Advertisement

Driven: The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Isn’t A One-Trick Pony



Advertisement

The electric revolution is underway and Ford did the unthinkable when they introduced the Mustang Mach-E.

The electric crossover was sacrilege to Mustang enthusiasts, but it didn’t stop thousands of people from placing reservations or prevent the model from being named the 2021 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.

With that in mind, we set out to discover if the Mach-E lives up to the Mustang name and, more importantly, if it’s any good.

Designed To Stand Out

If you want to get people excited about electric vehicles, make them look like this. That’s a key takeaway from our weekend with the Mach-E as we came across countless people eager to get a glimpse of the crossover and ask a few questions.

This includes everyone from an elderly couple taking a walk to a Tesla Model S owner who stopped by while visiting an adjacent Supercharger. There were countless others in between as well as plenty of lurkers who would simply sit in their vehicles snapping photos.

While the interruptions made photo and video shoots challenging, it’s hard to blame people for getting excited about the Mach-E. The crossover looks great as it blends concept-like styling with Mustang-inspired design cues.

The curvaceous bodywork is the star of the show and it’s amplified by the lack of traditional door handles. Instead, there are pillar-mounted buttons that slightly open the doors when pressed.

There’s also no mistaking the Mach-E for anything but a Mustang as ponies reside on the fully enclosed grille and rear liftgate. Higher-end variants also feature side mirrors with “pony projection” lamps that illuminate the ground at night.

Speaking of lights, the crossover has Mustang-inspired LED taillights with sequential turn signals. They’re one of the few design elements that seems forced, but they’re interesting nonetheless.

A Minimalist And Cozy Cabin

While the exterior is sporty, the interior embraces futuristic minimalism. Drivers sit behind a vinyl-wrapped steering wheel and find themselves looking at a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster. It’s pretty short, but it features stylish graphics as well as playful animations.

Unlike many digital instrument clusters, the display in the Mach-E doesn’t try to overwhelm you with information or gimmicky features. Instead, it’s focused on providing what you need to know – speed and range – with a quick glance. It’s elegant simplicity at its best.

While the display appears a bit basic, it adjusts to the situation at hand. Warnings come and go as needed, while directions have a permanent home on the cluster when the navigation system is being used.

Aside from the instrument cluster, there’s a minimalist dashboard with a floating 15.5-inch SYNC 4 infotainment system. It dominates the cabin, but thankfully isn’t distracting.

The display is broken up into three different sections, with the bottom dedicated to climate controls that are always visible. The middle section operates like tabs on an internet browser as there are ‘pages’ that display basic information about commonly used features such as the radio, phone and navigation system. Tapping on one pulls up the selected display on the upper section of the infotainment system.

The system is pretty fast and responsive as it only takes a few seconds to load the various displays.  It also allows for multiple user profiles and extensive customization.

We did have a few issues with wireless Android Auto dropping out, but it would usually reconnect after a few seconds. It’s also worth mentioning the stock navigation system is decent, although it’s hard to compete with Google.

Putting technology aside, the Mach-E has a cozy yet spacious interior. Up front, you have plenty of head and legroom, and it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, while the seats are nicely bolstered and wrapped in synthetic leather called ActiveX.

Rear seat passengers don’t take a backseat in terms of comfort as they’ll find 38.1 inches (968 mm) of legroom and amazing views from a massive panoramic glass roof. The rear seats are also nicely padded and feature subtle bolstering of their own. Headroom is pretty decent as well as this 6’ 2” reviewer didn’t have any objections.

On the topic of space, the Mach-E is the most practical Mustang ever created. There’s 29.7 cubic feet (841 liters) of cargo room behind the second row and that can be expanded to 59.7 cubic feet (1,691 liters) by folding the seats down. If that’s still not enough, the frunk provides an additional 4.7 cubic feet (133 liters) of storage space.

Material quality is okay overall and a number of surfaces are either padded or wrapped in a leather-like material. That being said, the dashboard trim is a bit disappointing and there are a few cheap looking components.

The Electric Mustang

The Mach-E is available in a variety of configurations as there are standard and extended range batteries with useable capacities of 68 kWh and 88 kWh. Depending on the model and powertrain, they allow for EPA-estimated ranges of between 211 miles (340 km) and 305 miles (491 km).

Since variety is the spice of life, there are rear- and all-wheel drive powertrains with outputs ranging from 266 hp (198 kW / 270 PS) and 317 lb-ft (430 Nm) of torque to 480 hp (358 kW / 487 PS) and 634 lb-ft (860 Nm) of torque.

Our tester sits somewhere in the middle as it’s a Mach-E Premium with all-wheel drive and the extended range battery. It has two electric motors that produce a combined output of 346 hp (258 kW / 351 PS) and 428 lb-ft (580 Nm) of torque. This setup enables the crossover to run from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 4.8 seconds and travel an EPA-estimated 270 miles (435 km) on a single charge.

Given those performance specs, it should come as little surprise the Mach-E can move. Power is always on tap and passing on the highway is a breeze as you simply change lanes and mash the accelerator. This is done in relative silence, which makes the crossover deceptively quick.

The Mach-E isn’t a one-trick pony either as its impressive performance is backed up by good handling and nimble reflexes. When thrown into a corner at speed, it feels planted and completely secure. The massive battery pack certainly helps as it keeps the center of gravity low and right where it belongs.

The ride is good as well as the model balances comfort and sportiness. Things are perfectly relaxed on the highway, while the Mach-E is also at home on twisty back roads. Given the right stretch of pavement, the model can actually be pretty fun.

It’s pothole season in Michigan and they certainly made their presence known, but the Mach-E dealt with them fairly well. You’ll feel and hear imperfections, but they’re rarely jarring and don’t upset the ride much.

One thing that’s less than ideal is the three driving modes known as Whisper, Engage and Unbridled. The first favors comfort, while the third is performance-oriented. In between is Engage, which tries to balance things.

Unfortunately, the steering in Whisper and Engage is light and requires a lot of movement. Unbridled mode adds heft and responsiveness, but it’s accompanied by changes to the brakes that seemingly increase regeneration. As a result, the mode has a ‘go or slow’ feel.

While you can get used to the driving modes, the issues could be solved by adding an adjustable “My Mode”. This type of mode is becoming increasingly common and it allows drivers to adjust steering, braking and powertrain responsiveness to suit their preferences. I wish Ford would have included an adjustable driving mode on the Mach-E, but unfortunately they did not.

That being said, the Mach-E offers a one-pedal driving option. It maximizes regeneration and slows the vehicle as soon as you lift off the accelerator. People either love or hate it, but it’s easy to turn on and off.

Up To 305 Miles Of Range

When it comes to electric vehicles, one of the most important numbers is range. While 270 miles (435 km) should be more than enough for most people, frigid temperatures dropped our estimated range to 213 miles (343 km) one morning.

That was an isolated incident but, on our long distance trip, we started out with an estimated range of 238 miles (383 km). After traveling approximately 93 miles (150 km) to the halfway point, the battery dropped to 57 percent and showed 122 miles (196 km) of range remaining.

While that would have been more than enough for the return journey, we stopped at an Electrify America station to take advantage of the Mach-E’s 150 kW DC fast charging capability. In less than 30 minutes, the crossover had an 81% charge and an estimated range of 193 miles (311 km).

It’s also worth mentioning the Mach-E has a Plug &; Charge capability with Electrify America chargers. It’s a slick feature that allows owners to simply plug-in and get billed when charging is completed. There’s no fuss and you don’t have to deal with credit cards as everything is handled automatically after the initial setup.

Since most charging occurs at home, the Mach-E comes with a Ford Mobile Charger that resides in the boot. It features a swappable cord which enables owners to plug into a standard 120V household outlet or a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet.

With a standard 120V connection, owners will get approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) of range for every hour of charging. That’s too slow to be practical and customers will want to get a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet installed in their garage. Using that setup, the Ford Mobile Charger provides approximately 19 miles (30.6 km) of range for every hour of charging. Owners can also opt for a $799 Ford Connected Charge Station, which increases the charging rate to around 30 miles (48.3 km) per hour.

We’ll have more to say about charging in a later article, but I used my own Level 2 charger which plugs into a NEMA 6-20 outlet. While this setup isn’t exactly speedy, I averaged about 10 miles (16 km) of range per hour of charging.

The FordPass App Is Your Digital Companion

We normally don’t cover vehicle apps, but the FordPass app is a big part of the Mach-E ownership experience. It enables users to remotely monitor their charging sessions and get notified when their battery reaches 80 percent at a DC fast charger.

On top of this, the app functions as a digital key which enables you to start, lock and unlock the vehicle. You can also use it to look for nearby charging stations, set departure times and plan out long distance trips.

When doing the latter, the app automatically finds charging stations along your route and calculates how long the trip will take. As an example, a journey from Dearborn Heights, Michigan to Miami Gardens, Florida would take approximately 1 day, 17 hours and 13 minutes with around 14 hours and 35 minutes spent at charging stations assuming a starting charge of 76%.

The Most Advanced Mustang Ever Created

Mustangs in general aren’t known for being high-tech, but the Mach-E is available with an assortment of driver assistance systems including intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane centering, intersection assist and speed sign recognition technology. It also has automatic high-beam headlights, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, and a blind spot information system with cross traffic alert. Other safety features include a rearview camera, lane keeping assist, reverse brake assist and a reverse sensing system.

The stars of the show are adaptive cruise control and the lane centering function. Both work nicely and made our monotonous trip on I-75 more relaxing. Ford also deserves credit for adding large graphics to the digital instrument cluster, which makes it easy to tell when the driver assistance systems are active.

In the third quarter, the Mach-E will be offered with Active Drive Assist which allows for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles (160,934 km) of roads in North America. The system is similar to GM’s Super Cruise and it uses a camera to monitor the driver and ensure they’re paying attention to the road ahead.

Pricing Starts At $42,895 – Without Incentives

The Mach-E is currently available and pricing starts at $42,895. However, the model is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and this drops the price to $35,395.

That’s pretty compelling and the entry-level Mach-E comes equipped with LED lighting units and 18-inch alloy wheels. Buyers will also find a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, a 15.5-inch infotainment system, a wireless smartphone charger and an assortment of driver assistance systems.

The Mach-E Select is available exclusively with the standard range battery and features a rear-mounted electric motor that produces 266 hp (198 kW / 270 PS) and 317 lb-ft (430 Nm) of torque. All-wheel drive is a $2,700 option and it increases the torque output to 428 lb-ft (580 Nm). However, it cuts the EPA-estimated range from 230 miles (370 km) to 211 miles (340 km).

One step up is the Mach-E Premium, which begins at $47,000 ($39,500 after credit). It’s more luxurious as it features heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a 10-speaker premium audio system. The model also has ambient interior lighting, a panoramic glass roof and a hands-free power liftgate.

More importantly, the Mach-E Premium is available with the extended range battery. It’s a $5,000 option, but it increases the EPA-estimated range to 300 miles (483 km) with rear-wheel drive and 270 miles (435 km) with all-wheel drive.

The bigger battery is accompanied by upgraded electric motors as the rear-wheel drive variant packs 290 hp (216 kW / 294 PS), while the all-wheel drive model has 346 hp (258 kW / 351 PS).

Customers can also opt for the Mach-E California Route 1, which starts at $49,800 ($42,300 after credit). The model features unique styling and is available exclusively with rear-wheel drive as well as the extended range battery. It’s the long distance champion of the lineup as it has an EPA-estimated range of 305 miles (491 km).

While it’s not on sale yet, the Mach-E GT will arrive this summer with a base price of $60,500 ($53,000 after credits). The high-performance model has a sportier exterior with 20-inch wheels that are backed up by a beefier braking system. Buyers will also find faux aluminum trim and sport seats with Miko inserts.

It will be available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the extended range battery. This allows for a targeted range of 250 miles (402 km) for the GT and 235 miles (378 km) for the GT Performance Edition.

While range takes a hit, buyers will be rewarded with an output of 480 hp (358 kW / 487 PS) and 600 lb-ft (813 Nm) of torque. This enables the GT to run from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 3.8 seconds, while the GT Performance Edition is 0.3 seconds quicker thanks to its extra 34 lb-ft (46 Nm) of torque.

An Electrifying Crossover

While the Mach-E isn’t perfect, it’s a good EV and a great crossover. It looks fantastic and features a spacious interior with the latest technology. It also has a comfortable ride, impressive performance and an estimated range of up to 305 miles (491 km).

Throw in a generous government tax incentive and the Mach-E is affordable as well. However, you’ll probably want the extended range battery and that increases the price considerably.

In the end, the Mach-E isn’t the Mustang we’ve come to know and love. It’s a wildly different animal – but that much was pretty obvious even before we drove it. Despite that, it’s a great addition to Ford’s lineup and one of the most compelling mainstream EVs on the market.

more photos…

Picture credits: Michael Gauthier for CarScoops

Updated: March 28, 2021 — 3:58 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement