Ford upped the ante with some new performance for the 2020 Ford Mustang. The enhancements come in the way of a bit of horsepower boost in for the EcoBoost versions, as well as a more track-ready Shelby trim in the new GT500. The 5.0-liter V8 performance workhorse remains unchanged, but who cares? It’s awesome.

Ford F, -0.44%   offers a manual transmission for most Mustang trims. Only the new GT500 dresses out with just an automatic, but it’s a 7-speed dual-clutch auto transmission with driver-selectable modes and launch control.

Many Mustang versions are also offered as either fastback or convertible. Hey, whether you opt for the 4-banger or head to the track in the GT500, you are in for a screaming good time. And there’s a Mustang to fit a variety of budgets, needs and tastes. Oh, and we need to keep buying them, because if Ford senses consumer interest in Mustang waning, they will probably ax it as they have most of their car offerings.

FordPass Connect is now standard in across all trims, but there are a couple of even bigger changes. A new High-Performance Package for the EcoBoost versions retunes the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo, squeezing out an additional 20 horsepower. The package also includes upgraded GT brakes and chassis calibrations, among other goodies. There is also a new EcoBoost Handling Package for fastback models with upgraded brakes, MagneRide active dampers and stiffer sway bars. To the Shelby lineup comes the new GT500. Although it gets the same supercharged 5.2-liter V8 at the GT350R, it uses a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic to change the cogs. It also comes with launch control, 20-in aluminum wheels and bigger front brake rotors, among other enhancements. 

The rear-wheel drive Mustang range starts with a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder developing 310 hp and 350 lb-ft. With the 6-speed manual transmission (with rev matching), consumption is estimated at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. With the 10-speed you gain 1 mpg on the highway. Opting for the convertible scrubs off some mileage. With the manual, it’s 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. The convertible/10-speed matchup delivers 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

The GT’s 5.0-liter V8 throbs with 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while achieving 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined (manual) in the coupe, or 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined (auto). Mileage is the same for the manual-equipped hardtop as convertible but drops 1 mpg across city, highway and combined numbers.

A V8 propels the Shelby GT350/GT500, turning a 5.2-liter displacement into 526 hp and 429 lb-ft. The 350GTR only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and is estimated to achieve 14 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined, if anyone really cares about that. The GT500 only gets a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with selectable drive modes. Ford had not announced government-estimated mileage as of this writing for the GT500.

The 2020 Ford Mustang is offered in EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium and GT Premium trims as a fastback or convertible. There’s also a GT fastback and the fastback-only Shelby GT350/GT500/GT350R. Pricing reflects the $1,095 factory delivery charge.

The EcoBoost fastback ($27,765) and EcoBoost convertible ($33,265) come standard with 17-in alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, LED sequential taillights, a dual exhaust system, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt-and-telescopic adjustment, a rearview camera, a 4.2-in screen, a self-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, Track Apps (a program that records performance data during track driving), electronically lockable front brakes (Ford says they’re to help warm up the rear tires, but people will use them for burnouts) and a 6-speaker audio system with SYNC, FordPass, two USB ports and an auxiliary input, plus the MyKey system with parental controls for geofencing, speed limit, stability control, audio volume, radio content, seat belt reminders and low fuel warnings.

The EcoBoost Premium fastback ($32,780) and the EcoBoost Premium convertible ($38,280) have 18-in alloy wheels, rear-parking sensors, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded infotainment system with SYNC 3, a 9-speaker stereo, an 8-in touch screen and Apple AAPL, -0.22%   CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

The GT fastback ($36,725) echoes the regular EcoBoost’s features but with the V-8 engine and bigger brakes. The GT Premium fastback ($40,725) and the GT Premium convertible ($46,225) add the EcoBoost Premium’s equipment inventory.

The Bullitt  ($48,905) loses the GT’s decklid spoiler but adds red Brembo brake calipers, a 3.73 rear axle, different 19-in wheels and rubber, an upgraded exhaust system, some unique interior and exterior styling accents, a 12-in LCD instrument cluster, a heated steering wheel, an electronic locking center console and an enhanced security package.

Some features of the higher trims are available as options lower down. A Performance package (coupe only) adds 19-in wheels of a different design with summer performance tires, auxiliary gauges (including a boost gauge for the EcoBoost), a sport-tuned suspension, a larger radiator, bigger brakes, shorter gearing, a performance rear axle, a stability control system with a higher threshold and aluminum interior accents. The GT’s version has Brembo brakes up front and a Torsen (torque-sensing) limited-slip differential. The Performance package also brings eligibility for the adaptive suspension.

Depending on the trim, other options include 20-in wheels, a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, a digital instrument gauge, navigation, rear parking sensors, driver’s-side memory settings, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Brembo brakes and a Torsen diff are standard in the Mustang Shelby GT350 ($61,535), which also comes with Recaro seats and an adaptive suspension. Heated and cooled power-adjustable front seats are an option.

The GT350R ($74,530) brings its own aero kit, plus 19-in wheels made from carbon fiber. It also saves weight by ditching the rear seat, infotainment system, air conditioning and tire inflation kit. These features may be reinstated by choosing the Electronics and Technology packages.

The GT500 ($73,995) shares many standard features with the GT350R, but it gets a supercharged version of its engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Other differences include launch control, selectable drive modes, 20-in aluminum wheels, larger front brake rotors with 6-piston Brembo Calipers, a 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, leather-trimmed suede sport seats, 12-in LCD digital instrument cluster, a rear spoiler and a dual exhaust with quad tips.

The Mustang comes standard with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, seven air bags in the coupe (front, front-side, knee and full-length side curtain) and five air bags in the convertible (which lacks the side-curtain air bags).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the coupe a full five stars across the board. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been similarly impressed, giving the coupe its top score of Good for the tricky moderate-overlap front impact test and the same accolade to the convertible for side-impact protection.

A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is available, and the optional adaptive cruise control feature includes a radar-based forward-collision warning system that preloads the brakes.

There’s nothing rough, just classy materials, attractive gauges, supportive seats and cool metallic toggle switches. Optional Recaro bucket seats are form fitting and perfect for the track, but tight for broader types. And while no one expects a sport coupe to accommodate 6-footers behind the front row, the back seat is a squeeze even for kids.

The EcoBoost 4-cylinder turbo delivers impressive refinement and a healthy punch of midrange torque, but it tapers off toward redline. And the reedy sound of a 4-cylinder under acceleration seems out of place in a Mustang. If you can ignore that, the 4-banger is a joy to drive.

The GT’s V8 is a winner, delivering its 460 hp with a quick-revving and progressive character. The 6-speed manual shifter makes it a blast to run through the gears.

It’s in the corners where the EcoBoost has the advantage, thanks to superior balance from a lighter engine. In comparison, the GT feels relatively nose heavy. The distinction is subtle, though, and the GT is still wonderfully agile.

A more obvious difference is in the GT350, where energetic acceleration is matched by reassuring braking and confident handling.

The steering is quick and accurate, while the independent rear suspension does a great job of both smoothing out bumps and remaining settled. Even the GT350 is surprisingly civilized in this respect. The mix of athletic handling and compliant ride makes this one of the most usable high-performance machines.

2020 BMW 2 Series — The Mustang is more sophisticated than ever and that brings the 2 Series into play. No burbling V8 here, but razor-sharp handling, equal or better interior quality and superior maneuverability make up for it.

2020 Chevrolet Camaro — Superb. Absolutely worth considering if shopping for a Mustang. Get one while you can.

2020 Dodge Challenger — The Challenger is much improved, especially its handling, but it’s still the largest and most cumbersome of the traditional muscle car trio. However, it does have a proper rear seat, and that 6.4-liter V8 is beautiful.

Used BMW M3 — Another iconic car with a perfect mix of high speed and fine handling. Put it this way: if Steve McQueen had driven an M3 in that famous movie car chase, it would have been a lot shorter.

As if anyone need ask, of course we’d recommend a V8 version. The Mustang should dazzle and rumble. Having said that, though, the EcoBoost 4-cylinder is surprising peppy, if you’re eco-minded. 

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