Class: Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 339
Fuel used: 22.7 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||A+|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||526-hp 5.2-liter|
|Drive Wheels||Rear-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 14.9 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 14/21/16 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Premium Gas
Base price: $59,140 (not including $1095 destination charge)
Options on test car: Electronics Package ($2000), Handling Package ($850), Gas Guzzler Tax ($1300)
Price as tested: $64,385
The great: Racetrack-ready performance, undeniable muscle-car attitude
The good: Upscale interior trimmings
The not so good: Stiff ride, fuel economy
The GT350 checks in at $61,535 to start, counting delivery and Gas Guzzler Tax. Its 5.2-liter V8 generates 526 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 429 lb-ft of torque at 4750 revs—and it is, says Ford, the highest-revving production V8 it has ever made, with a redline of 8250 rpm. The transmission is a 6-speed manual, and the rear end welcomes a Torsen limited-slip differential and aggressive 3.73:1 gears. Engine and transmission oil coolers; dual exhaust with electronic valves; and a suspension with “MagneRide” continually variable damping, 4-piston-rear/6-piston-front Brembo disc brakes, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires designed specifically for this snake among the ponies are in the mix as well. Several of these under-car components have been upgraded for 2019.
Even in its dimensions the GT350 is no garden-variety Mustang. Compared to other coupes in the line, it is 1.1 inches longer, 0.1 inch lower, and 0.5 inch wider. Wheel track is wider in front, but narrower in back.
Sixty-one large lands a car that is a ferocious accelerator, particularly in the lower gears. Various published reports (admittedly not ours) list 0-60-mph charges in the vicinity of four seconds. The exhaust note goes from rumbling to “racecar” with the flip of a steering-wheel-mounted switch to “Sport” mode. Either way, it doesn’t exactly make for the most contemplative atmosphere during sustained brisk highway running. Transmission shifts are made cleanly with fairly short throws. The firm clutch won’t wear a driver out, and once familiarized with the car’s power potential—it doesn’t take long to grasp—smooth launches in street driving become second nature. (Competition-oriented owners will be glad to know that launch control and line lock features are standard equipment.)
Not surprisingly, the Shelby GT350 rides extremely hard. However, it steers directly from little input, and it brakes big. There is virtually no body lean evident in cornering. Consumer Guide’s test car was equipped with one of the few option groups available for the GT350, a dealer-installed Handling Package with a strut top mount that can be adjusted for more track-friendly front-wheel camber, and a “Gurney flap” attachment for the standard rear spoiler that increases downforce.
The EPA expects the GT350 to slurp down premium gas to the tune of 14 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway. When this reviewer put 210.8 miles on the Race Red test car—with 40 percent of that in city-type driving—he recorded 15.5 mpg, which is right up against the feds’ projected 16-mpg city/highway estimate.
There’s even more to the Shelby Mustang than its complement of mechanical features. It boasts its own front fenders, hood, and fascia with distinct lower aero enhancements. The 19-inch painted-alloy wheels are unique to it, too. The flat-bottom steering wheel is wrapped in leather and Alcantara, and standard front seats are manually adjustable Recaro high-back sport buckets with Dark Slate microfiber inserts for secure grip in hard cornering (and the inevitable jolt when those nearly unyielding underpinnings bump up against distressed pavement). Shelby-themed trim and identifiers—like the attack-mode-cobra horn button—complete the look.
Infotainment needs are met by Ford’s easy-to-use Sync3 system, which registers on an 8-inch touchscreen. The test car was equipped with the optional Electronics Package with 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound, navigation, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. Dual-zone automatic climate controls are included, too, governed by a block of buttons, which, unfortunately, include repetitive-pushers for temperature and fan speed. LED taillamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, tilt and telescoping steering column, Wi-Fi hotspot, remote keyless entry, and push-button starting are other standard-equipment items.
In certain aspects, the Shelby is just like any other Mustang you can name. Tall drivers might wish for more headroom, but in general the front-seat area doesn’t come off as too confining, and drivers enjoy pretty good vision for this type of car. Rear-seat occupancy is best left to inanimate objects—preferably ones without legs or heads. The cabin provides a useful glove box, a small console cubby with media-device inputs within, a pair of exposed cup holders in the console, and long door pockets. The trunklid is wide but a high liftover complicates loading. The flat trunk floor is long if not especially tall. At least body-mounted piston hinges don’t intrude into the cargo area. There is room around the standard air compressor under the load floor for additional storage, and more space when the 60/40-split rear seats are folded. Note that the latter rest above the level of the trunk floor, and a package shelf over a bulkhead limits the size of items that pass from the trunk.
For right now, the Shelby GT350 is the pinnacle of Mustangdom. The 2020 model year brings the return of a Shelby GT500, and its supercharged engine will crank out 760 horsepower. Remember, there are Mustangs and then there are Mustangs…
2019 Ford Shelby GT350