If you checked out our recent first-drive report on the 2018 Mustang (and if you haven’t shame on you), then you know there is a lot more to the latest pony car than a new front fascia. As mid-cycle refreshes go, the 2018 moves the successful S550 forward in a way that the engineers always imagined.
In ’15 there were things we wanted to do that we couldn’t do until now. — Tom Barnes, Ford
“You feel pressure, but the thing is, when you come out with something, we already know a lot of things that we want to do, but you have to cut it off,” Tom Barnes, Mustang Vehicle Engineering Manager, explained. “In ’15 there were things we wanted to do that we couldn’t do until now.”
With that in mind, we had Tom take us on a tour of five hidden gems that make the 2018 Mustang a better vehicle than its predecessor…
5. Driver-Assist Tech
While it might not be sexy it could save you and your Mustang from damage. Those of us that love our pony cars certainly don’t want to crash. The arrival of a host of driver-assist technologies should help keep the latest Mustang out of harm’s way. That tech includes Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection including Distance Indication and Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping System, and Driver Alert System. These protocols can take over to save you from a potential collision.
“I think it’s a great thing to have and the reason I do is it will absolutely stop people from hitting other people in the back end,” Tom said.
4. Steering Wheel
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make all the difference. The new, grippy leather covering and more robust padding on the 2018 Mustang steering wheel combine for something you will appreciate every time you drive.
“We changed the steering wheel leather. If you go find your outgoing car and you get in this car you are going to be impressed,” Tom said. “This is more like glove leather. It’s comfortable. It feels good. It gives a little. It’s like a glove.”
We noticed the wheel right away on our drive and it definitely made the driving experience more comfortable and tactile.
While many were skeptical about the latest Mustang’s styling, the acceptance rate seems to be hastening as the cars hit the street and the modding circuit at the SEMA show. Whatever your thoughts on the styling, Tom is a huge fan of the grilles because of their form and function.
“The upper grilles are the best grilles we have ever had,” Tom explained. “They have a painted finish. They are open and the sealing of the radiator improves the cooling by the design. Aside from that, I think it looks fantastic.”
2. Pony Button
With so many customizable features available, especially when you throw in the 12-inch digital dash, it might seem daunting to drill down through all the menus to make the car yours. That’s why there’s a shortcut and it’s a button on the steering wheel emblazoned with a running horse. Push it and you can start making the 2018 Mustang your own.
“The idea is that this button gives you entrance to things that are special on this Mustang, like the Active exhaust or the setup of the digital cluster,” Tom enthused.
1. Suspension Updates
Though we mentioned it in our drive story, one of the biggest hidden improvements on the latest Mustang is an across-the-board upgrade. The engineers brought some of the subtle upgrades found only on the last generation of the Performance Pack and brought them to the full Mustang line. So, even if you buy a base EcoBoost manual, you still get these suspension goodies.
“The Performance Packs in ’15 had cross-axis joints in the rear. They had monotube shocks. We brought those things into the base car in ’18,” Tom said. “Putting the monotube shocks, the grippy sway bar, and the cross-axis joints on all the non-Performance Pack cars actually really helped them have better ride, but also better control. In reality, anyone who has that is going to like it, even if they don’t know it. So, all the cars got better.”
If you are really into the latest Mustang, you might be well aware of these upgrades, but if you were just caught up in the sexy stuff like the Gen 3 Coyote or the 10-speed automatic, these changes show just how much Team Mustang worked to make the 2018 a worthy successor to the popular 2015-2017 Mustang.