By on November 30, 2020

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

5.0-liter V8 (480 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm; 420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm)

Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

15 city / 24 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.4 city, 10.2 highway, 13.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $47,705 (U.S) / $58,500 (Canada)

As Tested: $52,595 (U.S.) / $58,500 (Canada)

Prices include $1,195 destination charge in the United States and $1,900 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

We all know about the Ford Mustang Bullitt’s heritage and its connection to the movie Bullitt. We all know the main chase scene with McQueen in a Mustang and the bad guys in a Dodge Charger cemented its status as one of the great car chases in Hollywood history. The actual car used in the movie, a GT390, was owned by a family for decades, and the owner even turned down an offer from Steve McQueen himself, documented by a letter in their possession. This tale just adds to the legend.

Ford got wind of this car’s existence and worked with the family to showcase it in 2018 when the third generation of a production Bullitt model was announced. The famous original was later sold by the family at auction for $3.74 million. Ford had built two previous editions in 2001 and 2008-2009. Now in the third run of the Bullitt name, this example has an MSRP of $52,595.

Today’s Bullitt is a factory modified Mustang GT featuring an extra 20 horsepower for 480 hp total at 7,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. The front and lower grilles are unique, and the familiar chrome pony badge is gone. There is no rear spoiler and the faux gas cap on the rear has the Bullitt logo. A rear diffuser and chrome ring around the windows complete the handsome and tasteful body appearance modifications giving it a smooth and unencumbered look.

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Only available in Dark Highland Green or Shadow Black, it closes the gap between the GT and the GT350 before the upcoming Mach 1 inherits the extra power for 2021 and the GT350 retires into the automotive Hall of Greats. The wheels, 19” x 9” in front and 9.5” in the rear, have the familiar black 5-spoke “Heritage” design with gray centers that reveal the red Brembo brake calipers behind them. Michelin Pilot Sport 4s complete the package, 255s front and 275s rear. The way they’re mounted on the rear wheel gives it a kind of retro-bulge despite the 40-series sidewall and looks cool.

It is a glorious throwback to drive around, manually shifting gears with the white cue-ball topped shifter. The selectable drive modes correspond to exhaust sounds from the active valve control and make for ear-to-ear grins from start-up to that final rev before shutdown. Maybe Ford gets around the EPA sound requirement by clearly stating the track and drag modes are for track use only. The neighbors didn’t complain but after a few days the Quiet Start mode was selected and it stopped being a big announcement when I left the house.

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Once out of the side streets, going back to Sport+ mode from Normal and selecting the automatic rev-match downshift feature, the giggles were a sure tell of the delight felt just by coming to a stop. Imagine a car that brings aural joy not just accelerating but also when downshifting coming up to a light or stop sign. Even at low speeds, third, second, and first gears all get the auto-blip, even when the clutch stays pushed in. In Normal mode, it sounds like a regular V8, just not one that is on the fringe of social acceptability.

Despite the Torsen limited-slip rear axle ratio of 3.73, the gearing is tall, partly because of the 7,000 rpm redline. When accelerating, even though the power is a little soft in the lower rpm range, long, sonorous, and effortless pulls in first through third gears get you over 70 mph. Yet the wind noise hardly seems to climb when approaching triple-digit speeds making it easy to not notice that you’ve exceeded the posted speed limit. While the manual transmission makes extracting speed more work, once up to cruising speed the Bullitt is a quiet and comfortable grand tourer or even commuter.

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Mustangs sometimes do feel a little tall when driving, partly due to the standard seats, but the handling was great on the street, and the steering ratio complimentary to the process. Taking turns fast and applying the power early, the grippy Michelins and limited-slip differential did a great job, aided by the optional $1,695 MagneRide shocks. Breaking the tires loose would take an even more significant amount of speed and sound. This pony is so good that it begs for a trip to the track for some hot lapping.

Aside from the aforementioned sensation of elevated seat height, any concern over the standard seats not providing enough support is alleviated when those antics produce some eye-opening lateral g-forces. They are actually very good and have an advantage over the more supportive track-oriented Recaros –  ventilation and heat functions. I scheduled the Bullitt to drive to and from Ford’s GT500 North American Track Tour, and comparing them to the track-focused Recaros, I found them easier to live with. If the Recaro option is chosen, those seats are leather-trimmed in the Bullitt, unlike in the other Mustang models that make the Recaros available.

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

In Normal mode, the shocks made for comfortable cruising, but in Track mode, the car is a bit choppy over expansion joints. There is definitely some noise when going over bumps but it was never uncomfortably loud. In day-to-day driving, the outward visibility in all directions is surprisingly very good, a far cry over the direct rival from Detroit.

While on a 130-mile round-trip drive, the trip computer showed 29.8 mpg at 75 mph in sixth gear, which was 2,100 rpm on the tachometer. That is amazing. Despite all the fooling around and frequent blasts exploiting the V8 soundtrack, fuel economy was never a concern. You have to give a 5.0-liter V8 some slack anyway, considering the official rating is 14 mpg city and 23 highway.

The 12-inch LCD instrument cluster is configurable based on the driving mode selected and the SYNC 3 infotainment system works well. Apple CarPlay is also integrated.  The wide-view rear back-up camera is especially appreciated in Mustangs. This tester also had the $2,100 Electronics Package, which I’d recommended due to the suite of driver aids and conveniences such as blind-spot information system with rear cross-traffic alert, voice-activated touchscreen, and a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker sound system with trunk-mounted subwoofer, which sounded great.

2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Little kids may or may not like the loud exhaust, but they love the pony-image light projection on the ground from the side mirrors at night. A classic GTO owner rode with me quite a bit during the Bullitt stay. Our GTO-owning friend, a dedicated manual transmission driver, greatly appreciated the Bullitt, and one discussion turned into a detailed conversation of a potential purchase involving a V8 Mustang with a clutch pedal.

Complaints are few. The transmission can be a little notchy, especially going into third. The clutch uptake travel changes from light, to firm then light again as it moves through its range of motion.  When showing onlookers the engine with the exposed air filter element, one must deal with a prop rod, which is a throwback in itself, one that gets really hot to the touch after extended driving.

Ford hit a home run with the Mustang GT but GTs are also quite common. A special edition with a unique appearance and an extra 20 hp, among other touches makes for a great experience, both as a driver and for an owner.

After all, you don’t see a Bullitt every day.

[Images © 2020 Rob Eckaus/TTAC]

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21 Comments on “2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt Review – Going Back to Improve the Present...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Good review.

    That is a really good-looking car. I didn’t expect so much from yet another special edition vehicle.

    It’s not my game, but I suppose one could do worse than $52k for a handsome, unique 480-HP car.

  • avatar

    “After all, you don’t see a Bullitt every day.”

    unless it sits on your driveway

  • avatar

    I love the color of these, but I want the Tremec if I am buying a Mustang. Any word on whether the 2020 still has the Getrag or is it moving to the Tremec (like the Mach 1 is I believe)?

    • 0 avatar

      I have a ’19 Bullitt (traded-in an ’08 for it). Pretty sure the ’20 still has the Getrag, or the forums would be all over it (the only mod I’m aware of is Ford put a CDMA modem in it, so you can use FordPass; whether that’s good or not is debatable). I’ve heard some improvements were made to the Getrag over the last few years, and I haven’t had any issues with it (I filled the box with synthetic oil soon after I bought it). Third gear is notchy, but every manual I own–3–is the same; there’s just something about third gear. I couldn’t shift this thing worth a crap, even though I’ve been driving manual gearboxes for over 50 years, starting with a Model A. Steeda sells a lighter clutch return spring, which helps greatly.

      I thought an IRS would tame the notorious tail-happiness of Mustangs but, apparently the rear subframe and diff isn’t anchored as well as it should be, allowing some skittishness. A ‘Stop the Hop’ kit from Steeda improved handling considerably.

      I love this car; it will likely be the last new vehicle I purchase (I’m 67YO).

  • avatar

    “Mustangs sometimes do feel a little tall when driving” <– Genius-level move by Ford, just prepping us all for the Mach-E.

    (That rear backup lamp reminds me – I need to run down to Dollar Tree to pick up a few things…)

  • avatar

    Too introverted for me. I’d maybe go for a Gabber Yellow Mach 1 though.

  • avatar

    It’s been a long time since I have bought an American car (1984), but this is just so clean, I really like it. A special edition with a manual transmission, no added tape stripes, no tacked on spoiler, and just a magnificent color – I guess I’d have to change my TTAC log in name, though. (Shhh…I did have a green coupe back in the late ’70’s!)

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what sold me on my Bullitts (’08 and ’19). I don’t give a whit about the movie reference, but Ford had to call it something (I could really do without the ‘dog bowl’ faux gas cap; many owners replace it with a blank panel).

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Best-looking Mustang in quite al ong time. But it would look even better without the blacked-out rims. I know they’re fashionable, but the original Torque Thrusts were part of the Bullit’s DNA.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised with all the special edition Chargers and Challengers that FCA didn’t do a Bullitt Charger. Is that because it lost you think? Or maybe it’d be hard to do the hubcaps on 20″ wheels.

  • avatar

    Great review. Stunning car.

  • avatar

    I hate this generation of Mustang, even though it’s better than the last few. Worst outward visibility of any car I’ve ever driven. Impossible to see over the good when going over a rise, forget reward visibility. You might as well be driving a submarine. With a more vertical windshield and more upright driving position so you can see the outside world I would own one. Even getting in and out of the damn thing is a chore and don’t get me started on the worlds most worthless trunk.

    • 0 avatar

      Like a Mustang but with visibility and a trunk is why people are still buying Challengers 12 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Trunk yes. Visibility? Not so much. All 3 suck in this respect. The Camaro is the worst and the Mustang is the least bad. The Challenger? Better than the Camaro but you could hide a 747 behind the C pillar. Get the blind spot detection.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          Before I purchased my 2018 Dodge Challenger GT awd I priced out a few Mustangs. All the dealers seemed to have were base, Bullitt and a Shelby or two in stock. I wanted a premium or the 2.3 H.O but it had to be ordered.
          The Challenger packs in a lot of value for the money with a number of features including the 8.4 Uconnect. The back up camera screen is nicely sized and the lane departure warning system works well thus compensating for the large C pillars. Plus the large trunk and folding rear seats make it very usable. Additionally the fuel economy has been quite ok around 24-27 mpg mixed use.

    • 0 avatar

      That is my biggest complaint about the Camaro, to the point I just can’t consider one for the street. The Mustang is absolutely great in comparison.

      The trunk is as good as many sedans, two of us having done an overnighter with luggage and additional gear.

      As a very discerning enthusiast for considering a daily driver, the Mustang visibility is not even a detriment in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar

        Visibility is a non-issue for me. I’m 5’9″ and somewhat long-waisted, and since 90% of the vehicles around here are SUVs and jacked trucks I have no problem seeing them.

        One thing not mentioned is the ‘helicopter noise’–think Hueys–going 40MPH or more with the windows down, but that’s what air conditioning is for.

    • 0 avatar

      “… With a more vertical windshield and more upright driving position …”

      Sounds like what you really want is a C/SUV; Mach-E maybe?

  • avatar
    Avid Fan

    PLEASE delete the unnecessary BULLITT gizmos. A simple GT gas cap and a pony insert on the steering wheel would be plenty.

  • avatar

    Seems like a cash grab by Ford like the previous versions.. They’ll put Bullitt on the mustang but does Ford donate anything in honor of Steve McQueen
    to Mesothelioma research for milking more money out of Mustang fans? I don’t think so.. Hey, but if you’re dumb enough to pay it they’re smart enough to sell it! Before anyone jumps on the you hate mustang’s bandwagon, i own a 2018 Mustang

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