2018 Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

2018 Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

Last Updated November 13, 2020 | Chris Cervenka

Whether it’s your first Mustang or your 50th, the choice between the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost and GT is a tough one! With Ford dropping the V6 from the Mustang lineup, they’ve only pumped even more performance-enhancing technology like line lock, launch control and more into the GT’s little brother. Did we forget to mention the 2018 EcoBoost Mustang is also getting a torque bump up to 350 lb-ft over the outgoing 2017 model year?

Just ten years ago, on a 2008 Mustang V6, you were looking at a 4.0L Cologne V6 with a measly 210 HP and 256 lb-ft of torque. Since then, Ford has increased those numbers by over 100 on both horsepower and torque - with two fewer cylinders! The Mustang EcoBoost also gets over 30 miles per gallon on the highway. For the fair-weather fan and moderate enthusiast, the EcoBoost is certainly no slouch.

Enough about the EcoBoost! What about the GT? The 2018 Mustang GT has received a ton of tech updates to the engine, transmission, exterior, and even some creature comforts like a heated steering wheel! With 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, the GT is measurably more powerful than the 2018 EcoBoost and outgoing 2017 Mustang GT. This is thanks to the all-new dual-direct port fuel injection and many other technological advancements under the hood.

The real question through all of this is which is for you - the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost or 2018 Mustang GT? With two great options at a mid-range price point, both are certainly attainable for enthusiasts out there. So, let’s get to business!

2018 Mustang GT Front

The Numbers

The numbers really show the primary differences between these two, as well as the major improvements made over the past year. When it comes to the new 2018 Mustang GT and EcoBoost, the numbers have risen across the board from the outgoing 2017 model year. With better technology inside and outside of the engine bay, both the EcoBoost and GT variants have seen major gains, and now there’s really a tough choice to make for your next Mustang.

Basic Highlights
Highlight 2018 Mustang EcoBoost 2018 Mustang GT
Vehicle Base Price (MSRP) $25,585 $35,095
Engine 2.3L GTDI I-4 Engine 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 Engine
Horsepower 310 hp at 5,500 RPM (93-octane fuel) 460 hp at 7,000 RPM (93-octane fuel)
Torque 350 lb-ft at 3,000 RPM 420 lb-ft at 4,600 RPM
Compression Ratio 9.5:1 12.0:1
Bore and Stroke 87.5 x 94 mm 93 x 92.7 mm
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection Dual-Direct Port Fuel Injection
Ford-Estimated MPG 21 city | 31 highway | 25 combined 16 city | 25 highway | 19 combined
Front Brakes 320 (12.6 in.) x 30-mm vented
discs, twin-piston 43-mm
floating aluminum calipers;

Performance Package:
352 (13.9 in.) x 32-mm vented discs, four-piston 46-mm fixed aluminum calipers
352 (13.9 in.) x 32-mm vented discs, four-piston 46-mm fixed aluminum calipers;

Performance Package:
380 (15.0 in.) x 34-mm vented discs, Brembo six-piston 36-mm fixed aluminum calipers
Rear Brakes 320 (12.6 in.) x 12-mm solid discs, single-piston 45-mm floating iron calipers, integral parking brake 330 (13.0 in.) x 25-mm vented discs, single-piston 45-mm floating aluminum calipers, integral parking brake
Base Curb Weight 3,543 lbs 3,705 lbs
Fuel Capacity 15.5 gallons 16 gallons
0-60 MPH <5 sec. (10-speed auto, Drag Mode) <4 sec. (10-speed auto, Drag Mode)

Breaking Down The Data

There’s obviously a clear difference between the 2.3L EcoBoost and 5.0L GT when it comes to both horsepower and torque. This makes sense because these two Mustangs are geared towards different markets, hence the $10k difference in starting MSRP. The EcoBoost is probably the most versatile in terms of being a base model rental car or fully decked out EcoBoost Premium with the Performance Package, MagneRide Damping System with BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and the Carbon Sport Interior Package at over $36k. The 2018 Mustang is truly one of the most customizable Mustangs to date!

There's a clear power difference between the two Mustangs. Not to mention the fact a modified full bolt-on stock-turbo EcoBoost can take on a stock GT, and probably beat it down the dragstrip. Regardless, in stock-form, both Mustangs are quite potent. Now, both the GT and EcoBoost models have their own Performance Package with sticky summer tires. With the addition of the 10R80 10-Speed Automatic Transmission and Drag Strip Mode for the 2018 model year, the GT is able to hit 60 MPH from a standstill in under 4 seconds, and the EcoBoost in less than 5 seconds.

Aside from the 0-60 MPH times, many of the bones of the 2018 Mustang are still the same as the outgoing 2017 model year. This includes the 12.6-inch base front brakes on the base model EcoBoost, 13.9-inch front brakes with four-piston calipers on EcoBoost Performance Package and base GT models and the illustrious 15-inch front brakes with six-piston Brembo calipers on GT Performance Package models. We should also add that there is the option for the MagneRide Damping System, but we’ll dive deeper into the Mustang’s new suspension later.

There are still some holes in the data since many media outlets like MotorTrend and Car & Driver haven’t gotten their hands on the newly refreshed Mustangs for instrumented tests, but for now we do know the basics.

2018 Mustang EcoBoost Performance Package Wheel
2018 Mustang EcoBoost With Performance Package

2018 Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Engine

"easily outrun pre-2011 Mustang GT’s down the dragstrip"

The Mustang EcoBoost models receive a revised version of the 2.3L four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that puts out additional torque than the previous model year. With 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, the EcoBoost Mustang is certainly no slouch and will easily outrun pre-2011 Mustang GTs down the dragstrip. New for 2018, the twin-scroll turbo-fed 2.3L four-cylinder features an overboost feature for the increased torque output delivering a broad, flat torque curve throughout the power band. With over 20 PSI of boost pressure available out of this engine from the factory, you’ll have plenty of power whether you prefer the autocross course, the occasional fun backroad, or just like cruising to the local car show.

One distinguishable fact about the Mustang’s 2.3L EcoBoost engine is the integrated exhaust manifold which places the turbocharger closer to the exhaust valves for quicker responsiveness throughout acceleration. Rather than having an exhaust manifold that dumps all four exhaust primaries into the turbocharger, Ford has integrated the turbo into the exhaust manifold. By reducing the distance between the exhaust exiting the engine and the exhaust side of the turbo, this reduces turbo lag greatly, making for a much more pleasurable driving experience.

2018 Mustang EcoBoost 2018 Mustang EcoBoost With Performance Package

One myth that may have some potential EcoBoost Mustang buyers out there hesitant about investing in the turbo-four option would be the reliability of a high-strung four-cylinder. Rest-assured Ford has put a ton of research & development into this engine and the platform it sits on. On top of that, the first version of this engine was used in Mustangs for three model years from 2015-2017 and a variation in the Focus RS. Many have taken 2015-2017 Mustang EcoBoosts deep into the 9-second quarter-mile range with a host of aftermarket modifications. There’s no question that this 2.3L EcoBoost engine is stout, even in its stock form.

What does all of this mean? Well, the Mustang EcoBoost could be the perfect option for many people out there. Whether you are looking for a Mustang at a lower price point, want better gas mileage because it’ll be your daily driver or you’re looking for an all-in-one package that is efficient and makes more power than pre-2011 V8 Mustangs, then the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost may be the right choice for you!

2018 Mustang 5.0L Coyote V8 Engine

"make the sprint to 60 MPH in under 4 seconds"

When you hear people talking about the 2018 Mustang and its improvements over the 2017 model year, they’re probably talking about the 3rd generation 5.0L Coyote V8 engine; the heart of the refreshed Mustang GT. Now producing 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, the new GT can make the sprint to 60 MPH in under 4 seconds when properly equipped with the 10R80 10-Speed Automatic Transmission in Drag Strip Mode.

Since the 5.0L Coyote engine’s inception in the 2011 Mustang GT at 412 horsepower, Ford has continuously improved upon this engine program through the 2013-2014 GT at 420 horsepower, Boss 302 at 444 horsepower, and 2015-2017 GT at 435 horsepower. Now, at 460 horsepower, Ford has really outdone themselves. With a series of beefier internals and clever technological advancements, an even more powerful third-generation Coyote engine was born.

2018 Mustang GT Engine 2018 Mustang GT Engine Bay

New for the 2018 Mustang GT’s V8 heart is a dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection system - a first for the Mustang! The addition of direct injection into the mix allowed for the higher compression at 12.0:1 which means more efficiency - that’s both gas mileage and horsepower! The third-generation 5.0L also features a wider bore with larger intake and exhaust valves which allow for increased flow for both fresh air and exhaust throughout the engine.

Not to get too technical, but one interesting add-on for the 2018 GT’s V8 Coyote engine is the addition of Plasma Transfer Wire Arc (PTWA) Cylinder Liner Technology. This technology offers improved performance and durability in comparison to more traditional iron cylinder liners by reducing friction and heat transfer. The addition of PTWA tech saves approximately 8.5 pounds in comparison to the typical iron-sleeved aluminum block and increases the overall efficiency of the engine.

Yes, but is the Mustang GT for me? If you’re the type of owner who likes to have a surplus of power at bay, then the GT is a great option for you. Albeit the price point is a bit higher than the EcoBoost, but the GT gives you more power, a better summer tire (Michelin Pilot Sport 4S) with the GT Performance Package, quicker acceleration and overall performance with decent gas mileage. And let’s be honest - who doesn’t like the sound of a roaring V8?

We should also note that the GT Performance Package - Level 2 ups the ante with included MagneRide Damping System with a custom calibration, and aggressive offset 19" x 10.5" (F) and 19" x 11" (R) wheels wrapped in super sticky 305-square fitment Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are also shared with the Shelby GT350R!

2018 Mustang GT Race Red

Mustang GT vs EcoBoost: Weighing The Options

It’s obvious that a distinct difference between the GT and EcoBoost does exist. For those who are out there who are longing for the GT and may be thinking they have to settle for the EcoBoost, just know that clearly is not the case! The EcoBoost is no slouch of a pony car, even when compared to the almighty GT.

2018 Mustang Digital Gauge Cluster

With the termination of the V6 series in the Mustang, Ford was able to focus more on the EcoBoost Mustang lineup and inject some more performance-oriented features into the-now base model Mustang. Not only did the EcoBoost get a bump in torque thanks to the overboost feature and a couple other improvements under the hood, but you’re also getting Line Lock & Launch Control standard! This used to be a feature only available on GT models up until now. Furthermore, the addition of the EcoBoost Performance Package allows for a TORSEN 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle, 19”x9 Low-Gloss Black Aluminum Wheels wrapped in 255/40R19 summer rubber along with a strut tower brace, heavy-duty front springs, larger radiator, larger rear sway bar and more!

If you’re deadset on the GT, we can certainly understand why! The addition of direct injection has opened up an entirely new realm of engine tuning that could potentially make the new Mustang GT even more receptive to an aftermarket tune than before. Even if your GT remains in stock form performance-wise, the optional Active Valve Performance Exhaust can deliver an exhaust note like no other stock Mustang GT has seen off the showroom floor.

We are happy to report that a host of the optional packages are available on both the EcoBoost and GT models including the MagneRide Damping System, 12-inch Digital Instrument Cluster, Recaro Seats, Carbon Sport Interior Package, the Shaker Pro and more! So, it really comes down to which engine you’re looking to get as the heart of your 2018 Mustang

2018 Mustang GT: Pros and Cons
Pros Cons
V8 power at 460 hp Reduced Fuel Efficency Compared to EcoBoost
Optional Active Valve Performance Exhaust Higher Price Point
Active Valve Exhaust includes “Quiet Start”
Launch Control and Line Lock Standard
Available shorter 3.73 rear gears with manual GT Performance Packages
Manual transmission-equipped GTs have revised MT-82 with Dual Mass Flywheel and Twin Disc Clutch
2018 Mustang EcoBoost: Pros and Cons
Pros Cons
Respectable Power for a Four-Cylinder Not V8 Power
More Affordable Price Point Minimal, but Noticeable, Turbo-Lag
Excellent Fuel Efficiency Michelin Pilot Sport 4S Tires Not Available on EcoBoost
Twin-Scroll Turbo Allows for Quick Spool and Great Power Without Stressing Engine Four-Cylinder Engine Sound/Exhaust Note
Launch Control and Line Lock are Starndard

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2018 Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

If you’re contemplating which route to take for your 2018 Mustang when it comes to the turbo-fed four cylinder and 460 horsepower Coyote V8, we can understand - it’s a tough choice! There are tons of benefits for a powerful four cylinder like having decent power and efficiency. Whereas, the GT boasts great V8 power and not-too-shabby gas mileage on the highway if you manage to stay out of the happy pedal. Which is your choice?

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