Ford engineers deserve some recognition, because in the 2018 they’ve managed to improve engine outputs while also nudging EPA fuel-economy ratings upward. With each iteration of this pony, it’s as tough a task as, well, getting a lasso around a wild horse.
Credit grille shutters and a new 10-speed automatic transmission— some additional aerodynamic refinement—for helping to make the refreshed not only quicker, according to Ford claims, but also more fuel efficient.
With the V-6 gone for 2018, all of these Ford pony cars have four-cylinder or V8 engines and six-speed manual gearboxes or the new 10-speed auto. Mustang EcoBoost models have a turbocharged 2.3-liter four now making 30 more lb-ft of torque, for ratings of 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. Ford has released estimated numbers that have the EcoBoost Mustang earning 21 mpg in the city with either the manual or automatic transmission—the same as last year—but 2018 models nudging from last year’s 30 mpg highway (manual or automatic) to 31 mpg with the manual and 32 mpg with the automatic.
These numbers would boost the EPA combined rating—all-important for federal —by 1 mpg for all but the manual GT, and to 25 mpg combined for both EcoBoost models. The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ties that rating with its 2.0-liter turbo four but lands at 23 mpg combined with its six-speed manual.
Manual GT (V8) models are unchanged for fuel economy based on these figures, but the new 10-speed graces the automatic with a 1-mpg boost both in the city and highway cycles—to 16/25, or 19 combined with the automatic and 18 combined with the manual. This gain comes even as all GTs see 25 more horsepower and 20 more lb-ft, for 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque altogether, which Ford claims is now good enough for a zero-to-60-mph run in less than four seconds (we a 2016 Mustang GT at 4.3 seconds).
Ford said aerodynamics were an important element in the mileage improvements. Hundreds of hours have been spent on various tweaks, including a lowered nose and larger front splitter, a rocker shield for better underbody airflow. That also includes the hook used by Ford’s corporate storytelling hive: that engineers discovered a different grille design that aided high-speed handling and stability by testing it with a carefully placed piece of duct tape. With the horsepower and fuel-economy numbers at this level, it takes all the tools.