Coupe and convertible Ford Mustang models carry forward.
The Ford Motor Company is eager to transition to electric vehicles, except when it isn’t. The corporation, with several very popular all-gasoline models in the F-150, Bronco, and Mustang, is hedging its bets as the industry transitions. Unlike Stellantis (Dodge Challenger) and General Motors (Chevrolet Camaro), Ford sees a traditional future for the Mustang, at least for one more generation.
At the North American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show) this week, Ford unveiled the 2024 and seventh-generation Mustang. The new model is not based on a utility vehicle platform as was long rumored (and feared) by enthusiasts. Instead, Ford reworked the sixth-generation platform to create a relatively fresh model with familiar engine choices and a look that does not stray far from the current expression.
Segment History and Transition
Ford created the pony car segment when it launched Mustang on April 17, 1964. Competing brands eventually followed, filling out the first-generation of muscle cars. Fast forward to a new century and two competitors returned with new models. Sales have certainly not matched the earlier numbers, but we’ve enjoyed watching the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro duke it out.
But 2023 is the last year for the Challenger, while the Camaro will live on through 2024. Once the smoke clears, only the Mustang will be left standing, with several years of production likely before Ford sunsets the seventh generation. That’s a fitting end to a segment, even if manufacturers promise electric replacements. Some of the names may carry forward, but let’s not kid ourselves: the roar of an engine, the manual shift of a transmission, and the feel of it all will never be the same.
Introducing the 2024 Ford Mustang
Ford wisely left what has worked well alone in crafting the upcoming Mustang. Earlier reports hinted that the new Mustang would share its platform with the Ford Explorer, a rear-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle with available all-wheel drive. That speculation spun additional theories, including all-wheel drive and hybrid variants, the same as the Explorer.
But with the new model’s highly anticipated debut, we have learned that much of what Mustang lovers want carries forward. Indeed, the two engine choices remain – a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (EcoBoost) powers standard Mustang models, while the GT continues with the 5.0-liter V8 (Coyote). The EcoBoost, though, no longer offers a manual transmission as Ford claims the take rate is too small to justify offering one. On the other hand, the Mustang GT gets a 6-speed manual and has an optional 10-speed automatic, the same as the EcoBoost.
The new Mustang sits on a nearly identical 107-inch wheelbase as the current generation, but from there many departures are made.
Sharper Exterior Design
Notably, the canvas is edgier and far more squared than before with tri-bar headlights and a reworked rear lip present that makes the Mustang seem larger than before. Other changes include a horizontal line fixed above the grille, a lowered beltline, and more aggressive rear fenders. Full-length underbody panels improve the aerodynamics, with the Mustang GT featuring a standard rear spoiler.
Inside, the all-new cabin features a pair of large screens. A fully configurable 12.4-inch instrument panel joins with a 13.2-inch touch-screen display in the center stack, with the two connected by a glass panel in the GT. Traditionalists, though, were not forgotten as the instrument panel may be configured to display a conventional look or present a layout familiar to Fox-body models.
Additional interior changes include new materials with fresh fabrics and patterns present. A new cloth seat design, available colored seats belts (including striped patterns), and patterned plastic surfaces are differences of note.
Enhanced Driving Experience
Ford made additional changes to improve the driving experience. For instance, the new Mustang comes with aluminum front lower links, new suspension knuckles, and fresh suspension links, the latter derived from the Shelby GT350. Improved spring rates and shocks should yield an enhanced drive.
The new Mustang also benefits from a new steering rack with a faster ratio, one that Ford claims offers a 20-percent improvement over the current system. Drivers will control the pony’s reins with a modestly thicker, but marginally smaller flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Additional Details to Follow
The days of a sub-$30,000 Ford Mustang are likely over once the new model debuts. Inflation, upgrades, and tight demand may mean that even the standard model won’t be as affordable as we’ve seen. Still, when comparing this model to the Toyota GR Supra and the Nissan Z, the Mustang should remain a relative bargain.
Besides pricing information, Ford did not offer details about power, although the company promises that the EcoBoost and Coyote engines are fully reworked and more powerful than before. That’s fantastic news for fans who look forward to embracing a new Mustang with familiar power choices.
For everyone else, the Mustang begins what we hope is a long farewell tour before electrification rules the market.
Photos courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.