2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Review

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E - Ford's 2021 Mustang Mach-E is generally a winner


2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD

Price: $49,700

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.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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