And a few things that need fixing.
If you read our story about owning an electric car as a non-homeowner, you may believe we hated driving the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Mach-E has quickly risen to become our favorite affordable electric vehicle on sale today. It offers an excellent combination of sporty styling, a premium interior, usable driving range, and a palatable price.
CarBuzz spent a week living with a 2021 Mach-E Extended Range Model with all-wheel-drive, the most expensive non-GT model (approximately $55,300 as-tested but before tax credits).
Our experience revealed many positive attributes, and more than a few electrical hiccups that Ford will need to address. The positives greatly outweighed the negatives though, and we'd highly recommend the Mach-E to anyone shopping for a new EV. Here's what we loved about the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, and a few things that need fixing.
Get ready to clutch at your pearls, because we think Ford made the right choice using the Mustang name on the Mach-E. "Egads," you surely exclaim. "But CarBuzz, it's not a 'real' Mustang!" Wrong! If you look closely, it's got a horse up front, and Ford calls it a Mustang in all of the marketing materials. Checkmate. We kid, of course, but let us explain why we think using the Mustang name here was a brilliant move.
Ford could have called this car many different names: just Mach-E, Galax-E, E-Bird, Probe, the list goes on and on. Any one of these names may have sparked some general interest from consumers, but nothing on the level of Mustang. By calling it a Mustang, Ford instantly started a conversation. It doesn't matter if you were for or against the name, it got you talking about it. As we've seen from the recent sales figures, all that online chatter is turning into real people plunking down real cash. In fact, the Mach-E outsold the gas-powered Mustang in June. That's the power of a name.
As a marketing exercise, the Mustang Mach-E (emphasis on the Mustang part) is a huge success. But does it feel like a proper Mustang to drive? Well, sort of. We'll discuss that in more depth.
Judging by our comment section and conversations with real people, Mustang enthusiasts are more disappointed that the Mach-E is a crossover, not that it's all-electric. This comes as a bit of a surprise, but the Mustang has offered mediocre-sounding V6 and four-cylinder versions for years now, so the lack of V8 rumble here is clearly not the issue. We asked our friends and family if they though the Mach-E looked like a Mustang, and most responded with a definitive "no." We didn't agree with this assessment.
Making a crossover look like a Mustang is no simple task, but we think Ford pulled it off. The headlights and taillights appear Mustang-inspired, and the overall design is far more handsome and sportier than a Tesla Model Y or Volkswagen ID.4. Ford even offers an assortment of vibrant sports car colors, such as Rapid Red, Grabber Blue, and Cyber Orange. We typically think silver cars are boring, but this shade of Iconic Silver is undoubtably one of our favorites. The paint has so much depth, making it look like the Mach-E is constantly in-motion. Not since the Rolls-Royce Cullinan have we attracted this much attention driving a silver SUV. People notice this car.
No matter which version you choose, the Mustang Mach-E is a swift car. Even the base Standard Range model with rear-wheel-drive packs 266 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, hitting 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. For reference, Ford quotes a similar 0-60 mph time for a base EcoBoost Mustang. We reckon this is quick enough for most drivers, but our Extended Range AWD model was much more impressive. With 346 hp and 428 lb-ft on tap, it can clock 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. With the 480 hp GT Performance model, the sprint takes as little as 3.5 seconds (that's Shelby territory).
The Mach-E's acceleration is most impressive in traffic where it can squeeze into disappearing gaps with its instant torque. Since the batteries are mounted in the floor, the low center of gravity gives this car impressive handling (for an SUV), but it's not what we'd expect of a Mustang. The narrow tires cry out when driven hard, making the car feel less capable that it truly is. Steering is rarely a high-point on any Mustang, but the Mach-E's rack feels much closer to a Ford Escape than a Ford GT.
No, the Mach-E isn't as fun to drive as a "real" Mustang, but it feels far more exciting than a conventional crossover. For that reason, we feel it's worthy to be the "Mustang" of electric SUVs.
The Mustang Mach-E is easily the nicest cabin Ford has crafted in years. It could easily have a Lincoln badge on the steering wheel, and we wouldn't bat an eye. It includes a wealth of high-quality materials, including standard leatherette that could pass for the real stuff and modern fabric covering the speaker grilles. Ford took advantage of the electric layout, designing the Mach-E's cabin with tons of usable storage in the center console and underneath the armrest. The seats fail to hug you in through the corners, but are extraordinarily comfortable on long trips.
The list of available features is impressive, such as panoramic glass roof, heated seats, 10-speaker B&O audio system, and Blue Cruise with hands-free driving. Aside from missing ventilated seats (likely because they would drain the battery range), the Mach-E feels like a luxury car inside. The Mach-E's massive 15.5-inch touchscreen is a cool feature, but it was not without its glitches, as we will discuss.
It comes as no surprise, but the Mach-E is the most practical Mustang ever. Duh. It's a crossover with four doors, yielding excellent space for five passengers to ride comfortably. Since the floor is flat, even middle-rear passengers won't be uncomfortable. The trunk offers a usable 29 cubic feet of space (59.6 with the seats folded), and there's an additional 4.8 cubic feet in the frunk for smaller items. Ford even included a drain plug in the front, so you can fill that space with ice for a tailgate.
Though we found it tricky to drive the Mach-E solely relying on public charging, it's range is perfectly acceptable if you have easy access to a plug. The shortest-range model (Standard Battery AWD) will travel 211 miles on a charge, while the longest-range model (Extended Range RWD) will go 300 miles. Our Extended Range AWD model was rated at 270 miles, but indicated a possible 280-mile range based on our driving.
Though we enjoyed our time with the Mustang Mach-E, this futuristic product was far from perfect. That massive infotainment screen had a few software glitches, including a non-dismissible setup menu, wireless CarPlay connection issues, and overall sluggish performance between menus. Our tester would not correctly unlock the doors with the key in our pocket, using the included fob or the available phone as a key feature. We'd constantly have to take the fob (or our phone) out to press the unlock button, which was a minor inconvenience.
Ford had an available software update that required a trip to the dealership, but we were unable to have it installed during our week of testing. After this initial trip at the dealer, future updates will be send over-the-air, and should solve minor glitches like these. We'll give Ford the benefit of the doubt because we drove an early pre-production Mach-E without the latest software updates.
In terms of overall usability as a daily driver, the Mustang Mach-E shines. We don't think it needs to be any quicker, but we look forward to driving the Mach-E GT with grippier tires and improved suspension. That car should erase all complaints that the Mach-E isn't a "proper" Mustang.