2017 Ford Shelby GT350

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Key Specs

of the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Engine and exhaust noises
  • Handling capabilities
  • Flat engine torque curve
  • Transmission shifter and clutch smoothness
  • Confident brakes

The Bad

  • Gas-guzzler tax
  • Driving mode ergonomics

Notable Features of the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350

  • 5.2-liter V-8
  • Six-speed manual transmission (only transmission offered)
  • Handling-focused package
  • 8,250 rpm redline
  • Standard Recaro seats
  • Available magnetic shock absorbers

2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Road Test

Joe Bruzek
The Verdict:

Top to bottom, the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 features the right performance-minded hardware to live up to its claim as the most track-capable Mustang that Ford's ever built.

Versus The Competition:

It's hard to pin down a competitive set for the GT350 and GT350R. While the 707-hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is a surprisingly capable handler, it's still very much a straight-line machine compared with the GT350's capabilities. The next-generation Chevrolet Camaro is too young for any specialty versions, leaving you to look beyond muscle cars. That's where I think the Shelby's closest competitor lies: For me, the GT350 is closer to a BMW M4 in how it drives. Bet you didn't see that coming. Compare the GT350 to the Hellcat and M4 here.

Editor's note: This review was written in October 2015 about the 2016 Mustang GT350. The 2017 addresses our packaging complaints now that the Track Package is standard, but little else of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2017, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Redesigned for 2015, the Mustang's sophomore year welcomes its newest variant, the track-oriented 2016 Shelby GT350 and GT350R. These cars are anything but a simple appearance package or a few bolt-ons; this is not a repeat of the Mustang Shelby GT from a few years ago.

Perhaps the most drastic in a long list of changes are an all-new 526-horsepower, 5.2-liter V-8, a significantly reworked suspension — optionally with Ford's first use of magnetic-style adaptive shock absorbers — and big-stopping-power brakes. Then there's the GT350R, which is the ultimate-handling Mustang with super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires, carbon-fiber wheels, a huge downforce-generating wing and roughly 120 pounds of convenience features removed.

Exterior & Styling

The GT350's bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to this Shelby and aimed to create as minimal an aerodynamic signature as possible, while improving the nose's cooling and airflow characteristics. The hood is 2 inches lower, and its outlet extracts heat and reduces front-end lift. The front fenders are re-contoured to fit the wider track ...

Editor's note: This review was written in October 2015 about the 2016 Mustang GT350. The 2017 addresses our packaging complaints now that the Track Package is standard, but little else of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2017, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Redesigned for 2015, the Mustang's sophomore year welcomes its newest variant, the track-oriented 2016 Shelby GT350 and GT350R. These cars are anything but a simple appearance package or a few bolt-ons; this is not a repeat of the Mustang Shelby GT from a few years ago.

Perhaps the most drastic in a long list of changes are an all-new 526-horsepower, 5.2-liter V-8, a significantly reworked suspension — optionally with Ford's first use of magnetic-style adaptive shock absorbers — and big-stopping-power brakes. Then there's the GT350R, which is the ultimate-handling Mustang with super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires, carbon-fiber wheels, a huge downforce-generating wing and roughly 120 pounds of convenience features removed.

Exterior & Styling

The GT350's bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to this Shelby and aimed to create as minimal an aerodynamic signature as possible, while improving the nose's cooling and airflow characteristics. The hood is 2 inches lower, and its outlet extracts heat and reduces front-end lift. The front fenders are re-contoured to fit the wider track and wider wheels up front.

Standard 19-inch GT350 wheels are 10.5 inches wide in front and 11 inches wide in back, while GT350R models roll on all-carbon-fiber wheels, 11 inches wide in front and 11.5 inches in back. At the rear of the Shelby GT350 is a standard lip spoiler that becomes a larger lip spoiler on Track Package models and an all-out carbon fiber wing on the GT350R.

How It Drives

The GT350's V-8 is a highlight of the car when stretched to its mind-boggling 8,250 rpm redline. At and approaching redline, the symphony of spent combustion that blasts out the pipes should be illegal. All it does is make you want to hammer down on the long pedal over and over again — a desire I was happy to oblige during a recent test on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

A valve-operated exhaust system has much-appreciated mild to wild modes, allowing you to deafen passengers while barreling through a tunnel, then sneak back into your neighborhood undetected. In full-bore mode, the GT350's exhaust might be the loudest exhaust system I've heard on a factory car.

Let's revisit that 8,250 rpm redline. It's insane to wind out a bone-stock, factory V-8 in a Mustang to those kinds of speeds and not feel like the connecting rods are going to blast out of the engine block. The unique flat-plane crankshaft is responsible for the high engine speeds and the quickness of the revs; it gave Ford engineers the ability to open up the cylinder head, intake and camshaft to unleash more power, and it's the crankshaft configuration that gives the GT350 such a unique exhaust sound.

The practicality of an 8,250 rpm engine is best experienced on the track, where the GT350 can stretch its legs between corners without having to upshift. When you do have to upshift, a new transmission designed to match the high rpm characteristics of the 5.2-liter allows lightning-quick shifting with a light but precise shifter and clutch pedal.

There's a lot of room in the span of 8,000 rpm for an engine to be down on power and torque, but the 5.2-liter's well-distributed torque above 3,500 rpm — and peak of 429 pounds-feet at 4,750 rpm — means the engine is punchy and can still pull out of its way at lower engine speeds, up to maximum power at 7,500 rpm. Some rev-happy engines aren't happy off the track, but the 5.2-liter is wholeheartedly entertaining on canyon roads and even in straight-line bursts of acceleration. An added bonus is that the engine maintains decent power past redline, though below 3,500 rpm you really do have to be in the right gear. Don't even try to pass in 6th; it just won't work.

You won't find levels of acceleration here that pin you to the back of your seat, like in the 662-hp 2014 Shelby GT500 or the 707-hp 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. No, the GT350 is more focused on delivering balance and precision despite having 91 more horsepower than the 5.0-liter Mustang GT.

The stiffness of the chassis, responsiveness and feedback of the steering, and the car's overall composure are more reminiscent of a BMW M4 than a Mustang. Ford went through the Mustang's chassis and replaced numerous bearings with more rigid pieces. It also redesigned the front steering knuckle to be stiffer and lighter, widened the front track and thickened the anti-roll bars. Add in the Brembo-brand six-piston front brakes and four-piston rears, which replace the wimpy single-piston rears on the GT, and the GT350 has all the goods you'd expect in a track-specific model. Perhaps the best thing going for the Mustang in comparison with the M4 is that the GT350's exhaust doesn't sound like a weed whacker.

MagneRide is the hot, new suspension setup that makes the GT350 such a performer. The optional system popularized by General Motors and now employed by many automakers uses iron-impregnated fluid passing through electro-magnetic fields to continually adjust damper performance for road conditions. Base GT350s use a fixed-firmness suspension, while MagneRide is optional as part of the Track and Tech packages.

MagneRide is adjustable using what Ford calls integrated driver control. The system features Normal, Sport, Weather, Track and Drag driving modes that tailor MagneRide's responsiveness and firmness — along with exhaust modes, engine responsiveness, steering firmness, electronic stability and traction settings — for specific driving styles. The GT350R gets its own unique MagneRide tuning.

There's not a huge range of road comfort separation between the driving modes, however. The base mode is called Normal, not Comfort, for good reason. The GT350 exhibits noticeable noise and taut composure on the road even in the softest mode. But I think that works. Like the M4, the GT350's slightly disruptive ride is a constant reminder that you're driving something special, even if it means an uncomfortable jolt every once in a while.

I found the GT350 surprisingly easy to drive on the track. When things did start to get a little hairy — more likely from me getting off line than a characteristic of the car — the GT350 provided plenty of notice through a slight chatter in the front tires, indicating I should back off the accelerator and get the nose back in line. At no point did I think the rear end was going to whip out unprovoked. Every handling characteristic of the new Mustang GT with independent rear suspension is heightened, sharper and quicker in the GT350, which makes for a supremely confident handling machine. Even with the GT's optional Performance Package, there's still a fair amount of body roll while cornering, which is where the GT350 comes in with superior levels of body motion control. Compare the GT350 with the GT here.

Of course, there's good, and then there's GT350R good. The R model carries significantly more cornering speed, with higher levels of grip from the wider, stickier tires and giant downforce-generating wing. Between corners at Laguna Seca, where the GT350 could ride out 3rd gear to the braking zone, the GT350R got off the corners with such speed that I could grab 4th gear in the same straight.

In Track mode, the stability system didn't stick its nose in my business on the track, which is appreciated compared with some overactive sport modes — like the M4's. Being a driver of intermediate skill, I prefer to keep the car in a mode with a safety net while learning a new track, which I was doing at Laguna Seca. Track mode's stability and traction settings allow the car to slide a little, but keep a safety net in place to avoid spinning out. It didn't hold the car back.

Interior

Ford went back to the drawing board for the Recaro-brand seats that are standard in the GT350. The Mustang GT's optional Recaro seats are sporty but not different enough from the standard seats to really be considered track seats. That's all changed with the GT350's seats, which are firmer with more pronounced side bolstering. Plus, the cloth-only construction keeps your butt planted more than in the GT Recaros' slippery optional leather. The Technology Package replaces the Recaros with heated and ventilated leather seats.

Keeping with the track-ready theme, a new shift light uses a head-up display and a string of LEDs to show how close the engine is to redline. It's especially important in this car, because the high-revving 5.2-liter is so unique it's easy to short shift (despite having a few hundred rpm to go) if you judge purely by sound. Independently adjustable from the driving modes, Tach, Track and Drag shift light modes display the lights differently, and I preferred Drag mode even on the road course because it simply flashes when it's time to shift, as opposed to constantly having distracting LEDs dancing on the windshield with engine rpm.

Ergonomics & Electronics

The GT350's standard multimedia system is nothing flashy or fancy. It uses the small screen from the base Mustang and has dual USB inputs, a CD player and an AM/FM radio. The small screen is surrounded by a sea of buttons, so it takes a lot of familiarity to know where everything is placed.

I was unable to sample the optional multimedia system with Ford's latest Sync 3 and 8-inch touch-screen. We'll try to get our hands on that system in the future. Sync 3 is available only on the Tech Package ($7,500); it's not a feature you can get with the Track Package.

I'd like to see the aforementioned driving modes (Normal, Sport, Weather, Track and Drag) streamlined into more easily operated controls. The steering-wheel-button location is nice, but you have to scroll through the modes to select. Ford could take a lesson from BMW's M cars, which have programmable buttons on the steering wheel for preset driving modes, so changing modes is as easy as hitting one button.

Cargo & Storage

The GT350 retains the 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space and 50/50-split folding backseat of the base GT. The GT350R's backseat is removed for weight savings and all that's left is a molded insert where the backseat used to be; the insert doesn't fold.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Mustang coupe an overall five-star crash-test rating, out of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested it. Like the regular Mustang, the GT350 and GT350R include a driver's knee airbag, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags.

A forward collision warning system and a blind spot warning system that are optional on the GT Premium Mustang are not offered on the GT350 or GT350R. A backup camera is standard on the GT350 but is deleted from the GT350R; adding it back again requires the $3,000 Electronics Package.

Value in Its Class

The Mustang GT350 and GT350R have the defined purpose of being corner-hugging thoroughbreds (what would a Mustang review be without an equestrian reference?). There's an indisputable difference between the GT350 and the base Mustang GT that, for some, may make it an easy decision to fork out $50,000-plus for the GT350.

The GT350 starts at $48,695 (all prices include a destination fee), but that's not the car you want. You want the $6,500 Track Package, which boosts the car to $55,195. That price doesn't include the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax the GT350 is saddled with because it's rated only 14/21/16 mpg city/highway/combined. Nor does it include the dealer markup that will surely be tacked onto this hotly desirable, limited-production car. A Ford Performance spokesman said GT350 production will be determined by demand, and Ford expects production numbers similar to the GT500 of recent years. The GT350R, however, will be much more rare, like the former Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition.

GT350s with the aforementioned Track Package include all the bits and pieces you need to complete a track day worry-free. On the technology side, the Technology Package ($7,500) includes some of the Track Package's features, but not all of them. Tech cars add navigation, Sync 3, the large multimedia screen, dual-zone climate control, leather seats that are powered, heated and ventilated, plus more.

You don't get the Recaro seats or oil coolers with the Technology Package, while Track Package cars are stuck with the small media display and no Sync 3. It's a bummer, really, that you can't get Sync 3 and navigation with the Recaro seats and auxiliary oil coolers on the GT350 unless you step up to the GT350R with the Electronics Package, and that's a $66,495 car. The Track Package is already a little heavier than a base Mustang GT, so why not let in a few extra pounds for buyers who want all the track goods as well as a modern multimedia system?

Is it worth it? If you take this car to track days, the answer is a solid yes, as you'll get one of the most unique and purpose-built Mustangs Ford has rolled off the assembly line in a long time. Even if you drive the GT350 only on the street, the beastly sound that emanates from the tailpipes during 8,250 rpm blasts will make you forget about the high price tag, if only momentarily.


Latest 2017 Shelby GT350 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Exceptional!

by V. Shulga from Los Angeles, CA on September 11, 2018

Amazing car, from the design lines to engine sound to road feel. Love averything about it. Very reasonably priced and service costs are fairly reasonable Read full review

(5.0)

It offers the most memorable car ride

by Smooth operator from Northern New Jersey on July 6, 2018

Excellent handling , reliability and drives like a magic carpet . It?s the car that dreams are made of. Share the experience and drive it Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Ford
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Less than 6 years old/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    7 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Shelby GT350 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker