2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E: Promises kept
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is an impressive all-electric crossover. Anyone considering a Tesla needs to drive it first.
"It really does send a message to Tesla. Ford has 118 years experience building cars and they brought it all to bear on the Mustang Mach-E," said Preston Willis, General Sales Manager at Gresham Ford, which is carrying the new vehicle.
Because the Mach-E is a crossover, it's easy to say "That's not a Mustang" the first time you see it. But I understand why Ford chose to name its first crossover EV after the iconic Pony Car.
With a wave of new EVs headed to the market, the company needed to generate some buzz over the vehicle that was originally going to be a Focus. The gamble paid off, with traditionalists complaining that it has nothing in common with Ford's best-selling car and others wondering how good it could be.
The company fueled the faux controversy by releasing sketches and early photos of the Mach-E that highlighted slight styling similarities, while also promising it would be at least as fast and much more technologically advanced.
When I first drovbe the Mustang Mach-E, I thought it should have been named the Taurus X-E after the family-oriented crossover produced by Ford in 2008 and 2009. Like the redesigned Freestyle, the Mustang Mach-E looks large and comfortable, has four doors and a hatchback, and can be equipped with all-wheel-drive.
The more I drove the Mach-E, the more I understood the Mustang connection. For starters, it is not actually much bigger than the gas-powered Mustangs that Ford still sells. In fact, it is a couple inches shorter and narrower. It is only taller — nearly 10 inches — which gives it a lot more interior room, especially in the rear seat. The wheelbase is also about 10 inches longer, which contributes the bigger appearance.
The decision to switch from a Focus paid off in terms of styling. Although the Focus had a performance model, it was always a generic looking economy car. Using the Mustang as the inspiration encouraged the designers to produce one of the best looking midsize crossovers on the market, bar none. It is a fastback four-door, with large wheels and deeply sculpted sides that suggests its performance potential. The interior is also similar to the current Mustang cars, making it feel more sportier than functional.
And as promised, the Mach-E is very fast, thanks to the instantly-available torque of its one or two electric motors. My AWD tester produced 346 horsepower and 428 foot pounds of torque. Some reviews say it is nearly as fast as the turbocharged 2.3-liter Mustang with a six-speed manual transmission. That's pretty good, considering Mach-E AWD weighs 4,856 pounds. And the upcoming GT Performance Edition promises to be even faster — zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.
The Mach-E drives completely different than the gas-powered Mustang, however. Although both are fast, the gas-powered Mustang feels faster because the driver is much closer to the ground and, of course, the loud exhaust gives it a more visceral feel. The gas-powered Mustang also corners flatter than the Mach-E, thank to its lower center of gravity.
But, because it is an EV with a longer wheelbase, the Mach-E is much smoother. It glides over the road and absorbs imperfections better. The silence is also deceptive — it is easy to drive much faster than you think you are going without a loud exhaust screaming at you.
Range anxiety should not a problem with any version of the Mach-E. The base rear-wheel-drive model will go up to 230 miles on a full charge, and the all-wheel-drive version will go up to 211. The rear-wheel-drive extended range version is good for up to 300 miles, will the all-wheel-drive version will go up to 270.
Ford also delivered on the promised tech, although with mixed results. The most obvious is the huge display screen in the center of the dash, like those found in Teslas, Volvos and a number of other advanced vehicles. But it didn't need to be that large. At least in my Mach-E, there wasn't all that much data to display at the same time. Much of the screen was essentially empty most of the time.
The push buttons to open the front and rear doors were also annoying. Once you push it and the door pops out an inch or so, you still have to grab the small handle or doors itself to pull it fully open. It helps the Mustang look sleek, but it's not an improvement.
But those are small complaints compared to everything Ford got right with the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. Purist will insist it's not a real Mustang, and that's OK. It's a very good EV crossover, which is something Detroit needs to challenge the rest of the automotive world these days.
"Ford really hit a home run with the Mustang Mach-E," said Willis. There's comfort, there's software that's intuitive, and it's exciting to drive."
The 2021 Mustang Mach-E also qualified for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 and state tax rebate of up to $5,000, which can bring the price down considerably.
2021 Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD
Base price: $46,695
Price as tested: $56,200
Type: Midsize EV crossover
Drivertrain: Two permanent-magnet synchronous AC; combined output, 346 hp, 428 lb-ft; 88.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: Two direct drives
EPA estimated mileage: 90/96/84 MPGe
Range: 211 miles
Overall length: 185.6 inches
Curb weight: 4,856 pounds
Final assembly: Cuautitlan, Mexico
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