From the confirmed 2020 hybrid Mustang to the four-door Mustang, there is a lot of Mustang news and rumors to be excited about. The little pony that could is about to have a full stable of friends.
It has been confirmed that the Mustang will be moving onto a modular design, which allows for expanding options in terms of drivetrains. While the Mustang will continue to be primarily RWD, it is likely that we will see an all-wheel-drive (AWD) Mustang with either the release of the Hybrid Mustang or with the seventh generation, S650, release.
Release Date News
The future of the rumored AWD Mustang is in flux, as rumors circulate both the hybrid Mustang as well as the release of the seventh-generation Mustang.
The patents released for the hybrid Mustang indicate that Ford is intending to use a set-up where the front wheels would be powered via electric motor while the gas motor would provide power to the real tires, making a hybrid AWD Mustang an exciting possibility. The only reason we can't confirm this is Ford's plan is because a patent doesn't indicate an intention to build, just that they have the idea and want to make sure that they can build if they choose to.
On the other hand, the seventh generation of Mustang is rumored to now be based on the Ford Explorer's frame. We'd speculated that this would be the case before, and it certainly makes the likelihood of AWD and four-door Mustangs increase substantially since they could be developed with no real additional cost.
We hope that multiple possible avenues means that an AWD Mustang is a nearly assured reality for the near future.
The Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger already use modular platforms. It’s one strategy that car manufacturers have found that allows them to create more options without the overhead cost of making a new body platform for each line. This creates customization options that enable the Mustang to be more things to more people.
Ford has already been using a modular design to great effect with modular engines. Modular engine design enables Ford to change the requirements of an engine and be operational with that design in a very short time. Thanks to the modular engine design, we have not only the incredible Coyote engine but also all of the Coyote’s variants like the Voodoo and Road Runner.
The Mustang’s modular design will be built on the same body as the Ford Explorer and the Lincoln Aviator. Though it’s perhaps a little surprising that Mustang’s platform will be one shared by boxier, heavier SUVs, this allows for a lot of power and also the possibility of AWD.
The Dodge Challenger perhaps gives us the best idea of what an AWD Mustang might look and respond like. The Challenger has always been one of the Mustang’s top competitors, and that competition got a little fiercer when Dodge started offering all-wheel drive.
The 2017 Dodge Challenger was hailed as the first AWD muscle car. The Challenger is primarily a rear-wheel-drive vehicle; however, when the vehicle detects wheel slippage, the Challenger uses an active transfer case to funnel torque to the front wheels—engaging the AWD.
This has enabled the Challenger to reach a larger group of customers who admit they wouldn’t have considered the Challenger without the AWD feature. For northern customers who must contend with snowy winters, rainy springs, and slippery autumns, RWD cars have too many pitfalls. There aren’t many people who want to buy a great car that they can only use in the summer.
Dodge’s Challenger and Charger are also available with V8 engines. Thanks to this, their AWD variants offer all the oomph and none of the “oh no” when turning on a slick road.
How Will the Mustang Stack Up?
We admit to being biased. We love the Mustang and are excited to see how its AWD vehicle can compare. Right now, Ford is in a good position to see how other companies have adapted to AWD offerings without compromising the lineage of the vehicle that customers expect and are drawn to. Though a lot of people are interested in a four-door Mustang or an AWD Mustang (or both!), that interest goes straight out the window if it looks like a Taurus.
By waiting, Ford’s gambling a bit. It is possible that Dodge already has a stranglehold on the portion of the country that was waiting for AWD muscle cars, and entering the market second will oversaturate it. On the other hand, we now have a test case that shows that not only is it possible to create a great muscle car with AWD, it’s also possible to do without sacrificing power or performance.
Certainly Darrel Behmer, Mustang’s chief designer, seems to share the viewpoint of many Mustang enthusiasts. Behmer has been quoted as saying that the “Mustang is still going to be a strong, well-proportioned vehicle” and that “The modular architectures will still give us flexibility; it’s not going to bastardize Mustang.”
More options without losing the things that make the Mustang special? It’s almost too good to be true, but so is not having to find a barn for your Mustang every winter.
The 1965 AWD Mustang
Ford’s interest in having an AWD Mustang isn’t new. In 1965, three Mustangs were equipped with four-wheel drive systems at Harry Ferguson Research. These three Mustangs were used as demonstration vehicles to sell people on the benefits of equipping their vehicles with a four-wheel-drive system.
Though Ferguson’s was called a 4WD system, the way the power transfer actually worked was much more similar to modern day AWD systems. 37% of the power was distributed to the front wheels, and 63% to the rear wheels.
The reason that Ferguson research chose the Mustang as the demonstration vehicle was because of its ability to accelerate, but an inability to corner easily. The lack of grip was a serious problem in England, which was where Ferguson research was based.
One of these AWD equipped Mustangs resurfaced in the early aughts and was sold for a little over $70,000 at auction, which is about how many miles it had on it as well.
Since the 1960s, a lot of people have tried their hand at converting their Mustangs into AWD powerhouses. Perhaps the most famous example is Ken Block’s Hoonicorn. Ken Block also used a 1965 Ford for his modification. Though he also added a V8 capable of 845 horsepower, people still talk about the all-wheel-drive as being the insane part.
Sources: Mustang 6G | Jalopnik Image Credit: Road and Track | Dodge | The Drive