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By Paul A. Eisenstein

Less than three years after the all-new, 50th anniversary Ford Mustang rolled into showrooms, the pony car is set to get some major updates.

That includes new front and rear-end design changes meant to improve aerodynamics and give the Mustang a “more athletic look,” Ford says. There will be engine upgrades delivering more power, with a 10-speed gearbox also boosting mileage, a new MagneRide suspension, and a number of new safety and infotainment technologies.

The 2018 Ford Mustang “refresh” is more extensive than the typical mid-cycle makeover, reflecting both increased competition and the growing market shift from passenger cars to SUVs. The goal is to keep Mustang the world’s best-selling sports coupe, Ford officials said.

“The new Mustang is our best ever, based on more than 50 years as one of the iconic sports car in America and now, the world,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas. “Tapping Mustang’s enormous fan base, we’re bringing the new Mustang straight to the people — and introducing the new car across multiple social media channels, reaching millions.”

That includes multiple press previews, such as one at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Tuesday morning.

More Power

From a performance perspective, Ford said it is upgrading two of Mustang’s three engines. The GT’s 5.0-liter V-8, it said, has been “thoroughly reworked.” Among the changes, the eight-banger now uses a combination of both port- and direct-injection. While specific figures have not yet been released, Ford claims that will yield improved low-end torque, high-end power and better fuel economy.

Modifications to the overboost system for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, meanwhile, are expected to deliver better wide-open-throttle acceleration.

Both engines will now be available with Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission. The automaker claims that gearbox will improve responsiveness, as well as fuel efficiency.

Paul A. Eisenstein

Personalized Driving

The 50th anniversary Mustang marked the first mainstream version of the pony car to get an independent rear suspension. Ford is taking a big step forward with the 2018 update, offering for the first time an optional MagneRide suspension. The technology uses magnetically sensitive fluids that can alter the stiffness of the Mustang’s shocks in about the time it takes to travel two inches at 60 mph.

The technology story also includes new infotainment hardware and software. The latest Sync 3 infotainment system can now be displayed on an optional 12-inch touchscreen. Mustang now will also be offered with the optional FordPass system that can be used to remotely operate the door locks and track where the vehicle is parked.

Related: Ford Cancels Mexico Plant But Is Still Moving Small-Car Production to Mexico

The new Mustang migrates to an all-digital display that has three reconfigurable personalization options. And the new MyMode system automatically resets options like steering and suspension preferences.

From a safety standpoint, the Mustang adds an array of new driver-assistance systems, including Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and Driver Alert System.

High-Tech Curves

Visually, the 2018 Ford Mustang adopts a lower, reshaped hood and grille, and repositioned air vents. All 2018 Mustangs get LED signature lighting, low-beams and turn signals, with projector high-beams and available fog lamps.

Paul A. Eisenstein

The rear changes are meant to deliver what Ford calls a “more technical look,” with LED tail lamps, a new bumper and an optional spoiler. The EcoBoost model gets new dual-tip exhaust pipes, the V-8 model a quad-exhaust.

Ford also says it will add a wider array of new wheels, paint colors and other options for 2018.

The 2018 Ford Mustang will reach showrooms next fall.

But even more updates are in the works. Among other things, look for Ford to offer its first hybrid-electric Mustang in 2020. While the maker isn’t talking specifics yet, expect that package to help improve performance, as well as fuel economy.