Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

Last Updated May 13, 2021 | C.J. Tragakis
Contents

Since 2018, the S550 has had two engine choices for the regular (non-Shelby) models: the EcoBoost turbo-four and the GT’s 5.0 Coyote. The EcoBoost motor serves as the entry-level powertrain, but it still packs a punch. In fact, the EcoBoost outperforms the previous GT engine, the 4.6 modular motor used in the earlier S197s. However, some performance purists will say that the 5.0 V8 is the only way to go.

So what are the differences between these two trims? Whether you’re just curious or are trying to decide which is best for you, this guide will lay out the pros and cons of each.

EcoBoost vs GT Specs Comparison
SpecificationMustang EcoBoostMustang GT
Starting MSRP (2020) $26,670 ($31,685 for Premium) $35,880 ($39,880 for Premium)
Engine 2.3L Turbocharged GDI Inline-Four 5.0L Ti-VCT V8
Horsepower 310 hp 460 hp
Torque 350 lb-ft 420 lb-ft
0-60 mph (automatic) 5.0 seconds 3.8 seconds
EPA MPG (automatic) 25 comb / 32 hwy / 21 city 19 comb / 25 hwy / 16 city
Fuel Capacity 15.5 gallons 16 gallons
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection Dual-Direct Port Fuel Injection
Compression Ratio 9.5:1 12.0:1
Bore and Stroke 87.5 x 94 mm 93 x 92.7 mm
Base Curb Weight 3,543 lbs 3,705 lbs

Exterior Comparison

The exterior styling of the GT and EcoBoost Mustangs is so similar it can make telling them apart somewhat difficult. Even owners and enthusiasts may not immediately be able to tell the difference at a glance. Here are some visual cues that differentiate the stock GT’s exterior from the EcoBoost’s.

Exhaust Tips

The EcoBoost exhaust has dual tips while the GT uses quad tips. Arguably, the exhaust’s sound is of more interest to buyers. See below for the differences in exhaust note.

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT Exhaust Tips

Badges

The GT gets 5.0 fender badges and a rear “GT” emblem. The EcoBoost doesn’t have fender badges and has a running horse rear emblem on the trunk.

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT Rear Emblems

Grille/Fascia

The GT features a prominent V-shaped insert that is absent on the EcoBoost. It also has a smaller, symmetrical honeycomb pattern. This contrasts with the more elongated hexagons on the EcoBoost grille.

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT Front Grille and Fascia

Wheels

The base EcoBoost wheels aren’t shared with any other trim, making them an easy spot. However, the EcoBoost Premium shares the GT wheels, so this is a less reliable way to tell the difference.

Base EcoBoost vs Premium EcoBoost and GT Mustang Wheel

Interior Differences

The interiors of the GT and EcoBoost are identical, depending on which trim level you choose. There are base and Premium trims available for both engines. The latter adds options like heated leather seats, selectable track modes, a 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, and the upgraded SYNC 3 infotainment system. Some exceptions exist, like the California Special package (an entirely visual upgrade), which is a GT-exclusive.

EcoBoost vs GT Features
SpecMustang EcoBoostMustang GTWinner
Features Base or Premium trim Base or Premium trim Tie

Engine and Power Comparison

Some say that a four-cylinder doesn’t belong in a muscle car. Fortunately, the Mustang is a pony car, and it’s had some impressive I4s in the past. The venerable turbo-four Mustang SVO was even quicker than some contemporary V8 Mustangs.

Small turbocharged motors are everywhere these days, partly due to tightening efficiency standards. However, companies around the world are pushing their performance to the limit, and the S550 EcoBoost is no exception. The 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque produced is enough to give you a 0-60 mph time of right around five seconds.

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT Engine

The Coyote V8 in the GT is much more powerful, with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. If you have the 10-speed automatic transmission, it can bring you to 60 mph in under four seconds. Adding a supercharger can give you hundreds more horsepower.

Both of these motors have proven to be reliable in the Mustang, with very few widespread problems. The “BBQ tick” in the recent Coyote engines is annoying, but doesn’t cause any actual performance issues. Whether you pick an EcoBoost or a V8, you can feel confident in the reliability of the powertrain.

EcoBoost vs GT Performance
SpecMustang EcoBoostMustang GTWinner
Power 310 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque 460 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque GT
0-60 mph (automatic) 5.0 seconds 3.8 seconds GT
Combined MPG 25 18-19 EcoBoost

Exhaust Note

We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the subject of exhaust note. The GT sounds better. It’s almost impossible to say otherwise. Even most EcoBoost owners can agree on this point.

Still, the EcoBoost doesn’t sound bad for a 4-cylinder. While you can’t make it sound like a V8, you can get more growl, turbo whistle, and overall volume. Check out our EcoBoost exhaust guide for ways to improve your turbo Mustang’s sound.

The GT’s volume and tone can be significantly altered to suit your tastes. If you’re ready to unleash your Coyote V8 beyond the restrictive factory levels, take a look at our Mustang GT exhaust guide.

Fortunately, both the EcoBoost and GT now come with active exhaust as an option. This means that you won’t have to wake up your neighbors every time you start your car in the morning.

EcoBoost vs GT Exhaust Note
SpecMustang EcoBoostMustang GTWinner
Exhaust Note Raspy burble, with turbo whoosh Classic, deep muscle car rumble and growl GT

Handling and Suspension Differences

One area of performance where the EcoBoost outshines the GT is in the handling department. It feels sharper than the GT, in part because it weighs about 160 lbs. less. The lighter engine allows for more direct steering with sharper feel in corners. This makes the EcoBoost more enjoyable when taking tight turns. It’s also less likely than the GT to have the rear end fishtail when taking a corner too quickly.

With that said, the GT doesn’t drive like a boat. Even in base form, it feels lively and precise. Handling can be improved even further with the optional Magneride suspension (available on both trims). The extra weight won’t bother you at all when driving in a straight line (460 hp will see to that). Through corners, the big Coyote V8 will make its presence known in the front of your Mustang. But this is still the best-handling V8 Mustang ever made.

If you’re looking to mod your Mustang for autocross, the EcoBoost is a great platform. The EcoBoost High Performance Package (HPP) adds a lot of these upgrades right from the factory, plus unique style and an additional 20 hp.

EcoBoost vs GT Handling
SpecMustang EcoBoostMustang GTWinner
Handling Sharp and direct, helped by the small engine up front Better than any GT so far, but still can feel heavy in the front EcoBoost

Which Mustang Is Better: EcoBoost or GT?

Though there’s no doubt that the Mustang GT is the trim with the strongest performance, there are some advantages to the EcoBoost to think about. In the table below, we take a head-to-head look at some of the attributes that are most important to consider when buying a performance vehicle.

EcoBoost vs GT Comparison
SpecMustang EcoBoostMustang GTWinner
Starting MSRP $26,670 $35,880 EcoBoost
Features Base or Premium trim Base or Premium trim Tie
Power 310 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque 460 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque GT
0-60 mph (automatic) 5.0 seconds 3.8 seconds GT
Combined MPG 25 18-19 EcoBoost
Exhaust Note Raspy burble, with turbo whoosh Classic, deep muscle car rumble and growl GT
Handling Sharp and direct, helped by the small engine up front Better than any GT so far, but still can feel heavy in the front EcoBoost
Moddability Exterior, interior, performance Exterior, interior, performance Tie

Who Is the GT For?

Despite the more nimble handling of the EcoBoost, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of putting your foot down in a V8 car. The GT is for someone who has the extra money to spend in order to get the power and sound of the Coyote. For many, the exhaust note alone is worth the price of admission. The GT is also favored by performance enthusiasts, who can get even stronger performance with the addition of aftermarket mods.

Who Is the EcoBoost For?

The EcoBoost is around $9,000 less than the GT, making it a great entry-level trim. Despite being entry-level, it still offers better performance than many competitors. You’ll save money at the gas pump too, as the EcoBoost has better MPG. Your insurance company may also offer significantly lower premiums for the four-cylinder versus the V8.

One thing’s for sure...there’s plenty of room for both ponies in the Mustang family.

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Sources: Ford | Car and Driver

Mustang EcoBoost vs GT

The EcoBoost Mustang is regarded as the entry-level option, which is true in terms of price. But it also offers some other benefits compared to the GT that you may not expect. See how the EcoBoost and GT Mustangs stack up in this head-to-head comparison.