Just last year, I reviewed a (pre-facelift) 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost here on Curbside Classic. Today, I present to you this 2019 Ford Mustang EcoBoost. Is this review going to be all that different? Yes. Firstly, this is the convertible. And secondly, instead of a day driving around Los Angeles, I spent three days and put almost 1000 miles on this Mustang as I traversed the west coast. So, what’s better? Coupe or convertible? And did Ford meaningfully improve the Mustang for 2018?
It’s rather cliché taking a Mustang convertible along CA-1 and my friend and I certainly saw many like-minded travellers. I’d reserved a coupe but had a last-minute change to a convertible. This meant a significant reduction in luggage space – while the coupe can fit three suitcases in its trunk, the convertible can muster only one large suitcase and a standard-size carry-on. My friend’s large backpacks had to occupy the back seat.
The reduction in structural rigidity is also immediately noticed. The convertible does suffer from some scuttle shake and you can occasionally see the windshield quiver. Handling is a little less planted in tight turns with a touch more body roll, though ride quality remains commendable.
Ah, but drop that top and there’s that convertible magic, the tree canopies over the Redwood Highway or the beautifully striated clouds along CA-1 proving beautifully if dangerously distracting. Dropping the top itself is easy – twist a handle, push a button and wait around 5 seconds. Putting it back up just requires an extra pull when twisting the handle and you’ll have to wind up the windows yourself.
Even with the roof up, however, the Mustang EcoBoost is delightful to drive. It is, however, noisier than the coupe. We also encountered an issue with the Sound Symposer, the system whereby engine and exhaust sound is piped through speakers into the cabin. For the most part, it worked well. Whether these little speakers accurately enhanced the Mustang’s existing engine sounds or not, the end result was a car that sounded more like a burbling Volkswagen five-cylinder engine than a buzzy four-cylinder. Alas, the Sound Symposer experienced some technical difficulties and made some strange creaking and static noises. There didn’t appear to be a way to turn it off, either.
Drop the top again, however, and the sound wasn’t noticeable. Either that or pump up the stereo, or both. The Mustang’s 8-inch infotainment system is relatively intuitive to use but its user interface is a little Windows 95 in appearance. The navigation system, like basically every proprietary navigation, is vastly inferior to Google Maps; Sync’s voice command system was also disappointing. Fortunately, there’s Android Auto to the rescue and so my phone stayed securely plugged in for almost the entire trip.
Unlike my last Mustang rental, this EcoBoost Premium convertible came with the optional configurable 12.4-inch digital gauge cluster. You can use one of the chrome-look rocker switches on the dash to toggle between the Mustang’s drive modes – Normal, Sport +, Track, Drag Strip and Snow/Ice. The appearance and layout of the gauge cluster will change accordingly. You can even customize the appearance and the steering wheel button with a Mustang logo on it will take you to a menu where you can customize the colors. That includes both the primary and secondary colors on the gauge cluster as well as the ambient lighting throughout the cabin, and if your desired color isn’t in the pre-sets you can configure your own. Gimmicky? Absolutely, but it’s a wonderfully easy bit of personalization Ford has allowed Mustang owners to do. More importantly, you can use this menu to set your preferred drive mode selections, too.
The 2018 revision brought myriad changes to the Mustang. Most visible was a new front-end design with a more rakish fascia that looks almost vaguely European, as well as revised taillights. There are some who prefer the old design and others the new, but I’m sure everybody is on the same page regarding the interior. There are some nicer materials and some stitching detail around the center console, previously a wasteland of hard and unpleasant plastic. There’s even some nice leatherette padding on either side of the console where one’s knees might make contact. In photos, the cabin might not look all that different but in person, the ambience is hugely improved. Ford may even have the best interior design in the segment now.
Perhaps the most crucial change was the introduction of a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Fortunately, it resolved my biggest issue with the pre-facelift car and its six-speed auto: the jarring shifts in Sports Mode. Though Normal mode is perfectly fine when loping around town, Sport+ firms up the steering, tweaks the stability control, and shifts the gears more aggressively (albeit smoothly) and is therefore the preferred selection.
You can use the paddle shifters to change the gears manually, though it will countermand you if you leave it in a particular gear for too long. The programming is less intrusive than in some other cars with paddle shifters, however. From Leggett inland out to the coast, I enjoyed a long bout of using the paddles and found it only overrode me once I got out of the twisties and onto a straight road. And even left to its own devices, the 10-speed performed superbly.
Selectable driving modes have been around for decades now but they’re enjoying a surge in popularity. Since its extensive refresh in 2018, the Mustang can also now be equipped with MagneRide adaptive dampers to further customize your driving experience.
The Mustang EcoBoost delivers its power progressively and without any untoward turbo lag. Indeed, an authoritative stomp on the gas pedal yields immediate dividends as the turbocharger spools up. Producing 310 hp at 5500 rpm and 320 ft-lbs at 3000 rpm, the Mustang EcoBoost hits 60 mph in approximately 5.3 seconds. Though it doesn’t feel as snappy off the line as a V8-powered pony car, there’s more than enough power here to delight, especially if you keep your foot planted.
The EPA rates the Mustang EcoBoost convertible at 21/32 mpg or 25 combined. I achieved 25 mpg in almost exclusively highway driving up until CA-1 started and the roads became too curvaceous to drive placidly, sinking our mileage to 22 mpg. While an average of 22 mpg for a nearly 1000-mile trip of mostly highway driving sounds disappointing, at least when juxtaposed with the Mustang’s EPA highway rating, I can only imagine how much worse it would’ve been with the V8. Our car was barely broken in, mind you, with less than 2000 miles on the odometer.
Back home in Australia, the Mustang V8 accounts for upwards of 85% of Mustang sales. There, however, the Mustang has a storied reputation for V8 performance. The US, however, has a long history of four- and six-cylinder Mustangs owned by rental companies, young women and others. And this belter of an engine shows you needn’t buy the V8 to have fun in a Mustang. Four-cylinder Mustangs have come a long way since the naturally-aspirated Fox ‘Stangs of the ’80s and ’90s.
Base MSRP for the 2019 coupe is $26,395, the convertible commanding a substantial $5500 premium. Unless you’re completely enamoured with the drop-top experience, the coupe is the more sensible choice. Even the base EcoBoost model comes standard with performance goodies like electronic line-lock, as well as launch control in manual versions. Base Mustangs use a smaller, 4.2-inch infotainment screen and have cloth seats without power assist. To get my rental’s niceties, you’ll need to shell out another $5k or so for the EcoBoost Premium model. There’s a lot of extra kit for that money, thankfully, including the larger touchscreen with SYNC 3, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, ambient lighting and dual-zone climate control.
In 2018 and 2019 models, the optional Performance package – available on both EcoBoost and V8 models – added larger brakes, 19-inch wheels and summer tires, a shorter differential ratio, bigger radiator, stiffer front springs and a larger rear stabilizer bar. MagneRide adaptive dampers were a standalone option. For 2020, the Performance package on the EcoBoost is replaced with a special High Performance package exclusive to the EcoBoost. This uses a version of the Focus RS’s Spanish-built 2.3 turbo four, rated at 330 hp (up 20 from the regular EcoBoost Mustang, down 20 from the Focus), and also includes the old package’s performance add-ons. A coupe-exclusive EcoBoost Handling Package adds the MagneRide dampers.
Therein lies the most brilliant part of the Mustang. It has the performance chops to deliver on a spirited drive along a winding road but it’s equally competent in the day-to-day grind. The ride is accommodating, the steering comfortably light in Normal mode, and the transmission is refined. Alas, the Mustang is still compromised. Those rear seats are seats in name only and those with aching joints will have to enter and exit in an awkward, side-saddle way. Nevertheless, this is a relatively affordable way to get the sports car experience without sacrificing too much comfort or spending too much. For maximum dynamic ability, however, save yourself $5k and get the coupe.
Rental Car Review: 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost – Rolling In Our 2.3
Rental Car Review & Travelogue: 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T – In A Class Of Its Own
Rental Car Review: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS – Having Your Cake And Eating It, Too
Not a badly equipped car, my cousin had a Mustang vert rental either last year or the one before I forget which he reckoned it was ok nothing special but a reasonable cruiser, I like the speedo set up its a bit like the setup in the Kenworth I drove last summer, endless amounts of information available on the dash above the speedo just select what you want to know and the centre stack infotainment/ nav centre could bring up all the missing gauges as a display after you’d set you music, diff temps, boost, torque inlet and exhaust temps interesting to watch pulling up long climbs@54 tonnes but a bit distracting from the job in hand, easier to read than the scattered gauges Kenworth fit to earlier trucks some of which you cant actually see without moving your whole body or puttingthe seat right up.
If I were in the market for a new “fun” car, a Mustang vert would be on the list of cars to check out. It is interesting that you found the 10 speed auto to be so pleasant. Could it be that Ford has finally figured out the secret to programming one of these things where others (talking to you, FCA) have not?
Does Australia have anything like CAFE that we have here in the US where there are penalties for not making fuel mileage targets? If not, this could explain the huge disparity in the number of V8 Mustangs in these two markets.
There are few climates more agreeable to convertibles than the California coast. It looks like you got the maximum convertible experience.
I don’t believe so and yet we value fuel efficiency highly here, perhaps due to our comparatively higher fuel prices. Pickups are almost all diesels and SUVs are, I believe, majority diesel. A 200-Series LandCruiser V8 is a rural status symbol and yet the diesel Hilux is the best-selling vehicle here; the Nissan Patrol doesn’t do as well as it did because the current model (aka Armada in North America) is V8-only.
So while I don’t believe there’s any CAFE-level government intervention — correct me if I’m wrong, fellow Aussies — high fuel prices influence buyers’ decisions anyway. You may be happy to hear there’s no CAFE here but it also means electric vehicle market share is well behind the US and I believe hybrids also account for a smaller piece of the pie here. But the whole CAFE discussion is probably best saved for another time and place.
I was in Australia late last year (would have loved to have stayed) and noticed that at least 10% of the houses had solar panel on the roofs. Overall, I found the country to be close to perfect.
Great writeup on a vehicle I am somewhat familiar with since I deal with several of these at the rental car company I work for. Did you know that for 2019 the 2.3 Liter takes 6QTS of oil compared to 2018’s 5.7QTS. Looks like someone rented this Mustang when it was fresh outta the box then drove it to Cali from Washington which does not surprise me.
I betcha all those 2018s have been getting 6qts all along. And they never even knew it.
There are Sound Symposer delete kits to be found on the Intertubes. I have no need for ‘piped in’ engine sounds. Ugh
You didn’t say how much of the time was spent in top down driving. In my 2014 Mustang convertible (V6/six speed auto) having the top down costs around 4 MPG at highway speeds; the trade off of open air motoring is well worth the price, in my opinion. It is interesting that even though the roofline on the solid top Mustangs has changed, the same convertible top has been used through several iterations. This is the second Mustang I’ve owned with the 3.7 liter V6; I thought that I would miss not having the V8 but have learned to live with the six. I have not driven an Eco-boost Mustang, the horsepower numbers are about the same (as the six) but the turbo four has quite a bit more torque. I can’t imagine wanting (or needing) to replace my current Mustang but the Eco-boost would definitely be in play if it ever came to that.
Important question. We only drove top-down for short spells but absolutely that would affect fuel economy.
“the system whereby engine and exhaust sound is piped through speakers into the cabin.”
Such a system seems silly, until I recall how kids in high school flipped over the air cleaner covers on their emissions choked V-8s. It made nary a change in overall performance, but the engine sounded so much more potent. For many people, the perception of performance trumps the real thing…
laughing because I remember the guys who would flip the air cleaner lid on say Dad’s 1983 Oldsmobile 88 to make the 307 sound more potent.
Now I realize how undignified we were. Like farting at a quiet moment during a funeral.
I still remember how it sounded on my ’76 351C cougar. You floored it and the engine would sound awesome, or at least less anemic
Copy that with the 351W in my ’73 LTD.
As kids we were dumb, but it was the Malaise era, so you’d take what you could get. ;o)
Good review! The only thing missing is an engine photo. On 2011-14 Mustang GT’s (like mine), they have a sound tube running from the intake into the interior. I rented a 2016 GT (all too briefly) and I thought I remembered it there as well.
I have never liked the idea of artificial engine sound through tbe speakers, both because it seems too fake and because I’m a bit of an audiophile and music lover and I don’t want anything messing with my tunes.
Artificial engine sounds through the speakers should only be available if you check off the artifical wind in your hair option, and the very sexy inflatable date for the passenger seat. The Twilight Zone is the new reality. The old normal is what we can’t go back to.
Meh, doesn’t bother me all that much if it’s done right. Often these systems are just piping in existing sounds anyway that have been dulled by sound deadening. It’s not like adding a V8 soundtrack to a Tesla.
I thought the Sound Symposer was just another gimmick until I got to the part about not being able to override it… especially if it occasionally hiccups static. Ugh.
What amuses me is that the car would have enough sound insulation to make it quiet, but then have non-overridable fake noise piped in. If I’m going to be fed fake noise, I’d at least like to be able to control it!
Yeah the whole idea seems seriously foolish.
I guess Ford could just pipe the open end of the exhaust system right into the passenger compartment and include respirators. At least it would be the real thing if that’s what you really want.
Well-done. Excellent article!
The other thing the Performance Pack gets you (and has since the 2015 redesign) is the gauge pack, which replaces the center-middle vent on the dashboard with oil and turbo boost gauges. But the easiest way to identify Performance-Pack models is by their black painted wheels.
You also get a gauge mode in the central display with tire pressure, cylinder head temp, oil temp, intake air temp and air/fuel mixture. I don’t know if that is a Performance Pack feature only, or if it is also available in the base Ecoboost.
Last year, May 2018, after an engine failure sidelined my ancient 914 in desert of Nevada, I flew to Denver’s DIA, met my son and picked up a rental 2018 Burgundy Red 2.3 litre Ecoboost, 10 speed Auto Mustang Convertible which our rallymaster allowed me to use as an alternate car entry during the Silver Summit Rally.
Initially we were unaware of what engine our rental Mustang had when we started our drive to Grand Junction via I70. We, top-up, effortlessly and seemingly breathlessly, cruised at brisk speed, easily passed multiple cars and trucks on our way first to the Eisenhower Tunnel ( 11,158 feet, 3,401 m Altitude), and then dropped altitude only to climb without any seeming effort again to Vail Pass (10,662 feet, 3,251 m Altitude). I was driving and initially thought that we must have had V8 power. The Mustang was a delight at speed, ably handling the complex sweeping I70 curves of Glenwood Canyon on the way to Glenwood Springs. That stretch of I70 interstate highway is something that every CC’er should experience at least once in their lives.
We felt cosseted in comfort during our approximate 270 mile trip Grand Junction where we stopped to refuel at a Shell Gas Station–and where a surprise awaited us.
After refueling, I walked to the Shell store to buy a jug of windshield washer fluid, and was greeted by the mellow, jovial sales clerk, leaning against the wall by the door, taking a break, smoking a legal joint, who said that he’d join me, in a minute, inside. No worries.
After paying for the windshield washer fluid, and after walking back to the Mustang, I opened the hood, and was shocked to find a relatively small engine living under the hood, an inline four, an Ecoboost turbo not a powerful V8 as expected. The strong performance of the 2.3 turbo was a fooler for me, and it was balance shaft, creamy smooth and flexible with that 10 speed Auto….an eye-opener, a smile inducer, for both me and my son for the duration of the rally which began the next day.
We kept the top down for virtually the entire time of the rally, excepting nighttime parking, as we wound our way through back roads of western Colorado, then into Utah, via Moab, and then along the Colorado river back to Colorado. There were incredible, twisty, simply fantastic memorable roads outside of Gateway and Rangely that the rental Mustang, let me repeat that, a box stock rental Mustang handled well. It was a revelation how much fun we had with that Mustang Convertible, can you believe it, with a base smooth balance shaft Ecoboost four.backed by a 10 speed auto. Some say that an Ecoboost Mustang four can effortllessly handle twisties at 110+ mph. Well, we won’t say that’s hearsay. Big smiles is all that we’ll say.
The Mustang was simply an unexpected surprise, a hale good fellow, well met, and like meeting someone for the first time, at a pub, like the Lord Nelson or the Hero of Waterloo, or a pub in Port Fairy, sharing a pint and then becoming life long friends after the experience. So, an unexpected, pleasant surprise, no doubt. It made me rethink my lifelong attractions to those, you know, air-cooled, ancient rear engined confections that seemly have a pull on me.
Ah, Mustang memories, good Mustang memories. Try it JP, even in flat Indiana, I think you’ll like it.
310 hp and 350 lb.ft of torque will do that. As in more torque than the EcoBoost V6 in Will’s car. The 2.3 is a performance engine, pure and simple. The displacement is essentially irrelevant in a turbocharged engine. It’s all a matter of how much boost is dialed in.
Yes, a balance shaft smooth, torque rich turbo boosted four, light in weight, giving ultimately better balance and handling to the Mustang. It made me a “believer”.
EcoBoost V6? If you’re referring to my Falcon, that’s just got a naturally-aspirated inline six. But either way, yes, the Mustang EcoBoost smokes it in both horsepower and torque.
Interestingly, Ford introduced a 2.0 EcoBoost four into the FG Falcon. Alas, they didn’t publicize it at all and they are very, very rare. A crying shame as, as much as I love the Falcon’s inline six, the EcoBoost offered comparable power and torque and better fuel economy. I’d love to take one for a spin. Worth noting, too, and JPC may be interested in this, that my state (and possibly others) charges less for annual vehicle registration the fewer cylinders a car has.
“That stretch of I70 interstate highway is something that every CC’er should experience at least once in their lives.
Vic, as one who has been a V8 fanboy forever due to having to endure many an underpowered four-banger car years and years ago, the contemporary turbo engines erase all concern about displacement. Yes, I thought Ford having another 2.3 liter four in a Mustang was a cruel joke after living with an ’89 Mustang with a 2.3 for 80,000 tedious miles.
While I’ve yet to experience this particular version of Ecoboost engine, I’ve driven several of the 2.7 liter turbo engines in F-Series pickups plus several turbo engines in various VWs as well as a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox with a 1.6T (I think that’s the size). There have been a few others that elude me at the moment. Holy crap, they are all great.
In a strong way, they are the best of all worlds when it comes to IC engines. If you had told me ten years ago I’d gush about a four-cylinder I would have laughed. But times change.
Do you recall if it was possible to activate the top with the vehicle in motion? I absolutely hated that the last Mustang drop I had, the emergency brake had to be engaged before top operation would be allowed.
On the 2019 Mustang, you can operate the top at speeds up to 3 miles per hour, or while stationary. It doesn’t sound like you need to be in park (for AT-equipped vehicles) or set the handbrake.
If you try to operate the top and are beyond that speed threshold, you’ll get a chime and a warning message, but the car will automatically begin moving the top once you dip back down to 3 mph or below.
That configurable screen dash does nothing for me, the vestigial curvature for the previous years physical round analog gauges surrounding a big blank central rectangle looks amateurish DIY like someone retrofitted a digital display after the fact.
And am I the only one who feels these screens scream obvious cost cutting ploy? They’re pitched as high tech but I imagine in this day and age it’s probably actually cheaper to just manufacture one big generic LCD screen, spread it across a line and come up with the various displays via software, rather do the same with physical faces needles, and motors that used to be package specific(base, GT, SVT/Shelby, Bullitt, Mach 1, etc).
I like the facelift over the 15-17 though, it’s way too aggressive but that’s the way everything else is too. The current design reminds me a lot of the 99-04, which are in fact my favorite non-retro Mustangs.
Not always. Some of those digital instrument clusters are powered by some intense GPUs that have to cost more than a set of analog gauges. Not to mention that high-quality screens, themselves, aren’t cheap.
My wife and I rented an Eco-boost Mustang droptop when we vacationed in Maui in the Spring of 2016. Pretty much enjoyed the car, good handler, reasonably comfortable for the two of us. Only downside was without my foot in it, it reminded me of my wife’s ’72 Pinto back in the day. I decided that if I were to buy one of these, I’d choose the V8.
I have driven on Maui too, did you ever get above 30 mph, or even 40 mph?
It’s highly unlikely that you could explore the real performance potential of the Mustang Ecoboost on Maui, but at least you can say you drove a convertible on Maui.
Next time try one briskly at speed….even if possible in the mountains of Colorado…and then with the pleasure of watching your son simply just enjoying pulling away from a 911SC in a combination of challenging twisties.
Ah, what pleasure…an additional Mustang surprise. The essence of motoring enthusiasm, and what should bind us together here at CC. Do that and then share your enthusiasm, your pleasures, and your dreams with us with your commentary.
Random, but I really dislike the look of the steering wheel. I’m not wild about the dash design in general, but that’s an ugly wheel.
Great review — and while the Mustang may be ” equally competent in the day-to-day grind,” it sure is more interesting to read about it while looking at picture of curvy coastal roads. Some of your photos look like they’d be from a Mustang brochure.
And if I rented one, I’d be tempted to return it with the gauge cluster configured to Drag Strip mode.
That’s what I was going for. Fortunately, my friend obliged me whenever I found a good spot in which I wanted to pull over and snap some pics.