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2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Drivers' Notes | Qualified excitement

Packed with Ford Performance parts, but it's no V8.

  • Image Credit: Christopher McGraw
  • Trim
    EcoBoost w/Ford Performance Parts
  • Engine
    2.3L Turbocharged I4
  • Power
    335 HP / 390 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    Rear-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Seating
  • MPG
    21 City / 30 Highway
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price
    $34,222 w/Ford Performance Parts
While this version also came equipped with Ford Performance parts, it's a decidedly different (and tamer) beast than the Shelby GT350 we had in our fleet a couple of weeks ago. With the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine under the hood, this Mustang offers 335 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, directed to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. A saner car it might be, but it's far from boring.

Here's what our tester had as optional equipment:
  • Ford Performance wheel center caps - $192
  • Mustang Shelby GT350 Air Filter - $89
  • Mustang Track Handling Pack - $1,520
  • Mustang Ford Performance strut tower brace - $239
  • Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Performance Calibration Kit - $699
  • Mustang Ford Performance radiator cover - $105
  • Powered by Ford Performance Badge - $99
  • Mustang "Ford Performance" windshield banner - $50
  • Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost cat back sport exhaust system w/black chrome tips - $1,549
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I might have some unpopular opinions about this car. For one, I thought the EcoBoost engine provided plenty of power, at least for my tastes. It was plenty responsive, with crisp acceleration when I dug into the right pedal, even at highway speeds. Sure, the high-end grunt levels off a bit, but it still had enough oomph to overtake anyone I needed to. Secondly, I enjoyed the sound of the engine. It isn't the gut-punch of a roar that a V8 offers, but I think it's still soulful and exciting.

I'd probably opt for this engine if I were in the market for a Mustang. A couple generations back, I used to rag on the V6 Mustang. Now, I think the EcoBoost I4 offers a more compelling option than previous base motors, and provides a better balance of ample power and respectable fuel economy. Plus, it takes a just a little bit more work to achieve and maintain quicker speeds. To me, that makes it more fun and engaging.
Managing Editor Greg Rasa: I agree with Snyder about the power. The stock turbocharged 2.3-liter four makes 310 horsepower and 320 pounds of torque, and this tuned car makes more — much more, in fact, than my 10-year-old Mustang GT's V8 makes, and with half the displacement. It's plenty of power for a daily driver. But John and I differ on the engine note. It's just not that satisfying V8 sound you expect to come out of a Mustang. An EV making no sound whatsoever might be preferable. That's a minor complaint, and surely you'd soon think nothing of it.

Two other quibbles about this particular car. Some cars look handsome in white, but white seems boring here. And it has perhaps the tiniest center-stack display screen ever to be installed in an automobile — a wee 4.2 inches. This must be what it was like to watch TV in the early 1950s. It looks like Ford fixes that for 2018.

But the Ford Performance parts are what make this car interesting, particularly the Performance Calibration Kit, which gains 25 horsepower and 70 pound-feet of torque, and the Track Handling Pack. Whatever meaningless advantage an old Mustang may have in engine note is demolished by how this modern and modded Mustang drives. Old stock Mustangs handle, to put it kindly, not well. This car feels planted in comparison, flat in the corners and light on its feet, less nose-heavy with that smaller engine. Looking down the creases of the long hood, it's easy to imagine owning this and liking it quite a lot. Just turn up the radio.

Senior Producer Christopher McGraw:
Let's forget for a minute that the Mustang is best suited as a V8 muscle car tied to a manual transmission. Then we can start to appreciate this turbocharged four cylinder car for what it is: a good looking coupe that makes 310 horsepower or 335 in this Ford Performance guise.

I drove this Mustang from Detroit to Chicago and back this weekend, which might be the worst stretch of road east of the Mississippi. The Mustang's ride was harsh; this is definitely not a grand touring car. I felt every single bump, and there were a lot of them. The interior is loud too. You have to yell to your passenger when at highway speeds and turn up the radio to almost halfway just to understand whatever song you're listening to.

The four cylinder did allow me to hover right around 30 mpg for the trip, which is impressive considering I was sitting in Chicago traffic for a long time. And while it obviously can't compete with the 5.0 liter, the car didn't feel underpowered, and the interior felt spacious and airy compared to other muscle cars I've driven.

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