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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Fastback Test Drive Review

The car you see here was an inevitability.

Back in 1964, Ford introduced the world to the Mustang. The automotive marketplace has never said goodbye to it. Customers loved the original car’s combination of handsome looks, extensive options, and wallet-friendly price. They’ve continued to find plenty to enjoy about the icon over the course of six generations.

The Blue Oval brought another word into the automotive lexicon in 2009: EcoBoost. Ford engineers combined direct fuel injection and turbocharging to make more power – and mpg – out of less displacement. In the following years, that engine found its way into a variety of Ford vehicles, such as the Flex, the Taurus, and, starting with the 2011 model year, even the F-150 full-size pickup. The Mustang would have to wait, but that didn’t matter – it continued satisfying enthusiasts with V6 and V8 power plants.

Just as the first Mustang changed the automotive industry, Ford changed the Mustang for the start of its sixth generation. Completely. The exterior of the 2015 model looked leaner and more athletic and futuristic than that of its predecessor. New safety and infotainment technologies became available…
…and so did an EcoBoost engine. Outside of the Shelby range, the new Mustang was available with a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8. In between the two of those was a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. A turbo four was nothing new to the Mustang, which offered that setup back in the 1980s as part of the SVO trim line. However, the EcoBoost was a modern take on the forced-induction formula.

The 2016 Mustang we recently got the keys to had the EcoBoost four under its hood. Our liking it and the great package around it was also an inevitability.

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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Exterior

The Ford Mustang is a car to be seen in. The Competition Orange paint on our media loaner made it impossible for other drivers on the road to not lay eyes on us. An optional pair of black gradient racing stripes started at what Ford calls the Mustang’s forward-leaning “shark-bite nose”, stretched back over the dual-peak hood, went down the sloping fastback roof, and ended at the top of the glossy black panel between the signature three-bar tailights.

Below those ribbons of darkness, the Mustang EcoBoost’s 10-spoke 18-inch wheels and W-rated tires perfectly filled in the space under the bodywork they moved down the road. A pronounced character line ran from the back of the front fenders, across the doors, and into the rear body panels. The space carved out between it and the bottom of the doors gave the Mustang a lean, athletic appearance.

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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Interior

The Mustang is not marketed as a luxury car, but we wanted for nothing inside of it. The headlights came on automatically. The front seats were heated and cooled. Checking our speed was easy, thanks to the large tachometer and speedometer. All we had to do to place a call through the Bluetooth phone connection was press a button below one of the steering wheel’s spokes and speak the name of the person we wanted to talk to. SYNC 3 made putting a destination into the navigation system a snap.

One day while we were stuck in Austin’s infamous rush hour traffic, we decided to pass the time by turning up the volume on the Shaker Pro Audio System. Even at the default settings, the 12-speaker setup blasted out our music of choice with a strong bass kick.

Although the stereo hit hard, the suspension didn’t. The Mustang’s ride quality was firm, as you’d expect it to be in a sports coupe. It was never punishing, as you’d hate it to be in any car.

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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Performance

Unlike what Chevrolet is doing with its sixth-generation Camaro, Ford offers a turbocharged four-cylinder as the midrange engine in the Mustang lineup. There’s a reason for that. Actually, there are more than 300 of them. The naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 generates 300 horsepower and 280 lbft of torque. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost-ed I4 in our test vehicle had 10 more ponies and a 40-lbft advantage. We used all of that edge to carve up some of the windy roads in the Texas Hill Country. Luckily for us, there are plenty of those down here in the Lone Star State. Before setting out, we flipped one of the cool toggle switches below the HVAC system to switch the steering mode from Comfort to Sport. It had a satisfying heaviness to it that made us feel we were behind the wheel of a performance machine, not a toy. We flipped another toggle switch to tell the Mustang to get out of its Normal drive mode and into its Sport setting. The horses under the hood charged through the rear end with greater urgency. When the twin-scroll turbo hit full boost, we tightened our grip on the wheel as the gentle push back we felt made us feel a little heavier and a whole lot happier. The power came on in a thick, smooth rush. We also found ourselves smiling at the knowledge that the EPA gave the EcoBoost Mustang mpg ratings of 21 city, 32 highway, and 25 combined**.

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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Safety

Ford stuffed several airbags under the Mustang’s swoopy fastback roof – front, side, side curtain, and even knee airbags. Tire pressure monitoring kept an eye on the amount of air in the rubber underneath us. A rearview camera watched our backs as we reversed out of parking spots. Adaptive Cruise Control made sure that if we wanted to do 80 mph on the highway a certain distance behind whatever vehicle happened to be in front of us, that we could do that without using our right foot. On top of being a safety feature, it was a useful convenience. It would’ve made any cross-country road trip more comfortable and pleasant.

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2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Overall

Sadly, the end of our time with the 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Fastback was as inevitable as the car itself. Fortunately, we did have seven days to enjoy its good looks, cockpit features, and ample power. Our review vehicle had an as-tested price of $36,740, but you can get your very own 2016 model for a starting price of $29,645* at an AutoNation Ford dealer.

*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on 2016 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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