2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Fast Facts
2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 350 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm)
Six-speed manual; rear-wheel drive
21 city / 30 highway / 24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
11.2 city, 7.9 highway, 9.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $31,685 (U.S) / $31,365 (Canada)
As Tested: $35,850 (U.S.) / $36,465 (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $2,000 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
Let’s say you’re in the market for a Ford Mustang. Let’s say you like to drive fast and like cars that handle well, so the venerable pony car is on your radar. Let’s also say that when you sit down at your laptop and start playing with the consumer website’s build and price feature and you see that a well-equipped GT quickly busts your budget, you trudge off to the fridge to drown your sorrows in adult beverages while you question every life decision you’ve ever made that left you in such a financial state that a V8 pony car is unattainable.
Well, you can cheer up, at least a little. The V8 experience is available to you for less money IF you can sacrifice the soundtrack and live with half the cylinders.
That’s right – the Mustang EcoBoost gets you all of the Mustang experience, good and bad, for fewer dollars and with only a mild performance penalty.
You even get, if you so choose, the option to row your own.
That “good and bad” from above shouldn’t be overlooked. Just like its V8 brethren, the EcoBoost Mustang provides grins but with more than a few tradeoffs.
Let’s start with the good. The 2.3-liter, twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder puts out 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque (an optional Performance Package, which my test car did not have, bumps the horsepower number to 330), and that’s plenty to get this car motivated quite nicely, though without that soul-satisfying V8 rumble. There’s also not quite as much grunt as would be offered by twice the cylinder count, though the max torque that is on hand is accessible at just 3,000 rpm.
Meanwhile, the six-speed Getrag gearbox is fun to row, and the clutch offers nice engagement and smooth take-up. You also get respectable EPA fuel-economy numbers.
Even without the available Handling Package (requires the Performance Package), the EcoBoost ‘Stang is a hoot in the corners, though you don’t forget it’s a rear-drive car with torque on tap and a long hood/short deck layout.
Then there’s the bad. While no one expects a Mustang to have a roomy rear seat, the backseat in this car barely functions as more than a fancy parcel shelf. Similarly, no one expects a Mustang to ride silky smooth, but even now that the Mustang has an independent rear suspension, it still shakes and shimmies over expansion joints as if it were a club kid who just sampled some candy of the nose.
And when it’s not boogying, it’s riding stiffly. A magnetic-ride system is available, but say it with me now: It requires the Performance Package.
Not to mention that while the EPA fuel-economy numbers are solid, the real-world numbers are not quite as good, especially if you decide to have a bit of fun.
Other aspects of our base-model-bargain pony car are mixed. For example, the interior. The good news is that the controls are easy to use – whether that’s all because of the logical layout and/or because of familiarity is harder to answer. The bad news is that the cabin is starting to look a bit too familiar.
Notable standard features included capless fuel-filler, dual exhaust, LED fog lamps, LED headlights and taillights, digital gauge cluster, interior ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, USB, leather-trimmed seats, keyless entry and starting, wi-fi, limited-slip rear axle, satellite radio, track apps, and Sync infotainment.
My test car was optioned with navigation, blind-spot information, 18-inch wheels, spoiler, and racing stripe. Out the door for under $36K.
That may not sound like a bargain on the face of it, but it’s below both the starting price of a base GT and the average new-car transaction price.
You don’t get a V8’s rumble and low-end grunt, but you still get a sports car that’s reasonably fun to drive. Yeah, we still prefer the GT, but this bargain is hard to argue with.
What’s New for 2020
New for 2020 is the available High Performance Package.
Who Should Buy This Car
The Mustang buyer who can’t afford a V8.
[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC, Ford]