You are considering a high-end Shelby Mustang but are worried about which motor is best. What is the difference between Ford’s 5.23 Predator vs. Voodoo engines?

The Mustang GT is fast, but the speed isn’t the only consideration when purchasing a high-end sports car like a GT350 or GT500. The last thing you want to do is spend this kind of money and get a bad engine, so you need to do your research. Is the Predator engine reliable? What kind of problems have these engines had? Will the Voodoo stand up to the punishment you tend to put your cars through? And which does better on the track? What is the history behind both of these powerplants? There are so many questions.

The 5.2 Predator and Voodoo engines are V8 high-performance engines explicitly designed for the Mustang GT 350, 350R, and GT500. The 2022 Predator V8 produces 760 hp and 650 lb/ft torque. The Voodoo engine (discontinued in 2020) has 526 hp and 429 lb/ft torque.

There is so much history to these two significant engines that it is hard to know where to start. You know that they have stood the test of time and are the hallmark of some of the very best work Ford has ever done. The engines used in these cars will make an excellent addition to the collection of vehicles you know own, but you want to know more about them. Will your mechanic end up cursing your name because you bought a complex performance engine to work on? Will the reliability of this engine be in question? Again, there are lots of questions.

Let’s see if we can’t find the answers you need. We have scoured Ford GT forums and the internet to find out how good these engines are from the people who service them and the customers who own them. Let’s explore the world of Predator vs. Voodoo and see which is the better investment.

Ford 5.2L Predator Vs Voodoo Engines

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What is a Predator vs Voodoo Engine?

While both engines provide a punch off the start line, they have differences. Let’s look at them, beginning with the V8 Voodoo, which is the earlier of the two.

What is a Voodoo Engine?

When Ford announced in 2014 that it was bringing back the Shelby Mustang as a track-oriented heavy, the engineers knew they would need a better motor than what they already had in Mach 1. So, they got their heads together and came up with the Voodoo, a 5.2L V8 beauty producing 526 hp and 429 lb/ft torque. The Voodoo engine was placed in the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT350/350R beginning with the 2015 model year. (This car rolled off the line in time for the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang).

Needing a spark to highlight the great history of the Mustang, the company began to push the engineers at Ford for a more powerful engine because many consumers were showing renewed interest in high-performance engines. Ford had developed a 5.8L Trinity V8, a staple of the 2013 GT500, but the Chevy ZL1 6.2L V8 had beaten the engine on multiple occasions. (This left a sour taste in the mouth of both engineers and consumers. The additional announcement of the Hemi engine by Dodge that boasted a 707 hp didn’t help matters). The Ford engineers scrapped the Trinity and returned to the drawing board. They knew the V configuration of the Trinity would allow them to place a bigger motor than an inline version into the engine compartment. (Chrysler and Dodge had been doing this for years). This V allows for two banks of four cylinders on each side of the powerplant, maximizing the space requirements and increasing torque.

While the Voodoo engine continued the V configuration of the previous model, it utilized a flat-plane crankshaft, which was unheard of in the production of American large-block V8s. The engineers at Ford decided to borrow from their counterparts from across the Atlantic, using the 180-degree cranks developed for high-powered engines manufactured by European automakers. (Most crankshafts built for American muscle cars used a cross-crank in that, every 90 degrees, a piston fired. The 180 degree or flat-planed cranks rotate a piston every 180 degrees), They found that the horizontal design made the engine more balanced and increased revs. In addition, the crankshaft design produced the distinctive growl that Mustang owners loved.

The Voodoo engine in the 2016 Mustang GT350/GT350R was embraced by fans instantly. The car proved to be a remarkable testament to the legacy of the Mustang. From style to performance, this car was a hit among reviewers and die-hard gearheads, winning several awards, including:

  • Autoguide.com Readers Choice Car of the Year (2015)
  • Car and Drivers 10 Best Cars for 2016,
  • Road and Tracks, 2016 Performance Car of the Year
  • Autoguide.com’s Readers Choice Car of the Year (2016)

What is a Predator Engine?

In 2019, Ford decided to improve the Voodoo engine in their newest high-[erformance Mustang, the 2020 GT500. The company felt buoyed by the tremendous success of the GT350 and GT350R, anticipating that an even more finely tuned Cobra might bolster sales. The company decided to discontinue the 350 and put its eggs in one basket, the GT500.

Producing 760 hp and a mind-blowing 625 lb.-ft of torque, the 5.2-liter Predator V8, the GT500 became the most potent street machine that was legal to drive on the streets. The engineers scrapped the flat-planed crankshaft that had set the Voodoo engine apart and added a supercharger to boost horsepower and performance. The engine borrows several features from its predecessor, including a wet sump oil system, forged aluminum pistons, and hollowed stem intake valves.

The engine's most notable difference is that the Predator is a cross-planed crankshaft with lower compression than the Voodoo. The compression was lowered to 9.5 to 1 instead of the 12 to 1 that had existed before. The lower compression allowed the engineers to boost the engine without causing catastrophic failure, which contributed to horsepower and torque jumping to new levels.

The Predator has direct injection and a supercharger that contribute significantly to the GT500's performance. The Eaton Corporation makes the supercharger (the same supercharger sits atop the Corvette ZR1). This replication is not difficult to understand. Manufacturers have had to scramble with global supply chains bottling up and impacting production lines. (The use of the supercharger in both cars certainly boosts the bottom line for the folks at Eaton). Perhaps one of the most notable features is that the engine is hand-made by one technician, from start to finish, indicating how much care Ford puts into these engines.

During the pandemic of 2020-2021, Ford canceled or rescheduled many GT500 orders due to failure in supply chains and parts shortages. Company officials tried to reschedule their 2021 units to the 2022 model. The GT500 model will be phased out after the 2022 model year as Ford sets its sights on hybrid-V8. The Predator 5.2L V8 engine is still being used in the Ford family, as it is planned for use in the F-150 Raptor R.

Which is the Better Engine - Predator or Voodoo?

While both engines have their advantages, they have had some difficulties. Let’s look at some of the reported problems plaguing these high-performance power plants.

What are the Problems with the Voodoo Engine?

Some significant issues with the 5.2L V8 Voodoo engine have centered around timing chain failure. The problem centers around the tensioner's incorrect installation. While Ford issued a TSB (technical service bulletin) to instruct technicians on addressing the issue, it would take four years before Ford would issue a recall for the 2020 GT350 and GT500s. In fairness, the company put a stop-sale on dealer inventory to address the problem before it became an active issue.

An additional reported issue was oil consumption by the Voodoo engine. Mustang owners' forums are filled with accounts of engine replacement due to excessive oil usage. Many of the 2015 - 2017 models have experienced the issue. Car and Driver reported that in the 40,000-mile long-term road test of the GT350, the car drank oil (they added 21.5 quarts, not counting regular oil changes). Even though Ford added that it is not unusual for the GT350 to need a quart of oil between changes, I suspect that the engineers knew that the engine had a propensity to guzzle oil, forcing owners to be more hands-on than they may have wanted to be.

Additional reports revolve around the screw-on oil filter, which tends to work itself loose because of the vibrations from the flat-plane crankshaft. Ford changed the oil filter from a spin-on to a cartridge filter on the later model GT350s and issued instructions on fixing the issue to their dealerships. This remedy did not stop the forum boards from lighting the company up.

What Are the Problems with the Predator Engine?

The same issue that plagued the GT350 tensioners for the chain assembly also affected the GT500s. This time Ford issued the recall to fix the issue instead of incurring the wrath of consumers with lots of money in their pockets. The issue stems from the engine's build, where the technician may have forgotten to have correctly adjusted the tensioner after the chain assembly was installed. This lack of proper tension could lead to slippage and thus incur catastrophic engine failure. (Since every GT500 was handmade, I imagine that the worker or workers who made the engines are in the doghouse for being responsible for a company-wide national recall).

Again, the GT500 has a screw-on oil filter, which can work its way loose under the stress of racing. (the cross-plane crankshaft does help minimize the vibrations, but in some cases, the filter continues to work loose). Oil consumption tends to be heavy, particularly with the 20 models.

There have been a few reported issues of heat soak on the Predator. Heat soak is when the heat of exhaust and turbochargers affect the engine’s ability to restart when switched off and then restarted.

One of the most significant frustrations of GT500 owners with blown engines was the unavailability to get parts or replacement engines due to a global supply chain issue and parts shortages. Eventually, the issue smoothed out in the latter part of 2021, and the 5.2L V8 is available as a crate engine. However, the cost for the engine replacement is exorbitant, costing on average $25 - 30k, which is a hefty chunk for any pocketbook. (Fortunately, Ford offers a 5-year powertrain warranty, which may apply).

What Engines Compete Directly With the 5.2L Predator?

The RAM TRX utilizes a supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8, producing 702 hp and 650 lb/ft torque. The national website for RAM boasts that the truck has a top speed of 118 mph and a 0-60 mph of 4.5 seconds. The starting price of the TRX is in the mid-70s.

While the rumor has been floating for several months that Chevrolet plans on putting a modified LT2 V8 From C8 Corvette Stingray, the effort may be too little, too late. The naturally aspirated 6.2L makes about 455 hp, significantly lower than its Ford counterpart, the GT500. In addition, GM has decided to move away from the sports car to other more profitable projects, which is a move most automakers are at least considering.

Is Ford Discontinuing the GT500?

The past year has been a hard one for most automakers. The perfect storm of a global pandemic, supply chain issue, and a lack of semiconductor chips have spun the automobile world into a frenzy. High-selling units like trucks and SUVs are getting priority for parts over sedans and sports cars like the Ford GT500. At the price tag of 73 - 100 thousand dollars, any vehicle with limited production and an even more limited market of buyers is coming under tremendous scrutiny as to whether it makes sense to the bottom line. The unfortunate truth is that the GT500 is an expensive car for Ford to produce, as demonstrated when elevating prices for the 2022 models to a starting price of $73,465, not counting dealer destination charges or any gas guzzler tax you might have to pay.

Coupled with the company’s commitment to go all-electric by 2035, it is not surprising that the 2023 Mustang GT may be the last sports car using the 5.2L Predator. (The engine will continue to be used for the F-150 Raptor R (but for how long remains to be seen). Most analysts suspect that this high-performance engine may be a dying breed as consumers look for ways to counter the ever-increasing cost of putting fuel in their tanks. The bottom line is that GT500 is becoming too expensive to drive for the average consumer (not that it was that affordable anyway, but now it is even less so).

The GT500 was due for a refresh (rehaul) in 2023 - 24, and with the emergence of the Mustang Mach-e, the future for Mustang will more than likely be in the electric side rather than the powerful internal combustion engines. The Mustang may still be around, and we hope it will because Americans' love affair with muscle cars cannot and should not be ignored.

When will the F-150 Raptor R with the Predator Engine be Made?

Spy shots from motorbiscuit.com and others have revealed the Predator engine is to be used in the 2023 F-150 Raptor. While this may be a welcome addition to truck fans of Ford, the chances are unlikely that owners will receive the total output of the current motor. The truck's additional weight and length may seriously affect its performance with less horsepower than the 760 hp that the current GT500 has. (It should be noted that the current model of F-150 has a twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 which produces only 425 hp, so any increase is likely to be well-received by consumers).

What Else Do We Know About the 2023 Raptor?

The 2023 F-150 Raptor R will likely receive several exterior modifications, including a new front fascia and headlight treatment. The stance will be more fat than current models of the F150, and consumers should expect a new hood treatment to include additional airboxes designed to help cool the engine. In addition, the R series will have specifically designed interiors as Ford attempts to capitalize on the demand for an off-road light pickup with lots of heft under the hood.

When Will the 2023 Raptor R be Available, and How Much Will it Cost?

The Raptor R is likely to hit dealer lots in late 2022. The truck is expected to have a starting price of over $70,000. While the starting price of a 2021 f-150 Raptor (with twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6) is $64,145, owners of the 2023 Raptor R should consider paying more.

What is the Cost of Ownership for a GT350 or GT500?

Like any vehicle, the value of the GT350 and the GT500 will shrink over the first few years of ownership. However, since rare muscle cars are quickly becoming a thing of the past, both are considered excellent investments. With an average depreciation of $4500 a year, the GT series will lose about 25-30% of its value. The fact that Ford no longer makes the GT350/350R has made these sportscars much more valuable. According to JD Power, the average price for a 2019 GT 350 is around $62,350, and the residual value is likely to only improve over time.

Cost of Ownership for the 2015 - 2020 GT350/350R

According to Edmunds.com, the following table shows the depreciation one can expect for the first and fifth years of ownership.

Item Year 1 Year 5
Financing $1,995 $251
Depreciation $7,751 $3,249
Fuel $3,799 $4,279
Repairs $222 $508
Maintenance $251 $2,902
Insurance $1,350 $1,519
Taxes - Fees $3,024 $27
Total Cost To Own $18,011 $12,414

Cost of Ownership for 2020 GT500

According to motortrend.com, the following table shows the true cost of ownership for the first five years. As one might expect, many factors should be considered when calculating how much it will cost to own this high-performance sports car. While the GT500 may prove to be a good investment over the long haul, you should still be prepared to open your wallet for the short term, especially.

Item Year 5
Financing $12,053
Depreciation $42,631
Fuel $17,281
Repairs $1,264
Maintenance $7,976
Insurance $19,735
Taxes - Fees $1,851
Total Cost To Own $103,301

Why The GT350 is Better Than the GT500?

There is a great deal of debate between fans of the GT 350/350R and the GT500 as to which is the better Mustang to purchase. The GT350 debuted in 2015, and at the time, there was a demand for a Ford that could compete with what Dodge and GM were throwing out onto the streets. Ford attempted to capitalize on the immense popularity of the GT350 and the Voodoo engine. The GT500 came along in 2020 with a whole new engine configuration (Predator) with high-powered hp and torque. The GT500 blew its competition off the drag strip because it could move in a straight line faster than almost anything.

The GT350 is Less Expensive to Purchase

The initial cost for the GT350 was $49,995 compared to the 2020 GT500 pushing $73.995. The depreciation on the GT350 is also less, as are other costs, including insurance and fuel expenses.

The GT350 Guzzles Less Gas

Don’t get me wrong, both the GT350 and the GT500 are not gas sippers. They like gasoline and will want to be fed - a lot. The MPG ratings for both the 2015 Shelby Mustang GT350 are 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, compared to the GT500 of 12 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. With the gas price approaching $4-5 per gallon, the savings over the car's lifetime can add up to take less of a bite out of consumers’ wallets.

The GT350 has the Voodoo Engine.

Although there have been some reported issues with the 5.2L Voodoo V8, the engine is lighter (due to a flat-planed crankshaft). The engine’s output of 526 hp is more than adequate for the ordinary driver, making it much more street worthy. If you want a high-powered mustang that will be fun to drive but keep you out of trouble every time you cruise through a radar trap, the GT350 is probably the preferred option.

What Are the Most Expensive Mustangs to Be Sold on Market?

Over the years, there have been several Mustangs that have fetched a whole lot of money at auction.

1965 GT350R - The Flying Mustang - $3.5 million

The honor for the most expensive Mustang ever sold goes to the prototype 1965 Shelby GT350R dubbed the “Flying Mustang,” which sold for $3.5 million at the Mecum auction in 2020. R5002 is supposedly the first GT350 built and was designed for the racetrack. The car received an experimental XE engine (which was top-secret).

Several owners bought and owned the car until Shelby collector John Atzbach purchased the vehicle and had it restored to its original condition. The car has been sold twice over the last three years for close to this amount.

1968 GT390 Fastback - The Bullitt Car - $3.4 million

The iconic movie starring Steve McQueen is still the talk of Mustang lore. The star drove the Highland Green 1968 GT390 in the movie, and the car instantly became the stuff of every young boy’s dream. Research indicates that two or three fastbacks were used to film the chase scene (although only one has been verified as the real Bullitt car. There might be a couple of other Bullitt cars out there, just saying). After the filming, the vehicle was a daily driver until an engine issue sidelined the car for years.

In 2018, the owner’s son, Sean Kiernan, contacted Ford to see if they were interested in using the car as a promotional piece to highlight the high-performance Mustangs being built. The car made the rounds for about a year and was sold at Mecum auctions for $3.4 million shortly after. Regardless of the price, the car has a place in film history as one of the first cars in an intense car chase. (According to insider.com, it still ranks #2 all-time on their list of best car chases in a movie, right behind 1971s French Connection, in which actor Gene Hackman commandeers and drives a 1971 Pontiac LeMans).

1967 Shelby GT500  — $2.2 Million

Only one of its kind, the Super Snake GT 500 was built for a publicity stunt for Goodyear Tires. The modified sports car was built with an all-aluminum 427 cubic inch V8 that produced over 600 horsepower. The engine was potent for its time, and although it was never raced in competition, the car served its purpose as an advertising vehicle for the tire company. Shelby had the car run for 500 miles at an average speed of 142 mph to ensure the tires held up.

Ford made only one Super Snake car, and the reason there was no limited run of this specialty car is unknown. (Any number of reasons are plausible. Shelby may have refused to put his name on the project. Ford engineers may have doubted that the GT500 could stand the punishing abuse of the constant running on the track or doubted the market for such a unique car). The car is one of a kind which accounts for its high price at the auction when it was sold in 2019.

2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 — US$1.1 million

In 2020, Ford brought back the GT500, a nameplate it had used several times in the history of the Mustang. The car has a 5.2L V8 Predator engine, capable of producing 760 hp and 650 lb/ft torque. The first model to be built (the engines were hand-made) sold at auction for $1.1 million - with the proceeds being donated to charity.

What Is the Mach-e GT all About?

Beginning in December 2020, the Mach-e GT hit showroom floors. The Mach-e is the electric version of Mach 1 and has been an instant success. Orders for the 2021 model sold out in the states in the first three months of production, and it appears that the market for this electrified sports car knows no limits.

The electric motor is capable of up to 459 hp and clocks a 3.5 - 6.5 0-60 mph (depending on the Mustang Mach-e you have). The torque for the electric (612 lb/ft) is considerably higher, which provides better acceleration and thrust from a standstill. While the gas-powered 5.0 V8 available in the regular GT produces about the same hp, it has less torque. It has a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds.

While there are no plans to produce anything beyond the electric GT Mach-e, the GT500 with the Predator engine plans to be a part of the Ford lineup through at least 2023.

What’s Ahead for Ford in the Years Ahead?

The folks at Ford Europe have been busy trying to build an all-electric lineup. Recently, they announced the introduction of 7 new electric vehicles in a bid to try and transform sales. The goal is to sell over 600,000 electrical passenger and commercial vehicles by 2026. In March 2022, Ford announced the creation of a new division Ford Model-e devoted solely to the creation and development of electric vehicles.

Many of the major cities in Europe have adopted stringent air-quality measures in the next five years. Depending on the city, they plan to ban all non-zero emission vehicles by 2030-2035. According to Schmidt Automotive, most of the market share of vehicle sales will be electric and will reach 60% throughout Western Europe by 2030. Currently, sales of electrics are surging and will finish with over 10% of the market, based on 2020 figures.

While the pace of electric adoption is not taking off like it is in Europe, the trends point to the market continuing to grow. The current market share of electric vehicles is about 2.4% (based on 2020 figures). Many cities are following the lead of European metro areas by initiating their own target goals. With Ford’s recent announcement that it would stop making sedans and focus on more profitable trucks and SUVs, it is clear that the folks at the Big Blue Oval are embracing the future wave.

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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