• The 2018
  • Our test car was the Mustang GT, whose 5.0-liter engine is now more powerful.
  • But the new 'Stang is about more than a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time.

After redesigning the iconic Ford Mustang for its 50th birthday in 2015, Ford has refreshed the car for the 2018 model year.

Not much has changed, but what has changed is all for the better.

The Mustang has arguably never been more important in Ford's lineup. The automaker will be phasing out passenger cars, for the most part, in favor of crossover and SUVs. But the Mustang, a proper sports car with two doors, will remain. In fact, the 'Stang will be getting a hybrid version in coming years.

Some people can't live a full life without a Mustang, and Ford has no plans to let them down.

We recently got some seat time in an all-new 2018 Mustang GT, out in California. The conditions were ideal for muscle-car testing. Here's what we thought.

The first stop for me and my Triple Yellow Mustang GT coupe was my favorite taco truck in LA.

Read all about the best dang tacos in LA.

I used to live in LA and tested plenty of cars there. Here's my typical route. With the Stang, I reversed the sequence.

The Mustang looks good in sun. Updates are radical: the front and back end have been made more sleek.

I think the overall effect is to continue presenting the Stang, after over five decades, as a sports car with global appeal, versus a stonking old American muscle car.

The front is less snouty that the outgoing design.

I'm lookin' at you.

The rear has also been slimmed down a tad. The spoiler is an option.

The action is still all-Mustang under the hood. My GT had a 5.0-liter V8, making 460 horsepower, a bump on the 2017 car thanks to re-engineered fuel-injection technology. With a delicious six-speed manual transmission, the price would have been about $45,000 (my tester wasn't officially stickered).

A 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor is also available, making about 100 fewer horses.

A 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor is also available, making about 100 fewer horses. Sadly, there's no V6.

This Ford stickshift is exceptional. I enjoyed it in a convertible 2017 GT back in New Jersey over the summer and was sold. The clutch is also wonderful, not too demanding, but not smushy, either.

A 10-speed automatic is available.

The V8 is slightly higher in displacement over the 2017 car: you round down to 5.0 liters, not up. Put the hammer down (in the automatic) and the 0-60 mph dash passes in under 4 seconds, with the sweet sounds of combustion echoing in your ears.

The manual will still get you to 60mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

With a small gas tank and only 200 miles of range, such performance comes at a price. Fuel economy is not good. You should be able to get about 20 mpg on the highway, but if you have any fun, you're looking at 15 and frequent fill-ups. Such is the price of pleasure.

My Stang was equipped with SYNC 3, Ford's quite capable infotainment system.

The touchscreen is responsive and not at all laggy, if modestly scaled in this car. There's all the usual stuff: navigation, a dandy audio system with SiriusXM, USB/AUX ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The truck is very roomy, and while the back seats aren't, they large enough to accommodate smaller folks and kids and, you know, a jacket and cap.

The font seats, by the way, are comfy for freeway hauls, yet bolstered enough to hold you snug when canyon-carving.

The new digital instrument cluster can be customized and presents different configurations depending on driving mode. Track, for example, strips everything down to a racing-car style tachometer.

My Stang and I saw some interesting stuff while tooling around the City of Angels.

Including a relative ...

... Or two.

Verdict?

When I last sampled a GT, my thoughts were: "B