- We drove the redesigned 2024 Ford Mustang with the EcoBoost four-cylinder and 5.0-liter V8.
- The EcoBoost powertrain is more refined than its predecessor, though the 10-speed auto still falls short.
- Ford's tweaks to the V8 make it our favorite version of the GT we've driven.
Last Muscle Car Standing: We Carve Corners in the 2024 Ford Mustang
Classic Mustang powertrains meet next-gen tech
The redesigned 2024 Ford Mustang introduces the seventh generation of the pony car, though much of the previous Mustang's DNA is still present. The new car rides on the same platform and uses the same engines (all with slight modifications), meaning that the new Mustang drives similarly to the outgoing model.
But Ford has still done enough to make this Mustang feel fresh and even forward-thinking. And with its main competitors, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger exiting the gas-powered game in the near future, the Mustang might be the last American muscle car standing. After our time behind the wheel of the EcoBoost and GT models, we think the pony car is good enough to handle that pressure.
Small changes to outlast the competition
The Mustang sticks to its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup and uses the same engines as the last-generation Mustang with a few tweaks. That means a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four for EcoBoost models, while the GT gets the 5.0-liter Coyote V8.
The Mustang EcoBoost gets a reworked turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder for the 2024 model year. It delivers 315 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, making it the most standard horsepower ever offered in a Mustang.
Engineering mods to the turbo four-cylinder include a new bore-to-stroke ratio, along with updates to its direct injection system and variable cam timing. Ford estimates this helps the 2024 EcoBoost Mustang get 22 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway (versus 22 city/32 highway for the automatic-equipped 2022 model). And like we said, pour one out for the six-speed manual option in the EcoBoost because Ford has done away with it. The 10-speed auto is the only available transmission paired with the four-cylinder.
The Mustang GT sees its power boosted to 480 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque right out of the gate. Choose the GT's optional active-valve exhaust system and these figures are bumped to 486 hp and 418 lb-ft. In terms of just the GT's output, the 2024 model year's horsepower ratings now match previous special editions like the Mustang Bullitt and pre-2022 Mach 1. As for the prize stallion in the range, there's the Mustang Dark Horse. Its 500-hp V8 benefits from strengthened camshafts, forged piston connecting rods, and a uniquely balanced crankshaft. Keep your foot to the floor and the revs climbing higher, and this tire-smoking V8 spins all the way up to a redline of 7,500 rpm
Mustang EcoBoost meets the road
Having so much in common with the outgoing car, it comes as no surprise that the 2024 Ford Mustang feels familiar from behind the wheel. Anyone upgrading from a Mustang built in the last few years will immediately feel right at home. But to Ford’s credit, the entire car feels sharper and more dialed-in than it has in the past.
Ford reprogrammed the 10-speed automatic’s shift mapping. The new version is better than before, but still shy of ideal. In everyday driving, the auto stays in the background, but when you pick up the pace it starts to get in the way. It just doesn't shift as smoothly or as quickly as the best dual-clutch automatics. Best results come from doing the work yourself with the paddle shifters — but those only come with the Performance Pack.
Speaking of which, that package adds a lot of content. But at $3,475 it’s not exactly a steal. While it comes down to personal use cases, anyone planning on hustling their EcoBoost up a nice road on weekends shouldn't hesitate to tick the box. The limited-slip diff and upgraded Brembo brakes make a considerable difference. That said, we’d skip the additional $1,750 MagneRide adaptive suspension in the EcoBoost. It did little to improve the car's temperament at high speeds and made things borderline unpleasant in traffic.
The 2.3-liter has enough power to put a smile on your face, and the slight turbo lag actually adds to the excitement. That said, the noise accompanying an acceleration run turns that smile upside down. Who knows, maybe Ford has more variants up its sleeve in the coming years to help with that. One can only hope.
We’re a bit bummed that the EcoBoost is automatic-only now, but not enough to feel soured on the entire car. The four-cylinder Mustang is a competent sports car that offers more thrills from its handling abilities than its powertrain. Throw in some decent gas mileage and it's still a winning recipe for shoppers to consider.
The GT is still where it's at
As always, the Mustang is at its best when there's a V8 under the hood. The change in character and emotion is obvious the first time you step in the car. Our test car (a coupe equipped with the Performance Pack) had the standard six-speed manual transmission, a no-cost option that makes all the difference. There's a certain kind of bliss that comes with a V8 and three pedals, and this GT delivers it better than any of its predecessors.
Ford's subtle tweaks to the V8 do enough to make this engine feel like it's reached its peak — good timing, too, before it likely leaves us in the coming years. The noise is simply ferocious and grows with intensity the higher up the revs climb. Downshifts aren't always necessary for power, but we went through the ritual just to hear the car sing. When the transmission is in the appropriate gear, rolling onto the throttle provides big acceleration. But it's not scary; the GT's power feels controllable and exciting, something we can't always say about our long-term Shelby GT500 test car.
The gearshift itself feels like a clone from prior GTs. It's not quite at the caliber of what you get in a Porsche 911 or Honda Civic Type R, but the shifts are quick and direct. We also appreciate the rev-matching feature, which you can deactivate if you prefer to do all the work.
You might expect the lighter EcoBoost to be the better-handling Mustang, but we actually found the GT to feel more planted heading into high-speed corners. This provided the confidence to push a bit harder. You don’t have to hit extralegal speeds to get the most out of this car, but GT is intuitive enough to handle things if you do. The steering is reactive to small inputs, making on-the-fly adjustments a non-issue. And when you need to slow down, the upgraded GT Performance package Brembos had plenty more to give. We’ll put them to the test when we get the car on the Edmunds test track soon.
Pony-ing up (sorry, had to) to the GT means committing to a very capable performance car. But more importantly, it’s a connection to the engine that’s made the Mustang so special over the years. Spec it with the Performance package, say yes please to the six-speed and the end result is something really special.
Improved tech, same interior
This generation Mustang is no bigger than its predecessor inside, so comfortable is a relative term, depending on where you’re sitting. The back seat is only serviceable for small kids — both the sloping roofline and legroom will be too problematic for an average-size adult. The front row is a much better place to be, and the Mustang offers some great features like heated and ventilated seats to make your time on the road even better. We tried out the $1,650 Recaro bucket seats and they're a hard pass for us. They're too drastic for everyday use and lose the heating and cooling features.
The biggest changes are found inside, arguably where they were the most needed, as many of the complaints about our long-term Mustang Shelby GT500 center around its interior. New screens and a changed dashboard layout make the Mustang feel more modern, though it does swap out some physical controls that we like in the current model.
Behind the wheel, a large 12.4-inch instrument cluster display is now mounted side by side with a 13.2-inch touchscreen that now sits up high, rather than below a pair of air vents as it did in the outgoing car. There's still a volume knob but the climate controls have now been integrated into the screen and are consequently harder to use while driving. The new screen is large and bright, though it is placed a bit far away from the driver. We had to lean forward and stretch a bit to reach the bottom of the screen from a regular driving position.
The center touchscreen is powered by Ford's Sync 4 system, not the new Android-based operating system that was rumored. Ford says that the system will debut on a different, new model in the near future. It's slightly tweaked but will feel similar to what is seen on the Mustang Mach-E, just in a landscape layout instead of the Mach-E's portrait screen. One major difference is the Unreal Engine integration. This is software derived from video games that makes the system react quicker than any of Ford’s in the past. The Mustang is the first car to implement this before it spreads wider into the lineup over time.
One of the few physical controls remaining below the screen is a button with the Mustang's pony icon that opens up the car's performance pages. This gives the driver quick access to various performance settings, including exhaust loudness, launch control, and the Performance Electronic Parking Brake if equipped.
The new 2024 Mustang is a solid performance car, and it now has the tech setup to last well into the future and still feel fresh. The EcoBoost is the sensible option for some buyers, but the GT and its lovable V8 is still the way to go for the true enthusiast.