When Ford first announced they were utilizing the Mustang name on an all-new electric SUV, I was admittedly skeptical. As an enthusiast, I felt the Mustang name belonged on a high horsepower sports car... or so I thought. After spending a week behind the wheel of the new Mustang Mach-E immediately following a week in Volkswagen's electric ID.4 of a similar size, it's clear that the Mach-E caters to an enthusiast type of driver. The driving experience was completely different from the Volkswagen with the Ford being much more engaging and exciting as a Mustang would be. At its base it delivers 266 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. of instant torque and at its best an impressive 480 horsepower with 600 lb.-ft. of instant torque rated at 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. Outside of the exterior Mustang styling cues, the Mach-E was clearly designed to deliver a more performance-based driving experience and so I've come to understand why the it's deserving of the iconic Mustang badges.
The Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric five-passenger SUV that is all-new for 2021. It is available in four trim levels known as Select, California Route 1, Premium, or GT. The various models are then offered in variations of standard or extended range as well as rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Minimum range is 211 miles on a standard range eAWD model and the highest available range is an extended range RWD model that is estimated at 305 miles. Bases prices start at $42,895 for the RWD Select model and can climb as high as $64,900 for the GT extended range performance edition. All models currently qualify for the federal tax credit of $7,500. Similarly sized electric crossovers include the Volkswagen ID.4, Volvo XC40 Recharge and the Tesla Model Y. Coming into the market next year are the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. Traditional vehicles in the competition set include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4 Prime. After a week in the Mustang Mach-E, here's what stood out...
I spent a week in the extended range Premium AWD model which comes with an 88kWh battery that generates 346 horsepower and 428 lb.-ft. of instant torque. From a complete stop this vehicle flies and will throw heads back into the seats. It has an estimated 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds and it does so in silence. Plenty of power carries over to the highway as well where it handles traffic and passing like a nimble sports car. The Mach-E was impressively agile with tight, responsive steering. There was no lag or heavy body lean making this an absolute blast to drive.
There are three drive modes known as whisper, engage, and unbridled. These would be the equivalent of eco, comfort, and sport in a typical car. Switching through the modes didn't seem to make significant differences and so I tended to utilize unbridled. While the Mach-E maintained its composure at high speeds and around turns, the tires didn't seem to be the ideal fit for this one (more on that further down) as there was a slight feeling of disconnect from the road at some points. For the naysayers on the use of the Mustang name, they'll need to get behind the wheel to understand why its worthy.
One-Pedal Driving (+)
Regenerative braking is maximized in one-pedal driving in which the Mach-E balances all of the electronics to capture energy for later use. It can be selected on the same screens as the drive modes and is truly a one-pedal driving experience that will bring the SUV to a complete stop. When you release the gas pedal, it will slow down similar to how a golf cart operates. It takes some getting used to, but once mastered it allows you to sit at a stop light without any feet on the brake pedal allowing you to launch the car when that light turns green. Ford's system works well and can be easily switched to a normal driving mode if it's not your ideal way of driving.
Range / Charging (+/-)
The overall range hovered around 265-270 miles when fully charged on the extended range model which is on par with the competing EVs of the same size. Standard range models offer around 211 miles and RWD models top 300 miles. When charging the Mach-E in a standard 120V power outlet, you'll add about 3 miles of range per hour which was pretty slow compared to other EVs or PHEVs I've tested. Charging overnight at home for 8+ hours was never enough to fully replenish the 50-ish miles I used on my daily commute.
Opt for a 240V outlet and you'll get 20 miles per hour of charge, but the best option is tapping into a DC Fast charging station where you can get around 60 miles of range in 10 minutes. When plugged in to a DC Fast Charger it will boost range to 80% rather quickly, but that final 20% still seems to take more time than other EVs. At least Ford builds in an app-based icon on the infotainment screen that will help you find the nearest available charger when needed.
Exterior Styling (+)
If head turns or comments from strangers are any indication, then this is a good-looking SUV. Joining test vehicles such as the Toyota Supra, Jeep Gladiator, and Ford Bronco Sport that all generated buzz on the street, the Mach-E has a style of its own that is intriguing. Ford prefers to call it an SUV, despite its crossover/ car-like shape but regardless it's a different take on what many picture a Mustang to be.
The proportions are great with an extended wheelbase that minimizes overhangs in both front and back along with a nice ride height. Mustang design cues can be seen in the elongated front end with muscular rounded fenders that come to halt in the front with a wide aggressive front face. At the center of the non-grille is the Mustang badging which is emphasized with a piano black strip outlining the shape of the area. Slim sequential headlights have sharper lines that contrast with the rest of the Mach-E's rounded, smooth shape. The piano black trim continues around the wheel arches and the entire bottom of the car giving it a sporty, but elegant look. It adopts a coupe-like roofline with a rounded roof that arches to the back tail lights. A black roof and integrated spoiler further emphasize the smooth roofline. Around back, the signature sequential three-bar Mustang taillights are updated with clear lenses and an extension into the hatch. Ford designed a vehicle that stands out and intrigues people.
Wheels / Tires (-)
With the exception of the upcoming GT performance wheels, I feel that Ford missed the mark on Mach-E wheel designs. All other trims get either 18 or 19-inch wheels in a few different finishes and styles. Overall, the design is ok, but it doesn't wow like the rest of the car and the wheels look like they'd better suit a top trim economy car. For a vehicle like this, I would like something a bit more edgy and bold such as the ones coming on the new GT performance model. Adding to the disappointment were the 225/55/R19 Michelin tires that never felt completely connected to the pavement. Since Ford is billing this as a performance SUV, I'd like to see some wider performance spec tires on the other trim levels.
Door Handles (+)
Door handles have always been a necessity in vehicles for obvious reasons, yet we never see them executed in concept cars because they break up the fluid design of most vehicles. Ford found a clever way around this by executing buttons that pop the doors open. The buttons are placed on all four window trims and on the front doors there is also a small black latch to pull it open. They blend in with the black trim and keep the sides of the car smooth and clean. A touch of the button will pop the doors open and allow for easy entry into the SUV. As an added bonus, there are no additional water lines after running it through the car wash that always trickle down from the handles.
Hopping inside, drivers will face a 10.2-inch rectangular digital cluster behind the steering wheel and an available head-up display. It has a very futuristic interior with one large 15.5-inch vertical infotainment screen at the hub that utilizes Ford's SYNC 4 system. The screen operates much like a tablet and is user friendly integrating with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There is a large dial knob toward the bottom for volume controls. The screen itself is divided into sections with the top half focusing on one primary function such as audio, navigation, or vehicle settings among the options. Below that are a series of tiles that you can scroll through for quick access and at the bottom are the climate controls on either side of the volume knob. At the top of the screen, you can navigate back to a home screen filled with app icons or tap the Mustang Mach-E image for vehicle settings. Ford has also incorporated some sharp and engaging digital graphics upon entering the vehicle.
Outside of the screen, other technology highlights are the wireless device charger, an available 9-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and Ford's Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver assist features. Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, evasive steering assist, front and rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane centering assist, intersection assist, rear cross traffic alert, reverse brake assist, traffic sign recognition, and Ford customizable MyKey system.
Interior Vibe (+)
The materials used inside the Mach-E are a step above and work together to create a modern sporty vibe. The top portion of the dash incorporates a fabric like material that stretches across. The climate vents are nicely tucked in the middle of the dash in a subtle way that separates the dash into two units. A wireless charging tray is the base of the floating center console along with a jog dial for selecting gears. Additional storage is tucked underneath the charging tray and in the center console. Up above is a fixed panoramic glass roof (standard on premium models) that lets in plenty of light but does not include a closable sun shade. The comfortable heated seats are available with synthetic leather upholstery and multi-color ambient lighting can really set the mood.
Extra storage space is always a bonus and it's even better in an unexpected space such as the front of the car. Pop the hood of the Mustang Mach-E and you're treated to a small, but useful space at the front of the car hence its designation as a 'frunk' (front trunk). This space is also designed with a drainage system and cupholders so that you can really fascinate people while tailgating.
Cargo Cover (-)
A common feature in SUVs is a rear cargo cover to hide your belongings and it doesn't need to do much more than that. It's not something most buyers even pay attention to, however, the available cover in the Mach-E is so flimsy that it doesn't stay in place and flaps in the wind with the windows open. It's certainly not a deal breaker but a nuisance that was notable in a $55,000+ vehicle.
Final Statement (+)
I really enjoyed my time in the Mustang Mach-E. As someone who enjoys driving, this SUV delivers an engaging and new twist on the drive. It's quick off the line, is extremely agile, and the one-pedal driving works very well. Ford designed a vehicle that turns heads and blends coupe-like features with compact SUV functions. I predict we'll be seeing a lot of these on the road in the years to come and really look forward to seeing how the new GT and GT performance models further enhance the Mach-E's drive.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD
Exterior Color: Rapid Red Metallic
Interior Color: Black Perforated ActiveX
Notable Options: Red Metallic Paint ($400), Extended Range ($5,000)
MSRP as tested: $56,200 (With Delivery/Destination)