2024 Ford Mustang – An Evolved Pony [UPDATED]

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

2024 ford mustang an evolved pony

DETROIT -- The 2024 Ford Mustang arrives early next summer, but Ford isn’t waiting for next year to take the wraps off.

In an attempt to own the 2022 North American International Auto Show/Detroit Auto Show news cycle, Ford has set up a “stampede” of Mustang owners who are traveling here to the Motor City. That’s ahead of a prime-time unveiling in downtown Detroit.

I should point out, for the sake of context, that as important as the reveal of any new Mustang is, it is not hard for Ford to own the news this year, since there isn’t much else going on. Unless hot-rod Tahoes and special-edition Jeeps tickle your fancy.

(Full disclosure: Ford covered my lodging costs and fed me – and one of those dinners happened to be at the Detroit Tigers game – and allowed me to see the new Mustang up close and personal more than 24 hours before the public could. No airfare, as Detroit is within driving distance of my Chicago home base.)

Ford didn’t change the Mustang’s long hood, short deck swoopy coupe shape but it did give the car new duds. The changes are more on the evolution than the revolution end of the scale – you’ll instantly mark the new car as a Mustang, and you’ll also note that it’s different than the current car thanks to features like new taillights.

It’s an edgier, angular design. Ford claims the roof now allows for easy entry when wearing a helmet during track days. The grille is meant to evoke the first-gen car, and the LED headlights use a tri-bar design that’s recognizably Mustang. The rear overhang is shortened, the rear wheel wells widened, and the rear diffuser re-done. That last is meant to improve aerodynamics.

You have two model choices, based on engine – the 2.3-liter EcoBoost remains, as does the venerable GT, complete with the 5.0-liter Coyote V8. GTs are distinguished by larger, more-aggressive grille openings that increase airflow, new hood vents, and redesigned front splitter.

You can still opt to drop the top – convertibles have one-touch operation and are loosened via a single latch. Ford claims the convertible can handle up to two golf bags.

There are 11 colors to choose from, including a new Vapor Blue color that changes shades under certain lighting and Yellow Splash. You can, of course, add stripes. You can also choose among black, yellow, or Grabber Blue paint jobs for your Brembo brake calipers. Wheels are 17 inches on base cars, and 19 on GTs, with 20s available.

A Bronze Series Design Package is available, and it adds Sinister Bronze alloy wheels and bronze badges. You can get it on either version of the Mustang – including if you also opt for the Performance Pack.

Inside, it’s screen city. Base cars have two separate digital screens that use the Unreal Engine 3D tool from video games for instruments and center-stack infotainment, while upper trims get two screens that are integrated together. Gauges and information in the infotainment screen are customizable, with gauges being set up for situations such as normal driving or track driving, or with a “calm” screen that simplifies information. There’s even a setting that brings up gauges that look like those from the old Fox Bodies of the ‘80s – including the green glow at night.

HVAC controls are now screen-based, but a volume knob remains. The steering wheel is now flat-bottomed, thicker, and has fewer control buttons.

Available features include overhead USB ports for GoPros, wireless device charging, B&O audio, Amazon Alexa live streaming, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Seat belts can be color-coordinated.

Ford was mum on specs, but there is big news for the V8 – it gets a dual-induction air-intake setup. That’s right: Dual throttle bodies and dual air intakes. The six-speed manual transmission remains, as does the available 10-speed automatic. The EcoBoost still uses a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Ford also claims the car will offer more downforce.

Six drive modes are available: Normal, Sport, Track, Slippery, Drag, and a customizable mode. An optional Performance Pack adds a front tower brace, Torsen limited-slip differential, optional MagneRide active suspension, wider wheels and tires, and larger Brembos – sized at 390 MM up front and 355 in the rear. GTs with this pack get brake ducts and an auxiliary engine-oil cooler. Recaros and an active exhaust are optional with this package.

Ford has increased the steering ratio, and GTs with a stick have standard rev-matching.

If drifting is your thing, an available Performance Electronic Parking Brake allows you to drift your ‘Stang, with settings that help the novice drifter learn and the experts compete. You can also rev a running engine via the key fob. Yes, I see you rolling your eyes, you in the back.

Available advanced driving-aid systems include speed-sign recognition, smart adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-centering assist, evasive steer assist, and reverse brake assist. The Performance Pack comes with Ford’s Active Pothole Mitigation system.

UPDATE: Ford surprised us with a Dark Horse version. This track-focused car will have the 5.0-liter V8, 500+ horsepower, an available Handling Package, a standard six-speed manual or an available 10-speed automatic transmission, a transmission oil cooler, NACA brake-cooling ducts, auxiliary engine oil cooler, rear-axle cooler, and a lighter-weight radiator with more powerful cooling fans.

It also gets unique chassis tuning, larger rear sway bars, and heavy-duty front shocks. There will be a strut-tower brace and a K-brace, 19-inch Brembo front brakes with 13.9-inch rotors, a Torsen limited-slip, and Pirelli P Zero tires with width staggered front to rear. The tires are 19 inches.

MagneRide shocks are standard, and the available Handling Package adds a rear wing with a Gurney flap. The car also gets even larger sway bars front and rear, stiffer springs, and Pirelli Trofeo tires. Carbon-fiber wheels are available.

The styling has a more “sinister” look and the cabin gets upgrades appropriate for the car.

We were also told that the GT would have 480+ horsepower.

Further updates with pics coming ASAP.

MORE UPDATES: I have confirmed via Ford PR that the EcoBoost will make around 300 horsepower and be automatic only. Some pics from Ford and the event will be posted below.

TTAC’s Take

Here’s my quick take on the Mustang, with the obvious caveat that I have yet to drive it.

The Good

The drift-assist parking brake sounds corny and cheesy, but I can see it leading to endless fun. I like the customizable screens, they looked good in the mockups we saw. Not to mention that Ford is after my own heart – I once owned a Fox body and seeing those gauges mocked up took me back. The new gauges aren’t dead-on accurate – only the speedo and tach truly look like what the Fox had – but the green glow was cool and it was thoughtful of Ford to include this touch. Perhaps other old Mustang gauges can also be mocked-up digitally?

I also suspect the dual-induction system is going to bring more power to the V8 and make the car sound wicked. I’m glad Ford kept the volume knob and a few other key buttons.

The Bad

I don’t get why the base car screens can’t be fused together like on the upper trims. And while the two screens on the upper trims are technically integrated into each other, they aren’t that well integrated into the dash. I also worry that Ford is trying too hard to chase Millennials and Gen Z when it uses words like “gamification” – never mind that most well-optioned Mustangs, especially GT models, are generally too costly for most younger folks. While pricing hasn’t been announced, the car won’t get cheaper.

Even the existence of the drift stick seems like a too-late nod to the Fast and the Furious franchise.

Finally, the car’s overall look feels, well, too subtle a change. Will people who don’t know a clutch from a compressor know the difference between generations? The good news is that the design is attractive, but then, so is the current car’s styling.

The Takeaway

I found myself thinking about Nissan’s “new” Z – that car looks significantly different while rolling on a platform that’s mostly the same as before. Like that car, the Mustang is reskinned while using old bones. In fact, mechanical changes seem subtle. But the newest Z was fun to drive, and improved over the previous car, despite the relative lack of change.

That might be the case here – and in the end, if the car is fun to drive with improved road manners for the daily commute, I think most drivers will be satisfied. After all, the current car, especially in higher-performance guise, is a pretty good track star. If the ride manages to be less punishing (and if convertibles get rid of that dang cowl shake), it could be an even better performance buy than it already is.

That said, Ford’s message to us was that Mustang customers are a “mindset, not a demo.” Looking at the new car, I have no doubt that Ford will keep most current buyers happy and in the fold. Some will balk at the interior, or the edgier lines, but most will find themselves at home in the seventh-gen car. The question is, will Ford bring more buyers in?

That’s if it even needs to – the Camaro is a ghost and the Dodges are going EV. Meanwhile, this Mustang is possibly, perhaps even likely, the last internal-combustion engine Mustang. I asked Ford about electrification plans – hybrid or full EV – and was brushed off politely, as we always are when we inquire about future products. But either way, the Mustang doesn’t have much competition.

Lack of competition can cause complacency. But not always. On paper, the seventh-gen Mustang gives me mixed feelings. I’m not bowled over by the styling, inside or out, but I like screens that look cool and provide lots of info (even though I simultaneously mourn the loss of stylish retro gauges). Perhaps most importantly, I see nothing to suggest the car will be worse to drive than what it replaces.

Looks are one thing. Let’s hope the next ‘Stang continues to have it where it counts.

[Images: Ford, © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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2 of 59 comments
  • BSttac BSttac on Sep 17, 2022

    Not a fan of the lack of dedicated physical climate controls. Also wish it had one less screen. Really worry the GT is going to be priced out of reach for me so I couldnt even support Ford if I wanted to. Really hope a manual GT can be had below $40k

  • Funky D Funky D on Sep 19, 2022

    IF I buy a new car (as opposed to just getting new truck and shrinking the fleet by 1) in the next year or so, it will be almost certain to be this Mustang GT convertible.

    Yes, it does look like it has channeled the Camaro and BMW a bit too much. It is the least "Mustang like" style since the debut of the beautiful 2005 5th-gen model.

    The interior is decent as long as it has a sufficient amount of headroom and visibility (which is tough to tell from the pictures).

    But regardless of what I may thing of the styling, the fact remains it is likely going to be the LAST model that retains the old-school big V8 and manual trans. If it does put out 480 HP, it's going to be a fantastic beast to drive.

    Still there is the specter of ever-rising prices (I fully expect to find the one to my likening to be north of $60k. That, coupled with the quality problems that have plagued Ford lately (as well as many other manufacturers) is causing me to rethink my plans.

    A nice low-mileage (under 40k) late C6 or early C7 Corvette roadster is starting to look like a viable alternative to a new Mustang to drive myself into retirement about 12 years out.

    Fortunately, I have time to wait and see how this all plays out.

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.