EXPERT REVIEW

2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Quick Spin: Same Looks, Less Visceral

ford mustang ecoboost 2024 03 exterior front angle jpg 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost | Cars.com photo by Leslie Cunningham
Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

One of the Ford Mustang’s defining characteristics has long been the performance and sound of the V-8 engines that have powered it over the years. The redesigned 2024 Mustang continues that V-8 tradition with a 480-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 in the GT model, but it also offers a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that actually makes more power than some V-8s in previous Mustangs.

Related: 2024 Ford Mustang: Still Cookin’ With Gas

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The EcoBoost engine has been offered before, but it’s been updated for the 2024 model year along with the rest of the car that sports redesigns of its interior and exterior. Changes include a smaller and lighter turbocharger, improved cooling and fuel injection, and a newly designed valvetrain. It makes 315 hp at 5,000 rpm, an increase of 5 hp versus the engine in the 2023 Mustang, and 350 pounds-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm, which is unchanged from last year. The four-cylinder pairs exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission; a manual transmission is reserved for V-8 Mustangs.

At Ford’s invitation, we traveled to Southern California to drive the EcoBoost and GT for the first time. (Cars.com pays for its own lodging and airfare when attending manufacturer-sponsored events.) We drove the EcoBoost-powered Mustang in the hills north of Los Angeles and on an autocross course. We also tried out the car’s newly available electronic drift brake. If you’re interested in the GT and its updated V-8 engine, be sure to read our full review.

In the Hills

ford mustang ecoboost 2024 14 interior dynamic driving jpg 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost | Cars.com photo by Leslie Cunningham

Our street steed was an EcoBoost Premium convertible with the Active Valve Performance Exhaust and Bronze Appearance Package among its options. Much of the drive route consisted of tight switchback roads, and the turbo four-cylinder’s abundant low-end power made charging up them a breeze. In the car’s Normal drive mode, the automatic transmission tended to be in too high a gear, but the Sport drive mode kept the transmission in lower, more appropriate gears. The transmission stumbled a few times during the drive but otherwise made smooth, precise shifts.

The Active Valve Performance Exhaust lets you adjust how loud the car sounds, but the exhaust note of the EcoBoost four-cylinder is not the kind of sound that needs to be amplified. While it sounds fine at idle, it’s not especially pleasant to listen to when hustling on a winding road. This seems like an easy option to skip if you’re considering the EcoBoost.

Ford says the Mustang’s steering ratio is a bit quicker for 2024, but the thing that stood out most during the drive is the steering’s light-effort feel. It doesn’t take much effort to turn the wheel, and the front wheels respond readily when you do, which helps make the Mustang feel nimble. Steering precision is good, letting you put the car right where you want, which was especially important on the narrow roads we were on.

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The 2024 Mustang offers an optional Brembo brake system with bigger calipers and larger rotors, but the standard braking system on our convertible delivered strong, fade-free stopping power on the street. Brake pedal feel is good, too, with a naturalness that makes it easy to slow the car.

The MagneRide adaptive suspension is optional for EcoBoost-powered Mustangs, but our convertible had the standard fixed shocks. Paired with the 19-inch aluminum wheels and 40-series tires that are part of the Bronze Appearance Package, this setup delivers firm-but-tolerable ride quality, and it keeps the car relatively flat in corners. While the convertible feels solid overall, rougher roads can make the windshield shake.

Carving Cones

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The EcoBoost-powered Mustang coupe I drove on the autocross course had the 2.3L High Performance Package and MagneRide adaptive suspension, and it exhibited many of the same qualities as the convertible. There’s the same nimbleness that makes it easy to confidently toss the EcoBoost around cones, as well as the light-effort steering that lets you put the car precisely where you want. There was some body roll in tight corners, but it wasn’t excessive, and the performance package’s Brembo brake system and summer tires work together to slow the car rapidly when you get on the brake pedal. While autocrossing a Mustang EcoBoost isn’t the first use case that comes to mind, it is something the car is capable of doing if that’s your thing.

Giving Drifting a Go

ford mustang ecoboost 2024 78 interior gearshift jpg 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost | Cars.com photo by Leslie Cunningham

My experience with drifting up to this point had been limited to spectating at a professional competition many years ago. With a little coaching and a few tries, I was able to get the Mustang EcoBoost into a short-lived drift using the new electronic drift brake — and had a lot of fun doing it.

The electronic drift brake is part of the performance package, and it features an electronic hand brake that locks up the rear wheels so you can put the car into a drift. It’s the kind of maneuver that puts a lot of wear and tear on your tires, and the Pirelli P Zero summer tires that come with the performance package cost nearly $300 a piece to replace.

Are Four Cylinders Enough?

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The answer to this question depends on what you want from a Mustang. The EcoBoost version offers all of the style and technology of its more powerful GT sibling, and it should be powerful enough if you’re just looking for a coupe or convertible for cruising that can also serve up some performance when you want. It’s also reasonably efficient, with EPA-estimated gas mileage as high as 22/33/26 mpg city/highway/combined.

Despite the EcoBoost’s power output and real-world performance, some shoppers will still think it’s missing four cylinders. If you fall into that camp and want the traditional V-8 Mustang experience, there’s the GT version, but those who are willing to give the EcoBoost a test drive may be pleasantly surprised by what it offers. I just wish it sounded better.

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