2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Pros-Rakish styling. Attractive interior. Roomy. Fast. Good handling. Composed Ride. Rear or all-wheel drive.
Cons-Mushy brake pedal. Very firm steering feel. Need patience to learn touchscreen. Public charging infrastructure can be frustrating.
Bottom Line-One of the top all-electric SUVs.
Never mind that Ford calls its new 2021 Ford Mustang a Mustang Mach-E, although it is a four-door all-electric SUV that bears virtually no resemblance to the two-door Mustangs that debuted in 1964.
Of course, calling the Mach-E a Mustang is a marketing ploy, using a iconic vehicle name, to let folks know that Ford is very serious about building electric vehicles.
The new SUV has a muscular look and the Mustang's traditional six (tri-bar) taillights. The body is cleverly styled. It looks like fastback, but the roofline is virtually flat, meaning rear seat passengers have a good amount of headroom not found in many fastback vehicles. Batteries are put inside the underbody for additional room.
There are various models with two battery sizes and rear or AWD. List prices range from $42,895 to an estimated $60,500. My test Mach-E Premium AWD model listed at $49,700 and is expected to be among the most popular models. It had many convenience and luxury features and a panoramic fixed glass sunroof. Ford says the sunroof has a glass coating that provides infrared protection. Still, I feel a sliding sunroof cover would be comforting.
My test Mach-Ec had a optional ($500) extended-range battery and really stood out with its extra-cost ($400) Rapid Red paint. Add $1,100 for destination and delivery charges and the bottom-line price was $56,200. However, it's an electric vehicle so its buyer gets a tax credit.
The Mach-E is fairly low at 64 inches and is generally easy to maneuver because it's 185.6 inches long. There's plenty of room for four to five tall adults in the attractive interior, with its synthetic leather and nifty stitching throughout the cabin. But the stiff rear seat center is best left to the fold-down armrest with twin cupholders. The power rear hatch can be set to various heights and opened by just sticking a foot below the rear bumper, if arms are loaded with grocery bags or such that prevent reaching for the key fob.
There are no conventional outside door handles. Instead, the wide-opening doors are opened by pushing a small button on them and then grabbing a small handle. The buttons cut down a bit on wind noise and improve aerodynamic efficiency for better vehicle range and cabin quietness, as does the Mach-E's flat underside.
The power front seats provide good side support in curves and both front and back seats deliver good thigh support. Front console cupholders can be easily reached, and there's a decent amount of storage and charging areas.
The cargo area easily swallows a week's groceries. Cargo room is 29.7 cubic feet, or 59.7 with the rear seat backs folded flat. There's also a small front cargo area of 4.7 cubic feet, in which one can store beverages and such. It has a built-in drain and cupholders.
A large (15.5-inch) touchscreen is set vertically, not horizontally, on the dashboard near the driver so he (or she) can easily use it to activate one of the many comfort and convenience features. There also are some steering wheel controls and a few physical controls.
It took me half an hour or so to figure out how the screen operates, but I'm a slow learner when it comes to learn touch screen functions. A fifth grader probably could have figured it out faster. Older adults who grew up without computers told me it "took a while" to learn how to operate the high-resolution screen.
A clever feature is an audio system for a speaker sound bar that's almost hidden along the top of the dashboard. The rotary console gear shift dial was handy, and features included dual zone automate climate control, push-button starter and a tilt/telescopic steering column,
The Mustang Mach-E comes with 266, 290 or 346 horsepower. Arriving later this year is a hot rod GT version with 480 horsepower and a reworked suspension. I don't see why average motorists would have much reason for the GT because my test Mustang Mach-E was a Premium AWD model with 346 horsepower and was so fast that its quick acceleration from a stop light made vehicles behind me look as if frozen by the light when I glanced in the rearview mirror.
The 0-60 m.p.h. time of my test car is said to be 5.2 seconds, but it feels as if my Mach-E was faster. It's a good idea to occasionally keep an eye on the digital speedometer because the quiet interior and rapid acceleration can make you seem to be going faster than you actually are.
Of course, that's the beauty of a powerful electrical vehicle-it provides instantaneous torque. A driver in the Mach-E is whisked ahead as if on a smooth, giant fast cloud with virtually no cabin sound, although the Mach-E proves an artificial piston engine sound that can be switched on or off via the touchscreen. Maybe the throaty piston engine sound, which really isn't very loud, is there to attract regular Mustang owners with rumbling V-8s to the Mach-E.
A driver can activate "one-pedal" driving. That is, the Mach-E accelerates normally with the gas pedal but then slows itself down linearly and evenly stops when a driver takes his foot off the accelerator. At first, I found this somewhat disconcerting, but soon got used to it. Still, I eventually switched to normal two-pedal driving, although I didn't like the feel of the rather mushy brake pedal. However, stopping distances were good.
The driving range of my test car was 211 miles, all things being equal. Other Mach-E models are estimated to go up to 300 miles. There's a battery charger kit with a cord beneath the removable cargo floor liner. But the public charging infrastructure can be frustrating.
A driver can select via the screen three driving modes: Whisper (for top economy), Engage (for most normal driving) and Unbridled (for very sporty driving). I found "Engage" to be best for daily use, although acceleration is plenty quick with"Whisper." Call up "Unbridled" and the acceleration is faster and steering becomes firmer.
The steering is firm in any mode, controlled by a thick, easily gripped wheel with a few auxiliary controls. It's quick and accurate, so a driver not paying attention can suddenly find himself partly in an adjoining lane. Handling is quite good, with a nicely designed suspension, electronic stability and traction controls and the all-wheel drive. Batteries on the body underside also enhance handling because their position lowers the Mach-E's center of gravity.
I was surprised I didn't feel the solidly built car's heavy weight of approximately 5,000 pounds more when streaking through curves.
The ride is composed, although sharp road imperfections such as railroad tracks cause some jarring. The suspension is smoothest in Engage mode. Still, there's no radical difference between the three drive modes.
Standard safety features including Ford's Advance Security package, impact side curtains and many air bags, including a drive knee bag.
My test Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD was an impressively advanced electric SUV, especially for a brand new model.