Since we already had a first drive of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, we figured we’d focus in a little more with this review and look at two very specific features of this all-new, all-electric SUV: range anxiety and snow driving.
Luckily, the city of Chicago decided to accommodate us with a foot of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, which created less-than-ideal driving conditions for an EV.
And thankfully, the Mustang Mach-E did a bang-up job in both tests.
Let’s talk about snow
If you aren’t familiar with Chicago’s alley system, let me give you a quick primer: They are never plowed. People dig out a 4- to 6-foot swath in front of their own garages, hope they can get in the tire treads of others who’ve already driven in the alley and then make a break for it.
I’ve already gotten stuck twice in our alley this winter, so it wasn’t without some trepidation that I took the Mustang Mach-E, with sedan-like ground clearance, into a foot of fresh snow. However, in addition to the heaviness of the battery, which helps with traction, the test vehicle had two other things going for it: all-wheel drive and one-pedal driving.
The Mustang Mach-E comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but Imma say right now: If you live anywhere that gets a hint of snow, AWD is the way forward. The test vehicle climbed the mini mountains of snow and traversed the uneven ruts with confidence. There wasn’t a single moment of wheel spinning to be had.
The biggest thing that aided with the snow driving, however, was the one-pedal driving that comes with EVs. For those unfamiliar with this unique technique: It’s the act of modulating acceleration and deceleration simply by applying pressure to the accelerator pedal. Because of the aggressive regenerative braking, when you remove pressure, the car starts to slow down as though you are applying the brakes. It’s weird and cool at the same time.
What I noticed is when using this technique, the car didn’t skid or slide when slowing down on ice. Part of this is because you have to be more mindful when one-pedal driving and you have to start taking your foot off the accelerator sooner than if you were applying actual brakes. But the other part of it is one pedal driving slows the vehicle down without stopping wheel movement completely. So, it’s a gentler deceleration – and your antilock brakes don’t kick in.
How about that range?
One of my biggest fears when getting an EV test car is range – especially when it’s cold out. I do have a garage and a 120 V wall jack to plug in, and I usually don’t drive more than 10 miles a day. But still. The anxiety is real. I remember having a first-generation Nissan Leaf to test several years ago, and it only had 100 miles of range on a perfect day. Add in sub-freezing temperatures, and it dropped to like 35 miles in a heartbeat.
It was a nerve-wracking week where I couldn’t turn the heat on for fear of running out of battery. I was ready to declare that all EVs were stupid and impractical.
Fast forward 6 or 7 years, and EV technology has leap frogged. Battery life is better (a lot better) and range loss due to climate is diminishing – though not altogether gone.
So, I decided to take a small 100-mile road trip in the Mustang Mach E – a simple out-and-back on the highway – with the thought I could turn around at any time if I felt nervous.
A funny thing happened. I didn’t get nervous. I actually went more than 120 miles driving all the way up past Kenosha, Wisconsin, from Chicago, and I still felt perfectly confident I could drive more when I got home.
It was at or below freezing for the entire drive, I drove at normal highway speeds, I used heat (albeit set to 68 rather than my normal 81), and I didn’t try to hypermile.
Now, the test vehicle had the extended-range battery, which on a perfect day should have 250 miles of range, but at 100% charge, the test car showed a 230-mile range.
This makes perfect sense to me, accounting for a 35% battery loss due to exterior temperatures and then climate control usage. With that math, max range on the test Mach E would be 162.5 miles.
So, the fact I drove 122 miles and had 70 miles of range on the vehicle when I got home exceeded my expectations of what I would/could get.
My husband, who routinely drives 90 to 100 miles a day for work said he would feel comfortable driving the Mach E on a daily basis for most of his commutes – especially in nicer weather.
Seriously, get a home charger
The one thing I missed during this test week, however, was an at-home charger. As EVs become more prevalent, I will have to invest in one because a 120 V jack doesn’t do crap to get you back to 100% charge after a long road trip.
In fact, it took me 60 hours to get from 39% to 98%. To go from 10% to 100%, it’ll take nearly 100 hours. If this is your everyday driver, you don’t have that kind of time.
However, if you have a 240 V, Level 2 at-home charger, it should take just 11 hours to get you back up to 100% if you drop down to 10% of a charge. Most people won’t get that low, and it’ll take significantly less time. But charging overnight is a way better option than leaving your vehicle plugged in for three days.
Lest you think you can make due with public fast chargers, I’m going to issue a one-word response: Don’t.
I tried to find a Level 2 charger close to home using the Ford Pass app, and to make a long story short: I failed miserably. They were either snowed in, broken or taken. And, when I finally did find an open one, someone in a running gas-powered vehicle (oh, the irony) was “saving” it for his wife who had a Nissan Leaf.
At the end of all that, I probably used more battery life trying to find a charger than I did actually charging.
The stress isn’t worth it. So, if you’re buying an EV, spend the extra cash and get the charger. Ford offers one for $799, which could probably be financed into the price of the vehicle, or you can buy one independently off of something like Amazon.
Either way, you’ll need a licensed electrician to install, but IMHO the benefit will far outweigh the future aggravation if don’t buy this and get it properly installed.
The bottom line on the Mustang Mach-E
I love this EV. I love how it drives. I love how it looks. I really love how it handles in snow and tight urban environments.
Sure, the interior is Tesla-esque with its minimalist design, and yes, the large screen negates the hard-button HVAC and audio controls. But it didn’t bother me. The on-screen “buttons” were large, and the screen didn’t freeze – even in freezing temperatures.
While there were some sensor failures due to the snow, the EV portion of the Mustang Mach-E was everything I wanted and more.
If this is a glimpse at the future of EVs, I say bring it on.