The Mustang is easily the most iconic muscle car of all time. It is one of the rare cars that is a successful blend of old-world charm and modern technology.
New for 2021: Ford has pulled the wraps off the new Mustang Mach 1. A nameplate that first debuted in the late sixties and was last seen in 2004 on the New Edge generation. The new Mach 1 like the old bridges the gap between the GT and the Shelby models whilst pilfering parts from both. In other words, it is the best track going Mustang you can buy if you don’t want a Shelby. You still get the 5.0-liter V8 that makes 480 hp mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with short shifts and rev matching. You can opt for the 10-speed automatic as well. It is set to go on sale in spring of 2021 expect prices closer to the release date
This is it. The granddaddy. The big one. The one that, for fifty-five years, has been cranked out of Detroit and into the hands (and hearts) of wild-eyed car enthusiasts across the nation. Two doors, a ton of history, and no waiting.
Programming note: this model page will cover the EcoBoost and GT trims for the 2020 model year, with the Bullitt trim occupying a slightly left field wing of the family tree. The pair of Shelbys—brothers GT350 and GT500—are sufficiently different enough to warrant their own page and will be covered separately at another time.
With that silly caveat out of the way, let’s dive in.
Pros/ Rock star looks / angry V8 growl / good for more than just straight-line speed
Cons/Four-cylinder versions get little respek / insurance costs may be high
Bottom Line/A true muscle car icon
Table of contents
2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package Review
By Craig Cole
“This is good,” I thought to myself about two minutes after swapping seats with my drive partner and settling in behind the wheel. “This is extremely good.”
Ford’s brand-new High Performance Package for the 2020 EcoBoost Mustang makes this ponycar significantly more appealing than the standard model. Its all-around excellence might even be enough to persuade some die-hard V8 enthusiasts to swap cylinders and displacement for technology and a turbocharger.
Ford Mustang Powertrain
Two different engines are available in this year’s Mustang, a turbocharged inline-four and a honking V8. Both engines share displacement figures with models stretching back to the ‘80s but that is where any similarity ends, so vanquish any thoughts of low pressure turbos and smog-choked octopots.
The 2.3-liter turbocharged four cylinder is, like most Ford turbos, marketed under the EcoBoost banner. Two versions are available. The standard 2.3-liter makes an impressive 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, figures that would embarrass a V8 Mustang not that many years ago. Selecting the High Performance Package, a $4995 option, puts an extra 20 ponies in this pony. Buyers can select from a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic. For maximum grunt, be sure to select a shorter (numerically higher) rear-end gear.
On the GT side of the ledger, a stonkin’ V8 provides plenty of power and an intoxicating engine note. Vanilla Ice fans take note: this thing has a true five point oh, displacing 5038 cc or 302 cubic inches. Power in the GT is rated at 460 horses, all of which come online at a sky-high 7500rpm. Torque, all 420 lb-ft of it, shows up much earlier at 4600rpm. Bullitt cars benefit from an extra 20 horsepower thanks to some tuning and the ghost of Steve McQueen. Like the four pot, one can select from a six-speed stick or 10-speed automatic. If quick getaways are your bag, the six-speed with Performance Package bundles a 3.73 Torsen rear-end for maximum acceleration.
Ford Mustang Features and Pricing
Mustang EcoBoost: Starts at $27,865
Far more than simply a base Mustang, the EcoBoost is vastly better equipped than entry-level models of even just a few years ago. Snazzy LED lighting is standard, along with 17-inch aluminum wheels and all manner of color-keyed trim. Touch points like the steering wheel and parking brake lever are leather wrapped, a six-speaker stereo bumps out tunes, and a raft of power/USB outlets keep things charged up.
Equipment Group 101A costs $2,000 and jazzes up the interior with a better infotainment system and toggle switches, while the aforementioned High Performance Package brings a natty rear wing and limited-slip rear to the extra-horsepower party. A $1995 Handling Package, which requires the selection of 101A, adds Pirelli summer tires and Ford’s MagneRide damping system. This trim is available as a convertible.
Mustang EcoBoost Premium: Starts at $32,880
Stepping up to this level of EcoBoost brings several creature comfort goodies for yer extra five grand. Sync3 infotainment brings a jumbotron screen to the center stack, seats are covered in leather, and dual climate control keeps all hands happy. Design touches like ambient lighting and pony-shaped projection lights are on board as well. Ragtops can be configured in this trim.
The too-fun High Performance and Handling packages are available here as well, bringing all the same goodies, though the latter does require the selection of the former. Equipment Group 201A ratchets up the interior mood by adding a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster and premier trim with color accent group. A simple Pony Package costing just $995 brings cool 19-inch wheels, various tape stripes, and a unique grille. Actually, most of these packages include different front or rear-end treatments, creating important visual clues for bidders at the 2055 Barrett-Jackson auction.
Mustang GT: Starts at $36,825
Easily identifiable by its twin quad exhaust tips and giant “5.0” billboards, the GT comes standard with a 3.55 limited slip axle and an engine oil cooler for track day shenanigans. A raised decklid spoiler lets people know you mean business, while the 14-inch front brake rotors are an inch larger in diameter than the entire wheels on your author’s first car.
A myriad of optional packages are available but gearheads should focus on the Performance Package and aptly named Performance Package Level 2. The first one includes a raft of speed freak goodies like summer-only tires, Brembo brakes, 3.73 Torsen diff (with the manual ‘box), and unique chassis tuning which includes a strut tower brace. Level 2 ramps things up with gummy Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires—nearly worth the price of admission by themselves—and a deeper front splitter standing ready to chop the feet off unsuspecting bystanders.
Mustang GT Premium: Starts at $40,825
Selecting the snazzier GT boosts the price but also brings a level of extra standard equipment, most of it in the Mustang’s cabin. Leather seats are on board (note: rears are cheap vinyl), along with aluminum brushed instrument panel trim and ambient lighting. The audio system is upgraded to a nine-speaker unit, with satellite radio and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
Option package 401A, like 301A on the standard GT, brings the tasty digital gauge package and a navigation system. Blind spot monitoring comes with, as well. It is at this level where one will find the $2,000 California Special package, adding a unique grille with an offset pony, various badges, and seats with suede inserts. Both Performance Packages are available, plus a Carbon Sport interior package if you’re really trying to find ways to needlessly spend money. The Premium Plus group sounds like a box of snack crackers but isn’t, while a Safe & Smart package adds driver aids that should be standard equipment. The GT Premium is available as a convertible.
Mustang Bullitt: Starts at $48,900
This homage to the movie of the same name is available in any color you want, so long as it’s Shadow Black or Dark Highland Green. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission, the way nature and Steve McQueen intended. Options are basically limited to an Electronics Package, the MagneRide damping system, and leather Recaro front seats.
The former, costing an ambitious $2,100, brings a 12-speaker B&O sound system to the party, along with voice-activated navigation and a blind-spot monitoring assist. The Recaros should be self-explanatory, though it’s worth noting they contain green stitching to match the door trim and are best sampled by the reasonably fit. Those are six-piston Brembo brakes up front, by the way, paired with heavy-duty front springs and a larger radiator. A modified GT350 intake manifold sits atop the engine and the PCM has been fettled for more power.
Ford Mustang Recommended Trim
It’s tough to go wrong with any 2020 Mustang, as all of them have good power-to-weight ratios and toys for track day fun (ahem, line-lock and launch control, ahem). However, choosing the non-Premium GT brings a ton of performance and a boatload of style for about $36,000. If it’s in budget, pop for the Performance Package and $895 active valve exhaust system. Choose a bright color like Grabber Lime or Velocity Blue and you’ve got yourself a head turner that won’t be scared of corners at track day.
Ford Mustang Fuel Economy
Yes, this is a hairy-chested car but we’re still going to talk about fuel economy. Hardtop versions, called Fastbacks in Ford parlance, are advertised to return 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway when fitted with the 2.3-liter and a manual transmission. Adding the ten-speed automatic boosts highway mileage by 1mpg but the 25 mpg combined rating remains the same. The convertible, since it weighs a bit more, is good for 20/28/23 with a manual gearbox (add 1mpg on the highway if you’re driving the automatic). Models equipped with the Performance Package suffer slightly in terms of fuel economy, recording 20/27/23 in stickshift Fastback form. The same penalties (or rewards) apply if one selects a convertible or automatic-equipped car.
As for the GT, expect 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for a six-speed Fastback. This works out to 19 mpg combined, if you’re wondering. Deduct 1 mpg from each of those figures for the convertible. Know that the manual and automatic get the same mileage. Bullitt models are rated by the EPA at 15/24/18.
Ford Mustang vs Chevrolet Camaro
Style is a very subjective area of measure but, for 2020, it cannot be understated how much better the Camaro appears after an emergency nose job fixed its 2019 face which looked like a boiled horse. Like the Mustang, it’s available with the choice of a four cylinder turbo or a big V8, but Chevy also chooses to install a 3.6-liter V6 engine if customers are so inclined. A new LT1 trim will put eight cylinder power under your right foot for less than $35,000, undercutting the Mustang by a couple of bucks.
Ford Mustang vs Dodge Challenger
The speed demon engineers in Auburn Hills have thrown steadily increasing amounts of horsepower at the retro-styled Challenger with each passing model year. Its 3.6-liter V6 engine is surprisingly fuel efficient and can even be paired with all-wheel drive. A V8 rumble begins showing up on the sub-$35,000 R/T trim, topping out with the mental 717 hp Hellcat Redeye at double the price. Make no mistake: the Challenger is built for straight line speed, so don’t expect to keep up with a Mustang in the corners.
|Price Range /||$26,670 – $48,900|
|Engine /||2.3L I4 Turbo / 5.0L V8|
|Power (hp) /||310 (330 w/ Performance Package) / 460 (480 w/ Bullitt)|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||350 / 420|
|Drivetrain /||6MT/10AT, RWD|
Our Final Verdict
Some outlets have begun comparing versions of the Mustang with sports coupes from Germany, a decision that would have caused much derision and consternation a decade ago. That they are doing so speaks to the 2020 Mustang’s ability to carve a few corners and provide a cabin that is no longer penalty box austere. Exercise restraint with the options box and you’ll find yourself in possession of a capable coupe with performance and style to spare.