2024 Ford Mustang Review and Test Drive
Ford's pony car gallops into the future while recalling the past.
Duke's Malibu is a Hawaiian-themed restaurant popular with Southern California tourists traveling Pacific Coast Highway. Meeting friends from out of town for lunch, I pulled into Duke's valet-only parking lot in a redesigned 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback coupe painted an eye-searing shade called Yellow Splash Metallic, and the parking staff barely noticed. Mustangs are popular rental cars in California. The previous-generation Mustang is a regular sight in the Duke's Malibu parking lot, and the '24 Ford Mustang's design is within sniffing distance of the old car's look. But maybe that's a good thing, as the previous-generation Mustang had a lot of good going for it.
Ford asked me which version of the new 2024 Ford Mustang I wanted to evaluate, and I chose the turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost Fastback coupe. It's a high-volume model and is the one you're most likely to find on the used-car lot in the future. It's also the most affordable one, equipped with a base price in the low $30,000s, including the destination charge to ship it from Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, factory to your local dealership.
A V8-powered Mustang GT starts in the mid-$40,000s, while the even hotter Dark Horse model kicks off at more than $60,000. Plan to spend $5,500 to $8,000 more to get a convertible, available only with the EcoBoost and GT variants.
For this 2024 Ford Mustang review, I test-drove the EcoBoost Premium Fastback. It had the EcoBoost Premium High equipment package, an extra-cost paint job,, and other options that altogether brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $43,660, including the $1,595 destination charge. Ford provided the vehicle for this Mustang review.
2024 Ford Mustang Review: The Design
Ford breaks no new ground with the 2024 Mustang. It looks like the previous model after six months of making daily visits to the gym. Taut forms, crisp lines, an aggressive face, and modern lighting decorate the instantly familiar bodywork.
Inside, the changes to the 2024 Ford Mustang are more dramatic. Large digital instrumentation and touchscreen infotainment displays are standard, displacing the previous dual-cowl design. Based on my time in the Mustang EcoBoost Premium with the High package, Ford has also upgraded the interior materials. However, some cheap fittings remain, the most obvious among them the shiny plastic door grips near the armrests.
Clutter is minimal, and the steering wheel and touchscreen controls aren't always easy to use. Ford embeds the dual-zone automatic climate controls into the bottom of the touchscreen, which is not ideal. But it's manageable, since you can change the temperature using voice commands. The new Mustang's remaining physical controls are nice to have, but they could be more intuitive.
My test car had power-adjustable front seats, including for height, paired with manual seatback adjusters. They provided impressive support, decent bolstering, and comfort on longer drives. I could raise the front seat high enough to maximize outward visibility and ease entry and exit.
The back seat holds two people, and you can fit four adults in the Mustang Fastback, but nobody will be comfortable unless everyone is short. Also, due to restrictive headroom under the rear window glass, anyone taller than 5-foot-5-inches will risk neck strain.
The long and flat hood limits front visibility and makes parking difficult, but vision to the rear is good. My test car had blind-spot monitoring, a high-resolution reversing camera, and rear parking sensors, and the rear quarter windows made it easy to reverse from slant parking.
Storage space is decent, and the test car had a wireless charging pad in front of the shifter. As is common in many Ford products, my iPhone heated significantly when using the charger.
Pop the Fastback's trunk, and you'll find a sizable 13.5 cubic-feet of cargo space. That's only a little less than a typical compact sedan offers. You can fit a couple of large suitcases, two backpacks, and a duffel bag or two. Mustang convertibles provide 11.4 cu-ft, so pack lighter.
2024 Ford Mustang Review: The Technology
Ford adds the latest digital instrumentation, infotainment, and safety features to the 2024 Mustang. After you get comfortable in the driver's seat, you'll probably first notice the expansive panel presenting a standard 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster configurable to specific themes. My favorite was the Fox Body '87 to '93 retro gauge display. It reminded me of the analog array in the '91 Mustang LX 5.0 Coupe one of my friends once drove.
To the right of the instrument panel, you'll find a standard 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Ford's Sync 4 technology. Standard features include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, in addition to FordPass Connect services with access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. My test car also had a navigation system and an immersive 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system.
Sync 4 doesn't load fast, and the screen suffers bright reflections if the driver and passenger wear light-colored clothing. Also, I had trouble finding a quick and easy path out of Apple CarPlay and back to SiriusXM satellite radio.
However, the native Sync 4 voice-recognition system is excellent, quickly and accurately responding to all of the evaluation commands I use in every test vehicle. I could find a restaurant by its name and street without knowing the exact address, get directions to the nearest hospitals, select music by genre, tune the radio to a specific station, and adjust the temperature using voice commands.
Ford fortifies every 2024 Mustang with Co-Pilot360, a collection of safety features that includes the driving-assistance and collision-avoidance technology that's now common. In addition, the Mustang has a post-collision automatic-braking system (to bring the car to a stop as soon as possible after a crash), rain-sensing wipers, and rear parking sensors. It desperately needs standard front parking sensors, too.
With EcoBoost Premium trim and the High package, you get Co-Pilot360 Assist+. It adds adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go capability in an automatic transmission), lane-centering assist, evasive-steering assist, and a speed-sign-recognition system with active speed-limit assist. During the evaluation, the lane-centering assist technology struggled with the curves and bends of Pacific Coast Highway but performed well on Los Angeles freeways.
Ironically, the tech is good enough on freeways that you need not override or correct its actions, but this results in a warning to pay attention and hold the steering wheel even if you're already doing both. To avoid the audible and visual warnings, occasionally add manual inputs to tell the system you're still alert and ready to take control.
2024 Ford Mustang Review: The Drive
My Mustang EcoBoost test car had the standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic transmission powering the car's rear wheels. You can get a six-speed manual gearbox in a 2024 Mustang, but it requires GT or Dark Horse specification. The EcoBoost engine makes 315 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty of power. It just doesn't sound as good at idle or when accelerating as the rumbling V8 in the GT and Dark Horse.
The test car's obnoxious active performance-exhaust system had four settings: Quiet, Loud, Louder, and "Hey, Look at Me, Everybody" (my terminology, not Ford's). If you're a conscientious neighbor, you can program Quiet mode to operate during certain hours of the day, such as between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., which is the window I chose. Unfortunately, you cannot simply select Quiet mode to work at all times, which would be my preference. I tried a 9 p.m. to 9 p.m. window, but that didn't work.
Toggling between the several driving modes, I couldn't discern much of a difference between Normal and Sport, aside from a friskier exhaust note. The Track mode introduced a palpable change in character, but also made the rear end feel greasier when accelerating out of curves and corners. That is not what you want on a mountain road lacking a comprehensive guardrail system, so best to use Track mode solely at the track.
Nevertheless, when you're threading the car down a narrow, twisty road, the new 2024 Mustang feels smaller and more suitable for that kind of driving than the previous-generation model did. In addition, the Mustang's standard brakes withstood significant abuse, though the testing day was cool, with temperatures in the mid-70s. The 255/40R-19 Continental ProContact tires offered good grip, too.
Unfortunately, though quick to respond to inputs, the Mustang EcoBoost's steering feels numb and lifeless in your hands. The 10-speed transmission isn't always the best partner in crime, and in the test car, it lacked paddle shifters or a manual shifting gate. Also, the tabletop of a hood ruins a driver's sense of intimacy with the road, presenting a stark contrast with the sculpted hood of a Chevrolet Camaro that improves immediate forward visibility and, in turn, makes the Chevy a delight to drive hard and fast.
Despite these negative observations, what I liked least about my rental-spec test car was the suspension. Ford didn't equip my EcoBoost Premium with the optional 2.3L High Performance Package or the MagneRide adaptive damping suspension, and I strongly recommend both upgrades, or the Mustang will bounce and toss you around on imperfect pavement.
If you're on a tight budget, skip the pricey paint, the High equipment package, the Nite Pony treatment, and the silly active exhaust system and instead spend the money on the performance, ride, and handling upgrades.
Based on my experience, MagneRide will quell the unwanted body motions you suffer with the standard suspension. Meanwhile, the High Performance Package adds summer performance tires, Brembo performance brakes, transmission paddle shifters, revised steering and stability-control calibrations, upgraded suspension components, a strut tower brace to structurally stiffen the car, and a hand-operated electronic parking brake. Choosing these options is a rewarding use of your money.
No review of a Mustang EcoBoost would be complete without addressing the "eco" part of the equation. After all, getting a car like this with a turbocharged four-cylinder instead of a V8 engine is about spending less money. According to the official EPA fuel-economy rating, my test car should have returned 26 mpg. I got 23.4 mpg on the evaluation route.
Is the 2024 Ford Mustang a Good Car?
Although my test car wasn't particularly pleasing to drive due to its emphasis on style and sound over substance, I think the Mustang is a good car.
The design, interior quality, comfort, and technology demonstrate improvement and advancement over the previous-generation model. Except for the long hood, I find it easier to see out of the new Mustang, and I am confident the EcoBoost model would prove mighty fun to drive with the High Performance Package and the adaptive damping suspension. The Mustang also offers a measure of utility, due to its roomy trunk and ability to carry four people when absolutely necessary.
But what impresses me the most is the Mustang EcoBoost Fastback's accessible price. As of this writing, you can build a base model equipped with only the High Performance Package and spend less than $36,000 total. And the car will still turn heads, thanks to its rakish design, iconic details, and that option package's appealing 19-inch wheels.
I'll take mine in Vapor Blue with Space Gray cloth seats, please.