2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Review
Pros & Cons
- Supreme grip and handling precision around turns
- Strong, high-revving V8 engine infuses the car with plenty of racecar character
- Rides comfortably despite the focus on performance
- Cramped rear seat, assuming there's one to begin with
- Base Sync system seems out of place and cheap in an otherwise high-end machine
Edmunds' Expert Review
It's a bit misleading to call the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 a Mustang. Sure, it's a Mustang, but it isn't the kind of Mustang you'll rent in Florida, then drive to Miami Beach with the top down. The GT350 is a street car that has been given the heart of a racecar. And thanks to a fantastically well-tuned suspension, the GT350 is more than just a fast 0-60 Mustang, too. Now, if you were to call the GT350 the ultimate version of a Mustang, that would be more appropriate.
So what makes the GT350 so good? For starters, the flat-plane crank V8. It's a 5.2-liter power plant that's based on the standard Mustang GT engine but with much morevoodoo technology involved. It revs to an astonishing 8,200 rpm and makes all sorts of fantastic noises along the way. The GT350 also gets extra coolers for the oil, differential and transmission, along with unique intake and exhaust manifolds to accommodate the high-revving motor. All of that combines to create a screaming, 526-hp monster built to entertain and dominate on the track, yet it's perfectly docile and drivable in city traffic.
When you start looking at what holds the GT350 together underneath, things are just as interesting. When Ford redesigned the Mustang for 2015, the overhaul included a stiffer chassis and independent rear suspension, which carried over to the GT350 as well. But just as it is in the engine department, the GT350 gets much more than just the standard Mustang suspension. Instead, it comes with adaptive (magnetorheological) dampers, big Brembo brakes and a lowered, racecar-appropriate ride height. And even with all the bonkers-track-day-equipment, the GT350 remains an incredibly approachable car that you can drive quickly with relative ease.
This ability to haul donkey at the racetrack and then drive home without the need for a trailer is the holy grail of sports car design. It's what Porsche has been doing right with the 911 the past 50-plus years. And with the GT350, you don't have to shell out 100-plus grand to get it. But there are alternatives. The 640-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is on its way to dealers late in 2016 and it will directly compete with the GT350. A base Chevrolet Corvette is also in the same price range and offers fantastic road and track performance. And if you want to go even farther outside the box, think of cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C and BMW M2. For now, though, this "ultimate Mustang" GT350 is clearly a class leader and one of our favorite cars on the road. And it probably will be for a long time.
Standard safety equipment for the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 includes traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard are emergency assistance, a post-crash alert system (SOS), a rearview camera andMyKey, which can set certain driving parameters for different drivers like valets or your kids.
During a simulated panic stop in Edmunds testing, the GT350 came to a stop from 60 mph in an extremely short distance of 101 feet.
While the Shelby GT350 has not been specifically crash tested, the government has tested a regular Mustang coupe. It earned a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Mustang coupe its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap front-impact, side impact and roof strength crash tests. The Mustang's seat and head restraint design were rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test, the standard Mustang received the IIHS's second best rating of "Average."
2017 Ford Shelby GT350 models
The 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 is a high-performance version of the Mustang coupe. Ford offers a base version and a more race-focused GT350R.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers and heavy-duty springs, Brembo brakes, a Torsen rear differential (with 3.73 gearing), a front suspension tower brace, three powertrain coolers (oil, differential and transmission), adjustable drive settings, xenon headlights, a rear spoiler, keyless ignition and entry, manual Recaro front seats with simulated suede inserts, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a 4.2-inch center display,Track Apps performance telemetry, a rearview camera, phone and audio voice commands (Sync), smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port.
Opting for the Electronics package equips the GT350 with dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen with Sync 3, a navigation system and a nine-speaker audio system with satellite radio and two USB ports. The Convenience package adds leather upholstery, six-way power sport front seats (with driver power lumbar; these seats replace the standard Recaros) and heating and ventilation for the front seats.
The GT350R gets most of the GT350's standard equipment, plus 19-inch carbon-fiber wheels (with special Michelin tires), revised suspension tuning and aerodynamic body enhancements (front chin splitter and carbon-fiber rear wing, most notably). The air-conditioning, sound system, floor mats, rear seat, rearview camera, Sync system and tire inflation kit are deleted with the R. To get those features back, Ford offers the R-Electronics package, which puts almost all of it back in the car along with the dual-zone climate control, nine-speaker sound system, touchscreen and Sync 3.
Powering the Shelby GT350 is a 5.2-liter V8 that produces 526 hp and 429 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels is the only transmission offered. During Edmunds testing, the GT350 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. For a bit of context, the Corvette did the same sprint in 4.2 seconds. A Mustang EcoBoost made it to 60 mph in about 6 seconds, while the 5.0-liter Mustang GT did it in 4.7 seconds.
Should you be able to resist the GT350's charms and drive in a normal fashion, the EPA estimates the GT350 will achieve 16 mpg in combined driving (14 city/21 highway).
The 2017 Ford Shelby GT350's crowning jewel is its flat-plane crank V8. It's completely civil around town, even at low rpm. And on the highway, there isn't much noise -- you won't have to shout to have a conversation. But wind out the V8 in each gear up to redline and you will suddenly understand what all the hype is about. The GT350 pulls hard, and it may even take you some time to get used to how long each gear is with that sky-high redline. The exhaust has multiple modes that can be selected independent of driving modes, and we recommend the Sport (Loud) mode as often as you get the chance.
The previously optional adaptive suspension is now standard, and we're extremely happy about that. It makes daily drives relatively shock-free on rough roads. Yet when you venture out on a road course or your favorite curvy road, the GT350 provides seemingly endless grip and remains flat and composed through all sorts of corners -- long sweepers and tight hairpins alike.
The steering is quick and accurate but there isn't much feel between the driver inputs and the car's reactions. But the suspension runs over bumps and grooves (even midcorner) without the slightest hint of upsetting the handling, enhancing driver confidence. Getting in the GT350 and driving it fast is not a daunting task. This is saying a lot considering the GT350's capabilities. It truly is the best of both worlds. If the flat-plane crank weren't such an excellent engine, the suspension would be the GT350's most impressive feature.
The 2017 Shelby GT350's interior is a lot like the regular Mustang's, which means respectable-quality materials and many of the latest conveniences. It is, however, a bit difficult to come to terms with the fact that you're essentially getting a standard Mustang interior on something that costs twice as much. The basic Sync voice command system (with the 4.2-inch touchscreen) continues to hold appeal for its simple operation of audio and phone functions but it, too, feels a bit below the price point for the GT350 and it can be fussy with commands. With the updated Sync 3 system, you get a much easier interface and quicker responses to touchscreen commands. The easier-to-use icon and menu interface plus smartphone-style pinching and swiping gestures are way friendlier and the clear choice in our opinion.
Standard for the GT350 are Recaro front seats. They provide excellent lateral support for aggressive driving and they're generally acceptable for daily driving. They aren't the most luxurious seats out there, but in this car they definitely make sense. If you want to use your GT350 as a daily driver, the "upgrade" sport seats, with their power adjustments and heating/cooling, will likely be a better choice.
The Mustang's rear seat is cramped, though it's big enough to ferry small children around well enough. Alternately, you could just ditch it all together and go for the two-seat-only GT350R. There are 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which is decent for the class, and it helps that the rear seats can be folded down. Compared to the Camaro, the Mustang's trunk opens much wider and it's much easier to maneuver large items inside.