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Oct 18, 2011
Lakeland, FL

’Boost Cruise
Taking a a turbocharged trip to sunny South Florida in an EcoBoost ’Stang
By Steve Turner

We spend most of our waking hours contemplating, analyzing, documenting and reporting on ways to make Ford performance vehicles perform even better. Because we are so focused on the road ahead, it’s nice to step back and recalibrate our backside dyno with some seat time behind the wheel of the latest stock vehicles.

Of course, most of the time our backside is planted firmly in front of a glowing screen serenaded by the pitter-patter of fingers on keyboard. That means getting any meaningful seat time calls for a special occasion like a road trip. Spending a few hours in a car at a media launch offers a solid first impression, but days behind the wheel allows for really getting to know a car.

Our first impression of the Comp Orange ’Stang was just how good it looked in stock form. Sure, if it were ours, we’d mod it. However, it wasn’t to the point that we’d need to drastically change its appearance right away.

Slipping into the driver seat, the car was quite comfortable and thanks to power seats it was easy to get into our preferred driving position. Putting it into gear the shifter is decent and the clutch feel is light. As we pull away, the car doesn’t have a ton of torque so it takes a bit of adaptation. Once the opportunity to accelerate presents itself, we are nonplussed. While the car is light compared to a V-8 Mustang, it’s 2.3-liter seems a bit bogged down compared to the tuned up 2.0 in our lighter Focus ST.

That’s the thing with the EcoBoost Mustang. You’d don’t tend to judge it completely as a Mustang at first. After some time behind the wheel, we found that the car acquits itself nicely as a member of the Mustang family. The driving dynamics are familiar, the interior design still holds up and the EcoBoost feels good from off idle till the midrange.

After a couple days in the daily grind, we could easily see ourselves dailying a nicely modded EcoBoost ’Stang, but we were looking forward to getting it out on the open road. Headed for Miami Beach and Sunrise, Florida, in search of the live music, the Mrs. and I loaded up the Mustang and headed south for several hours.

Before we left I was amazed that we were able to get all our gear in the Mustang trunk. These cars have come along way in the storage department since the Fox coupe days.

We traversed the Florida backroads and boring turnpike en route to Miami Beach. The EcoBoost Mustang had enough oomph to pass when we needed to and while navigating the sweeping on- and off-ramps, the lighter front end paired nicely with the Sport driving mode and Performance Pack gear make for fun in the sweepers, despite a bit of body roll.

In the thick of Miami traffic, we occasionally pined for an automatic transmission, but once the roads opened we were still glad for shifting ourselves. Some of the toys came in handy too. The adaptive cruise really made the turnpike grind easier, and, fortunately, we only needed the Collision Avoidance system to rein us in once.

As the trip came to a close and it was time to return the car, we had a twinge of regret. The latest Mustangs are great cars and we know the EcoBoost machines are loaded with potential. However, this one was loaded with options, which ran the sticker price up to $37,540, which is pretty spendy for the midrange Mustang option. For just a few thousand more you could score a similarly equipped Mustang GT, but you likely wouldn’t knock down the better than 27 mpg we saw in mixed, spirited driving.


We spent a week in this 2016 Mustang Premium with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. The styling of the latest Mustangs is already sharp, but this one was particularly fetching with Competition Orange paint, factory Le Mans-style stripes and Foundry Black-painted aluminum wheels.


The stock 2.3-liter engine delivers 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. That’s adequate in a 3,532-pound Mustang, but it doesn’t thrill like a V-8. When it’s paired with a manual trans and 3.55 gears it does provide enough scoot to entertain.


Not only was our tester a Premium, but it was optioned up with the Performance Pack, which nets you Mustang GT-style suspension bits for sharper handling.


Inside, the Premium coupe was fully decked out with Ebony leather seats, a 12-speaker audio system, touchscreen navigation and every possible bell and whistle, which definitely made both long drives and city traffic more pleasant. In Florida we can’t say enough good things about having those air conditioned seats on a long road trip.


The performance of the navigation and Sync 3 is definitely snappier on the 2016 Mustang. Coming out of a Ford with the last-generation system, we found that it operated more like it should in the new Mustang. That said, the Navigation system did struggle finding a couple of our destinations.

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