It’s no secret that the 2020 Ford Mustang GT500 has the Dodge SRT Challenger Hellcat clearly in its sights in terms of competition. The official debut of the GT500 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit gave us a lot of answers, but of course, opened up even more questions.
We don’t know everything yet, but there’s enough to start looking at how the GT500, Ford’s most powerful production car ever, stacks up against its natural rival.
2020 Ford Mustang GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat: Quick Stats
|Stat||2020 Ford Mustang GT500||2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
||10.61 sec @ 133 MPH
||11.2 sec @ 125 MPH
|Horsepower + Engine
||760 hp, supercharged 5.2 liter V8
||717 hp, supercharged 6.2 liter V8
||7-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
||6-speed Manual or 8-speed Automatic
||TBD, est 190”x82”x54”
||TBD, est 14 city/21 hwy
||13 city/21 hwy
|Fuel Tank Capacity
||TBD, est 16 gallons
||180 mph (governor limited)
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Exterior
Overall, it’s hard to deny that the aesthetics of the Hellcat are more true to the original form of its mid-century predecessors. The original muscle car lines are still there, staying much more smooth and svelte. The GT500, on the other hand, favors a much more aggressive look that immediately sets it apart on the road. That’s not to say that it completely disavows its classic pony car heritage, but the edges are sharper and more modern.
In addition to the base level of the GT500, customers can opt to pay more for the Carbon Fiber Track Pack. This makes the wing, wheels, and front splitter all carbon fiber, adds unique springs and anti-roll bars and deletes the rear seats. A handling package adds a gurney spoiler and new strut mounts that allow for camber adjustment.
While choosing a favorite between these two in terms of style is always going to be a matter of personal preference, there are some objective attributes that we can take a look at. The Challenger SRT Hellcat looks fairly similar to its more pedestrian brother, the Challenger R/T. For the Hellcat though, there’s a more aggressive front splitter and fascia, air-catcher headlamps, mesh grille, inlets on the sides of the lower grille instead of fog lights, and dual hood scoops instead of just one. Apart from red calipers and unique wheels, most of the exterior is quite similar. From the rear, only a slightly modified spoiler and SRT badge give the Hellcat away.
On the opposite side, the Mustang GT500 has bodywork that is completely unique from the A-pillar forward, with a front fascia that really stands out. For this new model, four new colors were added: Grabber Lime, Twister Orange, Rapid Red Metallic, and Iconic Silver. Painted stripes are available too. While the Mustang looks like it will offer some great choices, the Challenger wins out in terms of pure selection of exterior paint options. There are a massive variety, including every color of the rainbow (minus indigo).
The massive 5-inch quad-tip exhaust really stands out and helps to distribute the massive sound that the GT500 creates. Also of note is that the GT500 maintains the 2015-2017 headlight style, like the GT350.
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Interior
Virtually all of the material that’s been released on the GT500 focuses on the aerodynamics, engine, and performance. The interior is simply not as important of a factor for this buying segment, and if you’ve seen the GT350’s cabin, you’ve just about seen the GT500’s.
The only real negative that has been noted about the GT500’s interior is the inclusion of a rotary dial shifter that looks like it was pulled right from a Fusion or Edge. Although it’s a relatively popular choice in the industry, it doesn’t quite feel right for a muscle car of this caliber. Besides, cars have already started moving towards push-button set-ups, so Ford is a bit behind the curve on this one. For this author, that’s the only thing on the new model that’s a bit disappointing to see, but easy enough to adjust to and live with.
Apart from that, the cabin looks fairly familiar to those that have seen the GT350. The optional Recaro seats here look spectacular with the white trim, and the Alcantara-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with center stripe is similarly racy.
Inside, the Hellcat is quite similar to the Challenger R/T. Special embossed seats, a sportier steering wheel, and red gauges and start/stop button are some of the only differences that the Hellcat adds. It’s no secret that the American cars in this class don’t have luxurious interiors. Even these performance monsters have cabins that are just moderately gussied up from their base models that cost less than $30,000. With that said, we think the Challenger’s dashboard design looks a bit more dated and less aesthetically appealing than the Mustang’s. It’s not awful by any means, but it comes across as somewhat low-rent.
The Hellcat actually has a 60/40 folding rear seat standard and can seat a maximum of five people total. The GT500 likely does not have folding rear seats and can hold only four at most. Speaking of seats, the Hellcat’s front buckets are heated and ventilated on all models. They also have 6-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, unlike the manually-adjustable GT500. Dodge calls the seat material “Laguna Leather," with the optional seats featuring SRT Nappa leather and suede.
The Hellcat’s steering wheel is also heated, indicating a slightly higher penchant for luxury compared to the GT500. There’s also an optional sunroof, ambient lighting, 18-speaker sound system with subwoofer, 8.4-inch touchscreen display, and rear park assist system.
The GT500 is no slouch either, with the new 12-inch full-color LCD instrument cluster, optional 12-speaker B&O audio system, and 8-inch touchscreen with SYNC 3.
2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat vs 2020 Ford Mustang GT 500 Engine and Performance
Originally debuting with 707 horsepower (which was bumped to 717 hp for 2019), the Hellcat was the first muscle car to surpass the 700 mark. It was clear that the Mustang GT500 had to at least equal this achievement, and Ford would initially only tease that the new Shelby GT500 would also pass the 700 hp threshold. And they did so with aplomb. Putting out 760 hp, as well as 625 lb-ft of torque, the new GT500 is the most powerful production Mustang ever built.
The 5.2L cross-plane crank variant of the “Voodoo” V8 gets a 2.65 liter Eaton roots-type supercharger with 12 PSI of boost. It’s paired with a unique TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that is actually not shared with the GT supercar. This was a necessary transmission to put maximum power down to the wheels and can shift in under 100 milliseconds. Magneride suspension and active exhaust are standard.
The GT500 has the aerodynamics to keep the car planted and the engine cooled as well. According to Melvin Betancourt, Ford design manager, the GT500 has "50% more cooling pack airflow versus the Shelby GT350, along with the most advanced aero components and downforce we’ve ever offered..."
We expect that the track-oriented nature of the GT500 will give it superior handling compared to the Hellcat, which is notorious for being difficult to control (just ask Doug Demuro). The Camaro ZL1 likely stacks up better to the GT500 in this regard.
Sadly, there will be no higher trim version of the GT500. Ford confirmed that there are no plans for a GT500R, which means that Dodge’s 797 hp Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is essentially all alone in that space, vanquishing all but its own insane stablemate, the Challenger SRT Demon. It’s also worth noting that there is now a $6,000 option to get the Hellcat Wide Body, which provides wider fenders, wheel spacers, and bigger rubber, plus electronic power steering to help handle the 3.5-inch increase in width. Though slightly heavier, this helps to shave a tenth of a second off the 0-60 mph time.
Despite the higher numbers coming from the Hellcat Redeye, we expect that the GT500 will be able to hold its own against it, even without an “R” version, as the Redeye has 0-60 times “only” in the mid-3’s, the same as we expect from the Mustang GT500.
The Hellcat does have an intrinsic advantage for drivers that require a manual transmission: It offers one. Though Ford has said it won’t rule out the proposition of adding one later, the GT500 will be hitting markets as an automatic only.
We hope this comparison helps tide you over until the GT500 hits the streets in fall 2019! In the meantime, we'll keep you updated with new information as it's released.
Image Credit: Ford, Dodge