The Mustang EcoBoost Isn’t the First Four-Cylinder Pony Car

The Ford Mustang EcoBoost was one of the strangest additions to the model’s namesake, bar the Mach-E that many fans outright reject. However, the efficient EcoBoost isn’t the first pony car in Ford’s stable with half the cylinders you’d expect in a Mustang. Check out the 1974 Ford Mustang with a four-cylinder mill and how the four-pot Mustang II is the spiritual predecessor to the modern Ford Mustang EcoBoost. 

Was there a four-cylinder Mustang?

Ford first produced a four-cylinder Mustang in 1974 with the controversial second-generation Mustang, or the “Mustang II.” That vehicle’s mill produced an anemic 88 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque. Still, it was the first time a Mustang packed a four-cylinder engine. 

This Mustang II, like the 1974 Ford Mustang, represents a fuel-sipping precursor to the Mustang EcoBoost.
A Mustang II’s grille | Manuel Romano, NurPhoto via Getty Images

The engine, a 140-cubic inch powerplant, was a stark contrast to the 375 horsepower available in some first-generation pony cars with thunderous V8s. Moreover, AmericanMuscle says the under-powered Mustang II required 13.6 seconds to hit 60 mph. Even more embarrassing was the double-digit top speed. That’s right; the Mustang topped out at around 99 mph. 

Still, the 1974 Ford Mustang with a four-cylinder engine managed to get as much as 26.3 mpg on the highway. That’s nearly as good as a modern Mustang EcoBoost and much better than some of the thirstier first-generation Ford Mustangs. For instance, a first-generation small block 302 cubic engine might get as little as 12 mpg combined under normal circumstances. Of course, adding more modern components like an electronic fuel injection (EFI) kit could dramatically improve those numbers.  

Can you get a four-cylinder Mustang?

You can still buy a Mustang II with a four-cylinder engine. Hagerty says a base 1974 Ford Mustang II has a value of around $7,900 for an example in good condition. However, that price refers to a six-cylinder model. 

If you want a more modern interpretation of a four-cylinder Mustang, the much newer Ford Mustang EcoBoost brought a turbocharged 2.3L engine into the lineup with the start of the S550 generation cars in 2015. Still, unlike the unfortunate Mustang II, the newer pony cars are more powerful with every engine option, especially the familiar 5.0L Coyote V8

Does an EcoBoost save gas?

The Ford Mustang EcoBoost saves gas compared to its thirstier 5.0L Coyote V8-powered GT sibling. For instance, the 2023 Ford Mustang EcoBoost gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. 

Related

Mustang: Must-Buy Ponies Before You Can’t Afford Them

That puts the modern four-cylinder EcoBoost Mustang ahead of the Mustang II’s 26.3 mpg on the highway. Moreover, with its hard-working heart, the newer pony car is much faster than the Mustang II. Better yet, the entry-level Mustang’s fuel figures outperform the GT’s 15 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. 

Are EcoBoost engines powerful?

While the Ford Mustang EcoBoost packs half the cylinders of the V8-powered GT, its turbocharged 2.3L engine is powerful. The Ford Mustang EcoBoost produces 310 horsepower and an extra 20 horsepower with the high-performance package. 

Moreover, that power is enough to motivate the four-cylinder Mustang to 60 mph in around 5.1 seconds. As a result, the Ford model more than proves its worth as a sports car, even without a V8.