Affordable Turbo'd Car Comparison: 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost vs Hot Hatchbacks & Sedans
As we’ve discussed recently, the latest V8-powered Ford Mustang isn’t quite the bargain performance machine it’s historically been.
With the coming of the new '24 model, the base Mustang GT now has a starting price in the mid $40,000s, and just a couple options can quickly push that price over the $50,000 barrier. It's a great car, but no longer the working class hero that a V8 Mustang used to be.
Fortunately though, the GT isn’t the only Mustang Ford sells. And though its price has also crept up over the last decade, the EcoBoost Mustang remains a (relatively) affordable enthusiast option in today’s market.
A base model ‘24 Ecoboost Fastback starts a little over $32,000, and if you add the much recommended 2.3L performance package, you're looking at an MSRP right around $36,000.
And for that price you’ll be getting a RWD coupe with a 315 horsepower 2.3 liter turbo engine, limited slip differential, Brembo brakes, more aggressive suspension and traction control tuning, and more.
It’s no fire-breathing V8, but it’s a compelling package that actually stacks up pretty well against some of the other turbocharged, enthusiast sedans and hatchbacks priced in the $30,000s. But is it a worthy or superior alternative to those cars?
Depending on specific trims and options, the EcoBoost Mustang could be compared head to head against a number of turbocharged enthusiast offerings. Beating it out in terms of price, for example, is the sub $30,000 Honda Civic Si sedan, although that car's 1.5 liter turbo engine is outgunned by both the Mustang and its more direct competition.
For other front-drive offerings, Volkswagen offers both the perennial favorite GTI hatchback, and the Jetta GLI sedan both powered by 2.0 liter turbocharged engines with either six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmissions.
Hyundai is also a big player with its critically-acclaimed Elantra N sedan. It brings 276 horsepower, choice of manual or dual-clutch transmissions and a low to mid $30,000s MSRP that's almost identical to the Mustang.
Looking for AWD? The latest version of the Subaru WRX remains a popular option, with 271 horsepower, Subaru's signature AWD system and a starting price that undercuts the Mustang by a decent margin.
Finally, if you want to stretch the budget a bit, there's the Toyota GR Corolla, which in base trim can still be found with an MSRP under $40,000 even with the optional Performance Package. It brings rally car hardware with 300 horsepower, six-speed manual and Toyota's GR-Four AWD system with twin limited slip diffs.
Being a rear-drive coupe, the EcoBoost Mustang is a different class of car than the aforementioned offerings, arguably with a base platform that's much more enthusiast-oriented.
Though plenty comfortable for two people, the Mustang's backseat can't really carry adults. And when compared against a four-door hatchback or sedan, it's going to be lacking in practicality.
On the other hand, if you aren't planning to carry large items of handle extra passengers often, the EcoBoost Mustang can be a fantastic daily driver and comfy highway cruiser.
What about fuel economy? With an EPA combined rating of 26 miles to the gallon, the 2024 EcoBoost Mustang fits right in amongst the aforementioned cars, and might even beat out the AWD offerings.
And speaking of that, don't forget the Mustang is RWD, which is fun, but could be an issue if you live in a winter climate and want a year-round daily driver.
Fun Factor & Performance
Looking purely at acceleration figures, the Mustang Ecoboost could be the winner. It has a specific setting for drag racing and has been clocked as quickly as the low 13s, and the GR Corolla is the only one of the aforementioned cars that'll perform similarly in a drag race.
The biggest knock against the EcoBoost Mustang from an enthusiast's standpoint, is the lack of a manual transmission option. It's 10-speed automatic-only, and if you wan't a stick you'll have to step up to the GT. All of the other cars offer a manual gearbox, with the Civic Si and GR Corolla, only coming with stick shifts.
Being a RWD platform, the Mustang will certainly give it a different driving experience, with the ability for burnouts and sliding—especially with the new "drift brake" that comes with the Performance Package.
On the other hand, the Mustang is heavier, out weighing most hot hatches and compact sedans by several hundred pounds.
If you don't need four doors, a large backseat and are ok with an automatic transmission the 2024 Mustang EcoBoost is a very appealing choice.
While it might not be direct competitor with cars like the Subaru WRX or Volkswagen GTI, it's actually amazing just how close it lines up in terms of price and performance.
As we've said before, the biggest issue with the Mustang EcoBoost might not actually be similarly priced hot hatches and sedans. It's the psychological barrier that comes with having a Mustang without a V8.
But if you're ok with that, it's hard to argue against the latest iteration of Ford's entry-level Mustang when it comes to the increasingly small affordable enthusiast car market.
More From Driving Line
- The turbo era: Here's how Ford's EcoBoost four-cylinder engine has replaced the V6 in the Mustang in other vehicles.