2020 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Review By Larry Nutson
2020 Ford Mustang Ecoboost
THE original pony car
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The Ford Mustang is the world’s best-selling sports coupe. And, the Mustang is also the most-popular collector car, bar none. More likely than not a Mustang is in the memory of many folks somewhere in their life.
My pony-car memories span seeing the first ’65 Mustang out on the road, turning wrenches on a ’66 Mustang drag race car, driving autocross in a Fox body ’88 Mustang coupe and a fast-forward to my wife’s 2001 Mustang GT convertible.
Of late I have been working my way through Mustang’s horsepower lineup. Most recently back in early July I had my second on-track driving experience with the Shelby GT500. I’ve also driven the Shelby GT350 and the Bullitt both on the track as well as spent a number of days with each in everyday driving. A couple years back it was the GT with its V8 brawn.
I mention my working through Ford’s herd of ponies, all thanks to the folks at Ford, since it has given me a nice perspective on this icon.
My most recent drive experience is in the 2020 Mustang Ecoboost coupe equipped with the 310hp 2.3L 4-cylinder and a 6-speed manual. This is the entry-level Mustang priced to start at $26,670. Of note, in case you missed it, the 300hp V6 last appeared in the 2017 model.
My driver actually was the Premium trim priced at $31,685. If you should want top down driving that will cost you an additional $5,500.
The 6-speed manual comes from Getrag and is very smooth shifting with short throws. Optional is a 10-speed automatic. A limited-slip rear differential, launch control on the manual and an electronic line lock complete the package.
The Premium trim features 18-inch wheels fitted with 235/50R All-Season tires, leather trimmed seating, power front seats, a nine-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an 8-inch touchscreen with the Sync 3 infotainment system. Rapid Red Metallic ($395) and Over-the-Top Racing Stripe ($475) finished off my Ecoboost Premium coupe.
This drive with the 2.3L didn’t have a track component but was limited to routine Chicagoland everyday driving. The 4-seat Mustang is plenty comfortable up front. However, the rear seat is pretty much only for the younger folk. With 310hp and plenty of torque there’s nothing not to like about moving about. The engine is strong and the tranny is easy to shift.
Zero to 60 mph is in about 5 seconds and top speed is 121mph. A selectable Sport mode spices things up. EPA test-cycle ratings are 24 mpg combined with 21 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. In other words, you get plenty of go and also decently low fuel consumption from this 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine.
Ride quality is quite civil and compliant with good overall control and balanced handling coming in no part from the independent rear suspension. I was happy to be riding on 50-series tires around the not-so-smooth city streets. Overall noise level in the cabin is decent with a full array of comfort and tech features.
New to the Mustang Ecoboost models for 2020 is a High Performance Package powered by Ford Performance’s high-revving 2.3-liter turbo four engine derived from the Focus RS that cranks out 330 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. Ford says this is the most powerful four-cylinder sports car by an American automaker. The package gains aero, suspension and brake components from the Mustang GT Performance Package along with special performance tuning.
An available High Performance Handling Package adds MagneRide dampers, higher-performing 265/40R Pirelli P Zero Corsa4 summer tires on wider 19x9.5-inch rims, stiffer sway bars and a TORSEN 3.35:1 limited-slip rear end.
This 330hp Mustang, its engine cranking out 143hp per liter, will run 0-60mph in the mid-four-second range on premium fuel, with top speed of 155 mph. I remember a time long ago when 100hp per liter was considered the most possible. Technology!
More facts and figures on the 2020 Mustang can be found at www.ford.com.
New news about Mustang says the Shelby GT350 is on its final run for 2021 and production will end this year. The naturally aspirated high revving 526hp 5.2-liter V8 bows out in an available Heritage Edition finished in Wimbledon White paint with Guardsman Blue stripes livery like the original introduced 55 years ago.
And filling the void, after 17 years there’s a return of the Mach 1 for 2021 with the 480hp 5.0L V8 from the Bullitt and either a Tremec 6-speed or 10-speed automatic. It’ll be at dealers in Spring 2021.
So, sports fans. Mustang offers something for everyone; coupe or open-air convertible; a very tractable and fun 310hp daily driver on up to a 760hp street legal race car.
A final note. When my wife got her ’01 Mustang convertible we discussed engine choice. I could not come to bear with the 190hp V6, so we went for the GT with the 260hp V8. The hitch was one of our teenage daughters just got her license and I was concerned with letting her drive a car with significant performance. Well, it all worked out just fine. Today I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the 310hp Ecoboost 2.3L.
© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy