2018 Ford Mustang Ecoboost review with video

The basics:

Base price: $29,535 + tax
As tested: $51,238 + tax
Average fuel economy over a week: 11.6 L/100 kms (20 US MPG)
Competition: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, BMW M2, etc.

With Devon away this week, I’ve planned things out for Roger and me to have some fun in a sports car! And we’re doing it in a titan in the muscle car world, the Ford Mustang. The last time we were in a Mustang was when this car got a total redesign in 2015. We were in the loud, meaty GT V8  – and it was utterly addictive. Well, the Mustang has had a refresh for 2018 – and there are some significant changes that go well beyond a minor face lift. There’s now a 10 speed automatic transmission available, that’s been pulled out of Ford’s truck line-up. And gone is the base V6 engine. Instead, base trims now get the 2.3 Litre EcoBoost like we’re testing this week. I’m really curious if this engine will offer up the grins and the bench strength, things that are prerequisites for a true muscle car. Take a look at our video for the full review or our bullet point report car below.

– I want to get right to this EcoBoost business because, I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But whatever voodoo magic car companies are doing these days to get this much power and fun out of a 4-cylinder is unreal. Turbo lag is really minimal, somehow it still manages to have a nice, throaty engine note, and it’s still really eager
– Now, let’s be honest, is nowhere near the madness of the 460 horsepower V8 that you get in the GT. It doesn’t sound anywhere near as nasty either. But it’s also way more of a fuel sipper. Ford suggests you could get your economy down to 9.4 L/100 kms (that’s 25 US MPG) with a mix of city and highway driving… that’s like a 30% improvement over the GT. But, as is the case with these pint-sized turbos, you have to take these fuel consumption numbers with a grain of salt (see cons)
– But what I like about the EcoBoost is that you could own it as a daily driver, see some really good efficiency numbers when you’re behaving yourself. Then flip the drive mode select function over to Sport+ or Track mode, and suddenly it’s got a totally different character
– So yeah, I like this engine. And in our tester, it ties into a delightfully engaging, mechanical-feeling, short throw 6 speed manual gearbox. Shifting through the gears on this transmission is so natural, you don’t even really notice you’re doing it. And I would highly recommend that you opt for this transmission if you just love feeling connected to your car
– But if stick shifts just aren’t your thing, you can spend an extra $1500 and get the new 10 speed automatic. And if you’re into off-the-line performance, throw the Mustang into the new Drag Strip mode, and the 10 speed will get you to 100 kms/hr faster than the stick. In fact, Ford seems pretty proud of themselves that a V8, automatic equipped Mustang can beat a Porsche 911 Carrera to 60 miles per hour, doing it under 4 seconds… and not that far behind, the EcoBoost gets you there under 5 seconds
– And it’s not just a straight-line drag racer anymore either. The Mustang now has independent rear suspension, which makes a huge difference in the way it handles over older generations. Couple that up to something that’s been part of the Mustang DNA since the get-go, its rear wheel drive, and this car pushes you through the corners in a confidence-inspiring way that front wheel drive sports cars just can’t touch
– While I far prefer the hartop Fastback Mustang over the convertible (see below), I will say this: with the soft top down, it sure makes getting Roger into his car seat a lot easier. With the top up, it takes some serious contortions to install a car seat or help a kid get clipped in
– Roger fit pretty well into the back seat in his front facing car seat with a modest amount of legroom left over for a front passenger
– The convertible is still very comfortable with the top down. It’s obviously going to be a bit noisier, but I managed to have a good conversation with a friend on the highway without screaming, all the way up to 120 kms/hr

– When it comes to these small turbocharged engines, if you get aggressive and bury your foot, as you’re bound to do in a Mustang, your fuel consumption will tank and could actually surpass its V8 sibling
– Now you can get into a basic, hardtop Fastback version of the Mustang for $29,535 Canadian. But it is a very basic car. As tested here, for example, we’re at over $51 grand – going convertible like this is a $5,000 option. The premium package brings in leather, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, heated seats, dual zone climate control, etc. But that’s almost an $8,000 bump. The safe and smart package brings in adaptive cruise and blindspot monitoring and that sort of smart tech for $1500. The new magne-ride damping suspension is $2,000. And for $3,000, we have the performance package – with blacked-out 19 inch rims wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tires, a limited slip rear axel, more heavy duty front springs with some more sport oriented chassis tuning, bigger brakes, a bigger radiator and these gauges on the dash monitoring oil pressure and turbo boost. All this to say that, as tested, we’re nearly double the price of a base Mustang. Which is just another example of how Ford’s options can be a dangerous, expensive road to go down
– And I’m still finding, despite all the premium extras that are piled on here, there are spots where the interior feels kind of cheap. Cheap, easy to scratch plastics through the cabin, the faux machined metal dash looks pretty poor and leather that doesn’t feel very high grade
– We’ve had a convertible this week. But Ford Canada tells me they sell far more hardtops. And I think that’s the right call. The Fastback looks better, it’ll be a quieter ride (we’ve averaged a noisy 73 decibels at 100 kms/hr this week in the convertible), the soft top is a fair bit more expensive and you lose over 50 litres of trunk space you’d otherwise have in the fastback. You also can’t flip those second row seats down in the convertible – which would help with carting around longer items from time to time
– I also don’t love the covers you have to manually install on the convertible to keep dust and debris out of the soft top’s inner workings when you have the roof down. The conversion takes just seconds with the push of a button, which is great, but then you have to get out and put these cheesy plastic plates on – which kind of defeats the purpose of a quick, convenient convertible
– So yes, there is a back seat for two people. But if you have a tall driver like me at 6’2 up front, there is literally zero legroom in the second row
– And yes, a rear facing car seat will fit – but again, getting a baby in or out would be a serious chore. And leg room up front would be cramped, measuring 26 inches from the back of the front passenger seat to the glovebox

Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 2/5 (72 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 32.5/50= 65%

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