The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E had me at electric SUV.
Truth be told, I’m not a big EV fan, but I do love torque, trucks and SUVs, and I saw the future coming as more and more automakers commit to increasing numbers of fully electric models and promise all-electric stables in the next few years.
So, after an in-person deep dive into the Mustang Mach-E during a national press reveal in California a year ago, I looked forward to trying out this mass-market crossover on the roads of my small New England hometown and, well, driving the future.
I learned a few things when I drove it for a scant number of miles during its way-too-short, three-day visitation, and one of them was this: Despite the fact there are an ever-growing number of all-electric vehicles on the roads, the all-new Mustang Mach-E has developed a cachet that makes it nearly an “exotic” vehicle.
I know. When you think of exotics, vehicles from Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin come to mind. And by definition, this designation typically falls upon high-priced models unavailable to the average population. They almost always have high-performance capabilities, high-quality materials, a two-seat or 2 +2 configuration and limited quantity availability.
OK, so the Mach-E does have space for up to five passengers, but it fits the exotic bill with a couple of other attributes. It has a unique design that is already being recognized on the road, and it is somewhat fast – Ford says the GT Performance Edition version will scoot from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Plus, when it was off-loaded from the 85-foot-long car carrier that delivered it to me from California, this new-fangled pony car — and my photos of it — garnered a huge fan following.
The devil is in the details
The Mach-E’s base sticker is a mid-market $42,895 (not including the $7,500 federal tax credit). My pony was a Premium AWD with extended range, and it had a stunning Rapid Red Metallic paint with a Black Onyx interior beset by leather seats.
It stickered at $56,200.
The newest Mustang comes in First Edition (long ago sold out!), Select, California Route 1, Premium and GT (already pre-ordered by 30% of U.S. buyers) as well as the GT Performance Edition. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is optional (favored by more than 50%) as is an extended-range battery good for more than 300 miles (appealing to more than 80%).
This new footprint for Ford marks the first major change to the Mustang lineup in 56 years. That’s more than five decades of producing sports coupes, convertibles and special edition versions. I have driven many of those and have an imprint of what a Mustang is supposed to look like.
It never included an SUV design. However, I get the Mach-E’s mission and am enamored with its looks.
I can see some heritage cues that tuck in amongst its lines and appreciate the meld of a sleek silhouette with muscular curves, a wide body that weighs in at more than two tons and tri-bar rear taillamps. During my time in it — and with feedback from friends on social media — it seems to be a lightning rod for divisive opinions. There are folks who think it looks like a Mustang and see why Ford has gone this route. Then there are those who think it looks nothing like a Mustang, and this “thing” is heresy.
What I liked on my drive
There is so much to like on the Mustang Mach-E, I’m not sure where to begin. First there’s the e-latch, a button-push door opening system. Then there’s the clean-and-airy new-age interior cockpit with a giant 16-inch touchscreen, panoramic roof glass and flat load floor (with battery stowage below). All that is topped off by 59.7 cubic feet of stowage behind the first-row seats and 5 cubic feet of drainable storage in the “frunk” storage compartment.
The Mach-E drove like a traditional vehicle — well, almost!
What I loved: The torque.
After getting used to a few new onboard technologies, I was most excited about the 428 pound-feet of torque that moves the Mach-E in a lickety-spit fashion and the three customizable drive modes: Whisper, Engage and Unbridled (the quickest and my fave!). Ford’s e-AWD torque also moves power from the front axle to the rear in a seamless fashion, which brought confidence and good traction on the snowy roads of my region.
Also of note, I’m impressed that this Mustang can go from 10% to 80% charge in 45 minutes with fast charging on a 150 kW DC fast system.
And what took some getting used to
The Mach-E’s one-pedal drive system was one of the more difficult things to get used to during the short test period. Drivers can control the amount of “regen” that slows the electric burn and adds more “juice” to the battery, with a setting that programs it from noticeable to in-yer-face.
At the start of my time in the Mach-E, the regen was too aggressive and, frankly, kind of stressful. However, I adapted to it better by my third day of driving, and the system, in turn, adapted to my driving habits, making it a more natural driving feel and the pedal felt lighter.
Fast facts & cool tech
Outside of driving impressions, the Mach-E is a marvel of technology and performance. Here are just a few of the key things you need to know:
- Mach-E has an all-new infotainment system, SYNC4A along with new and updated connected vehicle technologies, including over-the-cloud updates.
- The GT Performance Edition moves with an estimated 358 kilowatt (480 horsepower) and 860 Newton meters (634 pound-feet) of torque.
- It has an EPA-estimated range of up to 230 miles with RWD and the standard battery and 300 miles with RWD and the available extended-range battery.
- Ford offers built-in charging solutions that route customers to nearby public charging stations, recommending where to charge on trips, and providing access to more than 13,500 public charge stations in the FordPass charging network
- RWD and AWD are powered by permanent magnet motors.
- The glass roof has a special glass coating with infrared protection that helps the interior stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Additionally, an inner layer between the glass helps protect against UV rays.
- Using Bluetooth, the vehicle can detect customers’ smartphones as they approach, unlocking the Mach-E and allowing them to start driving without getting their phones out of their pockets or using a key fob. A backup code can be entered on the center touch screen to start and drive the vehicle in the event a phone battery dies.
The bottom line on the Mustang Mach-E
I handed over the keys to the Mustang Mach-E wanting more — and that’s a good thing!
Would I own an electric vehicle at present where I live in New England? No. But that’s for personal reasons and ease-of-charging — especially in the winter.
However, if I was in the market to buy an EV, this “exotic” SUV would be high on my list. Its appealing looks, seating for five and decent stowage (love the idea of storing drinks on ice or a fresh-caught bass in the front drainable trunk!), new-age tech and (heck, yeah!) its torque would make me want to ride this pony!
*Note: All photo gallery images courtesy of Ford Motor Co.