Which Is Better, the Ford Mustang GT or the Mustang EcoBoost?. Ford’s bread and butter over the previous six decades has been huge, muscular V8s. Ford has used them in everything from trucks to SUVs to performance vehicles. The Mustang epitomizes Ford’s V8 infatuation, with a V8 model available in practically every iteration. However, as we approach a new era with a high cylinder count allergy, even the Mustang is evolving.
Ford announced a new 2.3-liter 4-cylinder Mustang in 2015 to compete with its V8 sibling. So they claimed. Ford’s EcoBoost engine is a technological marvel and should be treated seriously. But does it belong in a Mustang? That is the query.
Both Mustangs, EcoBoost and V8, are available for purchase today, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll get to the meat of the issue in this piece. It’s vital to understand that we’re not talking about your average commuter. We’re talking about Mustangs here, therefore we’ll use Mustang-specific metrics to evaluate each. Prospective Mustang owners frequently ask the following questions. In a straight duel between the Mustang GT and the Mustang EcoBoost, the answers to those questions will likely tell you everything you need to know about each. The following are the questions:
- Will my neighbors be impressed?
- Will I be able to drag race a cocky teenager in a customized Subaru?
- Can it do anything but roast tires?
- How much money will I have to invest in it over the next five years?
If you’d rather see a video, check out our EcoBoost vs. 5.0 Mustang: Which Is the Better Buy video below:
Will the Mustang GT or Mustang EcoBoost impress my neighbors?
Consider this: On a hot summer afternoon, you pull into your driveway in your brand new Mustang. The Joneses are sitting on their porch and begin speaking quietly to each other as you approach. They approach you, and you can sense a mix of judgment and jealousy in the air. Mr. Jones’s first query will always be, “How many ponies has this baby got?”
This is where the big difference between the Mustang EcoBoost and GT becomes apparent.
If you decided to buy an EcoBoost, you’d probably have to act like a dog with its tail between its legs. Anyone’s dignity would be harmed if they learned that their brand new Mustang only has four cylinders. You’d have to save face by mentioning its excellent gas mileage, 135 horsepower-per-liter efficiency, and twin independent variable cam timing. Objectively, that doesn’t sound like anything a Mustang owner would say.
A Mustang owner should be able to answer that question with a single perplexing number and a single word: 460 horsepower. That is exactly what you might say if you purchased the Mustang GT. Without any justifications, that power figure is enough to make Mr. and Mrs. Jones take a second look at you. Mustangs have always been the president of the muscle car republic, and their nuke has always been a V8 engine. Everyone admires and fears a V8 Mustang. Needless to say, the Mustang GT wins this round in terms of bragging rights.
However, power figures and engine specifications are only relevant if your neighbors are nosy. People will just see a Mustang if you just shut up and let them guess. The latest generation Mustang, EcoBoost or V8, is a stunning vehicle. Both the EcoBoost and the GT have the identical skin, with only minor variations. Both cars’ interiors are identical, with the same optional accessories available on both. It’s anyone’s guess if the GT’s emblems are removed.
Will I be able to embarrass a braggart adolescent in a modified Subaru?
This is another crucial buyer’s query that is not addressed in the brochure. If you buy a new Mustang, you will be harassed at red lights by pimple-faced kids in souped-up beaters. It is unavoidable. The question is whether your Mustang can compete with a 20-year-old Subaru WRX that has full bolt-ons and 35 window stickers.
In short, both the EcoBoost and GT should be capable of handling the task. Let’s start with the EcoBoost. When I claimed previously that Ford’s EcoBoost engine needs to be taken seriously, I wasn’t lying. Getting 310 horsepower out of a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine is an incredible feat. Because the EcoBoost formula includes a turbocharger, torque is readily available at 350lb-ft. The EcoBoost will go from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. That’s 0.5 seconds faster than a new all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX.
In principle, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with the high-schooler who just finished last period algebra during a light-to-light race. At least until the EcoBoost Mustang’s top speed of 122mph, which is somewhat underwhelming.
Now, let’s talk about the Mustang GT. In this scenario, the issue is quite clearer. Any vape-smoking youngster will flee back to their mother after a single high RPM rev of the 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8. The 2021 Mustang GT will reach 60 mph in an organ-rearranging 4.3 seconds thanks to its 460 horsepower. That’s not just a good figure for a Mustang; it’s a good figure for any automobile. Off-road grip isn’t an issue thanks to the rear’s massive 305/30ZR19 tires.
The 2021 Mustang GT comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. The automatic, 10-speed paddle-shift transmission is a $1,595 option. That, in my opinion, is exactly how it should be. While paddle shifters make acceleration faster, choosing them over the stick feels sacrilegious. That’s like to purchasing a DaVinci picture to place above your toilet. It’s simply not right. In any case, a 2021 GT with any transmission will easily dispatch most prepubescent competitors.
Moreover, unlike the EcoBoost, the Mustang GT can run a full 12 mile without losing power. While the EcoBoost has a top speed of 122mph, the GT has a top speed of 155mph. If you require any more go, you’re probably a crazy with a death wish.
Can it do anything but roast tires?
Previously, a daily-drivability metric was unimportant in a Mustang discussion. With this latest iteration, however, it’s evident that Ford devoted at least some care to everyday use. Let’s start with what both Mustang models have in terms of creature amenities. The list of commonalities is lengthy because both the EcoBoost and GT share the same interior options.
Both the EcoBoost and GT have several features seen on a Ford Explorer, which is very un-Mustang-like. A rearview camera, pre-collision aid with automated braking, and automatic lane assist are among the features. If you pay extra, you can have adaptive cruise control, remote start, and a heated steering wheel. Who would have thought that THE ultimate muscle car would be as simple to operate as your mother’s Hyundai?
Ford claims in the booklet that both Mustangs offer seating for four, but no one is fooled. Both the EcoBoost and the GT have only two doors, making it tough to fit your kids in the rear. In actuality, the rear chairs are nothing more than glorified food racks. You can easily fill either Mustang with day trip bags or groceries, but squeezing four people comfortably into one is a touch ambitious.
So far, the tides have not been in favor of the EcoBoost. It clearly falls short in terms of overall performance and a true muscle car soul. However, the EcoBoost outperforms the GT in terms of everyday drivability.
Gas mileage is usually a good indicator of a vehicle’s efficiency, and the same can be stated here. When you compare the two Mustangs, there’s an obvious winner. Of course, with four fewer cylinders, the EcoBoost wins this round.
When Ford created its now-famous EcoBoost engine, they had two main goals in mind: performance and efficiency. The EcoBoost Mustang checks both boxes. Even with 310 horsepower, the EcoBoost achieves a combined mileage of 26 miles per gallon. There are several automobiles that get greater gas mileage, but we’re talking about a Mustang here.
There are no surprises when it comes to the Mustang GT’s fuel economy. It’s evident that Ford didn’t give a damn. The GT gets 15 miles per gallon in city driving, just breaking the double digits. Hopefully, you live close to your workplace.
Mustang GT vs Mustang EcoBoost: How much money will I invest in it over the next five years?
Before we go any farther, let’s talk about how much it will cost to drive both Mustangs off the lot. The EcoBoost is the more affordable option, with a base price of $27,205. Of course, some of the nicer creature pleasures described above will be excluded. If you truly wanted to customize an EcoBoost, the EcoBoost Premium model would cost around $35,000 to create.
The GT appears to be a tax bracket away, with a starting price of $36,285. This is $9,000 more than the standard EcoBoost and $1,500 more than a fully loaded EcoBoost. Some may perceive this as a cash grab by Ford, given the two Mustangs are remarkably similar in every way but the powertrain. But you can’t put a premium on pleasure, and that’s exactly what you’re getting with the GT.
So, how will their dependability seem like? Overall, things are looking up for both. Since the Ford EcoBoost has been on the market for seven years, most of the growing pains have been ironed out. The 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine that came before the 2.3L in the EcoBoost Mustang was a beast with few long-term reliability issues to speak of.
The 2.3L appears to be following in the footsteps of its larger sibling. The only “issues” worth mentioning are the 2.3L’s tendency to run hot and carbon buildup on the valves owing to direct injection. That’s pretty much it, and even those problems aren’t really problems.
It comes as no surprise that the GT is incredibly dependable. As it should be, given that Ford has had nearly a half-century to perfect their V8s. The Mustang GT’s dependability propelled it to the top of Consumer Reports’ list of the best American sports cars for 2021. There’s plenty of proof that Ford’s Coyote V8 is as tough as an M1 Abrams tank. Between the debut of the first-generation Coyote in 2013 and the introduction of the third-generation Coyote in 2021, reliability has gone from remarkable to invincible. Essentially, as long as you keep up with maintenance, the GT will likely outlive you.
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Summary of the Mustang GT vs Mustang EcoBoost
The Ford Mustang is one of those cars where the pedigree is just as important as the car itself. The type of vehicle that should come standard with a pair of aviator sunglasses. Before you go behind the wheel of a Mustang, you should know its history. This inevitably leads to the Mustang GT vs Mustang EcoBoost debate.
If you want a Mustang that lives up to the mythology, there is just one option: the GT. If you ignore the Mustang legend, the decision becomes more tricky. Both the EcoBoost and the GT are capable vehicles. Both will dazzle your neighbors from afar, and both will compete with little Johnny’s beefed-up Subie. The GT has a philharmonic V8 noise, but the EcoBoost won’t guzzle up fuel like a dehydrated dog.
The Mustang GT and the EcoBoost have completely different ways of competing. That being said, the GT performs better as a Mustang.