Brandan Gillogly Staff Editor
January 4, 2017

Hybrid Ford Mustang in Progress

Ford announced that it will offer a Mustang Hybrid, one of seven hybrid or electric vehicles the automaker plans to launch in the next five years. The six other electrified vehicles are: two pursuit-rated hybrid vehicles; an F-150 Hybrid that can operate as a generator; an all-electric SUV with a 300-mile range; an autonomous vehicle intended for taxi and ride-sharing duties; and a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom for the European market.

The Mustang Hybrid will be built at Michigan's Flat Rock Assembly Plant and could be the first performance-oriented hybrid from the company to actually deliver performance. Honda's CR-Z was the first hybrid from a major manufacturer to try to bring economy and a sporty drive, yet it left critics disappointed. With the Mustang Hybrid, Ford promises "V8 power and even more low-end torque." That got our attention.

The newest four-cylinder turbocharged ponycars are fun to drive and offer respectable performance. We could also get used to the fuel economy. Add V8 levels of power to the 30+mpg highway rating of the EcoBoost Mustang and you've got a recipe for a daily driver grand touring car that's just as comfortable commuting as it is passing semis on the highway.

What powertrain will Ford devise to deliver on its promise of V8-like power? The 2.3L EcoBoost that's been in service since the sixth-generation Mustang launched in 2014 feels a lot like a three-valve 4.6L you'd find in an early fifth-generation Mustang GT, circa 2009. It has a bit more power and the torque peak is higher and comes even earlier that the old Modular V8, but the result is still similar due in part to the new Mustang gaining a bit of weight. Added with the immediate boost of an electric motor's instant torque delivery, even the smallest of EcoBoost four-cylinders could return the same performance of a V8 Mustang from the not-too-distant past. However, Ford knows that "V8 power" is no longer synonymous with 300hp. By 2020 Ford will be squeezing even more power from its EcoBoost fours so we wouldn't be surprised if the next-generation 2.0L were chosen for duty. As for the transmission, the Mustang Hybrid could use the same RWD transmission that the F-150 Hybrid will use which should package an electric motor into the same space as a traditional torque converter automatic.

Ford has proven that their hybrids can deliver fuel economy without a huge sticker price, as the Fusion Hybrid starts at around $26,000, only $3,000 more than a base Fusion and not much more than an entry Mustang. With the V6 set to retire from the Mustang lineup by 2018, the EcoBoost will become the entry-level pony with the Mustang Hybrid as a mid-level upgrade. So while the Mustang Hybrid won't replace the GT on the strip or track, and won't be a favorite of tuners like the gas-only models, it should still have a viable niche for itself.

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