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Last year, we were offered the opportunity to spec out a 2018 Ford Mustang for a brief long-term test. We were originally scheduled to have the car for just one month, but we asked Ford to kindly extend the loan a little. The car was simply too much fun. We even brought in a second Mustang GT — this one equipped with the six-speed manual — for comparison. There are few better ways to kick off a Michigan spring, even if temperatures were still below freezing when we finally got the keys.
We let you, our Autoblog readers, choose the options for us. You picked a Mustang GT Premium fastback with the GT Performance Pack 1. Our car also came equipped with the new 10-speed automatic that was co-developed with GM. Versions of this same transmission can be found in the Ford F-150 and Chevy Camaro ZL1. Other options included the Orange Fury paint and the same MagneRide suspension that’s on the GT350.
One month was not quite enough with these cars. You can read all about our time with the 2018 Mustang GT as well the rest of our long-term garage right here.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I had never really cared all that much for the Mustang. I always enjoyed driving it, but it was never a car I wanted to own. Having one (well, two) around for an extended stay, though, has changed the way I feel. I care much more deeply for the Mustang now. I really enjoyed my time with it, and am sad to see it leave the Autoblog stable.
That sweet, sweet engine is probably the biggest reason I finally fell in love with the Mustang. As I recently expounded, it is just a fantastic motor. The power delivery is strong and super smooth, and it made my heartbeat rise with the revs. I loved playing with the different drive modes and exploring the deep reserves of power this car offers. Plus, more so than previous generations, this Mustang feels equipped to handle so much power going to the rear wheels. As fun as it is, it’s also less likely to catch one off-guard and ruin their day.
I look forward to my next seat time in a Mustang, and better understand the enormous enthusiasm this car deservedly generates from lucky owners.
Senior Producer Christopher McGraw: As a kid who grew up with a GT350 model next to his bed and Mustang posters on his wall, it is hard for me to find fault in the Mustang. Hard but not impossible. I loved everything about our white long-termer; the manual transmission was a ton of fun, the blackout package made the car look sleeker than ever, and the white paint was crisp and looked good from every angle. Our orange long-termer, fitted with the performance pack, was also fun to drive, though, no surprise here, I enjoyed rowing my own gears in the manual better. Before it arrived, I didn’t think I’d be a fan of the orange. My father owned an Orange 2015 Mustang, and the 2018 color seemed like it would be too mac-and-cheesy for me. Instead, I found I liked the color better than the 2015 model year. The transmission was good, much better than I had expected. That being said, there are cars that have such fantastic transmissions they make me question whether I would even get the manual (the BMW M2’s DCT comes to mind). This is not one of those cars.
For the price, Mustang interiors have always been fine. I just want better than fine. But the same can be said about all American muscle cars, so I doubt I will ever live to see the day I get in a Mustang and wonder if they had Mercedes design the interior.
The exhaust is incredible. When we were shooting our Mustang vs. Camaro video a few years back, the exhaust was one of the things I wanted changed. It was too quiet, even on a racetrack. That can’t be said of the new version. The car sounds fantastic.
Overall, both of our long-termers solidified why the Ford Mustang GT is my favorite of the pony cars, and I’d happily park either of them in my stable.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale:
My experience with the Ford Mustang was not love at first sight, nor at the first corner. There were a lot of things that just didn’t feel right for a sports car as I understood it. The driving position is surprisingly high up. The steering was heavy and not especially quick, lending it a nose-heavy feel (which considering the big double-overhead cam engine, probably was accurate). And everything about it just felt overly big. It looked gorgeous, but I was questioning whether the beauty went any deeper than the curvy sheet metal.
Racking up the miles though, I began to appreciate other aspects of the Mustang. The shifter in the manual transmission model has meaty, positive throws that help make up for a long clutch pedal. The heavy sluggish steering had a remarkable amount of feedback, and there was a certain rewarding feeling when muscling it around corners. And it does actually corner well. There’s hardly any roll, and it grips well. Even the high seating position yielded good visibility that not every car in the Mustang’s small segment can claim.
The interior is also mostly attractive, and touches such as the customizable interior lighting and toggle switches are nice. The digital instrument panel is seriously impressive, too. It’s easily the best one this side of Audi. Man, though, Ford, you’ve gotta get rid of those fake molded-in stitches. This isn’t 1971, that stuff doesn’t fly anymore.
The sound of the engine is excellent, and I can’t recommend the adjustable exhaust enough. Whisper quiet when going through your neighborhood, loud as a bomb when you want to show off.
So overall, the Mustang is a really good sports car, but one with some rough edges. And some of those rough edges, like the heavy steering and loud noise, can be endearing if you’re a fan of classic muscle. I prefer something a bit more along the lines of a light, precise sports car, so the Mustang isn’t for me. But if you want something that straddles the line between muscle and sports cars, this hits the mark.
Associate Editor Reese Counts:
The 2015 Mustang was good, but it wasn’t quite as sharp or direct as some people hoped. The independent-rear suspension was an improvement, but the Mustang wasn’t quite as balanced as the Chevy Camaro. The steering in particular was a letdown. It was a bit dead on-center and failed to properly translate what the front tires were doing. It wasn’t awful, just not as sharp as I had hoped. Things are better for 2018, especially with models equipped with the GT Performance Pack.
The ’18 isn’t a huge revolution, but it does fix a lot of the ’15’s shortcomings. The steering is sharper, the suspension is better balanced — thanks in part to the MagneRide system — and the extra power from the 5.0-liter V8 can be felt across the rev range. I’m not the biggest fan of the 10-speed, but that’s mostly because the manual is so slick. My biggest issue with the 2018 model is the same one I had a few years back: the Shelby GT350. It’s a lot more special and doesn’t cost that much more than our $52,000 GT.
Senior Editor Alex Kierstein:
The 2018 restyle sure was polarizing, and I’ll admit that in some colors it simply looks dull, but orange is a good one. Bright, bold colors work best, muting some of the more controversial lines and giving it more presence. And really, in my mind that’s the Mustang’s greatest strength. It has a lot of mojo — visually, aurally, and dynamically. From a macro level, it’s the embodiment of the modern pony car ideal. Is it perfect? Not at all, especially since I’ve personally had frustrating and mixed experiences with the 10-speed cars I’ve driven.
I’ll say the improved Coyote cures a lot of ills, and the revised sport exhaust provides a hell of a soundtrack. The automatic, honestly, makes it hard to appreciate some of the Coyote’s finer points — it’s eagerness to rev, its tractability. But lots of folks don’t want or can’t drive a manual, and the Mustang has always been flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of buyer preferences. Same here. Our orange coupe has its own character, a comfortable and great-handling car that isn’t a bear in traffic. Many of us wished it was a manual, and I think the automatic is probably better suited for a non-performance pack setup. But it has presence, and with the transmission, the flexibility to just sit back and enjoy the thing.
We’re saying goodbye to this one wondering if it’s a car we’d put in our garage. Of course, my answer is, “not exactly — not in this spec,” but the fundamental greatness of the ’18 GT overall shines through. It brings attitude and backs it up with snarl, grunt, and handling, at a significant price. It’s endearing and exhilarating, but you can and should make it your way. That’s always been the Mustang’s greatest strength, and this is no exception.
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