The all-new Ford Mustang Mach-E battery-electric vehicle (BEV) has just gone on sale. As we write this story, deliveries to the first private owners are beginning, and the social media clubs formed around the Mustang Mach-E are all smiles. The Mustang Mach-E will be a step toward the future for Ford if the company can keep pace with demand and keep the ongoing development coming at a rapid pace.
The Mustang Mach-E is a battery-electric vehicle (BEV). That means it runs off of a large battery pack, and you plug it in to power it. Although rear-wheel drive is standard, the Mach-E is also available as an AWD vehicle. AWD functionality is different than it is on a conventional vehicle. Instead of a transfer case or a center differential, there’s just a second drive motor that powers the front wheels.
The Mach-E is a chunky four-door vehicle with a large cargo area and a hatchback. While we will play along that the Mach-E is a crossover, it’s not a “sport utility vehicle” to our mind. When you stand next to a Mustang Mach-E or drive one, there is almost no commonality with a compact utility vehicle like the Escape Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV), Honda CR-V Hybrid, or Toyota RAV4 Prime. While those green crossovers do have similar interior volumes and cargo capacities, they have a different mission and a lower price point. What separates them apart most is how they feel by comparison when driven back to back with a Mustang Mach-E.
The Mustang Mach-E starts at around $44,000. Top-trims will be priced into the $60Ks. Like all electric vehicles, a discussion of the cost of the Mustang Mach-E will involve some EV price incentives. Presently, the Mustang Mach-E qualifies its owner for a federal income tax incentive of $7,500. Most EV-friendly states also add on an EV rebate. So, the effective cost to the consumer of the Mustang Mach-E is less than the price Ford charges. Given the performance and size of the Mustang Mach-E, plus the savings one will enjoy from using electricity rather than gas, the Mustang Mach-E is a very competitively priced vehicle.
We tested a Mustang Mach-E Extended Range, all-wheel drive Premium. To keep our hands from falling off from fatigue, please allow us to call that specific car the Mach-E ER AWD Premium when we refer to it in this story. Here is how the price of our tester broke down:
Battery-electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E use permanent magnet electric motors to provide the movement. In the case of our test Mach-E ER AWD Premium, the drive system provides 346 hp, but more importantly, an impressive 428 lb-ft of torque. EVs are all about torque delivery. For a century, a vehicle’s relative powertrain performance was measured by its horsepower. That is about to change for good. Torque matters much more in the real world.
So how does the Mach-E’s torque compare to some other vehicles? TheTesla Model Y Extended Range AWD, a vehicle almost identical in size and price as this Mustang Mach-E, has 375 lb-ft of torque. A 2021 gas-powered Mustang GT Coupe with its high-output V8 engine produces 420 lb-ft. As you can see, the Mach-E has it where it counts.
The speed and power of EVs are related to the battery pack as well as the motor, or in the case of this EV, motors plural. The base trims of the Mustang Mach-E have a single rear motor and a battery pack with a capacity of 68 kWh. The upgraded trim we tested has a bigger 88 kWh battery and a second drive motor up front.
The Mach-E ER AWD Premium is a fantastic vehicle to be behind the wheel of. The first sensation you will love is the electric torque. From a standstill, the Mach-E ER AWD Premium has all of its available torque ready to go instantaneously. There is no spinning engine that needs to build revs. There is no turbocharger to spool up. The car is ready to deliver its full twist of the tires as soon as you stomp on the go pedal.
Do so, and you will find the Mach-E ER AWD Premium can accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 4.8 seconds. That’s fast by any measure. The Tesla Model Y LR AWD has identical performance, and the 2021 V8-powered Mustang GT coupe tested by Car and Driver delivered a 4.4-second time. However, that assumes a dry surface. The Mach-E ER AWD Premium has AWD, so it will beat a gas-powered Mustang GT in the rain, in the snow, or in the cold. And the trim we tested is the middle child in terms of performance. If you want to go 0-60 MPH in 3.5 seconds, Ford has a Mustang Mach-E GT that can do it. That is close to supercar fast.
Once underway, the Mach-E ER AWD Premium provides a splendid ride. We drove it back to back with a Tesla Model Y and found the Mach-E ER AWD Premium to be much smoother on bumpy New England roads. The Mach-E ER AWD Premium offers a very refined and satisfying feel much like the best large performance sedans we have tested.
Cornering is a blast. The big heavy battery of the Mach-E ER AWD Premium is centered under the floor. One of the major drawbacks to a battery-electric vehicle is the weight. The Mustang Mach-E AWD clocks in at around 4,900 pounds, 1,200 pounds heavier than a Mustang GT, which already gets some heat for being too heavy. Sure, weight is never a good thing, but if you have to carry it, that is where you want it. The Mach-E ER AWD Premium carves up off-ramps and twisty rural roads in a way that is hard to believe if you haven’t driven other EVs.
Braking is what you would expect from a premium performance car. However, many EV owners opt to use one-pedal driving. This is a setting that allows you to use the electric motor torque as a brake, and at the same time, recoup some energy to boost your battery power. It may sound odd, but you can get used to it in just a few minutes. The upshot is that in normal driving, or even spirited driving, you won’t use the brake pedal. It’s there in case of a panic stop, but you can get away with using one pedal for most of your braking needs. If you prefer the old-fashioned feel of two-pedal driving, there is a setting for that, too.
The Mustang Mach-E has three drive modes, and they all offer a different driving experience. The default is Whisper. This is a comfort/eco type mode and the one we preferred in normal driving. It dials back throttle response and suspension settings. Two additional models, Engage and Unbridled, take the excitement up a notch by modifying the throttle and power delivery to be more robust. Here’s the language from Ford about what each mode does:
The ambient lighting is set to soft blue, and you’ll enjoy a balance of excitement and comfort, with in-vehicle sounds to enhance the experience.
A calm driving experience with gradual acceleration and a lighter “coasting” deceleration response. The interior sound is turned off and the ambient lighting is blue. Your digital cluster display will react to your acceleration, braking and handling too.
Get the feeling of downshifting, increased throttle response, a sporty steering feel, orange ambient lighting and enhanced driving sounds for that exhilarating Mustang experience. Your digital cluster display will react to your acceleration, braking and handling in this mode as well.
We found the Mach-E ER AWD Premium to be a great highway vehicle. It is smooth and very quiet. Almost silent. If you think about it, what vehicle is better on the highway than a large solid car? Unlike top-heavy SUVs, the Mach-E ER AWD Premium feels like a luxury sports sedan on the highway. We activated Ford’s version of lane centering and found that the car can drive itself on all highway turns, and the adaptive cruise control is very well tuned. You need to remain attentive and keep your hands on the wheel, but the Mach-E ER AWD Premium impressed us with the way it helps you to control the vehicle. Those features have an “OFF” button if you want to kick it old school. And they stay off, instead of defaulting to the “ON” settings every time you start the car.
Perhaps the most impressive thing that performance EVs can do is accelerate while underway. Let’s say you decide to pass another vehicle on a two-lane road. When you put the hammer down, the Mach-E ER AWD Premium launches forward immediately. Unlike a conventional car, there is zero driveline slop, no engine to rev, no transmission to downshift, or turbo that needs time to build boost. You push on the pedal and the vehicle leaps ahead. It is intoxicating. This is why so many Tesla and other performance EV owners can’t understand why anyone would want an internal combustion engine-powered vehicle anymore. Once you have a feel for this capability, it is hard to be impressed with conventional cars.
If you follow EVs, you know that Tesla vehicles have an advanced, feature-packed infotainment system with a very large screen. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E has a more advanced, more feature-packed system with a larger screen. We tried the two back to back and found the Mustang Mach-E system more intuitive and more user-friendly.
Ford is also ahead of Tesla with regard to smart device integration. In every Mach-E trim, Ford offers wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two technologies that a AAA study proved can reduce distraction. Tesla doesn’t offer this technology on any trim of any vehicle.
Not only is the Ford system easier to use and its main screen larger, Ford adds a nifty driver information display at the top of the driver’s dash. This effectively negates the need for a head-up display. Speed, range, and even Google Maps turn instructions are pulled into this great display, and it keeps your eyes facing forward. A simple button on the dash controls its brightness. Ford is not afraid to combine new technology with simple controls for the best result.
There is also a wireless phone charger big enough for even the largest modern smartphone, and a space for your passenger’s as well. And that pad is rubberized to keep the phones from flying around as you test the handling limits. The cupholders are perfect, and there are a conventional glove box and center console.
Novel content includes a huge panoramic glass roof, push-button door openers on the B-pillars, and the ability to use your phone as a key if you wish. The Mach-E ER AWD Premium has much of the luxury content -- heated steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, power liftgate, ambient lighting -- you will find in any equally-priced BMW.
A 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is part of the Premium trim package. It’s good, but not equal to the premium system found in some of Acura’s up-scale crossover trims.
With 101 cubic feet of passenger space, the Mustang Mach-E is roomy inside. That’s the equivalent of a mid size sedan. The cargo volume is 64 cubic feet, about the same as a Toyota RAV4 Prime. There is also ample cargo space under the cargo area floor for your emergency supplies and your 120 volt mobile charger.
Since the front motor is compact and there is no engine, the Mach-E has a 4.8-cu.ft. frunk (front trunk), less than the volume of a compact chest freezer. Fill it with ice when you tailgate, and the built-in drain will let out the water after the event.
In total, the Mustang Mach-E has 64.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, compared to the Tesla Model Y’s 66 cubic feet.
The seats in our test vehicle were of a premium material with perforated surfaces. They were power adjustable in all the usual ways. We found them to be very comfortable. In the back, rear seat passengers can sit comfortably without the need for the front passengers to move their seats forward.
So what’s missing? Not much. We like a compact temporary spare tire in our vehicles. Ford offers an inflation repair kit instead.
Living electric means adapting to the new normal of not using gasoline to power your ride. Some parts of living electric are common to all EVs. However, each individual EV brand and model has its own unique advantages and challenges. The Mustang Mach-E line is no exception.
Let’s start with the estimated total driving range. The EPA sets this number, and it is ridiculously optimistic for nearly every EV. Unlike real-world gasoline vehicle MPG and range ratings, which we find match the EPA’s almost exactly in the vehicles we test, the EPA range of EVs is wildly high.
When we charged our Mach-E ER AWD Premium to 100% battery capacity, it offered an estimated driving range of between 197 and 204 miles based on the recent vehicle use history. The EPA-estimated range is 270. That’s a 25% range reduction before the vehicle has even been unplugged from the charger. We cleared the driving history, and the 100% charge reverted to 236 miles. Still not the 270 the EPA estimate claims.
Head out on a crisp fall, spring, or winter morning, and you will find that the estimated range miles from that point go away faster than the actual driven miles. For example, we set out on a 30 F morning with 204 miles shown on the range estimator. We drove (gently) for 14 miles and watched as 19 miles dropped from the range estimator. Do the math, and that is another 25% reduction in usable range. This was in the Whisper drive mode setting, which is supposed to be the most economical.
You may feel this is a criticism of the Mustang Mach-E specifically, but it is not. In our testing of other brands of EVs from the Jaguar I-PACE to the Nissan Leaf, we observed a similar range situation. And it’s not just us. AAA conducted a comprehensive study of winter EV range titled, “Icy Temperatures Cut Electric Vehicle Range Nearly in Half” which found that the Tesla Model S has a 38% real-world range reduction in winter. A recent TFL Cars review of the Mustang Mach-E, but of a different trim, also noted the same significant range deviations from EPA estimates.
Owners of a Mustang Mach-E are going to need to charge primarily at home, and that means buying a Level 2 charger and having it professionally installed. EV chargers need a high-amperage breaker in the panel and a dedicated 240 V line run to the charger. Be sure to budget at least $500 for that work, assuming you don’t need a costly panel upgrade or need to excavate to get the line to the garage. The actual charger device’s cost is often offset by local utility incentives or promotions by manufacturers. Let’s also have some perspective. The energy savings are in the thousands per year with EVs like the Mach-E by comparison to conventional vehicles with similar capabilities.
EVs all come with a 115 volt AC charger you can plug in anywhere, but the Mustang Mach-E owner’s manual cautions, “Do not plug the mobile charger into any form of extension cord.” Using a 115-Volt charger like this adds about 2 to 4 miles of driving range per hour of charge time. It can take days to charge an empty BEV back to full this way. Ford includes a 240-Volt charger adapter. However, it was incompatible with the existing 240-Volt service in our garage. Obviously, you need that high-amp wall charger, and you need to use it every time you park for the evening.
Unlike Tesla, Ford does not have its own high-speed charger network. Instead, Ford has partnered with the larger EV charging companies to offer two years of “no-cost” charging at many public charging locations. However, money is not the issue.
We drove to the closest charger to our home, a ChargePoint location in a retail outlet that offered zero-cost charging. We connected and went for a 24-minute walk. In that time, we added back 7 miles of range. So, a quick stop on a road trip is not going to add back any meaningful range.
DC fast chargers offer a much higher rate of charge, but they are rare. Ford says that one can add about 60 miles of range in a 15-minute stop. We used Google Maps to locate all of the DC fast charger locations in the Boston Metro area and found 15. There are roughly 300,000 vehicles registered in Greater Boston. And there is another issue related to DC fast charging. The owner’s manual cautions, “We recommend limiting the amount of DC charges, and ending DC charges at 80% state of charge as charging between 80 and 100% can incur high charging costs due to the time to completion. Frequent use of DC charging could result in reducing your battery’s efficiency and lifespan. This is more pronounced on the standard range battery pack versus the extended range.” So, frequent DC fast charging to 100% battery capacity is not a possibility for the Mustang Mach-E.
Ford backs its Mustang Mach-E with a 3-year, 36K mile bumper to bumper warranty, a 5-year, 60K powertrain warranty, and an 8-year, 100K mile electric component warranty. Not every Ford dealership is “EV certified,” so you should check if the one you plan to use is. The Detroit News reports that 2,100 of Ford’s 3,000 US dealers have been certified, and more are coming.
EVs have designed out most of the annoying failure parts under the hood. You won’t need to repair or replace a starter, alternator, power steering pump, water pump, coolant hose, timing belt, air filter or drive belt in an EV. You also won’t need to do routine oil changes. However, your tire, brake, alignment, and cabin filter maintenance will be about the same.
Ford has a reliability and durability reputation about average for the industry. Being an all-new vehicle, some issues are to be expected. For example, Ford’s planned Mustang Mach-E launch in December 2020 was slowed by a software problem. Consumer Reports predicts the Mach-E for 2021 will have a ⅖ reliability rating. However, Consumer Reports also predicts a 5/5 customer satisfaction rating. Based on our time with the Mach-E ER AWD Premium, that satisfaction rating prediction seems spot on. We expect that Ford will go to great lengths to make customers happy with this important new vehicle and that any minor bugs in the initial batch of vehicles will be quickly fixed. This is typical for new EV launches.
The Tesla Model Y is the Mustang Mach-E’s closest peer. The two are nearly identical on paper, similarly priced, and feel similar when driven. Tesla offers its own high-speed captive charging network, and you get to join an ownership club that is close to being a religion. The Jaguar I-PACE is also a very similar vehicle, but only by comparison to the higher-performance Mach-E trims. Jaguar has a 5-year included maintenance plan, and the cabin of its I-PACE is more upscale than what Ford or Tesla offer.
Volkswagen is also close to releasing a similar formula to the Mach-E, though without the cool style and performance credibility. The new ID.4 may (or may not) become a viable battery-electric crossover in this category. We will reserve judgment on the VW ID.4 until we drive one and the dealers have inventory. Another way to see the competitive landscape is to expand the view a bit. Toyota’s similarly-sized RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) offer solid green credentials, unbeatable reliability, and have big usability advantages. The RAV4 Prime drives like an EV, can get most commuters to and from work without using any gas, will never leave you searching for a charger on a road trip, offers standard AWD and much better real-world utility at a lower price point. In 2021, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, and Honda will all bring plug-in hybrid crossovers this same size to the US market. In fact, the 2021 Ford Escape PHEV is also due to join the party.
The Mustang Mach-E offers driving enjoyment, an outstanding infotainment package, and no tailpipe emissions. Those who prioritize the driving experience who are looking for an alternative to Tesla’s Model Y should drive the two back to back. Having done that ourselves, we feel the Mustang Mach-E is going to win that matchup.
Living electric requires some effort, up-front expenses, and re-thinking of how one uses an automobile. There is no question that battery-electric vehicles work well for some in 2021. If you own your own home, have a garage, and also own a longer-range utility vehicle, the Mach-E is a slam dunk. If you live in an apartment without your own dedicated charge spot and make frequent long-distance trips, you need to look hard at how that would work with a 120-mile radius vehicle.
Ford has proven that Tesla’s secret sauce can be replicated and improved upon by the legacy automakers. The Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium is so good that even a short test drive will win over the hearts and minds of many shoppers. We would encourage anyone with a budget of $50K looking for a rewarding five-passenger green crossover to put the Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium at the top of their shopping list.
The Mustang Mach-E will start at about $44,000, and top trims will run into the $60Ks. These prices are before federal tax incentives and state rebates.
The Mustang Mach-E is fast by any measure. Base trims can run to 60 MPH in under 6 seconds. The top GT trim has a 0-60 MPH time of 3.5 seconds.
All Mustang Mach-Es are built in Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico.
Based on Car Talk’s testing and evaluation, the Mach-E matches up very well with the Tesla Model Y in overall value and is a lower-cost alternative to the Jaguar I-PACE.