A Pony No More: The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium

Rear tire smoking of 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium
The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium.
Fifty-four years ago today, on April 17, 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang.  From that point on, it and its eventual competitors (Plymouth Barracuda, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, Dodge Challenger) were known as pony cars.  They were all sporty compacts, not outright performance or muscle cars.

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium changes all that.  What we have here is a budget-priced, four-seat Corvette competitor.

I can hear the purists howling already.  But let's look at some facts:

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium
2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium.
The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium packs 25 more horsepower than the last Mustang GT we drove (the 2016 California Special)...ratcheting the output from the 5.0-liter V8 to a whopping 460 horsepower.  If that number sounds familiar, it is exactly what the 2018 Corvette Stingray gets from its 6.2-liter V8.

Yes, the Corvette is about 300 pounds lighter and has 45 more pounds per foot of torque, but for the everyday driver, the differences in actual performance are very small.  Zero to 60 in the Corvette is 3.7 seconds.  In the Mustang, it's 3.9.  Unless you're racing, you're not going to feel it. The big difference is in the price.  The least-expensive Corvette, the Stingray LT1, starts at $56.590.  The Mustang GT Premium?  $39,095.

Interior view of 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium
2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium interior.
That a-hair-under-forty-thousand base price buys a remarkable list of standard equipment (automatic on/off LED headlamps; LED fog lamps, hood vent, manual folding power heated rearview mirrors with embedded turn signals; Pony projection lamps that shine the Mustang logo onto the pavement by the doors at night; quad-tip dual exhaust; LED sequential rear turn signals; intermittent wipers; ambient lighting; auto-dimming rearview mirror; dual illuminated vanity mirrors; dual-zone automatic climate control; leather-trimmed seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls; power locks and windows; two 12v power outlets; two USB ports; a split-folding rear seat; a tilt/telescoping steering column; an AM/FM single CD audio system, electronic power assist steering; engine oil cooler; independent rear suspension; intelligent access with pushbutton start; limited-slip rear axle; rear-view camera; reverse-sensing system; selectable drive modes; SYNC with an eight-inch screen, track apps, and a universal garage door opener).

And, new for 2018, there's this:

12-inch digital instrument cluster in 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium
2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium 12-inch digital instrument cluster.
That is the 12-inch digital instrument cluster.  Configurable to the drive mode of the car as well as to what information you want to see.  Cleverness points go to the Ford media people, who made sure the odometer in this picture reads "1964.5".  The first Mustang is considered a 1964 1/2 model.   Nice to see people sweat the details.

This sort of electronic configurability is the new normal.  Not only can you select drive modes, affecting shift points and suspension firmness, but you can adjust the exhaust note of the 2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium.  "Normal" sounds positively fearsome, and it just escalates from there.

Our tester had extra-cost options:

  • Equipment Group 401A (Premier trim with accent group): $2,200.
  • Enhanced security package: $395.
  • 19-inch polished aluminum wheels: $1,095.
  • Safe & Smart package: $1,495.
  • Active Valve performance exhaust: $895.
  • Shaker Pro audio system: $895.
With $900 destination and delivery charges, our test car came to $46,970---or $9,620 less than the entry price of the base Corvette Stingray.

You can debate the idea all you want.  Feel free to use the comments section to do it.  But on April 17, 1964, the first Ford Mustang was nobody's idea of a Corvette competitor.  The little pony has grown up.