by Roger Biermann
Ford's Mustang, one of the brand's most loved and treasured icons, is a sports car that has become so good over the span of the current generation, that for the 2020 model year, the GT hasn't had to change much. The 5.0-liter V8 is carried over from previous iterations of the GT coupe, and still produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The tiny rear seating remains a major drawback, particularly due to the Fastback design's sloping roofline, and if you spec the high-performance suspension option, the ride is predictably stiff. However, Ford's SYNC infotainment system is still great to use, and the addition of FordPass Connect as standard is a welcome upgrade. Armed with some impressive upgrades and equipment designed to make it faster and better, the 2020 'Stang once again does battle with the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger for muscle car honors.
All-new Mustangs will now be equipped with FordPass Connect, which gives you access to some of the car's vital information and nifty tricks via a smartphone app. Four colors have also been retired to make way for four new ones. Two of 2019's wheel designs have been discontinued and a number of new options have been made available. A new package has also been added to the list of options, dubbed the High-Performance Packages. Not all of the changes will be viewed in a positive light, however, as 2020's Mustang makes do without a seat-back map pocket unless you purchase the BULLITT special edition. The front passenger seat is also now only four-way adjustable versus six-way in the previous model year.
Aesthetically, there are no major changes to the 2020 GT, which retains its LED lighting forward and aft, with more obvious updates scheduled for 2021. Premium trims still get turn signals on the wing mirrors, while the Wheel & Stripe Package now includes a hood stripe. Also, two of 2019's wheel designs have been replaced with new styles. 18-inch is the standard, but 19's are optional. If you want to add or remove aero visual cues, you have the option of a spoiler delete, a raised decklid, or a larger double-level spoiler on the trunk.
With a fairly minor refresh and no changes to the bodywork, dimensions haven't changed at all. At 118.5 inches long, 54.3 inches high, and 75.4 inches wide, the 2020 Mustang is still a long-hooded, short-tailed car with classic proportions. The base GT weighs in at 3,705 pounds, less than 200 more than the EcoBoost, indicating that the additional power from the V8 also comes with more bulk to lug around. The wheelbase remains at 107.1 inches.
The exterior palette has been refreshed for the new year, with almost half of the color options for 2019 being tossed in favor of new hues for 2020. Gone are Ingot Silver, Orange Fury, Ruby Red, and a crowd favorite, Need for Green. In their place, we're presented with Grabber Lime, a fresh take on an existing lime from the older swatches, Twister Orange, Rapid Red, and Iconic Silver. Twister Orange will cost you $495 more and Rapid Red will add $395 to the dealer's quote. Magnetic Silver is still a default go-to for many, subtly but effectively highlighting the Mustang's shark-like nose; old standards like Shadow Black and Oxford White remain available. For those who want to stand out a little more, adding the Black Accent Package at $995, allows for the painted black roof to be equipped, setting a two-tone mood to the handsome 'Stang.
Aside from the slightly bumped up special edition BULLITT, the GT is the fastest 'normal Mustang' money can buy. The GT Fastback is propelled from 0-60 mph in just under five seconds and onwards to a top speed of 155 mph, supposedly limited for the longevity and integrity of the tires. This equals the top end figures of its counterparts from Chevy and Dodge.
Dodge has not yet released details on its 2020 Challenger, but the Camaro 1SS LT1 from Chevrolet and the 2020 Mustang GT are similarly matched to the 2019 R/T 392 in terms of raw output, with the Dodge being the fastest of the three. However, as an older yet more expensive model, it falls out of contention until the new one arrives. This leaves the Mustang with only the Camaro to deal with, and with only five horsepower less and 35 lb-ft more torque, the Mustang is a little slower than the more track-focused Chevrolet. It's only when compared side-by-side that you notice the difference, though. This Mustang is a bucket of fun, and with only the rear wheels being driven, it stays true to sports car traditions.
All GT models for 2020 carry over the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 and its 460 hp from the 2019 model, paired with the same six-speed manual as standard, while the excellent ten-speed automatic remains an option for all but the top trim. Both options are great in their own right, the row-your-own, three-pedal option obviously being the more engaging option.
The SelectShift automatic, however, need not be dismissed from your research if you're considering a Mustang GT. Despite being equipped with paddles to allow you to choose when to change, its automatic calibration is so well tuned that you never feel the need to grab a paddle, whether accelerating or diving into a corner. That being said, it's probably best to avoid making shifting decisions for yourself, as there is still a slight delay between selecting the next gear manually and the transmission actually engaging it. Leave it in auto and you're golden, both for cruising and fun. We'd still rather have the manual though, especially since rev-matching comes standard on all GT's these days. Whichever you choose, it doesn't matter if you're actively attacking a canyon road or launching yourself from a traffic light - the V8's breadth of capability makes the acceleration experience a fun one.
With a number of driving modes, the GT is truly an everyday sports car, particularly in Premium guise. Capable of adapting to snow or rain, twisty corners, or all-out acceleration in drag mode, this is a car that can be civilized when you need it to be and capable on whatever surface you throw it at.
For the 2019 model, you could order the MagneRide adaptive damping option on any Mustang. For 2020, however, you have to spec Performance Package Level 2 to access this, an option only available on the GT. This helps absorb bumps and divots in the road very well and keeps the 'Stang planted around bends, although the electric-assisted steering feels a little less 'life-like' than the feel in the Camaro. Braking, however, is excellent and easily judged, giving you the confidence to push harder and longer.
The grippy tires, which can also be upgraded to Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's with the level two performance package, are outstanding in terms of adhesion and are the closest thing to a full track tire that any production sports car can get off the dealer floor. As incredible as those tires are, and as adaptive as the various driving modes can be, hooning the GT around a bend with the tail hanging out and your arms at opposite lock, is not difficult to achieve with 480 hp. This car still requires commitment and concentration to ensure a clean line and a quick time - otherwise, those expensive tires are vaporized in a matter of minutes, and you'll find yourself on the wrong side of a cliff-face.
With a 16-gallon gas tank running on the recommended premium unleaded gas, the 2020 Mustang GT doesn't differ from the outgoing model. Although no official mileage figures have been released for the new model, we can safely assume that they will be very similar to those of the 2019 version. This equates to 15/24/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, and an estimated average range of 288 miles on a full tank. With figures like this, the Mustang is slightly less economical than the 6.2-liter Camaro SS, which nudges ahead with figures of 16/24/19 mpg. The Chev also has a larger tank at 19 gallons.
As on lesser EcoBoost models, the regular GT comes with cloth bucket seats which are surprisingly supportive and comfy, especially with their power adjustability. The Premium GT upgrades these to leather items, with the added benefit of heating and cooling. One change for 2020 is that the passenger seat now has to make do with four-way power adjustment in place of last year's six-way setup, while the driver's seat retains its six-way standard adjustability. Premium models also get the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which includes voice-activated navigation and a larger, eight-inch touch display. Aluminum switchgear and solid trims are another plus point. Overall, the build feels decent for its price, and the design is fairly contemporary with just a dash of vintage to mix things up.
With long doors and that sloping roofline, getting in and out of the Fastback is a little tedious for some, but is especially difficult for those forced into the back. The rear seats are there almost purely for decoration, as trying to squeeze humans any bigger than small children in there is a nightmarish chore that will inevitably end with the use of some colorful language by the rear passengers. Most will not mind this inconvenience, though; this is a car built for drivers, and front occupants have fantastic legroom and headroom available, even if the driver (or passenger) is six-foot tall. The driving position is good, while viewing what is around the car at all times is easier than in a Camaro, thanks to large windows and narrow A-pillars.
GT models are available with your choice of regular Ebony or Ceramic cloth seats, or even Recaro Ebony cloth upholstered buckets at a $1,595 surcharge. You also get Silver Arrow aluminum trimming on the dash. Opting for the Premium trim ensures that your seats are leather-trimmed in a choice of Ebony, Ceramic, or Tan colors. Black leather with Alcantara inserts is also an option but at the additional cost of $1,195. Three Premier Leather options are also available when equipping the 401A Equipment Group (at $2,200), including Ebony, Showstopper Red, and Midnight/Grabber Blue stitching on Black leather. Picking the Recaro's at this trim level costs the same as in a 'base' GT, but in your choice of perforated Black, Red or blue-stitched Black leather. The dash trim can also be swapped out on the Premium for a less-bland "Linked Graphite" aluminum piece.
13.5 cubic feet of cargo space is available in the trunk of the 2020 Mustang; those who decide to disappear for a short weekend will be happy to know that the rear seats fold in 50/50 fashion, meaning you can squeeze two or three overnight bags in the back without too much drama. In the cabin, there isn't much more space to hide the contents of your pockets. The pair of door pockets are shallow and the glove box isn't exactly cavernous. Between the seats, there's another cubby, but that can just about fit your phone and wallet. Coupled with the two medium-sized cupholders, there isn't much room to store anything more than the essentials. To be fair though, the space in the Camaro makes this Mustang look like an RV - only 9.1 cubic feet of space in the trunk and a clumsy interior make the Chev a less friendly counterpart by a long stretch.
For 2020, all new Mustangs are equipped with FordPass Connect as standard, unlocking numerous nifty features including remote locking and unlocking, and the ability to locate the spot in which you last parked. Safety-wise, you are presented with a host of airbags, a rearview camera, a reverse sensing system, and AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, as standard; the Ford Safe and Smart package can be added for $1,000 to further increase on-road safety, by installing blind-spot information systems with cross-traffic alert, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, auto high beams, lane-keeping alert, and adaptive cruise control. Premium is the default trim to select if you value ergonomics and comfort, as the seats are wrapped in leather and are heated and ventilated. In addition, you get dual-zone climate control here, and the option of a heated steering wheel at no extra charge.
Ford SYNC returns in all models of the Mustang GT, but in SYNC 3 guise as standard for the Premium. One of the best upgrades that come with the higher trim - the eight-inch screen - makes the reverse camera's view easier to navigate, while other functions are also easier to use thanks to a tactile touch display. In addition, the updated software of the SYNC 3 system, makes smartphone connectivity easier with a multitude of supported apps being featured, including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As an aside, when the system is switched off, the smaller infotainment system's screen looks a little like an old cellphone. Selecting the Premium trim also upgrades the stock six-speaker system to a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen collective, providing richer, crisper tones when blasting the tunes.
At the time of writing, no reliability issues have been reported yet. However, the 2020 model is architecturally identical to the 2019 version, which only suffered one recall. We suspect that any issues picked up by Ford during the 2019 model's run will have been addressed and you can drive with relative confidence. If any problems do come up, they will likely be covered by Ford's three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, five-year/60,000-mile safety restraint warranty, and five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty.
The NHTSA and IIHS have, at the time of writing, not yet evaluated the 2020 model for safety and crash test results. With no major changes over the 2019 model, particularly in terms of structure, safety, and bodywork, the 2020 model is expected to perform well, probably scoring the same general ratings of Good from the IIHS and the full five stars for safety from the NHTSA, as with the previous year model.
The Mustang GT comes standard with all the usual safety features one would expect on any modern car, like anti-lock brakes, stability control, and six airbags, two of which are curtain airbags while the rest protect front occupants from the front and side. For added peace-of-mind, $1,000 will buy you Ford's suite of driver-assist features, including a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, auto wipers, as well as a collision-avoidance system with automatic emergency braking.
As we've come to expect, there are some questionable rattles coming from the trim if you spec the level two performance pack, which comes with stiffer springs; and, although the storage is relatively good compared to the Camaro, it is still not great. However, it does pretty much everything it is built and designed to do, with relative ease and grace. It can be used every day in comfort, thanks to its supportive and well-equipped seats, and can be abused at the track all day long.
As an out-and-out sports car, it's always going to lose to the more focused Camaro around the bends, and to the more powerful Challenger on the strip. This car is a compromise, but for a car you drive to work every day, and play with every weekend, that's not necessarily a bad thing. All things considered, the Mustang is the most evolved of its kind. It's better designed than the Chevrolet, more modern than the Charger, and has been polished into an accessible and affordable - yet powerful and playful - blue-collar hero. It may not be the fastest you can buy, but it is one of the best all-rounder sports cars.
For 2020, the normal Mustang GT Fastback is the cheapest model starting at $35,630 exclusive of taxes, licensing, acquisition fee, and the $1,095 destination charge from Ford. Stepping up one level to the GT Premium will debit at least $39,630 from your savings. Fully loaded with everything you could possibly want, your bill will ring up to $54,690, including the destination charge. Check with your nearest dealer before purchasing, though - there are often dealer incentives not necessarily specified online.
Available in two flavors, the GT range is comprised of the base GT Fastback and the GT Premium Fastback, with the limited edition BULLITT reviewed separately.
The base GT Fastback is equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 and can be had with either a manual or auto transmission. It features cloth upholstery and a nine-speaker audio system but isn't any less powerful than the next trim level in the range. It also includes a rearview camera, and track apps as standard, which measure G-forces and lap times.
The Premium is a little swankier, with the same powertrain but fitted with leather upholstery on heated and cooled front seats, and an adaptive sports exhaust as standard, in addition to the regular GT's configuration. An easy way to spot Premium models from the outside is the integrated turn signals on the wing mirrors, which normal GT's do without.
In an effort to appeal to those that want more performance out of their Mustangs, but find the GT350 and GT500 too over-the-top or brash for daily driving, Ford has put together a Level 2 Performance Package which can be added to your GT for the princely sum of $6,500. What this buys you is a set of wider wheels and tires, Brembo six-piston calipers up front with larger rotors, a machine-turned aluminum fascia trim, a pair of gauges for monitoring vitals like oil pressure, a unique front splitter and rear spoiler, and a host of chassis upgrades. In terms of value, this basically turns your regular GT into a BULLITT edition sans the limited edition items, but with the addition of MagneRide adaptive dampening "for free".
Of the numerous equipment and upgrade packages available, the Ford Safe and Smart Package is notable for its addition of blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, auto high beams, lane-keeping alert, and adaptive cruise control. It costs only $1,000 and is worth the extra costs.
Other, less complete, packages are available, as are visual upgrade packages, but the two above transform your GT more purposefully.
The GT as a standalone model is good, if a bit basic. The regular climate control and seating options, although decent, may get tiresome if you don't live a perfectly temperate climate. On the Premium model, a hint of luxury is added. For day-to-day enjoyment, being able to control the temperature of both your seats and either half of the cabin makes it a little easier to live with a performance car. Plus, you can spec the Premium's performance up to almost the same level as the more exclusive BULLITT. That's how we'd spend our cash.
Now that Ford sells the Mustang globally, its competitors are global too. The Kia Stinger GT is a relatively new entrant to the market that is still awaiting a 2020 update, but its performance is highly impressive. Although it's a four-door, its lines denote sportiness and with a twin-turbo V6 making 365 hp, it's worth considering. Handling on the edge can be a little less appealing, but with lots of standard safety equipment like blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic warning systems, it's well-specced off the showroom floor, even starting at $40,095. Wireless charging is another feature that isn't even available on the Mustang. With the Stinger GT's much more practical style, competitive power output, and heaps of standard tech, this is a four-door sports car worth considering. For raw thrills, though, the Mustang has it comprehensively beaten.
Domestically, the original pony car's biggest rivals often come from within the family - its bigger brother, the Shelby GT350, is no exception. Starting at $61,535, it's an eye-watering amount of money when other options exist; but this is money well spent. The Voodoo 5.2-liter V8 uses a flat-plane crank, not unlike the kind found in Italian exotica, giving it a unique shriek as opposed to a deep rumble. As a track car, the GT350 will utterly decimate the standard GT - and it should. 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque are big numbers. However, in straight-line acceleration, the Shelby does 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds while the regular GT is less than 0.7 of a second slower. The interior of the Shelby also has some finishings that look cheap in a car that costs this much. Overall, the regular Mustang GT is more comfortable, carries the same cargo, has more safety technologies fitted, and isn't as far behind as you might think. Only buy the Shelby GT350 if track times are your focus - otherwise, the stock GT is perfect.