One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 does Carroll's legacy justice

When creating the new Mustang Shelby GT500, Ford had to meet potential buyers' high expectations. They did.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is all business. It's horsepower and torque and burning rubber and speed. But it's also so much more.

On the outside, the car has the hallmarks of the Mustang and Shelby brands. The Mustang's aesthetic is highlighted by Shelby cobra logos and unique GT500 badging. At the car's face are standard automatic high-intensity headlights with LED signature lighting emphasizing the car's beefy athleticism.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 The iconic cobra symbol is front and center.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's Mustang models all share the same 107.1-inch wheelbase but their lengths vary slightly depending on the trim level.

The heart of the new Mustang is a hand built, supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy V8 engine that is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It produces 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. Smooth and strong, the powertrain pulls like a freight train, never letting up until you let off the pedal. It's exactly what you expect, and want, from the Ford. The automaker has electronically limited the Mustang to 180 mph.

Ford equips the car with a number of drive modes and settings including: Normal, Sport, and Slippery drive modes; line lock; and track apps. Each drive mode acts as advertised and the system's pages keep track of the car and driver's performance on the circuit or drag strip.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 The car comes loaded with track and drag strip performance tracking equipment.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The new Shelby GT500 is equipped with Ford's adaptive suspension, Brembo six-piston brake calipers with 16.5-inch rotors, and 20-inch carbon fiber wheels. It wears Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires.

The result is a car is more planted than the Mustangs that came before, delivering a well-rounded and purposeful drive experience. Ford set up a closed course for testing, which gave the Brembo brakes a chance to shine. The stopping power and steadfast nature of the vehicle gave plenty of confidence through the tight turns.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 The model rides on 20-inch carbon fiber wheels.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

This is a big change from the Shelby Mustangs of the past, which were great off the line, in a straight line, but couldn't handle the corners. Now, the track-centric car has become a possible daily driver.

The vehicle minded its manners on Las Vegas' streets on the way back into town from the raceway during testing. Throttle response reminded the driver that the power is available when wanted, but not willing to get in the way of gentle acceleration off the line in the city setting.

The interior of the GT500 boasts race-inspired premium materials and available Recaro racing seats with side bolstering that hugs you in tight turns. A safety harness is available.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 The Mustang knows how to mind its manners on the road.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The instrument cluster is a 12-inch color LCD instrument display. It and an 8-inch infotainment touch screen come standard. The tester came equipped with a custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O audio system that can blast Huey Lewis and the News as loud as a driver could possibly want.

Ford equipped the tester GT500s with the available Carbon Fiber Track Pack, which cut the seating capacity of the vehicle down to only two from the Mustang's customary four. The Mustang Shelby GT500 has 13.5 cubic feet of storage, which is better than most vehicles in its class.

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has a starting price just a hair over $70,000. The Carbon Fiber Track Pack adds $18,500 to the price. Including taxes, the price as tested was over $90,000. That's an expensive Ford.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Ford has appointed the Shelby GT500 with race-inspired materials.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The big question with the model lies not in the Mustang itself, but in the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, which starts $10,000 lower than the Mustang and is said to be a very impressive drive. In reality though, the entire buying decision is a matter of taste. In the $90K range buyers can choose a Porsche though they'd end up shilling out significantly more for, say, the Acura NSX or Audi R8.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra lineup includes two versions of the Elantra Hybrid.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra looks to break out of the typical sedan mold but not veer from the budget-conscious pricing structure that has made it one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. It also continues to be fuel-efficient, hitting up to 54 mpg, and now comes in a sporty Elantra N Line variant.

2021 Hyundai Elantra SE (MSRP: $19,650)

The Hyundai Elantra SE base model is much improved over the last model year as part of a generational refresh of the model. Powertrain performance highlights included added idle stop and go functionality, four-wheel disc brakes, and a combined EPA-estimated 37 mpg (up from 35 mpg).

The car rides on 15-inch alloy wheels and has projector headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Hyundai has given the model a long list of standard and available equipment including a 4.2-inch driver's information screen, 8.0-inch infotainment touch scree, HD Radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and two USB ports. It comes with keyless entry, a hands-free trunk release, heated front seats, illuminated vanity mirrors and sliding sun visors, and Blue Link connected car services.

The car's safety technology offerings are significantly improved and the car now comes with blind spot warning and assist (including rear cross-traffic warning and assist), forward collision alert with assist and pedestrian detection, lane following assist, automatic high beams, and safe exit warning.

2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL (MSRP: $20,900)

The Elantra SEL builds on the Elantra SE and is available with the buyer's choice of two options packages that add tech, safety, and appearance upgrades.

The SEL Convenience Package ($950) adds forward collision alert and avoidance assist with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction-turning detection. WIth it, the model also gains a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, an electronic parking brake, a leather steering wheel and shifter, wireless charging, heated front seats, and heated outside mirrors.

Hyundai's SEL Premium Package ($3,050) requires the SEL Convenience Package and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dark chrome exterior accents, LED taillights, chrome DLO, sunroof, side mirror turn signal indicators, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, power driver's seat with lumbar, Hyundai Digital Key, and a passenger seat back pocket.

2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL Hybrid (MSRP: $23,550)

2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Elantra SEL Hybrid adds the car's hybrid powertrain option as well as some equipment. It has a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, electronic parking brake, and multi-link rear suspension.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited (MSRP: $25,450)

Hyundai has positioned the Elantra Limited to build on the Elantra SEL when equipped with the Convenience and Premium Package. They've then added rear parking distance warning and rear parking collision avoidance assist technology. Highway Drive Assist is also available.

Additionally, the car gets navigation but its wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have to be replaced with a cabled version. Dynamic Voice Recognition is added.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Hybrid (MSRP: $28,100)

The Elantra Limited Hybrid builds on the Elantra Limited with Hyundai's hybrid powertrain, six-speed dual-clutch transmission, and multi-link rear suspension. It achieves over 50 mpg.

Hyundai has added a few extras to this model including full LED taillights, driver's memory seats, and ventilated front seats.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line (MSRP: $24,100)

The Elantra N Line is the sportiest version of the Elantra. It's packed with equipment and features befitting its status.

The car gets Nn Line exterior design elements including an N Line version of Hyundai's grille with a distinctive red character line, N Line front bumper fascia, black colored side sill moldings, N Line rear fascia with diffuser, lip-spoiler, N Line badging, N Line window accents, chrome twin exhaust, a sunroof, and LED taillights.

It comes with N Line 18-inch wheels wrapped in Hankook Ventus all-season tires when equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Goodyear Eagle Fi summer tires when the buyer opts for the six-speed manual transmission.

Hyundai has given the interior of the model a unique leather-wrapped perforated N steering wheel, N Line sport seats with leather bolsters and N logos, N Line gearshift with metal accents and leather inserts, N Line analog gauge cluster, and red stitching and trim accents that differentiate the N Line from the standard Elantra. There's also a wireless charging pad, NFC smartphone Digital Key, alloy pedals, and a black headliner.

All prices exclude a $995 destination charge.

Trending News

 
 

The 2021 Ram TRX is the chief competitor to the Ford F-150 Raptor.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Ram Trucks calls the 2021 Ram TRX an "apex predator", serving it up as a direct rival to the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. The new TRX is a heck of a truck, and that's an impressive feat considering just how bloody good the Raptor is.

A quick recap of the TRX's impressive stats. Its 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque are generated by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds off the line, and it'll hit an electronically-limited 118 mph.

2021 Ram TRX The Ram TRX has a beefy exterior with bits and bobs that give it a more aggressive appearance.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's a Hellcat in pickup truck form, so it drives a lot like you'd imagine. At least, on the street. The truck's full-time all-wheel drive system prevents you from doing burnouts, but it will bias power to the rear so you can get your slide on. Sport mode stiffens up the suspension a bit and tightens up the steering. It's by no means a sports car, but engineers have done everything they could to make the truck drive well on the street. You can quickly forget you're piloting a 3-ton brick; but fortunately the 15-inch front brakes save you from getting into real trouble.

Once you get off the tarmac, as expected, the TRX really shines. The truck has 13-inches of front suspension travel, and 14-inches of travel in the rear. The truck is designed to use every inch of travel, and handle it well, thanks to the 2.5-inch Bilstein Black Hawk e2 adaptive performance shocks. These shocks are state-of-the-art, and the same quality you'd find in bespoke off-road racers. While the Fox LiveValve in the Raptor is a good setup, driving the TRX on any off-road surface quickly shows the weaknesses of the Ford's setup. Ram's suspension feels expensive.

The TRX sits on a frame that is lengthened and beefed-up compared the traditional 1500 setup, giving it much improved body rigidity. During the product development stage, Ram engineers took a few Raptors and drove them until they broke, then made sure that they beefed up those components on the TRX. That means the TRX can handle more ridiculous terrain at more ridiculous speed, and still drive you home at the end of the day.

2021 Ram TRX The TRX is capable of having a good time, whether it's on the trail or on the track.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

While driving on a high-speed, 3-mile off-road route, the investment in strength was noticeable. It's hard to make a ladder frame rigid, even a fully boxed one. While on the Raptor – even the new one – the bed will shake a bit off-road, the TRX's bed hardly moves in similar situations and speeds. It feels solid, and it feels controllable.

Ford calls the Raptor the "911 of off-roaders," and they're right, because it's one of the best handling trucks off road. But the TRX has more stability in the same driving situations and feels just as predictable and controllable. If the Raptor does have an advantage at off-road speed, it's that it's lighter. Especially in the front where a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 naturally weighs less than a 6.2-liter V8 with a supercharger attached. The TRX's nose just feels heavier.

A raptor is a bird of prey, and I've jumped my share of Raptors in my day. The TRX is just as capable at getting airborne. In fact, the extra horsepower makes it easier to leave Terra Firma. That Bilstein suspension, though, makes coming back down easier.

2021 Ram TRX The 2021 Ram TRX has a more robust frame than the traditional Ram 1500.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Even at high speeds, when the truck returns to the ground the body motion is controlled. There's no excessive bouncing while the suspension tries to sort things out. The suspension simply compresses, rebounds, and then you're on your way. The whole time the wheels are on the ground you have traction and are in control. This truck makes jumping easy.

The TRX comes in a few different trim levels, depending on how much luxury you want in your truck. You can spec the truck to almost $100,000 and have all the amenities in a Ram 1500 Limited but be able to pre-run the Baja 1000 in comfort and style.

Or, pick up a base truck at $71,690 with destination and get the least expensive FCA product with the Hellcat engine in it and with all-wheel drive, plus a comfortable daily driver with all of the trick off-road features.

2021 Ram TRX The 2021 Ram TRX is plenty capable on paved roads as well.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It sounds better than the Raptor. It's faster than the Raptor. It flies better than the Raptor. For now, at least, the claim that the TRX is the Apex Predator of the truck world is accurate.

Trending News