Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance — A rewarding experience

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(June 22, 2022) A quick Mustang history lesson — The 2002 Ford Mustang V-8 came with 260 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque and could complete a 0-to-60 run in about 5.5 seconds. We bring these statistics up should you scoff two decades later at the 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (called EcoBoost in Ford parlance) in the 2022 Mustang 2.3. A four cylinder in the newest version of Ford's muscle car? Hey, the EcoBoost 4 has a lot of muscle at its disposal, enough to leave the two-decade-old Mustang 5.0 in the dust.

Try these numbers on for size — standard 310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 350 pound-feet of torque @ 3,000 rpm. And horsepower goes up to 332 with the Performance Package making a 0-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds possible., according to Ford. Our seat-of-the-pants tells us the elapsed dead stop to 60 is more like 5.0 seconds. But, hey, that's still fast enough to handle most cars/crossovers on the road today.

Two things the 2.3 Mustang will bring in terms of operating cost is better gas mileage than the current 460-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8, and a lower annual insurance bill. Mileage on regular gas with the Performance Package with a 6-speed manual is EPA-measured at 21 city, 29 highway and 24 combined.  With the 10-speed auto shifter, EPA reports 21/32/25. Every gallon counts in these times of $5 gas.

The Performance Package, in addition to pushing the 4-cylinder close to the vaunted V-8 in performance,  includes larger brakes derived from the V-8 Mustang. In addition, a Handling Package is available, which adds MagneRide suspension, stiffer sway bars, a Torsen 3.35:1 limited slip rear end, and performance-oriented Pirelli tires on wider 19x9.5-inch rims.

You also get what Ford calls Track Apps with all the performance readouts such as acceleration timers for 0-30 mph, 0-60, 0-100, and braking performance such as 60-0 and 100-0 times, lap timer, and Launch Control. There’s a manual button next to the pushbutton starter to adjust the steering feel, but there's no adjustment for adaptive suspension.

We found the EcoBoost Performance Package — which comes in Premium trim — mated to an easy-to-shift 6-speed manual transmission a hoot to drive. The engine is willing to go hard and fast. It was eager to hit 60 mph and then surge over 100 mph in a quarter mile.

The rather firm ride pays off in exceptional handling. There’s little to no body lean, and steering is especially sharp, predictable and communicative. The stiffer suspension does a decent job of absorbing bumps and road imperfections and delivers quick turn-in response.

If you long for a good 6-speed manual transmission, this Mustang will reward you with loads of fun on winding road America, and you will save $1,595 over the cost of the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. While we enjoy a good manual shifter, if the Mustang was our long-term driver we would opt for the 10-speed automatic.

Inside, the Mustang is much the same as it has been for the past few years. Highlights include an attractive retro design fitted with the latest technology options such as Ford's Sync infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, a voice activated touchscreen with navigation, and SiriusXM radio. The climate controls are front and center, and well-placed vents evenly distribute cooled air for front passengers. The automatic climate control rarely needs any adjustment once set.

The Mustang's doors are long, which means they're hard to open fully in a tight parking space. Rear passengers will have a hard time stepping past the folded-forward seat when they're squeezing into the back.

There is a good amount of standard safety available through the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced features such as forward collision mitigation (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert,  lane keeping assist (makes minor steering corrections to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane) and automatic high beams.

A conundrum for Ford is that with all the performance options the 4-cylinder will run about the same price as a standard Mustang GT 5.0-liter V-8, which starts at $38,670 and in Premium trim, $43,690. Our loaded-with-good-stuff EcoBoost topped out at $42,265. But if you want a nimble Mustang that puts an emphasis on handling, offers better fuel economy and remains rewarding to drive, then the High Performance 2.3 might prove to be the way to go. It’s a fun car to drive that rewards you every time you push the starter button.

2020 Ford Mustang 2.3 High Performance


Base price: $37,875; as driven, $43,465
Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 332 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 350 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Length: 188.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,500 pounds
Turning circle: 36.5 feet
Luggage capacity: 13.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 15.5 gallons (premium recommended)
EPA rating: 20 city, 27 highway, 23 combined
0-60: 4.5 seconds (Ford)
Also consider: Chevy Camaro, BMW 2 Series, Dodge Challenger

The Good
• Excellent performance
• Sharp handling traits
• Modern cabin, retro styling

The Bad
• Stiff ride

The Ugly
• Price can escalate to 45 grand