By on April 27, 2021

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Fast Facts

5.2-liter supercharged V8 (760 horsepower @ 7,300 rpm; 625 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm)

Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

12 city / 18 highway / 14 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19.9 city, 12.7 highway, 16.7 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $70,300 (U.S) / $94,675 (Canada)

As Tested: $81,180 (U.S.) / $106,570 (Canada)

Prices include $1,095 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.

When is a Mustang a reptile? When it’s a Shelby, of course.

And when the car has Shelby badging on it, you’re in for a treat.

You know the specs by now, but just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a refresher: A 5.2-liter supercharged V8 makes 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, with all that grunt getting to the rear wheels via a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.

The Shelby’s power numbers and price aren’t far off the Dodge Charger Hellcat I reviewed last week, though the Mustang obviously has two fewer doors and plays in a different class. It also, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a lot less composed in urban commuting.

This is no relaxed sports coupe when driven gently. It wants to play. It’s hyper, like a dog that is only focused on going to the park and running off energy. It’s not happy when leashed.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

That’s not just temptation at play. The car is simply high-strung, even with an independent rear suspension and magnetic damping. It shakes and shimmies and quivers over broken pavement, its soundtrack is loud (even when the exhaust is set to quiet mode), it doesn’t filter noise out super well, and the steering is more than a bit jumpy.

Astute readers will note I gave more praise to this car’s on-road behavior on my first drive back in 2019. So what’s the difference? Well, the roads around Las Vegas are simply not as craptastic as what I deal with where I live. It was easier for the Shelby to be well-behaved on the better-maintained tarmac that surrounds Sin City.

Besides, any and all on-road flaws go away when the car is pushed.

Drop the hammer on the freeway and the car hunkers down. Find the right kind of road and start hustling and the Shelby feels far more composed. I’ve tracked this car twice, and it’s great in that environment – it feels right at home. But driving it to/from the track will tax your nerves and patience a bit.

At least you’ll get there in a hurry. This car’s a screamer, and it makes power that damn near warps time and space, if you can find enough road to tap into it.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

My complaints are not meant to say the Shelby is difficult to drive – it is not. It’s just never fully relaxed. If you want a Mustang that’s a track toy that can also be a road-trip star, a GT loaded to the gills with all the performance goodies would mostly be fine. A slightly used Bullitt would fit the bill. Maybe the upcoming Mach 1 will strike that balance. Heck, even the GT350, which is arguably a better pure handler than this monster, could be a pleasant companion in daily driving. I wouldn’t know for sure – I’ve only driven one on a track.

The GT500, on the other hand, has a different mission. That mission is to dominate the dragstrip, kick ass on the track, and just have gobs of power at the ready for whenever you want to loosen the leash.

Let the snake loose (not in that sense, perverts) and the Shelby is a hoot to drive, with all that edginess and stiffness over bad pavement paying off in a car that handles wonderfully. It’s not as scalpel-like as the GT350, but it’s still a car that can make easy work of corners.

Take away the power, the constant V8 rumble, and the occasional squirrely behavior, and the experience remains standard Mustang. By the way, let’s not pretend that all Mustangs don’t occasionally get wobbly over expansion joints. It’s just far more noticeable in this one, which is tuned for max performance.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Anyway, once you step inside, you see the same cabin that’s used across the pony-car lineup, just dressed up a bit. There’s a big snake on the steering wheel, and the wheel itself has a marker to let you know which end is up, so to speak, and my test car had the optional Recaro leather seats ($1,595) that I found over-bolstered for regular driving.

The Shelby sets itself apart from lesser ponies much more clearly on the outside, thanks to reptilian badging, the gaping maw of a grille, and the louvered hood scooping. It’s a mean-looking car, and I mean that in a complimentary way.

Key Shelby features include line lock, launch control, independent rear suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar, magnetic damping, Torsen rear differential with 3.73 rear-axle ratio, 20-inch wheels with 305 mm/315 mm wide tires, Brembo brakes, hood vent, track apps, selectable drive (normal, sport, track, drag, slippery) and exhaust (quiet, normal, sport, track) modes, selectable steering modes (normal, sport, comfort), hood pins, dual exhaust, paddle shifters, transmission oil cooler, and engine-oil cooler.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Other key standard features include dual-zone climate control, remote keyless entry, push-button start, Sync infotainment, 12-inch LCD gauge cluster, LED lighting, split-fold rear seat, Wi-Fi, and rear-view camera.

In addition to the Recaros, a Technology Package added navigation and premium audio along with blind-spot information and cross-traffic alert for $3,000. A $1,500 Handling Package added a Gurney flap and splitter wickers. The rest of the options list included a $395 car cover and $695 black-painted roof. Be prepared to pony up (heh) another $2,600 for the gas-guzzler tax. All that put the sticker price a hair over $81K. That’s slightly less than the Charger I recently wrote up but about two grand more than a C8 Corvette I drove shortly after I wheeled the Mustang.

I should note this car did not have the insanely expensive Track Pack, and that’s just fine for street duty. I’d skip the Track Pack and the Recaros if I were putting my name on the dotted line.

The gas-guzzler tax is necessary – the numbers are an eye-watering 12/18/14 and I saw closer to 12 for most of my loan.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The Shelby is the king Mustang of the moment. It’s the leader of the back, the boss (no pun intended), the big dog. I’d probably rather save some dough and drive a Mustang that better balances missions, but the Shelby has its charms. It’s the bazooka in the arsenal, and for some, that will be the appeal.

It’s a bad-ass car, and it’s fantastic, though it suffers a bit from overkill.

The Mustang V8 enthusiast with some limits to the budget will be happy with a properly equipped GT. The weekend warrior is best advised to seek out the outgoing Bullitt or incoming Mach 1. The track rat will do just fine with the Shelby GT350.

For the one who just has to have it all, that’s what this snake is for. It’s the baddest Mustang, if not the best.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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25 Comments on “2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review – Baddest Mustang...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I had a Mustang Ecoboost ‘vert for a week until yesterday, care for an op-ed to follow up yours?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If not, at least post a long comment in some obscure thread.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Sure, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments here. I do have a review of a 2020 EcoBoost in queue, though. It’s quite good!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ll write something up.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “So this is the V6?” I asked after some brief conversation with the owner.

        “Naw, it’s the turbo” was his reply.

        Probably one of those things you should check before you book, but I was lucky to even get a car. You see the Valley of the Sun has somehow become *the* destination of late. Uber $75 to go 19 miles from the airport. “Oh yeah they’ve been doing that”. Calling three Enterprises trying to find a car “Oh yeah it’s been like this, call X location”. Really it’s been facepalm all around, thank 3800 my Turo account was still verified. So after extending my hotel room two days before I could switch to my [cheaper] AirBnB I found this Mustang convertible about two miles from the hotel – but alas the owner did not do delivery. After Uber Black car drove from Sky Harbor to take me those two miles, I was in this silver [real] ‘Stang.

        https://d1zgdcrdir5wgt.cloudfront.net
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        https://d1zgdcrdir5wgt.cloudfront.net/
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        Well at least this was the loaded model, and inexplicably the seat warmers were turned on when I got in – I guess some like it hot. I plugged my USB drive into the port and browsed to it before I threw it in park to put the top down. Acceleration is decent, though there is frequently a turbo noise which you are very aware of top up or down. Technically the last turbo I drove was the Volvo C70 B.O.A.T. I acquired a few weeks ago, but really the last time I had a turbo was… maybe a Volvo 940 more than six years ago so my experience is limited but I don’t recall such a noise in the C70. This one was probably the most refined turbo I had personally driven, and outside of the noise found to be pleasant.

        Phoenix like Las Vegas is sort of big, in town most of the locals are pretty quick and north of the city some of them are attempting to set new land speed records. While I generally attempted to be in some reasonable speed of whatever sign I saw posted, merging onto the highway (and a few rights on Happy Valley Rd) the car had more than adequate acceleration for me to avoid horns and hand salutes from drivers behind me – though I don’t recall ever screeching the tires. Fortunately, the weather was rather pleasant so I didn’t melt in the combination of the Arizona sun and black pleather – but I don’t imagine that color combination works well in July despite the cooled seats option.

        I found the layout to be *mostly* ergonomic and the wheel mounted buttons very convenient to switch tracks, though I did have to touch the interface to enact a new search when switching artists. This example had various driving modes, but I forgot to test them because I kept bumping the four ways when fiddling with the USB stick. I was able to hook up my phone via Bluetooth, but it downloaded all my contacts after I made the connection. I’m sure all five of them won’t be pleased if they start getting spam calls from future renters. Top down and windows down under 45 mph, wind noise is tolerable, but I frequently kept them up and would say it is a must on the freeway. Aside from a few jaunts down Hwy 17 and local driving, the most use I got from this Mustang was a trip to Sedona (you really must visit the Sedona brewery if you have time on your Phoenix trip).

        Arizona has a few potholes and sections of rough road I found, but generally its roads return a smooth driving experience. Top down, the views are surreal heading north and the Mustang is happy to cruise around the speed limit or punch it past the many tractor trailers in both lanes who could barely muster 60 in a 75. I found parking it straight in a space to be challenging, but this could be a combination of its turning radius and the driver rather than the car itself. Top-down visibility I found to be very good, top up you’re using your backup camera and mirrors, but mostly the backup camera. In tighter spaces the nose was difficult to judge, and in urban jungle I took my time to avoid the small concrete islands they seem to have in their parking lots. Handling was very good and the car seemed very responsive dodging road debris as you’d think it should be.

        This example had 803xx or so when I picked it up, and I put somewhere between 325-375 miles on it though the miles allotment was very generously above this. The two sticky points I had with it were what I now think was a cryptic ODB code appearing then disappearing but worse the trunk lock on this example appeared to be defective. The first few times I thought I had not closed it with enough force and was reminded on the dash when I put it in drive, but at least twice if I was on rough road the mechanism seemed to be jarred loose. Fortunately, the trunk door at no time flung open while in motion -which included most of the trip up to Sedona- but on inspection was certainly unlocked. I’m not sure if this is a thing with this model or just some .10 piece of plastic broken on this example, but kudos to Ford for engineering a trunk door which doesn’t seem to fly open on a hard bump or fast drive when unlocked.

        There are also several other neat features I enjoyed including the push button start, lighted sill panel and lighting element around the cup holders which I felt to be very clever in the evening. The Mustang, while a pony car, I think [almost] fits the niche as a personal luxury coupe, so long as your rear passengers are children or invisible. It’s very stylish and when cleaned up turns at least a few heads that I noticed – or maybe that was just my choice of music selection to blast. I found myself wanting this car by the end of the week, despite the missing grunt of a V8 and frequent steam like sound emanating from the hood. Though with an N/A V6 you get a more predictable ownership experience, perhaps with enough research the Ecoboost may be an acceptable long-term choice for your ragtop daily or Sunday car – just don’t tell your 40yo+ friends you’re rolling the four banger Mustang. We have a different reelection of those…

  • avatar
    jack4x

    When I bought my 2012 GT500, the Shelby was about 50% more expensive than a decently loaded GT.

    Now it’s 100% more.

    $80K, or god forbid $100K with the Track Pack is a pretty hefty ask for something with the bones of a $25K Enterprise special.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “It’s not happy when leashed.”

    To me, this is the biggest selling point on the Dodges. The GT500 and ZL1 deliver hyper performance but the Hellcats handle Dairy Queen duty a lot better.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This is the fatal flaw of the Camaro regardless of what is under the hood.

      Under 6/10 is a miserable experience. Drive it above 6/10 and it will put a goofy smile on your face. The problem is there is basically no where you can drive 6/10 or higher beyond a track.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Am I supposed to get excited about 760 horsepower? I’m just not. I may have a defective car guy gene, but 460 horsepower with a manual and a civilized ride seems far more appealing than this. I can’t use 300 more horsepower on any street I ever drive on, I don’t particularly want to get jarred to death every time I drive out of my neighborhood on the bumpy access street, and I don’t want to wake up all the neighbors every time I leave my house.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Follow-up thought: there was a time when it was at least sort of possible to explore the performance envelope of even very-high-performance cars on the street. Back then, power was exciting! But once power numbers got over 500 hp, more power became either a thing useful only if you have an insanely expensive and time-consuming track hobby or a pure d!ck-measuring contest. Neither one excites me one bit.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I agree that this is largely for rich-guy track days, dick-waving, and Shelby collectors.

        However, in Ford’s defense they do make *many* flavors of Mustang depending upon one’s desire. Because I’m automatic-driving scum and live where it never gets cold I’d probably get a 10A GT convertible.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      This is why I say the GT with PP2 or Bullitt or Mach 1 or GT350 will be better for most buyers. Even Ford says the GT500 is mostly for the guy who just wants the newest toy.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The Mach 1 is probably the best option for those that want to shift on their own. The manual in the GT and Bullitt is crummy and while the VooDoo engine is amazing it also seems very unforgiving to any maintenance trip ups.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Yeah, the better transmission in the Mach 1 is probably worth the time and effort that would be involved in peeling off all the graphics. I originally thought the Mach 1 required the Recaros, which are for narrower-shouldered people than me, but I see that’s not the case.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      I agree. And if I did want occasional crazy power I would go electric. Much less hassle and maintenance, cheaper to operate.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @dal20402

      Agreed. I’m a truck guy and view the hellcat TRX or future GT500 powered Raptor the same way.

      These vehicles are for owners wanting to project phallic superiority.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Agree with many of the comments – Stinger + jb4 (~450 whp) in AWD is more my limits, plus I need some family hauling capability. And can hopefully handle the odd track day in a few months..

    GT + Track Pack or GT350 is probably more in line with what I’d get, if I wanted an all-around car. Also agree that if I was spending more than $60K, I’d probably go C8 / Z06.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      How do those Kia’s do long term on that much boost? I’ll be honest I don’t quite trust their drivetrain (and engine internals) to take that much sustained power over the life of the car.

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