1998 Ford Mustang Review

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Cheryl Jensen Cheryl Jensen Editor
May 10, 1999
1998 Ford Mustang GT

1998 Ford Mustang GT

The redesigned Mustang is at the top of Ford's list of new products for 1999. The rest of the lineup gets minor changes in anticipation of the 2000 model-year, which will see the Escort replaced by the Focus, an all-new product on an all-new platform. The Expedition, Explorer and Windstar will meet federal low-emission-vehicle standards for light trucks.

Ford describes the Focus as a global small car designed to change the way buyers think of small cars. It has good word-of-mouth since it has already won the prestigious European Car of the Year award. The 2000 Focus goes on sale here in the fall in three body styles: a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. Ford says it will come with a choice of two 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines and a choice of either a five-speed manual or an automatic transmission. The base engine is rated at 107 horsepower; the Zetec engine is said to deliver 130 hp. Ford says it will have the most spacious interior in the class, with room to seat five adults comfortably.

The Mustang gets significant power increases on both the V-6 and V-8 engines, an all-speed traction control available on all models, a new exterior design, and handling enhancements. The 3.8-liter V-6 engine gets 40 more horsepower and is now rated at 190 hp. Torque is up 5 pounds, to 220 lb-ft at 2750 rpm. The 4.6-liter V-8 engine gets an increase of 35 hp, to 260, and torque is up by 10 lb-ft, to 302 at 4000 rpm. The Mustang V-6 and Mustang GT are equipped with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Chassis improvements have been made to reduce noise and to reduce the turning circle by almost 3 feet. An increase of about an inch in rear suspension travel and a 1.4-inch increase in rear track further enhance ride and handling.

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1998 Ford Mustang

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The Contour's interior gets new front seats that add more room for rear-seat passengers. The front suspension has been improved, as it now shares the same design as the European Mondeo. The Contour lineup is simplified by dropping the base and GL models. The Contour SVT's ride and handling has been refined, new radial performance tires have been added, and the engine output has been increased to 200 hp (from 195) and torque has been increased to 167 lb-ft. (from 165).

The Crown Victoria gets minor color and trim changes. The Escort carries over, but production of the sedan and wagon will end this summer. The ZX2 remains in the lineup with minor cosmetic changes. The Taurus gets cosmetic improvements both inside and out, and suspension changes have been made to improve ride quality.

Windstar has been completely redesigned, getting a second rear sliding door on the driver's side with optional power operation. Seating offers greater versatility; for example, the third-row bench seat is mounted on rollers and can be moved into the second row to provide five-passenger seating. Both V-6 engines get more torque, and Ford engineers say the four-speed automatic transmission is improved for quicker, smoother shifts. The body has been stiffened to reduce noise and vibration, and braking has been improved.

Optional seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants are new, as is a new reverse sensing system to detect obstacles behind the vehicle.

Econoline Vans and Wagons carry over with minor mechanical and equipment changes.

The Expedition gets some exterior appearance changes. It gets an optional power adjustable pedal system that moves the accelerator and brake pedals forward and back to make the driving position safer and more comfortable for shorter drivers. Both the 4.6-and 5.4-liter V-8 engines have more power. The 4.6-liter engine goes from 215 to 240 hp and torque rises from 290 to 293 lb-ft. The 5.4-liter engine goes from 230 to 260 hp and the torque is up from 325 to 345 lb-ft. It also gets rollers on the third-row seat for easy removal.

The Explorer's exterior styling is freshened, the interior is upgraded, and equipment levels improved. A new XLS series is added. Side airbags for the front seat are available as an option, braking is improved, and the reverse sensing system is available as an option.

Heading the list of changes to the F-Series models is the addition of a standard fourth door on all SuperCab models. The bumper and grille have been redesigned, and a factory-installed tonneau cover has been added to the bed. The interior has been redesigned to increase cabin space. The power and torque of the 5.4-liter V-8 have been increased to improve useable low-end pulling power. The horsepower rating is now 260, up from 235, and torque is 345 lb-ft at 2300 rpm, up from 330 lb-ft at 3000 rpm.

Changes in color and trim have been made to the Ranger line, and the Splash model is gone from the lineup. Four doors are now available as an option on the XLT SuperCab with the V-6 engine. Ranger is available as a flexible-fuel vehicle and electric vehicle.

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