Whether or not you’ve seen the car chase scenes from the popular 60’s movie, Bullitt, where a special Ford Mustang flies through the streets of San Francisco, Ford’s 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is far more than a once-over movie (its 50th anniversary) tribute. Its sleeper looks act as a cloak over the rumble created from underneath. While the movie brings instant name recognition among certain crowds, its performance and everyday livability are so impressive that it earns respect, even from those who haven’t seen the movie (yet!).
The Mustang Bullitt begins around $47,500 but this fully-loaded example checks out at $51,500. The Bullitt comes well equipped with the standard features from the GT Premium Pack, the Performance Pack, and several unique items like the Dark Highland Green exterior color, retro-styled 19-inch black wheels, unique grille and bumper, a black finish for the quad exhaust outlets, and BULLITT written on the rear fascia’s centerpiece.
The Ford team’s significant efforts are demonstrated inside as well, with unique spun-finish aluminum trim, a Bullitt-specific welcome animation on the 12-inch digital instrument cluster, and dark green stitching on the dash, seats, knee padding, and shifter boot. Also, there is a numbered plaque on the passenger side dash panel that is Hollywood-retro since, after all, this is a special edition.
The fully loaded “main-stream version” of the Mustang leaves little on the table. LED lighting, proximity entry, active exhaust sound – a must-have feature, auto-on headlights, an upgraded rear axle, electronically adjustable dampers, and larger Brembo brakes are highlights of the exterior.
Heated and cooled seats, dual zone climate control, softly padded door panels, ambient lighting, and a powerful 12-speaker B&O audio system impress. Ford’s latest infotainment system is easy to learn though cycling through the different screens, especially the navigation screen, creates a notable lag.
Power and Efficiency
The 5.0-liter V-8 is a high-tech take on muscle car power and adds Bullitt-only hardware and software upgrades that deliver 20 additional horses over the standard GT for a total of 480 hp. The power and revised aerodynamics increase the top speed to 168 mph (+8). The Bullitt’s V-8 is only available with a six-speed manual transmission that comes topped with a cue-ball shifter. Its throws feel direct and require a committed shove – perfect for the car’s character – but acceleration from a stop (without destroying a clutch) and life in traffic jams would benefit from a shorter gear ratio. Dancing between the clutch and “go” pedals reveals one of the best throttle calibrations in the business. The clutch is communicative for soft engagement in heavy traffic and also sharp enough to chirp the tires on a 2nd to 3rd gear upshift. New for 2019 is the rev-matching downshift feature that delivers a satisfying quick blip of the engine for a smooth and slip-free clutch engagement every time.
The Bullitt achieves an EPA estimated 15 mpg city, 24 highway, and 18 combined. In my week of commuting, mountain driving, and obsessing over the V8 burble, the Bullitt returned an impressive 20 mpg.
The Bullitt earns five-starts from NHTSA and Good ratings from IIHS for nearly all crash evaluations. Active safety features are limited on the Bullitt to blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. Visibility over the high dash and long hood is not as confining as one might think though the small-ish exterior mirrors and sloping roof line emphasize the benefits of the electronic aids. The car’s summer tires carry tremendous grip and the large Brembo brakes are unfazed during heavy braking.
Bright LED headlights, turn signals, and taillights are appreciated in today’s life among high-riding pick-ups and complacent drivers though it lacks automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.
Style and Size
The Mustang blends modern touches (signature LED lighting and triple-striped LED tail lights) with classic muscle car traits like a long hood, wide rear powerful proportions, and long fastback roofline. Subtle yet effective creases help visually lengthen, widen, and lower the car while physically, it’s as long and wide as the midsize Edge crossover (188 inches). Inside though, the rear-biased cabin has good space for two, rich feeling materials, and consistent gaps add merit to its high price while folding rear seats are a notable practical touch. The muscle car image extends inside with a twin-hooded cockpit with central gauges, a large (and digital) combi-meter display, and a high central tunnel, and comfortable bucket seats.
Ride and Handling
This latest generation of Mustang trades its solid rear axle for independent-spring setup which allows the chassis engineers to enhance its overall handling abilities, especially over mid-corner bumps and dips. In the real world, the Bullitt does a great job of putting the power down no matter the surface condition. The suspension’s electronic dampers can be set to Comfort, which prevents sharp impacts from coming through but it’s still very much on the sporty side of the stiffness spectrum, while Sport+ improves body control during quick transitions, increases the steering effort, and dials back the stability control’s intervention settings.
It also highlights a very rigid chassis. For all out performance, there is a Track mode and a Drag Race mode with each featuring their own tuning profiles. Along winding mountain roads in Sport+, the Bullitt demonstrated amazing grip, no doubt heightened by the summer-only tires. In fact, if this were my car, I’d rather shift the balance the grip-to-power ratio more towards the power side by throwing on a set of all-season tires. That move would also help lessen the remorse that comes with burning expensive rubber.
What a car! Sure, it’s fun to rip the V-8 to redline – that was expected – but the Bullitt proved impressive in so many other areas. It feels classic, it feels solid, it feels high tech, and most importantly, it feels like a special car.