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11 Best 2017 Cars Under $30,000

7. 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Coupe

Market segment: Sporty car
Body style: Four-door coupe
Base price: $27,095
Price as tested: $29,090
Key options: EcoBoost Performance Package, $1,995
For: Classic pony-car styling, crisp handling, surprising performance from turbo-four engine
Against: cramped interior, little trunk space, rougher-than-average ride, lacks some of the latest safety features
Next big change: Freshening for model year 2018

In its 53rd model year, the original “pony car” has reached middle age but remains lithe and lively with styling that’s contemporary while honoring its forbearers. The ’17 Mustang GT has a 435-horsepower V-8 but starts over $34,000. The base engine is a 300-horsepower V-6, but our better-bang-for-the-buck choice leads to the spunky turbocharged four-cylinder, part of Ford’s EcoBoost engine family.

It’s available in Mustang’s convertible body style starting around $36,600, so we’ll chose the EcoBoost Fastback model at $27,095. The turbo 2.3-liter has 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque, 40 pound-feet more than the V-6. Mustang’s eager rear-wheel-drive road manners feel energized by the EcoBoost engine, which places less weight on the front tires than either the V-6 or V-8. Mustang may not corner with the tenacity of the archrival Chevrolet Camaro, but it tends ride more comfortably and it’s easier to see out of. Neither car has a usable back seat: that’s part of the pony-car deal. But Mustang’s ergonomics make it the easier to live with day-to-day and a great way to tap into an American classic.

To maximize the turbo’s assets, stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission and add the $1,995 EcoBoost Performance Package. It includes handling-enhancing enhancements to the suspension, steering, and braking systems, adds 19-inch ebony black-painted aluminum wheels with summer performance tires, and fits a limited-slip rear axle. It also includes a larger radiator and an oil-pressure/turbo-boost gauge package on the dashboard.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]