer true. Increases for 2018 range from $4,000-$9,000, and the change warrants a financial pause.

But if it’s a Mustang you’re seeking, the choices are easily defined. The 5.-0 liter, 460-horsepower Mustang, in its Fury Orange presence, is for those who want to be seen and heard from a distance.

The tempered four-cylinder Mustang, with, let’s say, its the bright yellow exterior and black-rimmed tires, is also uber-visible scooting down the road. But its silence is refreshing and so is its base price, just under $43,00 and about $10,000 less than its boisterous sibling.

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