S197 vs S550 Mustangs

S197 vs S550 Mustangs

Last Updated November 20, 2023 | Meghan Drummond

The S197 nickname refers to the fifth generation of Mustang that was produced from 2005 to 2014. The sixth generation of Mustang launched in 2015, and is nicknamed the S550 generation. This is the current generation of Mustang. These two most recent generations of Mustangs represent some of the most significant changes in the Mustang’s 50+ years of production.

Appearance isn’t the only difference between them though. While the exterior changes are the most striking, they aren’t the most significant. The engine, suspension, and many other performance components have evolved over time. As technology has advanced, the Mustang has kept pace. This means that features change from one year to the next on top of generational shifts.

Red S550 Mustang debuting in Detroit

It would be easy to say each year is better than the last, but that isn’t entirely the case. There are some areas where the S197 excels and the S550 doesn’t. There are also some tech features that may not be worth the extra cost for you personally. Tech features add to the initial cost of a vehicle, but they also add to any repair costs. Front-collision detecting bumpers are more expensive to replace than feature-less ones.

Understanding the major year-to-year advancements can help you select the Mustang that’s right for you.

Fifth vs Sixth Generation Engine Specifications

The S197 and S550 Mustang generations share many engines. The engine selections from the end of the S197 era rolled into the S550 generation. Since then, the engines have continued to improve.

This means that if you’re looking at a 2014 and 2015 Mustang, the V8 and V6 engines will be nearly identical with only a few minor changes.

Here’s how the engines compare in terms of horsepower and torque through the years.

S197 vs S550 Engine Specs
EngineHorsepowerTorqueYears Available
4.0L V6 210 hp @ 5,300 RPM 240 lb-ft @ 3,500 RPM 2005-2010
4.6L V8 300 hp @ 5,750 RPM 320 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM 2005-2009
5.4L V8 (GT500) 500 hp @ 6,000 RPM 480 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM 2007-2009
4.6L V8 315 hp @ 6,000 RPM 325 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2010
5.4L V8 (GT500) 540 hp @ 6,000 RPM 510 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM 2010
3.7L V6 305 hp @ 6,500 RPM 280 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2011-2017
5.0L V8 412 hp @ 6,500 RPM 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 2011-2012
5.4L V8 (GT500) 550 hp @ 6,200 RPM 510 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2011-2012
5.0L V8 (Boss 302) 444 hp @ 7,500 RPM 380 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2012-2013
5.0L V8 420 hp @ 6,500 RPM 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2013-2018
5.8L V8 (GT500) 662 hp @ 6,250 RPM 631 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM 2013-2014
2.3L EcoBoost I4 310 hp @ 5,500 RPM 320 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM 2015-2018
5.2L Voodoo V8 (GT350) 526 hp @ 7,500 RPM 429 lb-ft @ 4,750 RPM 2014-Current
2.3L EcoBoost I4 310 hp @ 5,500 RPM 350 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM 2018-Current
5.0L V8 460 hp @ 7,000 RPM 420 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM 2018-Current

EcoBoost Engine

One important difference between the S197 generation engine lineup and the S550’s is the EcoBoost engine. The EcoBoost is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine launched with the 2015 Ford Mustang.

While the V6 remained the base engine option, the EcoBoost fell between the base and the GT. The EcoBoost had better performance specifications than the V6, despite having two fewer cylinders. The EcoBoost produced more horsepower and used less fuel, an added bonus. By 2018, Ford discontinued the V6 entirely.

The EcoBoost quickly gained fans. The EcoBoost and GT’s price difference certainly accounts for some of that popularity, but not all. In a comparison between the 2018 Ecoboost and GT, it’s easy to see the benefits of both options.

Like the GT, the EcoBoost can be optioned with Performance Packages. These allow the EcoBoost to perform even better than stock. In addition to power, the EcoBoost has also proven to be reliable and durable.

A dark gray and lime green S550 Mustang with EcoBoost engine

V6 Engine Options

"Those who want a naturally aspirated engine but don’t want a V8 should look for one of the 2012-2017 V6 options"

The V6 engine came from the S197 to the S550 generation unchanged. Cyclone was the codename for the 3.7L V6, and it produced serious power. Though it was a V6, enthusiasts were able to prod it into 12-second quarter-mile times.

The EcoBoost produces more power, but it is turbocharged. This means that like any turbocharged engine, it has turbo lag to deal with. Though many love the fun and snappy feel of the EcoBoost, some miss the discontinued naturally-aspirated V6.

This isn’t the first time that the Mustang has been without a V6 option. It stands to reason that the V6 may return at some point in the Mustang’s future.

Until then, those who want naturally aspirated engines but don’t want a V8 should look for one of the 2012-2017 V6 options. These will have the most recent and best V6 engine that was available.

The Coyote Engine

In 2011, we were introduced to a new V8 engine family. Named the Coyote, there have been three generations of this modular 5.0L V8. Each generation has been better and more powerful than the last. 2018 was the first year for the 460-horsepower third-generation Coyote engine. Though there have been reports of isolated engine ticks, reviews have raved about the overall performance and power.

One of the great things about the Coyote is how many vehicles it’s suited for. Though it is perhaps most appropriate for a vehicle like the Mustang, the F-150 has its own variant of the Coyote. The F-150’s Coyote is a little different, but it’s still a Coyote.

Engine bay of a bright red car featuring a 5.0 engine

The modular nature of the Coyote engine means that it’s easy to alter it to better suit particular vehicles. For the 2012 and 2013 Boss 302, a special Coyote variant was developed. Since then, special Coyote variants have been developed for the GT350 and GT350R as well as the 2020 GT500.

Coyote Engine Comparisons
Engine Horsepower Torque Displacement Max RPM
Coyote Generation 1 412 hp 390 lb-ft 4.95L 7,000 RPM
Coyote Generation 3 460 hp 420 lb-ft 5.03L 7,500 RPM
Voodoo 526 hp 429 lb-ft 5.2L 8,250 RPM
Roadrunner 444 hp 380 lb-ft 5.0L 7,500 RPM
Aluminator 580 hp 445 lb-ft 5.2L 7,200 RPM
Predator 760 hp 625 lb-ft 5.2L 7,500 RPM

S197 vs S550 Transmissions

A powerful engine without a worthy transmission can’t do much. To keep up with engine developments, Ford’s transmission evolved. Manual and automatic transmissions saw significant changes between the S197 and S550 generations.

All transmissions with an “R” as part of their name are rear-wheel drive transmissions. Transmissions without that indication, like the T-5, might be found in different drive configurations. This is important if you’re considering scrapyard transmission replacements.

Manual Transmissions

In 2005, the transmissions the S197 came standard with were a T-5, a TR-3650, and a 5R-55S. All five-speed transmissions. In 2011, to accompany the Coyote engine, Ford changed out the TR-3650 for the MT-82 transmission they’d collaborated with Getrag on.

The 2011 Getrag wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped. The MT-82 had a reputation for hard, and even missing, shifts. Though the early S550s have the same MT-82, the shifter bushing and bracket were changed. This fixed a lot of the shifting issues. A heavier clutch was also introduced.

In 2018, Ford continued this positive change by introducing the D4 designation of MT-82 transmission. This version has significant enough updates to be considered a true revamp. Even the gear ratios were changed, and the synchros were improved.

The TR-3160 manual transmission and TR-6060 have been exclusively Shelby-Mustang territory. If you aren’t happy with the MT-82 and want a significant upgrade, changing to one of these transmissions is a great idea.

Automatic Transmissions

The automatic transmission has seen equally dramatic changes. From 2005-2018, automatics available gears doubled, from five to ten. A ten-speed automatic is enticing enough that some manual advocates have changed their tune.

Though a DCT is different from a true automatic, the 2020 Shelby GT500 made waves by only offering a DCT transmission. This manu-matic transmission is an exciting development for enthusiasts who prefer to let the car do the shifting.

S197 and S550 Mustang Transmission Gear Ratios
TransmissionYears AvailableGear Ratios
T-5 Manual 2005-2010 V6 Mustangs 3.75/2.19/1.41/1.00/0.72/3.15
TR-3650 Manual 2005-2010 GT Mustangs 3.34/2.00/1.32/1.00/0.68/3.38
MT-82 Manual 2011-2017 Mustangs 3.66/2.43/1.69/1.32/1.00/0.65
MT-82 (D4) Manual 2018-Present Mustangs 3.24/2.10/1.42/0.81/0.62
5R55S Automatic 2005-2010 Mustangs 3.25/2.44/1.55/1.00/0.75/3.07
6R80 Automatic 2011-2017 Mustangs 4.17/2.34/1.57/1.14/0.87/0.69
10R80 Automatic 2018-Present Mustangs 4.69/2.98/2.14/1.76/1.52/1.27/1.00/0.85/0.63/4.86

Performance Evolution from S197 to S550

There were many performance changes between the S197 and S550 generations. In the past several years, there have been numerous suspension and exhaust developments. While some upgrades, like active exhaust and MagneRide, are options, other changes affected all S550 Mustangs.

Independent Rear Suspension

Diagram with a solid axle suspension on one side and IRS on the other

The S550 generation launched in 2015 with independent rear suspension (IRS). For years, professional reviewers indicated a lack of IRS held the Mustang back. Ford must have gotten tired of reading it.

"S197 has become the Mustang of choice for drag racing"

There are many benefits to independent rear suspension. For people who use their Mustang as a daily driver, IRS handles better and is more comfortable. The IRS helps Mustangs carve corners with less body roll, making group rides on Dragon’s Tail more fun.

For straight-line performance, like drag racing requires, a solid rear axle is preferred though. The S197 has become the Mustang of choice for drag racing Mustang enthusiasts because of its solid axle.

Forged Connecting Rods

Though forged connecting rods are an engine improvement, they’re not one that affects horsepower or torque. Connecting rods are what attach the pistons to the crankshaft. Without the movement of the pistons, internal combustion engines cannot function.

When John Coletti created the Terminator Cobra, he insisted on forged Manley connecting rods. He didn’t want to compromise on the Cobra’s engine power. He also knew that the Cobra’s reputation depended on its durability.

two connecting rods side by side

Forged connecting rods were the answer.

Forging the connecting rods made them more durable. They were also lighter, which helped to improve the vehicle’s performance. Forged connecting rods were a Cobra-only feature in 2003-2004, but now they’re in every Mustang.

Electronic Line Lock

Brake stands and burnouts have always been part of Mustang culture. With electronic line lock, doing these stunts won’t damage your vehicle’s rear brake pads.

"If you have your heart set on burnouts, the S550 may have a slight advantage"

Perhaps accepting that Mustang drivers will always find a way to do a burnie, Ford added electronic line lock. Though this is an S550 feature, you can install aftermarket line locks on earlier Mustangs.

So, if you have your heart set on burnouts, the S550 may have a slight advantage. It shouldn’t be a decision-maker though.

It’s a neat feature you may want, but it’s not a feature anyone needs.


MagneRide suspension has existed since 2002, but it didn’t come to the Mustang till the S550 generation. MagneRide uses magnetorheological fluid to create a responsive damper. While stiff suspensions offer responsive handling, they’re uncomfortable. Unfortunately, comfortable suspensions don’t offer great handling.

MagneRide uses magnets to get the best of both worlds. Most of the time the fluid is soft, but when exposed to a magnet it becomes stiff. It’s able to do this because of metallic particles inside the fluid.

How MagneRide Works

Honestly, no one needs MagneRide. But it’s hard to think of a reason why you wouldn’t want it. There aren’t really any cons besides cost. MagneRide once only came on premium trims, and now is still an expensive add-on. Additionally, if something goes wrong, it’s expensive to repair.

The Shelby GT350 has always had MagneRide, but GT and EcoBoost models only gained the option in 2018. Adding the EcoBoost Handling Package adds nearly $9K onto your total price. The handling package also includes an upgraded set of tires and wheels, premium brakes, and a 3.55 limited-slip differential.

S197 vs S550 Performance Packages

The Mustang has always offered different performance packages. Even in early generations, GT and Cobra packages offered performance parts for those who wanted them. The S197 and S550 Mustang kept that tradition alive, but in different ways.

S197 Performance Packages

The S197 didn’t premier with performance packages. The first mention of a Performance Package didn’t appear until 2007. The first performance packages were offered by Ford Racing. Between 2007 and 2009, Ford racing offered multiple performance packs.

Ford Racing’s performance packages were different from the ones we’re used to today. Ford Racing would install anything from a supercharger to a cold air intake on your brand new Mustang. In many ways, these were exciting options. Unfortunately they were also incredibly expensive and voided your warranty.

Despite how cool these packages sounded, they weren’t very popular. Then, in 2009, Ford offered a GT Track Package. This track pack focused on upgrades that didn’t void warranties. The result was the kind of subtle performance increase that even daily drivers could appreciate. At $1,500, it was also at the right price point.

The GT Track Package included a Helical gear differential. It also had an upgraded radiator and engine oil cooler to keep the engine from overheating. It didn’t forgo style either. The package included Brembo brakes, 19” wheels, and sticky summer tires.

It was an immediate success.

In 2011, Ford introduced a similar package for V6 Mustangs. The V6 package was a little different. It included larger front and rear stabilizer bars, tuned front spring rates, and unique stability control tuning. Unique front and rear brakes and a limited-slip differential were added as well.

S550 Performance Packages

The performance packages were so good that Ford didn’t see a reason to retire them.

When the S550 Mustang premiered, it already had Performance Packages available. For the GT and EcoBoost engine options anyway. There were no performance options available for the V6 Mustang.

For the most part, Performance Package 1 is almost identical to the one that the S197 finished its reign with. The Brembo brakes went from four pistons to six, but most of the alterations were just that. Alterations to an otherwise perfect list of performance features that included larger wheels, summer tires, larger radiator and sway bar, and unique tuning.

Silver Mustang with Performance Package

In 2018, Ford unveiled the “Performance Package 2.” If you want a total breakdown of the differences, check out our more in-depth evaluation of the differences between Performance Package 1 and 2. The highlights are that PP2 included MagneRide, a front splitter, and a set of tires it borrowed from the GT350.

These packages make a huge difference in both performance and price. A fully optioned EcoBoost costs nearly the same as a base GT, but it’s hard to determine the better buy.

MagneRide is a pretty phenomenal suspension, and not one easily added in the aftermarket. An EcoBoost with MagneRide can improve its horsepower with bolt-ons and tuning. A GT without MagneRide would have a much harder time adding it later.

S197 and S550 Appearance Differences

It’s not shallow to say that appearance is a factor when selecting a car. Sure, you want it to sound and drive well. But you already know you’re getting a Mustang, so that’s a given. Now you want to make sure it looks as good as it feels to you.

Side by side images showing the exterior physical changes for the S550 Mustang

These two generations have significant differences. Even within each generation there were physical alterations that may help you narrow down your search to a year range.

S197 and S550 Exterior Dimensions
Dimension2005-2009 S1972010-2014 S197S550
Length 187.6 inches 188.5 inches 188.3 inches
Width 74 inches 73.9 inches 75.4 inches
Height 54.5 inches 55.8 inches 54.4 inches
Wheelbase 107.1 inches 107.1 inches 107.1 inches
Curb Weight 3,450 pounds 3,501 pounds 3,526 pounds

S197 Appearance

The New Edge refresh had partially shaken the curves that had defined the early SN95 generation. The S197 departed entirely from this aesthetic. Ford wanted to make it clear that this was a New Mustang.

When the S197 first premiered after years of Mustangs built on the Fox platform, jaws dropped.

The Fox platform was obviously gone. The result was an entirely new Mustang clearly inspired by the classic Mustang. The defining term for the S197 is “retro-futurism.”

The fifth-generation Mustang’s distinctive straight-lined retro design became the hallmark of this generation. Long hoods and a classic rake gave the S197s a vintage muscle-car vibe. Though the boxy design appealed to nostalgia, updated features kept the Mustang modern.

Though the style has aged well, there are a few style choices that seem dated. One thing many have noted is that the S197 looks wide. You can try to hide this with clever decals, but honestly it’s easier to lean in and create a widebody look. S197s have a natural advantage with widebody builds.

Mid-Generation S197

In 2010, it was time for a mid-generation refresh. The 2010 S197 had a pointier front, a more pronounced power bulge, and improved aerodynamics. If the 2005 Mustang was inspired by the 1965 Mustang, then the 2010 borrowed its cues from the 1969-1970 Boss 302 era. Much like Shinoda’s designs, the Mustang almost appears to rear back.

For most people, this was a welcomed redesign. The second-half of the S197 generation gained power and attractiveness. Prior to the rerelease, the Mustang’s sales had been stagnating. In 2012, there was a resurgence of interest.

Side by side images of the S197 Mustang’s front end show its changes overtime

S550 Appearance

Much like the S197, it was clear from first sight that the S550 was a new pony. While New Edge tried to be modern and S197s tried to be retro, the S550 created its own style. This generation blends hard angles and curves into a body style that screams performance.

S550s are less retro than the S197 generation, though they borrow successful elements from Classic Mustangs. The smaller trapezoidal grille and angled headlights define the look. The Mustang’s front fascia is referred to as a “shark-bite” design, set-off by the thin headlights.

These headlights only got thinner during the 2018 mid-generation refresh. The biggest appearance changes for the 2018 Mustang all occurred on the front end. The front fenders were redesigned, and the hood and grille both got lower.

2017 vs 2018 Mustang front view

Rear view comparison for 2017 and 2018 Mustangs

2017 vs 2018 Mustang interior comparison

Overall, the 2018 refresh hasn’t been one of the more popular generational shifts. The SN95 and S197 generations gained popularity after the New Edge and 2010 redesign. Strangely, the S550 hasn’t been as fortunate. There are a lot of other new features that emerged between 2017 and 2018 that are worthwhile though.

Exterior Color Availability

There’s been a wide availability of colors available for the Mustang, but there is a lot of year to year variation. If you really have your heart set on a yellow Mustang, there are only a few years you can select from.

Some Mustang paint colors are only available for special editions. Highland Green is a perfect example. While everyone loves this deep shade of green, it’s always been reserved for Bullitt models.

S197 vs S550 taillight design side by side

The S197 and S550 generations share many colors, but some were exclusive to one generation. For most people, color isn’t the deciding factor, but it’s still a factor. If you’re on the fence, color availability may be what tips you over.

This chart will show you what colors were available which years and if the color you want is in your generation. For more detailed information, be sure to check out our full Mustang paint code guide.

S197 vs S550 Color Availability
Color NamePaint CodeS197S550Years AvailableNotes
Need For Green AJ 2019
School Bus Yellow B1 2013 Boss 302 Exclusive
Dark Highland Green B5 2019 Bullitt Only
Grabber Blue CI 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017
Competition Orange CY 2012, 2015, 2016 2012-Boss 302 Exclusive
Torch Red D3 2005,2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Screaming Yellow D6 2005,2006
Avalanche DR 2016, 2017 GT350 Only
Velocity Blue E7 2019
Shadow Black G1 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Redfire G2 2005, 2006, 2007
Alloy G5 2007, 2008, 2009
Vista Blue G9 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
Sunset Gold GQ 2010
Triple Yellow H3 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Gotta Have It Green HD 2013, 2014
Guard HN 2015, 2016
Performance White HP 2005,2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Deep Impact Blue J4 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Magnetic J7 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Dark Candy Apple Red JV 2008, 2009
Lead Foot Gray JX 2018, 2019 GT350 Only
Kona Blue L6 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2019 2015-50th Anniversary Only
Wimbledon White N4 2015 2015-50th Anniversary Only
Lightning Blue N6 2017, 2018
Orange Fury NL 2018, 2019
Yellow Blaze NQ 2011, 2012
Legend Lime P1 2005, 2006
Windveil Blue P3 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Race Red PQ 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Highland Green PX 2008, 2009 Bullitt Only
Royal Crimson R3 2018
Ruby Red RR 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Sonic Blue SN 2005
Tungsten Gray T8 2006, 2007
Mineral Gray TK 2005
Satin Silver TL 2005, 2006, 2007
Grabber Orange U3 2007, 2008, 2009
Red Candy U6 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Black UA 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
White Platinum UG 2017
Brilliant Silver UI 2009, 2010
Sterling Gray UJ 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014
Ingot Silver UX 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Lava Red UZ 2012
Silver YN 2008
Oxford White YZ 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Vapor ZY 2008, 2009

S550 vs S197 Interior Comfort

Performance and appearance are important. So is comfort. You’ve probably been daydreaming about sitting in the driver’s seat of your new Mustang. But between the S197 and S550, there’s a big difference in interior comfort.

An image of the S197 and S550 interior side by side

The sixth-generation of Mustang was designed to feel like the inside of a cockpit. In that regard, it’s successful. The S550 Mustang feels bigger on the inside. The gauges and driver inputs curve towards the driver, emphasizing this spaciousness. The larger cabin also offers a little more space to backseat passengers.

S197 and S550 Interior Dimensions
Dimension2005-2009 S1972010-2014 S197S550
Front Headroom 38.6 inches 38.5 inches 37.6 inches
Front Legroom 42.7 inches 42.4 inches 44.5 inches
Rear Headroom 35 inches 34.7 inches 34.8 inches
Rear Legroom 31 inches 29.8 inches 30.6 inches

S550 and S197 Technology Differences

Even between 2014 and 2015, there are technological changes. The differences are even more clear when looking at the 2005 and 2020 Mustangs.

In general, if you like driver assist technology, the S550 generation is more equipped. Optional blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are great features. Adaptive cruise control also features forward-collision warning, which is worthwhile if it prevents even one accident.

There were many technological advancements made between 2005 and 2010. The 2005 Mustang had power windows, power mirrors, and power locks at least. From there, we’ve seen available features expand. The standard equipment on the 2019 Mustang makes it more advanced and comfortable than previous generations.

While these features can help inform your choice, some can be duplicated with aftermarket alternatives. If you have your heart set on a 2006 but want HID headlights for safety, then upgrading headlights is easy. Other options, like Ford SYNC 3, aren’t as easy to add later.

Here are some of the most popular interior comfort features and technology, as well as which year they were introduced.

S197 and S550 Mustang Features
FeatureYear Introduced
HID Headlamps 2008
Interior Ambient Lighting 2008
Ford SYNC 2009
AdvanceTrac and Stability Control 2010
Dual-Zone Climate Control 2010
Sirius/Navigation 2010
Back-Up Camera 2010
Universal Garage Door Opener 2011
Track Apps 2013
SYNC 3 2016
Android Auto/Apple CarPlay 2017

S197 vs S550 Trims

One of the options that most affects a Mustang’s comfort is its trim level. While some of the differences a trim can make are obvious, like leather or cloth seats, others are subtler. Trim options also affect the availability of other features. Premium trim was required for a lot of features, like a glass roof or heated seats.

S197 Trims

During the S197 generation, the “base” trim level was still referred to as “deluxe.” The step up from that was “Premium.” You could upgrade to a Premium trim whether you were getting a V6 or GT Mustang.

For the 2005 Mustang, the Premium trim upgrade got you a CD Changer and upgraded sound system. Both the V6 and GT package also got a seat upgrade. For the Premium V6 that meant a 6-way power driver’s seat. The Premium GT came with leather-trimmed seats.

By 2009, the Premium package added a few more goodies. Upgrading got you ambient lighting, MyColor, and upgraded satin aluminum appliques. The former “Interior Upgrade Package” was also rolled into the Premium trim. This included a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Getting the Premium package was a necessary prerequisite to getting many other upgrades. Some of these upgrades included options like HID headlights or leather seats.

S550 Trims

By the time the S550 debuted, Ford no longer felt they needed to call a base model a Deluxe. Of course, this meant that the trim options quickly became the base Mustang, Premium Mustang, and Premium Plus Mustang.

For 2015 Mustangs, the premium trim included all the features from the S197 generation. It also combined features from other packages. The 2015 Mustang’s premium trim included SYNC with MyFord Touch, a universal garage door opener, and Sirius XM.

In 2019, upgrading to the Premium trim will get you:

  • Four Selectable Drive Modes
  • SYNC 3
  • Leather Seats (on the EcoBoost or the GT)
  • Heated and Cooled Front Seats
  • Aluminum Accents
  • Dual-Zone Climate Control
  • Ambient Color
  • Illuminated Door Sills
  • Pony Projection Lamps

It wouldn’t seem like there was anything left to offer for the Premium Plus Package. Where there’s a will there’s a way though.

The Premium Plus Package includes:

  • LCD Digital Instrument Cluster
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • FordPass Connect
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Premier Trim with Color Accent Group

As the definition of luxury features evolves, Ford’s Premium package continually expands to meet these criteria. While that can be frustrating to navigate, it does mean each Mustang is more comfortable than the one before. Features once reserved for top of the line Shelbys have found their way to the base Mustang. Likewise, features once considered ultra-premium, like a six-cd changer, fell by the wayside as technology advanced.

S197 and S550 Shelby Mustangs

In 2007, Carroll Shelby returned to Ford after a 37 year hiatus. The 1965 Shelby GT350 showed the world the Mustang was a performance vehicle. The 2007 GT500 did it again. The 2007 Shelby GT500 had 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. It was a little much. Of course, “a little much” was probably what Shelby did best.

Tragically, Shelby passed away in 2012. Till the very end, he still knew how to floor it. At least once he took the opportunity to show the SVT team exactly who he was and what he was about. The result was a black slick of rubber from where he’d sent the GT500.

The Shelby-American team used Carroll Shelby’s ideas to continue designing Mustangs for the S550 generation.

A Magnetic GT350R with white stripes

It’s a shame Shelby didn’t get to drive the newest GT350R. There’s little doubt he would have loved it. The GT350 is routinely hailed as one of the top performance vehicles that doesn’t cost more than a house.

Then, in 2020, Ford launched a new GT500. This was the most powerful Mustang ever produced, with 760 horsepower.

The S550 and S197 Shelby Mustangs show us what their generations are capable of. For those of us who can’t afford a Shelby, we can aspire to create a Mustang with a similar rumble.

Should You Get an S197 Mustang?

Now that they’ve gotten older, S197 Mustangs have become even more affordable. Of course, S197 Mustangs were more affordable to begin with since they came with less features.

S197 Drag racing Mustang

The 2005 “Deluxe” Coupe sold for $19,215. Adjusted for inflation, that’s still only $24,797. The lowest price on a 2019 Mustang is $26,395. It’s not a big difference, and when you think of all the extra features it’s a deal. But a lower starting price does mean a lower resell price. For any Mustang’s MSRP, check this table.

Prices will vary across states and depending on features of course. Because the 2005 and 2006 models were the most popular, they’ll be the easiest to find and the least expensive. These are the total production numbers for the S197 Years.

S197 Mustang Sales Figures
YearNumber Sold
2005 160,975
2006 166,530
2007 134,626
2008 91,251
2009 66,623
2010 73,716
2011 70,438
2012 90,706
2013 77,186
2014 82,635

If you plan on getting a GT though, it may be worth looking for something made after 2011. The Coyote engine really is that good, and there are a ton of parts available for it.

For drag racing especially, the S197 Mustang is the pony of choice. The solid rear axle gives it a major benefit over the current generation. A modded S197 is more than a match for a stock S550, and with the price savings you can look at a lot of mods.

Best S197 Mods

One of the major performance upgrades that Shelby made to the S197 was changing the transmission. He upgraded to a TR-6060. Tremec’s Magnum XL is a modern TR-6060 with a better torque capacity. Quick, precise shifting is a benefit you’ll feel at every gear change.

Lowering an S197 makes it look less “wide” and more “widebody.” Not only that, but the lower center of gravity will improve handling and cornering. The mid-generation shift did affect the suspension, so you’ll need to either look at 2005-2009 suspension kits or 2010-2014.

A tune is also always a great upgrade. This is especially true if you’re thinking about doing substantial modification. Many 2005-2009 cold air intakes or 2010-2014 cold air intakes, for example, require a tune in order to function.

Should You Get an S550 Mustang?

There have been significant improvements between the S197 and S550 Mustangs. If you’re looking for a car you can comfortably drive daily, the S550 is the right Mustang for you.

The independent rear suspension makes it more comfortable. It also makes it easier to go around tight corners. The only thing it really makes more challenging is drag racing. While there are modifications for that, you’ll lose all the benefits associated with the IRS as well.

In terms of comfort and technology, you’ll also get a lot more bang for your buck with the S550. Options that used to require multiple add-on packages now come standard. In 2005, the best we could do for musical options on the go was a six-disc changer. Just a few years later and you can order your digital assistant to queue up your infinite playlist.

If you’re looking on the used market, it’s helpful to know the total number sold each year. Here are the production numbers for the S550 Mustang.

S550 Mustang Sales Figures
YearNumber Sold
2015 122,349
2016 105,932
2017 81,866
2018 75,842
2019 72,489

Best Mods for S550 Mustangs

Just because your S550 already has more horsepower than an S197 doesn’t mean you can’t keep increasing its power. There are a lot of great modifications for the Coyote engine that will improve its already impressive specifications.

Active exhaust is a great feature. If you have neighbors, then using good neighbor mode is an easy way to get along with others. But when you want to make noise, you want to make noise. Thankfully there are exhaust modifications that work well with active exhaust systems.

There are also many modifications for Ecoboost Mustangs. In particular, a pair of shorty headers will benefit a turbocharged engine.

Choosing Between an S197 and S550 Mustang

S197 vs S550 Pros and Cons
S197 Mustangs Price
Solid Rear Axle
Easy to Improve
Less Expensive Repairs
Less Technology
Less Spacious Interior
S550 Mustangs More Options
Newest Technology
Independent Rear Suspension
More Power
Higher Purchase Price
Harder to Find Used
Higher Repair Cost

Both of these Mustang Generations have their strengths, and there’s no one right choice.

If you’re extremely price sensitive, very interested in drag racing, or just drawn to classic Mustang looks, the S197 may be perfect for you. With a few bolt-ons, you’ll still be able to compete with the S550s.

If you’re a technophile who always wants the latest and greatest, you may be best suited to an S550. In addition to being more comfortable, you’ll also have more performance and technology options.

Both generations benefit from an impressive selection of aftermarket parts. This allows for either to be customized for a unique driving experience that transcends generation.

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This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.