4. Ford Mustang EcoBoost coupe
Price as tested: $28,540
0-60 mph: 5.5 sec; EPA rating: 24 mpg city-highway combined
Hottest color: Competition Orange
Counterpunch the Camaro on our list with this pony car turned agile quarter horse. Like our Chevy pick, it shuns the available big V-8 that makes it a muscle car. Here, we go with Ford’s punchy turbocharged four-cylinder – backed by some serious handling hardware. The result: sports-car-quality road manners in a 2+2 with enough room, comfort, and cargo space to qualify as your daily driver.
Base-trim EcoBoost Mustangs come standard with P235/50R18 all-season tires on alloy wheels, near-GT-grade brakes, a limited-slip differential, xenon headlamps, LED running lights and taillamps, power front seats, and keyless entry with pushbutton start. Premium-trim models add niceties like heated and cooled leather front seats, but start at $30,545. Given our thirty-grand threshold, stay with the base car and spend your dough on the EcoBoost Performance Package.
This thoughtfully assembled $1,995 option increases braking ability via larger vented discs, with 13.9-inch rotors and four-piston aluminum calipers in front. Tires grow to 255/40R19 summer treads on 19×9 black-painted alloys. The chassis gets handling-enhancing tuning and heavy-duty front springs. The final-drive ratio tightens to 3.55:1, from 3.31:1, and there’s a larger radiator. Inside, Ford adds an engine-turned aluminum instrument panel with oil-pressure and turbo-boost gauges.
This is your best-balanced Mustang, fortified with added measures of grip and composure that make it a twisty-road threat with minimal compromise to ride quality or utility. Speaking of grip, Ford offers genuine Recaro front bucket seats; they lack power adjustments but their solid embrace is worth every penny of the $1,595 upcharge. Sure, that pushes our car’s sticker to $30,135. But there’s always room for haggling.