U.S. Markets closed

2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Quick Spin Review | MagneRide is a must-have

James Riswick

Happy Mustang Day! On April 17, 1964, the original pony car was introduced to the world and phenomena was born. So, in honor of one of the greatest American cars that ever was and continues to be, let's take a quick spin in the latest version, the 2018 Ford Mustang that received a number of key updates this year.

Now, when I first drove the Mustang GT 350, it wasn't the VooDoo engine that stood out. Sure, it's totally rad, but it was actually the latest Shelby's ride that made the biggest impression. What was supposedly the hardest-core Mustang ever sold to the public, and it sopped up garbage pavement like it was tuned by Tempurpedic. Contrast this to the regular Ford Mustang, EcoBoost or GT, with the Performance package that was just too firm and unpleasant in daily driving.

Sure, there was a handling benefit, but with the EcoBoost at least, the car just wasn't enough of a total performance package to warrant that ride. And therefore, warrant buying the car in the first place.
Well, the GT 350's MagneRide Dampening System can now be added as a $1,695 option to the $2,495 EcoBoost Performance package for the 2018 Ford Mustang. However, the two should really be inseparable, because the fancy magnetic dampers radically transform and improve the Mustang. They are quite simply a must-buy.

With them, the 2018 Mustang is just so well-rounded, allowing you to tolerably drive to work on Monday, haul ass on a mountain road on Saturday, and make a day trip with the S.O. on Sunday without them cursing your silly sports car and it's rock-hard, teeth chattering ride. It is with this scenario in mind that pairing the EcoBoost with the Performance package actually makes sense. It's not so much a performance choice, but rather a well-rounded sport coupe with an acceptable trade-off made for fuel economy and a lower cost of entry.

Now, I would personally still get the six-speed manual, but I was pleasantly surprised by the new 10-speed automatic. It's indeed tuned to be performance-minded, especially when you slot the shifter in Sport or toggle through the various sport settings.

Specifically, I'm surprised how often the transmission can stay in 10th, even traveling on hilly terrain, without bogging, droning along at too-low RPM, and being delinquent in its power-delivery duties in the name of fuel economy. It is quite good at downshifting as needed.

Actually, I can't say it does a particularly good job of fuel economy. The engine would certainly seem to be more Boost than Eco. I managed only 24 miles per gallon despite most of my time spent in the 55-60-mph range on rural highways. There were hills to climb, sure, but I also came down them. My foot is not made of lead and I was expecting better.
As for the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, there's certainly no let down around town. It does feel well paired to the car, especially if you view it as a daily driver or something to take road trips in. However, a performance option it still is not. Besides its sound being Exhibit A in the case of automotive cognitive dissonance (Mustang + hot hatch engine growl), there's just not enough oomph there. While pulling out to pass on a two-lane road, I found myself flooring it yet not getting the top-end power I'd want to sufficiently blow the passee's doors off. Though it may be paired well enough in theory, a Mustang should just have more.

And really, I think Ford could offer a V6 EcoBoost between the four and V8. There's so much performance and price distance between them. I'm not sure I'd want to live with the V8's fuel bill every day, but the four-cylinder would leave me wanting for power and I'd forever feel shame for getting a Mustang with half as many cylinders as everyone knows there should be.

"I was raised to believe a Mustang should have a V8. None of that EcoBoost business," pined a Oregon-mandated gas pump attendant without realizing that he was actually talking to someone who, most would assume, had spent $42,000 for that EcoBoost business.

I don't think I'd have the same beef with an EcoBoost V6. Besides achieving what I'd assume would be a performance and fuel economy sweet spot, in terms of perception, it would be just fine. After all, the Raptor and GT have EcoBoost V6 engine. That could make me happily live with having two fewer cylinders than my mother's 1970 notchback – especially since it would almost certainly have a higher output.

So although I still have doubts about the EcoBoost part, count me as a huge fan of the 2018 Mustang with the MagneRide suspension option. Together they create a great GT car, capable of quickly, comfortably, and stylishly ushering you from A to B while still providing enough zing to get your blood pumping. And really, that's what the Mustang has been about from the very beginning.

Related Video: