Not everyone can afford to tick all the boxes; some folks simply want a piece of a beloved story. With new Mustangs, that means EcoBoost: the base model and fleet star, the four-cylinder found at Hertz counters coast to coast.
The Mustang remains the only true car in Ford’s lineup, the lone holdout in a range of crossovers and trucks. The outgoing generation, which Ford called S550, ran from model years 2015 to 2023. The new car, S650, is basically the old car under a moderate makeover. It looks different, with a nicer interior, and the new dash screens are big enough to eat Milwaukee. If you’re tired of reading, that’s really all that matters. But you probably want to know more—the world is always curious about a new Mustang.
For 2024, Ford’s famous pony looks sharper and cleaner, except up front, where it has a mouth like a toothy carp. The base car, whether coupe or convertible, gets a version of Dearborn’s EcoBoost turbo four—2.3 liters, 315 horsepower at 5500 rpm, 350 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. The outgoing EcoBoost Mustang made 310 horses, unless you bought the optional hot-rod pack, which gave it 330. That option is now dead, which stinks. In other smelly news, a 10-speed automatic is now the only transmission, with the six-speed manual axed for the EcoBoost. Boo hiss.
The new engine is optimized for efficiency, mostly via reduced friction and mass. The coupe’s EPA fuel-economy ratings have risen 1 mpg combined and on the highway; they’re now 26 mpg combined, 22 city, and 33 highway. EPA numbers for the 2024 EcoBoost convertible are not yet public, but last year they lagged at least 2 mpg behind the coupe’s. As on S550 EcoBoosts, there is an optional Performance pack. For $3475, you get wider wheels and tires, an engine-bay brace, a Torsen limited-slip differential with a 3.55:1 final-drive ratio (as before, 3.15:1 with a clutch-type limited slip is standard), MagneRide adaptive dampers, fixed-caliper Brembo brakes, and a “drift stick” hand-brake lever on the center tunnel.
That lever is a gimmick but fun. In sane driving, the lever gently engages the electronic parking brake. Punch a button in the dash menus and it becomes an old-fashioned flyoff, telling the brake software to lock the rear wheels instantly, which can snap them into a slide. This feature is neat and giggly, and it works well.
About that dash: Some glass cockpits are just try-hard, even if you love screens. This one sticks out like a sore thumb full of pixels. There’s a 12.4-inch display above the steering column and a 13.2-inch touchscreen over the center console. The software interface is clean and mostly intuitive, which is nice, because the interior holds few physical buttons. Still, gross finger smudges and dust gather quickly, and in the Mustang’s lightly retro cockpit, it all wears like a cringey toupee.
Ford let journalists try new EcoBoosts on Los Angeles roads and a simple autocross course. We ran the latter in a Performance-package coupe, then took a red Premium-level convertible for a jaunt through nearby mountains. The Performance pack would have been nice there, though the trim we tried is generally more important.
The base EcoBoost is the volume play, how most Mustang drivers will meet the name. Like its predecessor, this is a fine car, in the way that Chipotle makes a fine burrito: not great, not terrible, but good enough, given price and style. The seats are comfy and decently supportive. The interior is a nice uptick over the outgoing arrangement, with less hard plastic. Cowl shake is present in the convertible but not annoying. The electronically boosted brakes are a little grabby at parking speeds, but the electronically assisted power steering at least suggests load at the front tires, which means it beats the industry standard.
Does a Mustang want a V-8? Sure, but the inline-four offers decent and ready torque, mostly in the midrange. Sadly, the 10-speed automatic is perpetually in a hurry to shift up, dragging the tach needle down the dial, where the engine moans and drones. (If you get the optional performance exhaust, fill the glovebox with Advil, unless you’re indulging in the goofy Remote Rev function that allows you to blip the throttle from afar with the key fob.) The gearbox has a Low mode but otherwise cannot be shifted manually unless you pay for the optional shift paddles.
Remarkably, for all of the above, the tally here is pleasant, with a sense of light occasion. Highway behavior is all-day chill but won’t put you to sleep. The trade-off is dowdy manners on back roads, where the body is controlled but floaty. Sharpening those reflexes would likely mean losing some comfort and mass appeal, and that’s not what base Mustangs are about—not how they find garages in Middle America, how they outsell base Camaros and so much else at or below the price.
The revised four-banger Mustang is easy to live with, affordable if you squint, and more than the sum of its parts, as base Mustangs have always been. Plus, it has that intangible draw, the pull of the original pony car. This is no V-8, but proximity to power is the next-best thing. The EcoBoost still feels like an attainable chunk of a grand old line, and that probably makes a lot of buyers very happy. With a name like this, that might be all that counts.
2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible
Base: Fastback, $32,515; Fastback Premium, $38,040; Convertible, $40,615; Convertible Premium, $43,540
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection
Displacement: 138 in3, 2261 cm3
Power: 315 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Wheelbase: 107.0 in
Length: 189.4 in
Width: 75.4 in
Height: 54.8–55.0 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 55/27–30 ft3
Trunk Volume: 10–13 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3600–3750 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 5.0–6.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.6–14.5 sec
Top Speed: 121–155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 23–26/20–22/27–33 mpg
Sam Smith is a freelance journalist and former executive editor at Road & Track. His writing has appeared in Esquire and the New York Times, and he once drove a Japanese Dajiban around a track at speed while being purposely deafened by a recording of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” He lives in Tennessee with his family, a small collection of misfit vehicles, and a spaniel who is scared of squirrels.