Ford is going all truck, all the time, with one major exception—the Mustang—and what an exception it will be, especially in the form of the coming 2020 Shelby GT500. (A second surviving “car,” a new Focus-based model called the Focus Active, sounds more like a crossover to us, as does the 2020 Mach 1 EV.)
The GT500 will be Ford’s most powerful road car ever, with a supercharged V-8 making “more than 700 horsepower,” according to Ford, enough to allow the GT500 to play in the same sandbox with any number of high-end exotics. It might even give the 755-hp Corvette ZR1 a run. We expect that the GT500’s engine will be based on the GT350’s flat-plane-crankshaft 5.2-liter V-8, though it could be a more traditional cross-plane design.
700 for 500
We got a quick peek at the GT500, noting an extended nose with a new upper and lower front fascia, a forced-air intake for track use, an array of upper- and lower-body aero aids, and a carbon-fiber wing inspired by race versions of the GT. Its brakes will have the largest rotors ever fitted
to a road-going Mustang.
Ford says the new car will mark the first time in nearly 50 years that both the GT350 and GT500 will be in showrooms together. Look for the GT500’s unveiling at either the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show this November or the 2019 Detroit show in January. An all-new Mustang, including a version with a hybrid powertrain, will replace the current-gen pony car in the 2021 model year.
Some of the Shelby GT500’s bigger rivals might be Ford’s own emerging lineup of performance trucks. Next up is the Raptorized model of the coming 2019 Ford Ranger, the 2020 Ranger Raptor. A version built in Thailand is already on sale in right-hand-drive markets. The Thai truck is powered by a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel inline-four mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. We’d be stunned if we get that engine here.
Instead the U.S.-market Ranger Raptor will likely derive its motivation from a higher-spec version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four that will power the base Ranger. (That engine is rated at 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft in the Mustang.) A version of the 2.7-liter V-6 is an outside possibility. The suspension features Fox Racing Shox, just like the F-150 Raptor, and there’s a Terrain Management System with Baja as one of its six settings.
When the 2020 Bronco makes its debut—likely at the 2019 Detroit auto show—it will bring back an icon, and it will be very familiar despite being completely new after more than 20 years on hiatus. Sharing much of what’s under the boxy, squared-off exterior with the new Ranger, the Bronco’s work- or play-ready body-on-frame structure should get a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for the base model, a twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 (our money’s on the 2.7-liter unit) for those who need more power or towing ability, and a hybrid; all are likely to be mated to a 10-speed automatic. Two- and four-door versions are likely, the better to take on Jeep’s Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited—though for off-road prowess, expect the Bronco to aim for Baja-bashing speed rather than rock-crawling ruggedness, courtesy of a Raptor treatment.
On the traditional SUV front, the 2018 Ford Expedition is just hitting the streets. It’s available in standard and extended Max body styles and rear- or four-wheel-drive, but it comes only with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. The Expedition is off to a good start, still pipping the GM utilities with Ford’s independent rear suspension and now much more refined, premium interiors.
Shelby GT500: Early 2019
Ranger Raptor: Late 2019
Shelby GT500: $80,000 (est)
Ranger Raptor: $40,000 (est)
Bronco: $30,000 (est)