2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Review: The Best All-Around Car I’ve Ever Driven

You read that title right. A six-time Ford Mustang owner and auto-journalist-type just said that a crossover EV is the best all-arounder he’s ever driven. No, I didn’t say it’s the best all-around electric vehicle I’ve ever driven, although that’s true as well. I also didn’t say it’s the best crossover I’ve driven, though true too. It’s the best all-around vehicle I’ve ever driven. Period. I made a lot of notes as to “why” that was the case, so settle in. I won’t top our recent Road Trip Review of the Mach-E with regard to word count (not even close), but in the end, I hopefully explain why the Mach-E is a fantastic vehicle worthy of your money.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Mach-E Overview

The Mach-E virtually came out of nowhere. I recall being of the almost six million folks on Twitter watching Idris Elba swagger out onto the stage and introduce the Mach-E. We had seen teasers, we knew something electric with the Mach-E name and a Mustang logo name was coming, but we didn’t know exactly what it would be. The specs were impressive, but the price was what made me say “wait what”?

The Mach-E Select, basically the base model, starts at $42,895. This brings the quick and inevitable comparison to Tesla’s various crossovers. While the Tesla Model Y lists a $39,990 starting price for the 2021 year when you click “order now” that price quickly jumps to $49,690. Even parked side-by-side with a near $100,000 base-priced Model X, it’s hard to see a drastic difference.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Premium Mach-E, like our test car, starts at $47,600 or you can opt for the California Route 1 trim ($50,400) or the near $60,000 GT model.

As a regular car shopper, I dig where the Premium lands with regard to features and options for the price, so I was excited to spend a week in one. The current $7,500 tax rebate from the U.S. Government, that brings the Premium down to just about $40,000 even. It’s easy to assume why it was priced the way it was, and as former Ford CEO Jim Hackett noted, the Mexican production location is intended to actually allow Ford to make a profit off of the first generation Mach-E.

What you need to know about the Mach-E is that it comes in Standard Range (SR) and Extended Range (ER) and that decision will affect a host of other things. The Select and Premium are the only two available in SR, but that means your “horsepower” is limited to 266 HP with either RWD or “eAWD” layouts. The Select is only available as SR, while the CA Route 1 version is only available with ER but does get a small bump to 290 horsepower (RWD only). Do you get all that? Well, I’m not done. If you get the Premium in ER, it also has 290 horsepower in RWD but jumps up to 346 horsepower with eAWD (our test car). The new GT will have a 480 horsepower EV system with eAWD and ER only. Torque ranges from a minimum of 317 ft. lbs. (260 horsepower versions) up to 600 ft. lbs. for the GT.

So, the Premium model starts at $45,600, the eAWD Extended Range add-ons will ramp things up to around $55,000 before any rebates and incentives.

What you really want to know though…is it fast? Yeah. It’s really fast.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Exterior

But first, the elephant in the room is the crossover shape. Ford did a great job on it though, from the aggressive front end to the Mustang’ish taillights out back. The silhouette is helped by the black bit running down the hatchback profile. It takes away some of the mass and gives the Mach-E a great look.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Also, there aren’t really any door handles. Not really a new thing, but it’s impressive how much it cleans up the lines of the Mach-E and also confuses children. The back doors actively pop open when you press the button, while the front just sort of releases the door, leaving you to use the grab handle to open them.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Star White Metallic Tricoat paint color will add $600.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Interior

Clearly, the dominant feature of the interior is the massive screen. Ford is going all-in on the portrait style screen, it’s also appearing on the new F-150 Lightning. It’s very easy to use, with an intuitive menu system and easy to read layout. Mercifully Ford didn’t go full-Tesla and relegate every single control they could (legally) get away with into the touchscreen. I love the volume knob. Its chunky metallic design falls easily to hand and I still maintain that there is no better option for cranking the volume on a good song than a real dial.
I also like that there is a driver info screen. It’s fairly solid, although I didn’t see a way to configure it. No clue what the plastic thing on top of the steering wheel is.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
The seats were comfortable, if not amazingly bolstered, a common complaint on most crossovers. I look forward to seeing what the GT delivers, and I assume there will be additional Ford performance-focused options that flow down to other models.
It wasn’t all roses, it’s clear that the first generation Mach-E will have some items to iron out. It’s mostly things you’ll probably just get used to if you buy one. During my week with the EV, I found that the lock button was initially hard to find. The same goes for the controls for the power hatch. Ford buried the exterior handle at the very bottom of the hatch, which is good for aesthetics, but not great for functionality. It has the trick “kick your foot and open it” thing, which works about as well as it does on most vehicles. Which is to say “sometimes, but not always”.
As far as I could tell, there is no physical switch to open the hatch from the inside. You can get to it through the screen, but it takes a few clicks. Easy fix via over-the-air updates. Similarly, the “honk” whenever you move more than a foot away from the vehicle was annoying, but again an easy software fix.
The real test from a practicality standpoint will be the cargo space comparison between the Mach-E and rivals. Ford lists 34.4 cu. ft. of space behind the 2nd row and 59.7 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded. Tesla somehow manages to keep much of their cubic feet numbers behind the seats a secret, it’s not listed on any material. The Model Y’s 68 cu. ft. of space with the seats folded bests the Mach-E, but space with the seats in place looks similar.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
It’s unclear if that storage number includes the frunk. Ford notes that it’s drainable, so tailgating may become frunking in the future which sounds dirty. Space in the back seat is adequate and largely in line with Model Y and Model X legroom measurements.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Charging

The Mach-E has a range of around 300 miles. I found that just plugging it into an extension cord from my garage at the end of the day worked well enough. I think my furthest drive was about 120 miles round trip, so I never pushed it. When I stopped at the grocery store one day I parked it in the charging area and gave it a shot. The EVgo kiosk wouldn’t take my debit card, so I gave up. But it gave me a chance to take a quick photo of it plugged in.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Luckily I never needed it! The basic household plug was able to top off the battery overnight in a repeatable and reliable way. I have had some other EVs manage to make it through the night without a full charge, or look like they were charging, but weren’t. Of note, the charging cover didn’t want to shut at times, I’m sure there is a spot to press where it works a bit more reliably.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The function to search a charging location wasn’t massively impressive. I’m sure there is a better version available via a smartphone app. It spun for a bit thinking and then found options, but I couldn’t move the screen to look around. I could only click on one and go. I imagine that will improve over time and over-the-air updates. 

Speaking of charging, wireless phone charging doesn’t work all that well. The charging pad is susceptible to bumps, and it is repeatedly turned on and off based on the phone’s placement on the pad. Since the Mach-E is primarily configured to use wireless Apple CarPlay, not having to plug a phone in is a nice feature, when it works. I found myself reverting back to using the USB connection since that was 100% reliable.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Driving

I’ll say this up front, the Mach-E is disorientingly fast. That’s not a word, but it should be. I might just “add to dictionary”. I think the first time I drove it I got a little motion sick from the experience. Although, that could be from the on-off one-foot driving method. Once I got used to that, or at least my inner ear did, it was fine. Spending a week driving with one pedal was fantastic, I want to drive all cars like this. When you want to drive it hard, you can still use the brake to reduce speed. In day-to-day stuff though, it slows down to a stop at a reasonable clip by just releasing the throttle. The only poor experience was a little brake lock-up in the rain, but that might have been the tire’s fault.
The acceleration feels much quicker than the 4.8 seconds that Ford advertises for this model. The complete lack of drama is the most unsettling part though. Nary a tire chirp and the Mach-E is up to speed. I had a very close fun run between the lights with a new 392 Scat Pack Charger. I got a little bit of a jump on him for the first round and at the next red light, he laughed at my “I think I had you” quip. The second go-around (both staying below posted speed limits) he jumped the green a little and stayed about a 1/4 car length ahead until we both backed off. I’ve heard stories of a Mach-E of unknown spec besting a Focus RS on the highway over and over on multiple occasions. Which wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
What’s great about the Mach-E is how easy it is to drive from a day-to-day perspective. Get in, “fire” it up, and turn the dial to “R” or “D”. There are a few driving modes to choose from. Naturally, I chose “unbridled”. I’m not sure I noticed a massive difference, it’s fast and nearly silent in every mode. Well, unless you turn on the “propulsion sound”. Which I did for about two blocks and realized it was stupid.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

One thing I had to try was the Active Park Assist feature. Basically, you push the (physical) button in the middle of the center console to launch the system. You can choose what type of parking you plan to do, back in, parallel, etc.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The system scans the lot for an appropriate space as you drive. It alerts you to stop and shift the vehicle to neutral. Attempt one (below) wasn’t a total failure, but it wasn’t amazing either.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Attempt two was next to an actual car, and not a cheap one. Close…about as well as they did in the Audi.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Finally, attempt three. More in the lines than not. Maybe just park it yourself…

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Summary

Without question, more people asked me about this than any other vehicle. That includes six-figure supercars. Stoplights, parking lots, people stopped and stared. While I was hard at work at my home office desk during the day, passersby buy would stop and point at it. It’s a testament to just how good it looks. I had a Facebook friend say “it looks like it’s from the future”. I suppose it is. But so is the average Tesla. I think we’ve just grown accustomed to them. A few aggressive Model S’s aside, I wouldn’t call any Tesla “attractive”. I would call the Mach-E good looking though.
Oh, and the Mustang name? Ford used the Mustang name to get us to talk about it, which was heresy for some, but it worked. Who cares? I’ve owned six Mustangs and I certainly don’t care. I have to imagine that the “new Edge EV” wouldn’t have made quite as big of a splash. Even my wife prefers this to any Tesla on sale right now, and she’s a bit of a badge snob. For people like me who want something fast that also looks good, is practical, and all-electric, this thing is just perfect.
Considering style, functionality, and price, I have never driven a better all-around vehicle. I got two blocks from my house and said “yep, I would buy this with my own money” which is a rare experience for me while driving a press loaner. It’s that good.

Bonus Pics

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

11 Comments

  1. Good overview. I love the color Space White! I’ve not had the charging pad issues you have (Note 10+) but I know iPhone users have had issues. There is an OTA update coing to be able to open the frunk from the keyfob. I’m 6 months in and love the car. Much better built than my Y LR, quieter and ride is better (just not quite as fast).

  2. I had held off reading this article simply because it features a type of vehicle in which I’m currently not interested. However, given that I enjoy Mr. Byrd’s writing, I figured it was worth a read, regardless. Am I now convinced that I this should be my next car? No, but the article certainly warms me up to the Mach E, should my needs and interests change.

    For me, the first big hurdle with EVs in general is (ridiculously) the lack of noise. I genuinely love hearing the mechanical whirring and deep burbling (or raspy ripping) noises that come from an internal combustion engine. My wife insists on sleeping with a noisemaker at night, and if it were my choice we’d have it set to “mid-60s big-block V8 idle” rather than “oscillating fan”. The silent drivetrain I think would take some getting used to, and even once I conditioned my expectations, I think I would sorely miss the music.

    The second obstacle for me is the crossover body. These are jack-of-all-trades vehicles, yet the master of none. They all pretty much look the same, and none are terribly attractive. Most of the stylistic differentiation is superficial. They don’t make the greatest use of space for their footprint, they don’t tow as well as a legitimate SUV, don’t have the fuel economy of lower, lighter vehicles that punch a smaller hole in the air, and they aren’t typically as fun to drive as a sedan or hatchback. Honestly, I’d don’t understand the general aversion to station wagons, which I think are far superior.

    Thirdly, EVs remove the need for one of my favorite things about driving: changing gears. With full torque available literally at zero rpm, there’s no sensible reason to attach a manual transmission to an electric motor. The daily commute can be livened up considerably with a little left foot and right arm involvement. As soon as I can rid myself of the automatic-only family van, I’m going back to three pedals. And I can’t do that in an EV.

    So in short, this is a great writeup, but I’m just the wrong target. As soon as I’m in need of a good “transportation appliance”, though, I’ll look more closely at the Mach E.

    1. Have you driven an EV? There’s definitely a bit of electric motor whine (at least in the ones I’ve driven), although it’s absolutely more muted. I also wouldn’t try and say it’s the same thing as a good ICE engine, just that it exists, it’s a little piece of different character.

      No arguments about crossovers, and can’t dispute that there won’t be manual EV’s (except for home buillds), although one-pedal driving is sort of fun in its own way, at least for a bit.

      1. Yeah, I’ve taken a spin in a Bolt and a Tesla 3 (and ridden along in a Tesla S). I just didn’t feel any engagement with the machine. It was as if I was driving a powerful golf cart, or playing Forza on the Xbox. It felt… remote. The performance of the Tesla was admittedly nice, but fast cars don’t really impress me much. I go more for the impression I’m left with after driving, and they didn’t leave me much.

        As for the “character” of the motor, I’m one of those guys that doesn’t even like V6s because they have unpleasant harmonics and sound terrible. I can see many arguments in favor of EVs, but for me, aesthetics and feel aren’t one of them. I’m not saying the Mach E is a bad car– in fact, it looks like a great car. It’s just not something I get excited about. It might be the type of vehicle my kids might aspire to own, but during my lifetime I hope there will always be ICE alternatives.

    2. I’m going to have to record a video of my wife’s new Accord Hybrid in EV mode. It makes a sound like a space choir or something. It’s interesting and arguably more pleasant to listen to than the 4 cylinder when it kicks on.

  3. My initial thought on the Mach E was that the Mustang tie in and styling was gimmicky at best. But now that they’re here and seeing that Ford seems to have nailed it with the vehicle, I think it’s a pretty good marketing move. iIt’s a distinctive style and makes it stand out in a sea of similar crossovers.

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