2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: What's It Like to Live With?
Our GT500 is still in limited circulation, still kickin' it and takin' names.
- This has been one of our more expensive cars to maintain but we figured on that.
- This car gets poor fuel economy. Deal with it.
- We like how it drives around town but haven't reached consensus on the seats.
What We Bought And Why
• Our test vehicle: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
• Base MSRP: $71,395
• MSRP as tested: $81,280
• What we paid: $81,280
It wasn't long after Ford unveiled the performance figures of the new Shelby GT500 that we started daydreaming of having one in our fleet. Those dreams grew more tantalizing as time passed. And once we had the opportunity to compare it to its main Detroit rivals — the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE and Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody — we were certain it had to be ours.
So yeah, we bought one.
A Mustang with 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque now resides in our long-term fleet, and we're still occasionally checking downstairs to make sure it's real. A similar disbelief happens when you get behind the wheel and express wonderment that a Mustang this powerful and this capable can weather the daily commute without complaint. We have big plans over the course of the next year or so with this car, and you'll see our exploits here, on various social media platforms, and at our YouTube channel (YouTube.com/Edmunds). We think you'll enjoy what we have in store.
What Did We Get?
The Shelby GT500 comes with all the hardware you'd expect from a modern sports car: a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 with a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, electronically adjusting MagneRide suspension dampers, a Torsen limited-slip differential, and electronic goodies such as launch control and a line lock for straight-line performance.
How our Ford Mustang Shelby should look was a subject of some debate. When it comes to color, you can go traditional Shelby and get blue paint with white racing stripes, or you can go full gonzo with Grabber Lime and black racing stripes. We decided on the far more subtle Twister Orange ($495) and a black painted roof ($695). The orange and black motif works excellently with the black wheels too.
The Technology package ($3,000) adds an upgraded sound system, blind-spot monitoring, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps that illuminate a snake logo on the ground. As part of that package, we would also have power-adjustable seats with memory settings, but we don't because we opted for the manually adjusting Recaro bucket-style front seats ($1,595).
Not that the GT500 is short on performance, but it can be further amplified by the Carbon Fiber Track Pack, which we did not order. As cool as carbon-fiber wheels are, we skipped this package for, one, its prohibitive price ($18,500) and, two, our desire to have a more street-oriented car. (The option eliminates the rear seat.) Plus, the optional Handling Pack ($1,500), which we selected, comes with aerodynamic extras that add high-speed stability and visual flair in equal measure. These parts, along with an oil separator, literally come in boxes in the trunk with instructions that expressly forbid their installation for street use.
Lastly, our GT500's poor fuel economy (yes, even for this kind of power) meant a hefty gas-guzzler tax ($2,600). Altogether, that meant an as-tested price of $81,280.
Why Did We Get It?
Why does a dog chase a ball? Why are farts so funny? These are questions with answers that are as unsatisfactory as they are difficult to find. If you need the allure of a 760-hp Mustang explained, this probably isn't the car for you. Don't think about it too much. Enjoy the ride.
Here's what we're looking forward to most during that ride: burnouts, obviously. But there's also the following:
* Seeing just how livable this super 'stang can be in the day-to-day drudgery that is the Los Angeles rush hour commute.
* Drag racing it against, um, everything.
* Finding the extent of the available comfort from the Recaro bucket seats on road trips.
* Testing the limits of our neighbors' tolerance for loud start-ups in the wee hours of the morning.
* Determining just how bad the fuel economy is.
* Discovering how much value it holds after a year or so of ownership.
What Did We Learn?
We're not sure who sacrificed what to whom, but Ford has created a 760-horsepower Mustang that's as livable day to day as it is ferocious. In our all-too-short time with the GT500, we ran errands, took road trips and drag raced it against nearly everything under the sun.
We knew that such a fast car wouldn't be inexpensive to run, but for its part, the Shelby never needed more than routine maintenance. When you take into account a poorly dealer-installed front splitter, a couple of hungry rodents and our desire to do some track days, the GT500 was in and out of dealer service departments more than we would like. Because of this, we learned another nuance about owning such a high-performance car produced by a mainstream manufacturer. Even in Southern California, most of the dealers we visited had never serviced a GT500 before. That lack of experience, and lack of experienced technicians, meant even more downtime. Our GT500 spent 32 days out of service, usually just waiting for a tech to work on it.
While we were surprised at the ease of which you could use such a powerful car every day, we were not surprised to learn that the Shelby gets fairly horrendous fuel economy. It's true our best tank averaged 21.6 mpg, but over the life of our ownership, the GT500 returned a meager 13.4 mpg, even with a lot of long road trips. Buy a gas card with rewards — you'll thank us later. And if you like to do track days, you can use those rewards to buy some new tires because the GT500 goes through them too. Quickly. But that's the price you pay for driving one of the quickest and most capable production cars on the road — especially for the money.
What's the Bottom Line?
The Shelby GT500 is, without a doubt, the ultimate Mustang. The combination of world-class handling, otherworldly power and day-to-day usability all for well under $100K makes this car a must-drive and a future classic. With oil changes easily exceeding $200 and a set of tires costing more than $1,000, the Shelby is not inexpensive to run. But if you're prepared to pay to play, you'll be very satisfied with one of these parked in your garage.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Real-World Fuel Economy
You expect poor fuel economy when you have 760 horsepower, but the GT500 so far is performing even worse than it's already-bad 14 mpg combined EPA rating. Expect around 200 miles to a tank, which is worse than the range from most electric vehicles.
Average lifetime mpg: 13.6
EPA mpg rating: 14 combined (12 City/18 Highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.9
Best range (miles):: 314.5
Current odometer: 26,513
"No one should ever expect to get good gas mileage at a track day. But no one should ever worry about running out of fuel in one session, especially when you start that session with a full tank. Our GT500 nearly did exactly that and left us with no more than two gallons in the tank after every 30-minute session. With each session being 30 minutes, we covered roughly 60 miles. That puts our mileage into the mid-4's. That's wild. And expensive! But hey, it's kinda cool to burn through a tank of gas in only 30 minutes." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"It's just as easy to get record-setting high mpg in this Mustang as it is record-setting low mpg. It took some restraint to 21.6 mpg on the highway in our GT500 last month, but really it was a simple formula: set the cruise control to 70 mph, and don't get goated into racing anyone. The end. But if you take the GT500 on any kind of entertaining road, pin the throttle and listen to the sweet music of 760-horsepower for an hour or two, you'll easily dip into the single-digits of mpg's. A recent trip with the Shelby netted me 7.8 mpg — a record low for our time with the Mustang thus far — and I wasn't being nearly as aggressive as I could've been. A track day would've been much worse. Our previous-worst-mpg long-term vehicle was the 2010 Ford Raptor which averaged 12.7 mpg after a year in our fleet. This GT500 is hot on its heels at 12.4." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"Chico to Fresno. 50-ish miles of 55 mph speed limit with stop lights, one pull-over to look at a cool junk yard, then 265 miles on 99, stuck between 68 and 72 mph with cruise control, one WOT pass of a semi getting on the freeway and the A/C on the whole time. 14.528 gallons in the tank for a fuel economy of 21.64 mpg. It's hard to be that boring." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"There's no way this car doesn't top our list of least-economical long-term cars ever. Even when you baby it, it has a hard time breaking into double-digit MPGs and the GT500 hates to be babied. It wants to shout and growl and light liters of gasoline on fire all the time. It loves to go fast and it only encourages your inner-child to do the same. While driving the GT500 over the weekend, the fuel light came on, warning me I had 50 miles left until it was empty. That was with half of a tank of gas left. Half. Of. A. Tank. At a certain point, it just becomes hilarious." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
The fuel economy on this GT500 is awful. Like, worse than funny awful. I've been on spirited drives where I've averaged as low as 5 mpg in the GT500 and that's not hard to do. Push it even a little bit harder and you'll be draining the tank every 80-90 miles. But what's worse, is that the GT500 can't figure out when it's being driven for fuel economy. Driving conservatively on the highway, I was averaging 19.2 mpg according to the computer. With nearly 2/3rds of a tank remaining and 94 miles traveled, the computer estimated that I'd be empty in just 105 miles. And this isn't a result of "oh, the last tank was really bad." I'd driven 2-3 highway trips before this, with similar results. Even if I were down to half a tank (I was much higher) and I were averaging 19 mpg, I'd still have over 150 miles of range remaining. I guess it's right for the GT500's range estimation to be a bit pessimistic, but it's bordering on silly at this point. — Travis Langness, reviews editor
|Total routine maintenance costs
|Additional maintenance costs
|Scheduled dealer visits
|Unscheduled dealer visits
|Days out of service
|Breakdowns stranding driver
|Total body repair costs
"One of the wheels on our long-term GT500 was damaged and was causing an air leak that kept deflating our tire. We ordered a new wheel from Galpin Ford in North Hills, California, and in three days it was ready for pickup. Each wheel is approximately $1,500 plus tax. Swapping the wheels at a tire shop set us back another $50." — Albert Hernandez, editorial assistant
"When I dropped our Shelby GT500 off to discover the source of the fluid leak on a Monday, my adviser told me it would take a little while to diagnose, because only qualified techs are authorized to work on Shelbys. I told him it was no problem — I'd be out for a few days anyway and Mike and Rex could coordinate repairs while I was gone. I also told my adviser that we'd like a price on the Mustang's 20,000-mile service; it had reached this milestone about a week earlier.
"When I returned from my work trip on Wednesday, I called my service adviser and he gave me an update. The GT500 wasn't leaking oil but transmission fluid. The leak was slow and we brought it in quickly enough that there wasn't anything wrong internally, but it would take at least a week to source a new transmission cooler and install it.
"I went back to the dealer later the following Monday afternoon to take a few photos of the car on a lift. The Shelby tech informed me that the transmission cooler had arrived early, and that they just needed to install the part and replace the fluid. This was a warranty repair, so there would be no charge. My adviser also quoted me a price for the oil change at just over $230. After consulting with Kurt about the cost of the Shelby's first scheduled service, we agreed this was a fair price for the work.
"I picked up the Mustang the next day. It's been running smoothly ever since."
Second service costs
12 quarts of 5W-50 @ $12.90 each: $154.80
Oil filter: $38.51
Total: $233.29 — Cameron Rogers, senior news editor
"A few Sundays ago, on a day before I had to catch a mid-morning flight, I walked to the driveway to see a small puddle of fluid under each front tire of our Shelby GT500. Uh-oh.
My first thought was, of course, that this was an oil leak. I ran to my nearest auto supply store and found that they didn't carry the 5W-50 oil that the GT500 needs. A quick check of other stores in the same chain and even other nearby auto store yielded zero results. I went back home and, to be on the safe side, scheduled a tow for the following morning to the nearest Ford dealer via Ford's Roadside Service Request portal.
I was fraught with worry the next morning. I had scheduled a tow between 6 and 7 AM, the earliest window the portal allowed me to make. I received a text early that morning at just before 4 AM, telling me that a tow vehicle had been dispatched and would arrive at my house in an hour - far before I had scheduled the pickup. I was still asleep when I got a text telling me that my driver was en route, and the link supplied showed that the tow driver had arrived at my house around 5:15. I called the tow company directly around 5:35 to see what was going on and they were puzzled to hear about the automated texts. I was still scheduled for a 6-7 pickup time; the tow truck driver had not been to my house yet.
I started to get antsy again just before 7. The driver still hadn't appeared, and it was getting close to the point of no return for my flight. After calling the company several times and getting no response, I was finally patched through at 7:05 and was told that the driver was still 30-40 minutes away. I went outside, looked at the slightly larger puddles of fluid, and guessed that because there was nowhere near 13 quarts of fluid on my driveway, the GT500 would probably make it to my nearest dealer about 5 miles away. I canceled the tow and drove it to Ken Grody Ford myself.
The GT500 made it to the service bay without issue, and I explained the situation to my service advisor. Since I would be out of town for a couple days, I gave him Mike Schmidt's number in case he had questions. I caught a Lyft from the dealer to LAX and flew to Austin to drive the new Hummer EV." — Cameron Rogers, senior news editor
"As the old saying goes, "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs." That's applicable to our GT500 because you can't do a track day with a 760 horsepower Mustang without incinerating some tires. Willow Springs is VERY hard on the left front tire, so I knew I'd have to keep an eye on things if I wanted to get two track days out of our expensive new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Tire pressures were looked after, religiously, and after the first track day in May, I swapped the front tires from left to right in an effort to maximize tire life. Well, after the second track day, and about 300 miles of high-speed track work, the front tires were dead. Like, dead dead. Like, order new front tires from Tire Rack before you leave the track, dead. Oh, and be careful driving home.
To the late Michelin's credit, the tires weren't scary in this condition on track, but they did let me know that the usual mountain of grip was quickly eroding away. After pulling off early (there was still another session to go!) I reset the tire pressures and cruised home. The tires from Tire Rack were shipped directly to the mobile installer and installed on our Shelby without a couple of days. Oh, two new front tires cost us $981.04. The rears looked a bit worn, but were still just fine for street driving so we left them on the car." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Tracking your GT500 can generate a lot of extra heat and wear on the car's various components. As a result, Ford recommends bumping up a few maintenance items after all those hard track miles. After our track day with the Cobra Owners Club, we set up an appointment with South Bay Ford to have the rear axle fluid changed. This is recommended after 500 miles of track driving, and if we hadn't got there, we were close enough. We also inquired about having the transmission fluid filter changed at the same time, but as that's a fairly work intensive job (the labor alone is $900!) they couldn't squeeze it in before our next track day. The axle service set us back $388.79 and the new trans filter, which we had done immediately following the next track day, cost a whopping $1,326.59 and put the GT500 out of service for three days. Not only does an ultra-high performance car like the GT500 take money to keep in top working order, but it takes time as well." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"I've been ordering from Tire Rack for my personal car for years. So when the GT500 needed new tires — and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s at that — I didn't think twice about grabbing the rubber from Tire Rack. I usually feel sorry for the delivery guy when he's got tires in his truck, but I REALLY felt bad when I saw the size of the tires for the Shelby — 305s in the front and 315s in the back. They're hilariously big on their own and took up most of the floor space in his truck. But as many times as I've ordered tires from the Rack, I'd never used a mobile installer service to put them on. When you order your tires, Tire Rack gives you the option of having the tires drop-shipped to a mobile installer near you. Because of my not-so-set schedule, I decided to have the tires shipped to my house and then I reached out to a local installer when I had time. I know this is sounding like an ad, but it was so easy and let me pick the day/time to minimize the disruption to my schedule. In about 45 minutes, the installer had the wheels off, old tires gone, new ones mounted and the wheels back on the car. They even take the old tires away. For $160, it was worth it. Hopefully they last for more than one track day, as a set of Sport Cup 2s cost 56 cents more than $1,800."
"Our GT500 was a pretty early build, so the adjustable strut top mounts (they allow for the track alignment to be performed) were not installed at the factory but were instead in a box in the trunk. With a track day on the horizon, and not wanting to repeat the tire chunking from the first track day, we set aside some time to drop our Shelby off at Caruso Ford in Long Beach to have the new top mounts installed and have the track alignment performed. Three days later (a ride height sensor was damaged during the alignment process and replaced free of charge) and $700 later, we were back on the road." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Oil changes on this thing are expensive: $251.22 to be exact. Hey, when you buy a 760-horsepower Mustang, it's pay to play. But before we managed to schedule an appointment for an oil change, the check engine light came on. We mentioned it to our service adviser at South Bay Ford, and since our personal code reader couldn't come up with an answer, we waited with bated breath to see what caused the light. The answer was the code P0330 — a knock sensor circuit. What's that mean? Well, the dealer needed time to poke around and see if it was one or more of the Shelby's many knock sensors that had gone on the fritz. Unfortunately, South Bay Ford didn't have the capacity to look into our car for over a month. Yeah, really. But, respect due to our service adviser, who put us on a wait list and stayed in contact to keep us up-to-date.
"But we were not about to let the car sit for possibly a month, so we called around. Caruso Ford in Long Beach had space in their schedule and took us in, took a closer look, and informed us that after a quick visual inspection they were able to see rodent damage to one of the knock sensors. Think that's bad news? Well, in order to find out just how bad the damage was the tech would have to pull the supercharger and spend $835 of his time to get to the bottom of it. In the end, our little furry friends had also taken out part of the knock sensor wiring harness that had to be replaced as well. We'd love to say that part wasn't back-ordered, but it was. So our Shelby sat for about two weeks waiting on the part. Just like our service adviser at South Bay Ford, our guy at Caruso Ford stayed in touch and kept us up-to-date on our car's (lack of) progress. $1,084.23 later, we had our Monster Mustang back. Of course it goes without saying, this was not warranty work. Ugh. What's the lesson? Don't let someone on staff drive your car who lives near a nature preserve and is going to park it outside for a month." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"As luck would have it, not much long after our GT500 crossed 10K miles, the check engine light lit up. Well, it was due for an oil change anyway." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Hoo boy. To start things off, the splitter on our GT500 is not a factory-installed part — it's a dealer-installed piece. That means there's a guy at the dealer whose responsibility it is to install the splitters on new GT500s. And the person who installed ours did it incorrectly. So badly it's like they'd never done it before. We'd been aware of the problem for a while, but as anyone knows, taking a day off to go and sit at a dealership isn't exactly going to be at the top of your list of things to do. But once I found the time, I made a trip back to Galpin Ford and left wishing I'd bribed one of my co-workers to do it instead.
"Our service adviser was friendly but had difficulty grasping the idea that the part was incorrectly installed — by them — and instead offered the faintly ridiculous opinion that the splitter was merely missing a trim piece. It wasn't until we persuaded him to bring out a service tech to prove us wrong that he was, in fact, proved wrong. After the tech left, he went about inspecting the splitter and became fixated with scuff marks (like the kind you get from steep driveways) on the underside of the splitter. He claimed that these damaged the splitter and would likely void the warranty and stated we'd likely have to pay for a new splitter. He said he'd petition Ford to see what they said, even as I reiterated that I only wanted the splitter installed correctly and not replaced, and promptly wrote up the Prior Approval Request you see below. In it, you can see his language that completely torpedoed our request to simply fix the mounting of the front splitter by insinuating that scratches on the bottom of the splitter means the dealer can't be held responsible for incorrect installation. You've got to be kidding me. And all that took was just three hours of my day. Thanks for nothing.
"What happened next would likely not be available to any regular owner, and we want to make this clear — we are fortunate. We called various contacts at Ford and made our case. They agreed to have some of their techs (people who prep the various cars and trucks in their press fleet) look at the car and give us an assessment. They concurred that the splitter was installed incorrectly but were also shocked at just how poorly it was done. The wrong screws were used and various clips and tabs were missing. Now Ford was nearly as frustrated as we were since this shoddy level of workmanship makes them look bad when it's the dealer who should be held responsible. The engineering manager gave me his card and told me to have the dealer's service manager call him. He'd sort this out. Back to the dealer then.
"I asked for the service manager as soon as I arrived back at Galpin Ford and I knew I'd have to wait. After 30 minutes, he came out and I explained the situation and said I had someone from Ford who would be happy to explain how to rectify the problem. I used to work in the service department at a dealer, so I tried to get him to understand that, while this was a hassle, this wasn't HIS hassle. All he had to do was get the car to the right tech and I'd be out of his hair. He inspected the car and said ... 'I can see where it's missing a trim piece.' I said something to the effect of 'It sure looks that way. Now let's go talk to Ford and they'll explain it.' Thirty minutes later, the service manager had ordered the 'the only GT500 splitter not currently bolted to a car' and that we could expect it to arrive in a few days. He'd call. About a week later, he called and informed me that our part had arrived. I went back to Galpin Ford where I had another service adviser (the original one wouldn't even acknowledge me) and I dropped it off expecting it to be out of service for two to three days. Twelve days later, we had our GT500 back with a properly installed front splitter. I'm never going back." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"After 5,000 miles, Ford recommends an oil change. And since we like to follow the rules, we took our GT500 in to South Bay Ford for just that — nothing more, nothing less. We dropped in just before noon for their 45-minute oil change and left in ... 45 minutes. We also left $251.22 poorer, thanks to a $46 oil filter and 10 quarts of oil that cost $14.36 each. Ouch." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Many viewers have pointed out that our front splitter (not the wicker extensions) appears to have been installed incorrectly at the factory or dealer. It's worth getting it to the dealer to be addressed as well as that dangling connector (looks like a temp sensor) that's visible behind the front bumper. " — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content
"Parking in my spot at home, the parking brake on the Mustang suddenly slammed into place, stopping me from backing up all the way. Then, a warning message popped up. It took a few restart cycles on the Ford to get the warning to go away, but no matter how many times I pressed the parking-brake button, the brake stayed engaged and the car wouldn't move. We'll keep an eye on this going forward but in a long weekend of driving, it only happened to me once." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Performance
We already know the GT500 is fast. Like, fast, fast. But not everybody on our staff is accustomed this kind of performance, so how easy is it to manage the Shelby's tremendous capabilities? Check back with us to see how everyone gets to grips (get it?) with our GT500 as well as updates from the track and/or the drag strip. Hey — we're gonna use it!
"I like the shift programming of the GT500's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Specifically, I dig the rapid automatic downshifting when you quickly get on the brakes. Let's say you're cruising around town and the car in front of you suddenly slows down. If you dab the brakes on the GT500 it will quickly downshift out of whatever cruising gear it was in (6th or 7th, presumably) down to like 3rd or 4th to get you primed for acceleration in case you need it. It's nicely done." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"What's it like when you mat the GT500's gas pedal? Well, try this: load yourself up in a giant, 15-foot wide human bungee slingshot; stretch it all the way back; lash a $4,000 Magnolia bookshelf speaker to each side of your head; put a metal trash can over the top half of your body, with just a mailslot-sized cutout so you can see; and have a chimpanzee sit on top of the trash can. Then, all at once, release the slingshot and crank Metallica's "Disposable Heroes" at full volume over the speakers while you fly through the air and have the chimp screech and jump up and down on the trash can.
So, yeah, it's kind of like that. Outrageous? Yep. Silly? Yep. Possibly dangerous? Have you met a chimpanzee who you made stand on top of a trashcan-wearing human while launched through the air by a giant bungee? You know he's gonna be pissed. But above all, it's an utterly memorable experience." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"Ride is noticeably firmer than the GT500 CF Track Pack. Those carbon fiber wheels make as much of a difference in handling as they do in ride quality. It's by no means rough, but there is more head toss and the impacts are somewhat sharper." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Comfort
It's great going fast but if you're not comfortable while doing so, it stops being fun. How comfortable will our 760 horsepower GT500 actually be on a day to day basis? Adjustable suspension can go a long way, but what about those aggressive Recaro seats? Other factors you're likely to hear about in this section range from road noise to climate control.
I am genuinely shocked by how comfortable this ultra high-performance GT500 feels around town. The ride isn't any rougher than a typical, run-of-the-mill GT. And I think it deals with potholes and cracked pavement better than any model with the GT Performance package. I'm sure that the GT500's adaptive dampers do the lion's share of the work here, but I've been in plenty of vehicles where the MagneRide suspension wasn't overly impressive. Throw this thing into Normal mode, where the dampers are in a road-friendly setting and the exhaust is tamed, and the Mustang feels more pleasant to drive than most other muscle and sports cars. Astonishing for something so track-oriented. — Cameron Rogers, news and reviews editor
"So, our GT500's Recaro driver's seat — how comfortable is it? I do think that it is, for the most part, comfortable. At least it's comfortable for me. But I'm pretty skinny. I could see that people with a wider body type would find the seat confining. (See my coworker Travis Langness' comments about it in article's Road Trip section.) I've done a few stints in our GT500 now that ended up being about 4-5 hours long each. Each time I was pretty comfy for the first few hours but got antsy near the end. I think that's where the seats' lack of adjustability came into play.
I suspect that the GT500's available power-adjustable front seats would be more comfortable for long-distance driving. But this isn't a car you buy for coast-to-coast drives (or, at least you shouldn't get it to do that...). For daily driver and track-day purposes, the Recaros seem about right." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"I'm still giddy over the fact that we have a long-term GT500. That said driving this home and back in temperate 70 degree weather, the seats lack breathability. They fit me like a glove and I love the support they offer especially at the lats and thighs, but they are warm even with the AC running. I think they would be downright swampy in hotter climates. I also wish the seats were easier to adjust incrementally. The manual levers don't allow for fine enough control. Would love some electric adjustments even if they added some weight." — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, test team
"We take turns driving our long-term test cars and in late November 2020 I rotated into our GT500. One of the first things I noticed was how unpleasant the steering wheel felt in my hands. It's an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel (i.e., simulated suede), which should feel grippy and fuzzy. Instead, it felt slick and hard, like a cheapo urethane steering wheel.
Based on some internet research, I learned that Alcantara gets this way unless you regularly clean it. My guess is that none of my coworkers had bothered to clean the GT500's steering wheel since we got the car, which was back in early February. That's 10 month's worth of clammy sweat, body oil and cooties absorbed into the Alcantara. Eww.
More internet searching quickly revealed that this is, in automotive parlance, a "known issue" with Alcantara-wrapped wheels. Some owners complain that it's a pain to always be cleaning the steering wheel, while some others say it's not a big deal. I decided to take it upon myself to clean our GT500's wheel to see how much of an issue it was.
I reviewed a few suggested methods of cleaning. Some were more involved than others. Some also recommended buying a special cleaner. In the end I decided to use a damp terry cloth towel with just a tiny bit of laundry detergent rubbed into it. I then rubbed the towel on the Alcantara and could see that it was picking up dirt and grime. I then rotated the towel to clean more and then, as the final touch, used a soft brush to "rough up" the Alcantara a bit. And hey, it worked! Our steering wheel feels like Alcantara again. Overall, it took a lot longer to research how to do it then to actually do it. If this were my GT500, I'd just build the wheel cleaning regimen into my normal cleaning routine." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"I could argue that one of the GT500's biggest disappointments is its interior. Outside, yes, this thing is bonkers. Giant brakes, "look at me!" orange paint, enough aero for a Formula One car, etc. But once you're inside it's all quite pedestrian. Other than the Recaro seats and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, it's pretty much the same interior as a $30,000 Mustang's you rented at the Honolulu airport. The design is pretty drab and uninteresting.
Now, as a counter argument, I'll repurpose a quote from a former coworker of mine who was talking about the C6 Corvette years ago: "Do you want to go fast or fondle the interior panels?" With this much power, why should you care about the GT500's interior?
Normally, I'd side with my counter argument. But with the newest C8 Corvette, Chevy has shown how you can have high performance *and* an upscale interior. Ford clearly put all of its developmental money towards the GT500's mechanical bits." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content
"With 13.5 cu-ft of cargo capacity and a fairly wide trunk opening, the GT500 is just as practical as any other Mustang. So you can go grocery shopping it in, right? Well, yeah, but unless you're filling up the entire trunk with bags, most of your food is going to make a break for it before you get home. There's just no place to secure multiple bags - unless of course you lift up the trunk floor. Where you'd usually find a spare tire, there's an air pump for fixing a flat tire and a styrofoam housing that doubles as a grocery bag holder! I've put more than just two bags in here, but this photo illustrates what a perfect size these spaces are for paper bags. You're welcome." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Road Trips
With a car as special as the GT500, road trips are a must. Going far from home is almost a necessity when you buy such a shouty, bright-orange, 760-horsepower tribute to the American spirit. So, in this section, we'll highlight special road trips that we've taken in the GT500 and how they've shaped our perception of this epic muscle car.
"I drove up the coast, through the Northern-California forests and back home again on major interstates. After five days on the road, I put 1,300 miles on the odometer of the GT500. I averaged 15.4 miles per gallon (best mpg: 22.1, worst mpg: 9.7) with an average of 148 miles between fill-ups. I brought a five-gallon fuel canister for emergencies, but luckily, I never had to use it.
My online purchase of a lumbar support pillow was crucial in helping me deal with the too-skinny-for-my-frame seats (hey Ford, maybe add that to the options sheet?), and a power inverter that provided the juice for my heating pad was a must-have. The top-dog muscle car in Ford's lineup is uncomfortable, but not unbearable with a few easy mods.
I wouldn't say this Shelby GT500 is an ideal road-trip companion — but it's an experience I would happily have again. The trade-offs of too-loud tires and a poor sound system were far outweighed by the joy of having 760 horses at the disposal of my right foot. It's almost too much fun. Almost. And it doesn't hurt that the bright-orange Shelby looks so damn good in photos." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"After I spent a few days running around in northern California, it was time for me to take the Shelby home. In town, it was as comfortable and user-friendly as any rental-Mustang in the Hawaiian fleet, but near the trailhead it was a bit of a parking nightmare. Few dirt lots are designed for something this low and I don't plan on attending any future trail races with the GT500 as my ride. On the open highway though, I wanted to see how far I could take the GT500 on a single tank of gas. So, I filled it up with premium in northern California, and headed south.
If you're heading south from Chico, CA to Los Angeles, there's about 50 miles of not-quite-highway first, with stop-lights and strip malls along the way. Then, you hit highway 99 and it's all 70 miles per hour from there. I stuck to the speed limit the entire time - setting the cruise control to 70 and sticking to the slow lane.
After 245 miles, I beat our previous-best of 244.4 miles on one tank. I still had about 1/4 of a tank showing, so I kept on driving. 50 miles later, near Fresno, the low-fuel light was hounding me, so I pulled into the next gas station. By the time I the pump, the Mustang's trip meter read 314.5 miles (an indicated 22.4 mpg) with 27 miles of range left. It took 14.528 gallons of 91-octane, which worked out to 21.6 mpg. Nearly 22 mpg in a 760-horsepower muscle car; not bad when you consider the EPA's highway rating is just 18 mpg.
Our previous best was 18.8 mpg, with a three-month average of 12.1 miles per gallon. This tank (and the rest of my road trip) brought us up to an average of 12.7 mpg." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The second day of my road trip, I didn't have very far to go. Just across the Northern California bay area, a quick stop for gas, and on to my second destination: lodging near my ultramarathon. There wasn't a lot of new information to learn on this short stretch of road so I reflected on what I'd learned in the GT500 on the first day of the trip.
1. It drinks gas at a hilarious rate. This thing has a real chance of becoming the least fuel-efficient-car we've ever had in our long-term fleet. (More on that soon.)
2. The trunk is pretty spacious. Even with my biggest suitcase, there was still space for some additional bags.
3. Don't bother parking in areas with curb protector thingys — the front is too low. Or park backwards. Or be comfortable sticking way far out.
4. I'm glad I brought my back pillow — I'd be in pain otherwise.
5. Instead of horse lasers, this thing has Cobra lasers! The Cobra-emblem puddle lamps (instead of the stock Mustang logo) are a nice touch.
6. The seats are already starting to fray.
7. This car gets tons of attention and tons of respect. I've never had more people wave me by, wave at me, and give me the thumbs up as I pass. I've driven flashy supercars before and they just seem to get attention — sometimes even judgmental looks. The GT500 is a hyped-up version of one of America's most popular cars — so it seems more attainable, and therefore, more lovable. Even if it is shattering windows and eardrums everywhere it goes, people seem to enjoy seeing it out and about." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The first section of my road trip spanned the southern half of the California coast. From Los Angeles, followed PCH north, winding up in beautiful towns like Santa Barbara and Big Sur. I've taken this route before and I know just how much wide-open space it offers. Lots of curvy coastal-mountain roads, and lots of enjoyable scenery to soak up. It's significantly longer than just taking Interstate 5, but it's well worth the extra time.
I was a bit worried about the big, brawny Mustang feeling too large for some of the tight turns, but it just didn't. Sure, it's not as agile in tight spaces as something like a Miata, but it makes up for it with hilarious straight-line speed and earth-shattering supercharged-V8 noises.
On some of the broken bits of highway along Pacific Coast Highway and the 101, the GT500's tires, however, were nearly unbearable. They were so loud, that even the stereo cranked to maximum volume couldn't drown them out. Next time, I'll bring earplugs." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The GT500 is insanely fun. Bury your foot in the loud pedal and it'll wake the dead. The looks are bold and brash. It recently won our three-wide muscle-car comparison test with the best acceleration, grip and handling. But is it the right car for a 1,000-mile road trip? It's time for me to find out.
I've got a road trip planned, from Los Angeles to Northern California, where I plan on running a trail ultramarathon (50k or 31.6 miles). Then, after copious amounts of pizza, craft beer, ice cream, and a good night's sleep, I plan on turning around and coming home. Round trip, that's more than 1,000 miles.
Can it keep me comfortable after such a silly self-inflicted sufferfest? Will the bucket seats destroy my back? What about the stiff suspension? Will I run out of gas somewhere in the middle of nowhere thanks to the GT500's hilariously small range? There's all sorts of reasons to leave the hardcore GT500 at home and opt for a quiet, easy-going crossover — but where's the fun in that?" — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"Two track days in a month? Yes, please! With restrictions lifting, as well as my own personal concerns, the lure of a track day with the Cobra Owners Club of America at Willow Springs was too much to ignore. Spread out over a two day weekend, the track attracts a fair amount of track ready Cobras, Shelbys and other Fords from the Southwest. I figured it'd be a good day to spend some time seeing how my skills stack up against other GT500 drivers, but when I rolled in on a Sunday, I was the only GT500 there. That was seriously unexpected, especially in LA, but I figured there'd be plenty of other fast cars to run with. As it turns out, there were. And I also found out, most of the attendees had never seen or heard the new GT500 driven in polite anger on a race track. After every session there were more than a few interested parties who would cruise over and ask questions about the beast and most of the time my answer would be, "No, it's stock." It's that fast, even to seasoned track drivers. In typical GT500 fashion, it used A LOT of gas but performed flawlessly through every session.
The second track day was back with Open Track Racing, who I had run with in the GT500 late last year. In between track days, I'd swapped the front tires from left to right and had the differential serviced. Mid-May is one of the last good months at Willow Springs as temperatures can climb well into the 90's by the start of June. As it was, the weather was a touch warm so I bought a bit of octane booster to take the edge off, kept an eye on tire pressures and enjoyed ripping around in a car that has business being so easy to drive. Lots of fast cars were there, which is typical for an LA track day, and my run group features a well driven C7 Z06, a 500+ horsepower Audi RS3 with a great driver and countless other fast stuff, including a race-prepped Porsche 928. You don't see that very often. Again, the GT500 was absolutely unflappable on track, lapping consistently and quickly right up until the left front tire died. More on that in the Maintenance section of this blog!" — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"You can't own a car like the GT500 without taking it to a track to do some laps. Not just because it's really the only place where you can experience the full power of the Shelby, but if you don't take it to a track, you've missed the point of the car and should have just bought a poster of a GT500 for your garage wall. So, what did we learn?
"Well, it's stupid fast. Duh. But it's also very friendly, even when you're near or on the limit of the tires. You can tell that a LOT of development work went into the GT500 by how easily it transitions from being a highway cruiser to track car and back again. The trunk even had enough space to hold our track tote, a cooler, jack, jackstands, two chairs and assorted tools. Special mention needs to go to the transmission calibration as well. In every session I simply put the car in Track mode and let it handle the shifting. It was always in the right gear and downshifts never upset the car, even under heavy braking. It's on my short list of the best transmissions on sale today.
"Our track day was held at Willow Springs, on its big track. With only nine turns in 2.5 miles, this is an 'old-school' track that puts speed above corner count. And after hitting an indicated 149 mph on the front straight, we'll vouch for Willow Springs' claim of being 'The Fastest Road in the West.' And with three corners being medium- to high-speed right hand sweepers, it's also notoriously hard on the left front tire. We did this track day (one of many, hopefully) using the stock alignment specifications and with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires that came on our car. We're fully aware of the track alignment settings but we wanted to run one track day 'bone stock' and another with the track alignment settings, not only to feel the difference but to see the difference in tire wear. Track days for science!
"As expected, the left front tire did take a bit of a beating, but still delivered exceptional speed and stability throughout the day. As you can see in the photos, the rear tires fared just fine — another testament to the GT500's well calibrated traction and stability systems. The brakes held up too and suffered absolutely no fade, even with the extended 30-minute sessions on track.
"What did suffer during those 30-minute sessions was the fuel economy. Obviously, you expect to get poor mileage when going flat out around a racetrack, but you don't expect to nearly run out of gas in 30 minutes! Every session we did saw us getting the checkered flag after having the low fuel light on for the last three laps. That's a tank of gas per session! It doesn't help that our GT500 looked to be puking gas out of the filler. Yes, I cleaned that up with soap and water. If you ever do a track day in a GT500, make sure there's a gas station nearby. Or you could be like us and spring for the 100 octane at the track. Hey, it was 90 degrees! It was also $10 a gallon. Oof. Pay to play, right?" — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
"Part of conforming to car-related laws in California means having to run a front license plate. There are two problems with this: the first being most vehicles aren't really designed/styled with a giant license plate in mind and the second one is you rarely get to mount that plate yourself — it's usualy done for you, and quite badly, by an underpaid dealer employee. On that second point, lucky for us, Galpin Ford did nothing of the sort and left it to us to mount the plate ourselves.
"We decided to look for a non-bumper-damaging way to affix the front plate and, thanks to a GT500 owners forum, we came across this solution from Grimmspeed. Originally created for the 2016 Ford Focus RS, this front plate mount utilizes the threaded tow hook receiver on the right side of the front bumper. We liked the quality of the hardware and the adjustability of the kit. $79 (plus tax) later and we had one on our doorstep.
"We'll save you the super specifics of the kit and the process itself (be sure to check the photo carousel for a photo how-to) but the installation took about 20 minutes, including the time to grab photos. Incidentally, instructions on how to remove the front tow hook are located in the GT500 owner's manual supplement. We also scraped off the dealer's lot number sticker from the windshield. Very satisfying.
"After all was said and done, we were very pleased with the mounting as it blocks no air intake, obscures no light and still manages to look like a fairly stock mounting location. In a perfect world, we'd order another plastic tow hook cover, cut out and seal a hole for the mounting bolt, and reassmble everything. And yes, we cleaned off the bugs before mounting the plate." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor
Our Ford Shelby GT500 is no stranger to the drag race track. Unfortunately, it's also no stranger to losing. Over the past year, we've seen it lose to the likes of the Tesla Model Y, BMW M8 and Chevrolet Corvette to name a few. (At least it beat the Dodge Challenger Hellcat!) In this drag race video, Caros Lago and Kurt Niebuhr bring out another muscle car for the Shelby GT500 to race: the Ford Mustang Mach 1. Will the 760-horsepower GT500 leave the 480-hp Mustang Mach 1 in the dust? Which of these Ford muscle cars has the fastest 0-60 time? We can't wait to find out. It's Ford vs. Ford! Mustang vs. Mustang! This is the Ford Shelby GT500 vs. Ford Mustang Mach 1 drag race.
When we last saw our Ford Shelby GT500 in a drag race, it got left in the dust behind our Tesla Model Y Performance. Given the Tesla's all-wheel-drive traction and immediate power delivery, that may have been an unfair pairing. This time we've attempted to even out the playing field by bringing a 2021 BMW M4 Competition. In this video, Carlos Lago and Kurt Niebuhr from Edmunds jump into these high-performance vehicles to see which one has the quickest acceleration and 0-60 time. This is a drag race of the Ford Shelby GT500 vs BMW M4 Competition.
Another week, another drag race with our long-term 2020 Tesla Model Y Performance. Over the past few months, you've seen the Model Y drag racing the BMW X3, Porsche Taycan, Chevy Corvette and Jeep Trackhawk. This time out, we've brought along another car from our long-term fleet, the 2020 Ford Shelby GT500.
In this drag racing video, we took a 2020 BMW M8 Competition and put it up against our very own 2020 Ford Shelby GT500 in a battle of high-performance sport coupes. Which car had the better 0-60 time? The 600-hp M8 or the 760-hp Shelby GT500? How much of an advantage does all-wheel drive give the BMW? Is the extra $100,000 worth the difference in speed? Alistair Weaver and Carlos Lago answer these questions, as well as cover price and specs in this high-powered, high-performance sport coupe drag race.
We went into this thinking the GT500 would dominate and the 911 would come in dead last. Boy, did we have some surprises waiting for us!
You can almost pity the person who has around $100,000 to spend on a new sports car. The options have never been as good or as diverse. Consider these three: the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera. That's right, we're tackling the C8 vs. GT500 and Corvette vs. 911 in one go.
In this update, Carlos Lago explains what it's been like living with the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 so far. This video covers installing the front license plate, an update on fuel economy, and performance testing to see the difference between our GT500 and an earlier one we tested that had the optional — and pricey — Carbon Fiber Track Pack.
Carlos introduces our new GT500. Here's the video of the options we picked, the gratifying plastic-removal process, highlights from the owner's manual, and installation of the handling package.