The refreshed 2018 Ford Mustang GT gets a lot of upgrades, from a new 10-speed transmission to a new customizable instrument cluster to 25 more ponies. But $52,000 is a lot of money for a lot of muscle car.
A similarly equipped special edition Hot Wheels Camaro with a 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 we recently tested cracked $50,000. Then there’s all the iterations of the V-8 available in the Dodge Challenger, from the 485-horsepower 5.7-liter to the 840-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged hound from hell. The Challengers are similarly priced.
The extra cost on the Mustang is not for the endangered V-8 engine alone; that beating heart of American muscle power starts at a reasonable $39,000. It is the cutting-edge extras that set it apart from its older muscle car bros.
The revised Coyote engine in the 2018 Mustang GT puts out 460 horsepower, up 25. Despite a bump of 20 pound-feet of torque, the Mustang’s 420 pound-feet falls short of the 455 in the Camaro.
Specs don’t tell the story, unless you’re into marketing or measuring muscles.
There is a feral element baked into the Mustang name — this pony needs taming. Hammer the throttle from a stop and the rear wheels kick up all kinds of spin out of those grippy PS4 tires (part of the $3,995 performance package). Keep the reins straight from a dead stop or end up as another YouTube cars and coffee crasher.
Together with the new quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, the Mustang GT can hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds, according to Ford and multiple magazines. That’s nearly half a second quicker than the outgoing Mustang, quicker than the Camaro 1LE by two-tenths of a second, and quicker than some sports cars that are twice as expensive.
From normal mode to sport-plus mode, the suspension and steering tightens on the fly, so you can come off a highway cruise into a twisty back road without pause. It’ll tuck into and out of turns harder, but you’ll also feel bumps and road imperfections more. The MagneRide damping system ($1,695) is an adaptive suspension that is nothing new, as it was first offered in a Mustang GT350 in 2015. Despite the mechanical wizardry, the Hot Wheels Camaro we tested two months ago felt a bit more planted. Mustang is jumpier, twitchier, more youthful than the Camaro. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on your style.
Mustang V-8 roars wilder and hungrier than the Camaro, but there is a quiet setting (one of four settings in the active valve performance exhaust for $895) so you don’t feel like a jerk sneaking in at night or dropping the kids at school.
Once removed from domestic duties, the revised Mustang is ready to howl.
The 10-speed automatic ($1,595) is impressively quick and efficient. We get that people prefer automatics, but a 5.0 feels more natural with a six-speed manual.
On the inside, the Mustang is wholly more civilized.
The steering wheel is busy with controls for advanced driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control (part of $1,495 Smart & Safe package) and to manipulate the excellent customizable 12-inch instrument cluster. It doesn’t have Chevy’s performance data recorder, but there are plenty of track apps to play with. In sport-plus and track mode, the RPM gauge unfurls into a redline band along the top of the display. Fun stuff.
Ford has made the Mustang GT much more convenient and comfortable as an everyday driver. It is also more advanced than the competition. That makes it worth the price for a track-ready muscle car.