2022 Ford Mustang vs. 2022 Subaru BRZ: Muscle Meets Scalpel

2022 Subaru BRZ vs. 2022 Ford Mustang comparison highlights:

  • Although both the 2022 Ford Mustang and 2022 Subaru BRZ are RWD cars, they offer different experiences
  • The Mustang offers more engine options and performance overall, but it’s heavier, more expensive when optioned-up, and not quite as sharp
  • The BRZ is faster than before, but it’s not quite Mustang fast—however, it’s also the nimbler, better-handling sports car

The Dodge Challenger may have beaten it in 2021 sales, but the Ford Mustang is coming in strong for 2022. But it’s not just muscle cars that the Mustang has to worry about this year. The 2022 Subaru BRZ brings some significant updates, and not just in the engine department. So, if RWD is your game, which controller should you pick up?

2022 Ford Mustang2022 Subaru BRZ
Price Range$27,205-$73,465 (base)$27,995-$32,295 (base)
Engine OptionsEcoBoost: 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
GT, Mach 1: 5.0-liter V8
Shelby GT500: 5.2-liter supercharged V8
2.4-liter boxer-four
HorsepowerEcoBoost: 310 hp (base), 330 hp (High Performance Package)
GT: 450 hp
Mach 1: 470 hp
Shelby GT500: 760 hp
228 hp
TorqueEcoBoost: 350 lb-ft
GT, Mach 1: 410 lb-ft
Shelby GT500: 625 lb-ft
184 lb-ft
TransmissionsSix-speed manual
10-speed automatic
Six-speed manual
Six-speed automatic
Curb Weights3491-4183 lbs (2021 specs)2815-2881 lbs
MPG RatingEcoBoost: 21 mpg city/29 (manual) or 32 (automatic) mpg highway
EcoBoost HPP: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway
GT: 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Mach 1: 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway (manual); 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway (automatic)
Shelby GT500: 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway
Manual: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway
Automatic: 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway
IIHS Safety RatingCrashworthiness: Good (Acceptable small overlap front)
Crash avoidance & mitigation: Not tested
Child seat anchors: Marginal
Not yet rated
NHTSA Safety RatingFive starsNot yet rated

2022 Ford Mustang

A blue 2022 Ford Mustang GT California Special on a runway
2022 Ford Mustang GT California Special | Ford
  • Pros: Faster, more powerful, more engine options, slightly more fuel-efficient in four-cylinder form, there’s a convertible model
  • Cons: Heavier, not quite as sharp in base form, V8 models have poor fuel-efficiency, greater price range

The Ford Mustang enters 2022 almost unchanged compared to its 2021 incarnation. The Shelby GT500 is still the fully-loaded trim and the Mach 1 sticks around after its 2021 introduction. However, there are a few new appearance packages sprinkled throughout the 2022 Mustang lineup. And while there aren’t many major hardware changes, there are some minor powertrain tweaks.

Firstly, the 2022 Ford Mustang GT and Mach 1 have 10 less horsepower and lb-ft of torque than the 2021 versions. The decreases come because of stricter EPA emission regulations, though the EcoBoost and GT500 remain unaffected. Secondly, the 2022 GT500 has a Heritage Edition package that offers optional hand-painted stripes. And while it’s not technically a Ford product, Shelby American is turning a limited number of GT500s into 900-hp GT500KRs.

But while the 2022 Mustang GT is slightly less powerful, it and the EcoBoost do get some new option packages. The Ice White and Stealth Editions are basically appearance packages, as is the EcoBoost-only Coastal Limited Edition. However, the GT-only California Special goes a little further.

Besides some appearance tweaks, it adds the strut-tower brace and front splitter from the GT Performance Package; coupe models get a rear wing, too. And 2022 marks the first time you can order a Ford Mustang GT with both the Performance Package and the California Special package.  

2022 Subaru BRZ

The rear 3/4 view of a silver 2022 Subaru BRZ at Road America
2022 Subaru BRZ rear 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit
  • Pros: Lighter, cheaper price range, sharper, some extra tech in base form, one of the few cars that’s faster with a manual
  • Cons: Slower, not as powerful, less efficient than Mustang EcoBoost

If you want to know what’s the biggest change Subaru made to the 2022 BRZ, look under the hood. The old 2.0-liter boxer and its infamous ‘torque dip’ are gone in favor of a torquier, more powerful 2.4-liter boxer. But while that’s the most significant update, Subaru also made a few less-obvious ones.

For one, the 2022 Subaru BRZ has a stiffer chassis and a lower center of gravity, thanks in part to a new aluminum roof. That roof also provides more headroom, Car and Driver says. Subaru also revised the front and rear suspension and installed different sway bars. And not only does the 2022 BRZ have stickier optional tires, but its standard tire-pressure monitoring system can recognize two sets of tires and wheels. That way, you don’t have to mount winter and summer tires on the same wheels.

In addition, the 2022 Subaru BRZ has an upgraded interior with a bigger touchscreen and a new digital gauge cluster. And even though base manual Premium models are light on ADAS features, the sports car has more standard features than before.

2022 Ford Mustang vs. 2022 Subaru BRZ: Trim levels and features

As noted earlier, the Shelby GT500 is the highest trim on the 2022 Ford Mustang ladder, with the EcoBoost at the bottom. Also, both the EcoBoost and GT have slightly upscale Premium siblings, which offer a few extra features and bigger option selections. Both EcoBoost models can get the High Performance Package, though.

As for the track-focused Mach 1, it fits between the GT and GT500. And for the super-dedicated track-goers, there’s an optional Handling Package that gives the Mach 1 a few extra Shelby goodies.

Meanwhile the 2022 Subaru BRZ is available in two trims: Premium (base) and Limited (up-scale). The BRZ Limited adds Ultrasuede-upholstered front seats, 18” wheels with grippy Michelin summer tires, and more standard ADAS features, especially with the automatic.

In base form, the 2022 Subaru BRZ has a few more features than a 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost. Although both cars have standard limited-slip differentials, the BRZ has a standard touchscreen, digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. If you want those in your Mustang EcoBoost, you have to either get the High Package or step up to the EcoBoost Premium. Also, while even the 2022 BRZ Premium has standard heated mirrors, they’re not available on the base Mustang. Plus, while both base cars have standard LSDs, the BRZ has a Torsen unit—that’s an EcoBoost optional upgrade.

However, the 2022 Ford Mustang does offer more performance upgrades than the Subaru BRZ. If you get the Mustang EcoBoost Handling Package, for example, you get not just a Torsen LSD, but magnetic dampers and Brembo brakes, too. This does require the HPP, though. Meanwhile, the Premium version gets heated and cooled seats, which the BRZ doesn’t offer. And while the Shelby GT500 doesn’t have a manual, it does pack supercar-level speed.

2022 Ford Mustang vs. 2022 Subaru BRZ: Safety features

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Admittedly, safety features aren’t necessarily a top priority for sports car customers. Nevertheless, between the two, the 2022 Ford Mustang ranks ahead of the Subaru BRZ.

As standard, the 2022 Subaru BRZ Premium manual doesn’t have any ADAS features besides automatic headlights. If you want a stick-shift BRZ with ADAS, you need to get the Limited trim, which has blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keep assist. It also adds steering-response headlights. However, because of how Subaru’s EyeSight system operates, it’s incompatible with a manual. Therefore, if you want adaptive cruise control and pre-collision warning, you need to get an automatic 2022 BRZ. The automatic Premium gets reverse automatic braking on top of all that.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost comes standard with Ford’s CoPilot360 suite. So, you get blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic headlights, cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking. And the High Package offers optional adaptive cruise control; the EcoBoost Premium adds rear parking sensors.

However, by the time you option a 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost to Subaru BRZ levels of safety, the cars are similarly-priced. Also, if safety’s the goal, the Shelby GT500 isn’t the best option. It only offers blind-spot monitoring, and then as an option, Car and Driver notes.

2022 Ford Mustang vs. 2022 Subaru BRZ: Driving

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Speaking of the GT500, it’s not comparable to the BRZ, especially since it’s almost 2.5 times as powerful and expensive. Really, the 2022 BRZ’s closest Mustang rivals are the EcoBoost HPP and the Mach 1. The former is the closest in power and weight, not to mention price. As for the Mach 1, it’s the Mustang that’s the readiest for track duty, which the BRZ is, too.

So, how does the 2022 Subaru BRZ compare to these ponies? In a straight line, not so well. Even though it weighs over 600 pounds less, a manual BRZ can’t keep pace with the four-cylinder Mustang. Car and Driver record a 5.4-second 0-60 mph time for the 2022 BRZ, while a manual EcoBoost Mustang does it in 5.1 seconds. Meanwhile, the even heavier yet more powerful Mach 1 hits 60 mph in 4.3 seconds with a stick.

However, once the surface starts curving, it’s a different story. The 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP is broadly comparable to the Supra 2.0, which is not as fun to drive as the BRZ. And both Car and Driver and MotorTrend found the Supra sharper and, well, sportier than the Mustang HPP. Furthermore, while the Mach 1 is a friendly, approachable track machine, the 2022 BRZ is lighter, smaller, sharper, more communicative, and more involving. After driving both around Elkhart Lake’s Road America, the BRZ left me with a bigger grin.

Simply put, GT500 aside, the 2022 Ford Mustang is a muscle car that can do sports car things. But the 2022 Subaru BRZ is a sports car, full stop. One is a breaker bar while the other is a torque wrench. They do similar things, but they’re not interchangeable.

Should you buy the muscle car or the sports car?

In terms of value, both cars cost roughly the same one you equip them to similar levels. The only question is whether you want to pay for the Mustang’s bigger engines.

Ultimately, choosing between the 2022 Ford Mustang and Subaru BRZ depends on what kind of RWD car you prefer. If you want something with plenty of grunt, low-end torque, and straight-line speed, the Mustang is likely more your speed. As for the BRZ, it’s best appreciated on a curvy road, where its low curb weight, responsive engine, and sharper handling come into play.

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