Mustang V6 or EcoBoost: Which Is Best For You?

Mustang V6 or EcoBoost: Which Is Best For You?

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Bill Tumas

The V8 Isn’t An Option For You; What Now?

So, at this point you’ve ruled out the GT with the big, torquey 435 horsepower Coyote V8 engine. It could be because of the gas mileage, price point or even just plain practicality – regardless, it’s not the Mustang for you. Don’t fret! There are other options out there – meet the 3.7L V6 and 2.3L I-4 EcoBoost engines.

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With both engines in the 300 horsepower range, these non-V8 Mustang engine options are no slouch when it comes to power. To put it in perspective, those kind of horsepower numbers are higher than the V8s from the 1994-2004 and 2005-2010 eras!

Now that you’ve narrowed the V8 out of the equation, it comes down to choosing between the 3.7L V6 “Cyclone” engine or the all-new 2.3L turbo-charged EcoBoost I-4 engine. Each have pros and cons to weigh into your decision, and that’s what this article is all about!

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The Numbers

Numbers don’t lie! Just because they’re non-V8 engines doesn’t mean that they are all the same. When it gets down to it, there are actually a considerable amount of differences between the Mustang’s 3.7L and 2.3L EcoBoost engines. Check out some of the cold, hard numbers below.

Highlights via Ford
Specification 2015-2017 Mustang V6 2015-2017 Mustang EcoBoost
Vehicle Base Price (2016) $24,295 $25,795
Engine 3.7 L Ti-VCT V6 Engine 2.3L GTDI I-4 Engine
Horsepower 300 hp at 6,500 RPM 310 hp at 5,500 RPM (93 octane fuel)
Torque 280 lb-ft at 4,000 RPM 320 lb-ft at 3,000 RPM (93 octane fuel)
Compression Ratio 10.5:1 9.5:1
Bore and Stroke 95.5 x 86.7 87.5 x 94
Fuel Delivery System Sequential Multi-Port Electronic Fuel Injection Direct Injection
EPA-Estimated MPG 17 city / 28 hwy / 21 combined (M/T)
19 city / 28 hwy / 22 combined (A/T)
22 city / 31 hwy / 25 combined (M/T)
21 city / 32 hwy / 25 combined (A/T)
Front Brakes 320 (12.6 in.) x 30-mm vented
discs, twin-piston 43-mm
floating aluminum calipers
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
Rear Brakes 320 (1 2.6 in.) x 12-mm solid
discs, single-piston 45-mm
floating aluminum calipers,
integral parking brake
320 (1 2.6 in.) x 12-mm solid
discs, single-piston 45-mm
floating aluminum calipers,
integral parking brake
Base Curb Weight 3,530 lbs 3,524 lbs
Fuel Capacity 16 gallons 15.5 gallons
Performance Numbers, via Car and Driver
Specification 2015-2017 Mustang V6 2015-2017 Mustang EcoBoost
0-60 MPH 5.5 sec. 5.5 sec
0-100 MPH 13.4 sec 13.3 sec
Quarter Mile 14.1 sec at 102 MPH 13.9 sec at 102 MPH
Top Speed 124 MPH 148 MPH
Braking, 70-0 MPH 164 feet 157 feet
Skidpad (300 ft. diameter) 0.89 g 0.98 g

Credit Car and Driver:2015-2017 Mustang V6 (A/T)2015-2017 Mustang EcoBoost (M/T, Perf Pack)

Breaking Down The Facts

Bright red 2015 Mustang on a mountain road 2015 Mustang V6

As you can see, the performance numbers between the two are relatively close in comparison. With the 13.9 vs 14.1 second quarter miles between the EcoBoost and V6, respectively, it’s a pretty tight match. But the turbocharged four-cylinder motor inches ahead of the V6 to take the win.

Another small difference between the two would be the gas tank capacities. It’s unconfirmed, but Ford may have done this in an effort to cut down on weight for the EcoBoost ever so slightly. In the long run, it really doesn’t amount to much since the EcoBoost gets slightly better gas mileage than the V6, resulting in near equal miles per tank numbers.

At this point, you’ve probably noticed the differences in both skidpad g-forces and braking from 70-0 MPH. The EcoBoost has a clear advantage over the V6 these categories due to the availability of the Performance Package only on the turbo-four. Thanks to the larger 13.9” four-piston brakes up front and sticky 255mm Pirelli P-Zero summer tires, the EcoBoost is able to come to a halt quicker and hold on to the asphalt with ease around turns. The V6 comes standard with all-season tires which is great for a daily driver, rental or even some spirited driving, but they definitely don’t stand up to the sticky P-Zero summers on the track.

The EcoBoost’s Performance Package

Red EcoBoost Mustang with black wheels 2015 Mustang EcoBoost With Performance Package

The Performance Package isn’t just a set of sticky tires and larger brakes. For an additional $1,995 to Ford, your four-cylinder Mustang will be gifted with a larger rear sway bar (Fastback only), unique chassis tuning, larger 13.9” front brake rotors with four-piston calipers, those sticky 255/40R19 P-Zero tires, a larger radiator, unique EPAS, ABS and stability control tuning and much, much more.

In the grand scheme of things, it really is a deal considering you get all of those things for about $2,000 when the wheels and tires alone would cost you that much in the aftermarket. If you plan on the occasional autocross session, track day or just like a spirited drive through some backroads, the EcoBoost’s Performance Package is definitely a leg up over its V6 counterpart.

The EcoBoost Performance Package includes:

  • Upsized rear sway bar (Fastback only)
  • Unique chassis tuning
  • 13.9" front brake rotors with four-piston calipers
  • Unique 19”x9” Ebony Black-Painted Aluminum Wheels
  • 255/40R19 summer-only tires
  • Unique EPAS, ABS and stability control tuning
  • Engine turn aluminum instrument panel applique
  • Interior gauge pack (oil pressure and boost)
  • 3.55 limited-slip rear axle
  • Larger radiator
  • Heavy-duty front springs (Fastback only)
  • Spoiler delete

How These Engines Make Similar Power In Much Different Ways

A Roush cold air intake installed in a 2015 Mustang's engine bay 2015 Mustang V6 Engine Bay With Roush Intake

Both the 3.7L V6 and 2.3L I-4 make similar power numbers. But, they both do it very differently. This is due to the fact the V6 is naturally aspirated and the I-4 is turbocharged. A turbocharged motor will make power in a different way because the operation of a turbo dictated by exhaust flow. When RPM is low, there’s less exhaust flow, which means less “spool” or pounds of boost. This lack of exhaust flow and boost at low RPM is known as “turbo lag,” but that’s a conversation for another day.

As the RPM rises, the exhaust flow increases and spools the turbo quicker and quicker. However, most factory turbos are relatively small because they’re made to operate at efficiency in the mid-range (2,000-4,000 RPM) of the power band. This means that the turbo spools up pretty quick, but runs out of steam as the RPM rises. That’s why some say the EcoBoost can “fall on its face” in the higher RPM – this is clear on the dyno chart where you see both horsepower and torque fall off after ~5,500 RPM.

Dynographs comparing the EcoBoost and V6 Mustangs

*These dyno graphs are measured in rear-wheel horsepower, not advertised crank horsepower numbers.

The operation of a naturally aspirated motor is much simpler in nature. Since there isn’t any forced induction like a turbo, there’s no interruption in airflow throughout the power band such as turbo lag. The result is a nice, smooth torque curve all the way through, unlike the EcoBoost’s torque curve which builds power quickly after 2,000 RPM once it has sufficient boost.

Cobb intake installed on EcoBoost Mustang 2015 Mustang EcoBoost Engine Bay With COBB Intake

The biggest difference between the 2.3L EcoBoost and the 3.7L V6 engines can be found in the mid-range. The EcoBoost essentially has a shelf beginning at 2,000 RPM and carrying pretty steady until about 5,000 RPM. Whereas the six-cylinder motor has a steady, flat torque curve throughout the same range. What does this mean? Well, torque is the seat-of-the-pants feeling you get when you accelerate in your Mustang. Due to the quick wall of low-end torque for the EcoBoost, you’re going to get a quick burst of oomph once the turbo catches up with the exhaust flow. On the other hand, the naturally aspirated V6 will be a steady, smooth acceleration all the way through due to the flat torque curve.

So what does all this mean? The nature of a turbocharged motor is a bit different than what most are used to from a naturally aspirated motor. The majority of time is spent in the mid-range, so for EcoBoost owners that wall of torque at 2,000 RPM can definitely be fun. Yet, sometimes you can’t beat the smooth, comfortable acceleration of a flat torque curve from the six-cylinder. It really all comes down to what you prefer, though. We’re just here to provide the information to make a decision you’ll be happy with!

Weighing the Options: Mustang EcoBoost
Pros Cons
Wall of torque makes you say “Wow!” Slightly more expensive, especially after adding the Perfomance Package
Performance Package options Four cylinder engine sound/exhaust note
Better fuel economy Need 93-octane fuel for maximum performance
More aftermarket support
Premium Trim option
Weighing the Options: Mustang V6
Pros Cons
Better exhaust note No Performance Package option
Smooth torque curve = comfortable ride Worse fuel economy
Cheaper No Premium Trim option
Only need 87-octane fuel for maximum performance Less aftermarket support

Aftermarket Parts For Your V6 Or EcoBoost

There’s everything from blow off valves and wastegates, to cold air intakes, tuners and exhaust – all available for the EcoBoost Mustang. However, the options are limited when it comes to the V6. There are still options out there, just not as much variety. But don’t worry! We are adding parts to our inventory every day, including parts for the V6, so keep your eyes peeled on our Mustang parts page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our YouTube channel for all the up-to-date info on your EcoBoost or V6 S550 Mustang parts!

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.