PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!

Ford’s latest stallion packs an impressive 460-horsepower kick. Road Test Editor Howard Walker takes it for a ride.

PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!Come on, sing it after me: “Mustang Sally, think you better slow your Mustang down”.

Easier said than done. These days it’s kinda tough to slow down Ford’s latest Mustang GT 5.0. Not with a new, uprated 460-horse 5.0-liter V8 under its mile-long hood. Right now, sales of most fun-to-drive coupes are flatter than a Kansas parking lot. But the Mustang bucks the trend and continues to reel-in buyers, young, old and those experiencing mid-life crisis, with its hard-to-resist formula of sexy styling, throaty musclecar performance and terrific value.

It still amazes me that you can drive away in a new ‘18 GT Fastback with that 5.0-liter 460-horse V8 hooked-up to a six-speed stick for just $36,090. That is one pretty big bang for the buck.PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!That and the fact that a ‘starter’ 310-horsepower base Mustang coupe can be had for under $25,000. Of course, when you start checking those option boxes – a $4,000 GT Performance package here, a $1,696 MagneRide damping system there – the final price can soar higher than a SpaceX rocket. The gorgeous Kona Blue GT you see here, with its 10-speed automatic and pretty much every option you can wish for, topped out at $50,770. Which does seem a little on the pricey side.

PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!In case you haven’t driven this Ford lately, the Mustang received a timely nip-and-tuck refresh last year. On the cosmetic side, it got a flatter hood to improve forward visibility, a new honeycomb-pattern grille, new front splitter, all-LED lights front and rear, a new rear fascia with quad-tip exhausts, plus some fresh colors and wheel choices. It’s more of a head-turner than ever.

PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!Inside, to heighten the quality look and feel, there’s upgraded leather, some new seat patterns, and hand stitching around the center console. Plus there’s now the option of a cool, new 12-inch digital LCD gauge cluster supposedly created by ex-video game developers. Which guarantees no one over the age of 15 will be able to use it!

The big news with the GT however was the bump-up in muscle. The beefy 5.0-liter Coyote motor was endowed with an additional 25 ponies and 20 extra pound-feet of torque, along with a rise in redline to 7,400 rpm. The performance boost is pretty significant, with this new GT being able to blast from standstill to 60 mph in under four seconds, according to Ford. I repeat, under four seconds. That’s impressive.

PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!To attain this rapid sprinting, you need to opt for the new-for-2018 10-speed automatic – an extra $1,595 – with its Drag Strip mode for optimal straight-line acceleration. It’s perfect for expressing your inner “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. Me? I’d save the cash and stick with the redesigned six-speed stick. Everything about the new 10-speed auto fitted to my tester seemed to be lacking in urgency. Select ‘Drive’ and it would ponder the command, scratch its head, and ask Siri for advice before engaging. Same with selecting reverse. Which was infuriating when attempting quick parking maneuvers. Same with the paddle shifters. Pull back to kick down a couple of gears for rapid passing, and again the transmission was snail-slow to respond. I kept wanting to feed it Red Bull!

There’s nothing even remotely sluggish however about the way this wild pony giddy-ups. Nail the throttle and off-the-line acceleration is ferocious, accompanied by a soundtrack from the available new active exhaust system that sounds like Kiss on steroids.

PONY EXPRESS: ‘18 MUSTANG GT 5.0!Opt for the Performance package – you’d be crazy not to – and the GT gets super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport rubber on cool-looking 19-inch black rims, plus a limited-slip diff and six-piston front brake calipers. Add-in those MagneRide shocks and you get a car that carves curves like no Mustang has the right to. That said, the electric power-assist steering isn’t my favorite; it feels too heavy for a start, and ultimately lacks turn-in precision and agility. They don’t call this a ‘muscle’ car for nothing.

Overall, however, this is a super-fun car, with huge performance and excitement, bags of head-turning style, seats for four, and all at a great value. The toughest decision you’ll make is whether to go for the Fastback coupe, or drop-top Convertible. I can’t help you there.

For more information about Ford’s hottest Mustangs, please visit https://www.ford.com/cars/mustang/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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