The Horse Is Now a 21st Century
For almost 60 years the Ford Mustang has been an
aspirational vehicle that created the “Pony Car” category, and has inspired
countless individuals craving a sporty, fun-to-drive vehicle. Everyone has a
story of how the “Horse” was a fun and fast part of their life.
For 2021, Ford has expanded and evolved the Mustang line with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV/crossover. Ford continues the Mustang tradition by offering a version for just about everyone, from an economy long-range budget version to a full-on performance vehicle with power and speed in the top-tier of supercars.
A Flexible EV with Lots of Configurations
For 2021, Ford offers a myriad of configurations:
•With an MSRP ranging between $42,895 for the Select trim
and $60,500 for the GT, there are five trim levels to choose from. As has been
the Mustang tradition, there is a Mustang Mach-E for everyone.
•Range choices include two battery packs to choose from with
a 75.7-kilowatt-hour (kWh, of which 68 kWh is usable) standard range and 98.8-kWh
(of which 88 kWh is usable) extended range version that offer ranges between 211
and 300 miles.
•There are three electric motor sizes ranging from 266 horsepower
(hp)/ 317 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque to 480 hp/600 lb.-ft. Torque.
•There are both RWD and AWD drivetrains available.
• Choose from 10 exterior colors and two interior colors
• Each trim is well-appointed with few options, and no
upcharge for colors other than black.
Depending on the configuration, the Mach-E will accelerate
from 0-60 mph between 3.5 and 6.1 seconds. Electric vehicles are known for
being very heavy vehicles, and the Mach-E is no exception. It’s right up there
with just about every manufacturer’s offerings weighing in at between 4,400 and
4,900 pounds. The good thing is that a significant amount of that weight is in
the battery and is low in the center of the car, which makes it handle like a
much lighter vehicle.
The Mach-E, a tall five-door fastback, sits on a 117.5-inch wheelbase,
is 185.6 inches long, 74.1 wide, 64.0 high and has 5.8 inches of ground
clearance. Even though it looks like a four-door sedan from a distance, it’s
really a five-door SUV.
Cargo space is very good, mainly because the rear cargo
exterior area is cleverly disguised to look like a fastback rather than its
With the rear seats up, there is 29.7 cubic feet (cu. ft.) of
space in the rear; with the rear seats down that increases by 30 cu. ft. for a
total cargo area of 59.7 cu. ft. Add to that 4.7 cu. ft. in the frunk, and you
have a total of 64.4 cu. ft. available. Towing packages are not yet available,
but the Mach-E is expected to have a towing capacity between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds.
All in all, the Mach-E interior spaces compete very well with its non-EV
competitors from Toyota and Honda as well as its EV competitors.
The Mach-E benefits from Ford’s superb Co-Pilot360 Level 2
ADAS, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, lane
centering, forward collision avoidance and mitigation by braking and steering,
and blind spot monitoring with steering support, to name a few. The Ford system
is one of the better ones on the market today, with an easy and unobtrusive
operation. One feature of the Mach-E system is the ability to offer “one-pedal”
driving. The driver should anticipate when to lift the throttle, but once you
get the hang of it, it’s a pretty awesome.
Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium, First Edition and GT are prepared with the
necessary hardware for Ford Co-Pilot 360 2.0, which is an active-drive system
that allows hands-free driving on prequalified sections of divided highways
that make up over 100,000 miles of North American roads.
Active Drive Assist based on advanced computing of camera and radar-sensing
technologies to provide real-time hands-free driving opportunities. The
technology also enables expanded hands-free driving zones in the future based
on system and customer patterns. The technology will become available as a subscription service in
the third quarter of 2021 via an over-the-air (OTA) update, as part of Ford’s
bumper-to-bumper OTA capability to help improve the Mustang over time and keep
customers at the forefront of technology.
A Comfortable and Airy Cabin
At the end of the day, the comfort, safety and usability of
the cabin is the most important attribute of any vehicle. How do the seats
feel, are the instruments useful and intuitive, does the interior entertain and
delight? On all of these attributes, the Mach-E does very well.
All that is needed for the driver is to have a “key” to
operate the car. That Key can be a traditional fob that you keep in your pocket
or purse, your smartphone, or even a combination lock on the B-pillar to unlock
the Mustang with a password entered on the center display to give the driver
complete control of the vehicle
If you are using the fob or your phone, simply walk up to
the car, and it will recognize and welcome you with light show theatrics from
the front and rear of the car. Press the door button and it unlocks and the car
prepares itself to be ready for the driver to push the start button and go. The
car is ready for you with all of the seat, mirror, infotainment presets, set to
your preferences. There are two large screens, a 10.2-inch drivers information
cluster, and a huge 15.5-inch center high-resolution display. Topping this off
is an available 560w B&O (Bang&Olufsen) sound system with 10 speakers,
including an externally coupled subwoofer that uses the Mach-E’s cabin volume
to produce powerful bass.
The centerpiece of the cabin is the Mach-E’s 15.5-inch
center high-resolution display for the infotainment and navigation. It’s
similar to other big screen interfaces for cars and has an easy-to-learn
interface that uses information panes to keep what you need available when
needed. But instead of cramming all of the information for all of the car’s
functions on one screen, there is a smaller 10.2-inch screen directly in front
of the driver for driver centric information like warnings on battery capacity
and range, speed, turn-by-turn navigation information and the readiness of the
vehicle. It’s much like a head-up display (HUD), but presented in a cleaner and
more compact view.
The interior is topped with a full width glass roof, which
makes the interior open and airy, and the glass has a special coating that
prevents the interior from getting hot from the sun. The full glass roof also
opens up extra headroom especially in the rear. Despite the entire interior
roof being glass, we were never distracted by glare or heat. After a while the
glass roof isn’t even noticed. Glass roofs seem to be the fad these days rather
than a steel one or a moveable sunroof. It’s a nice design treatment, and works
quite well in the Mach-E
Build quality of our Mach-E tester was fantastic, not a
rattle, creak, or squeak was heard, window sealing was awesome with minimal
wind noise. The suspension was well dampened so road noise was stopped before
it got inside the cabin, which made the wind noise that did make it into the
cabin all the more noticeable. The solution to this minor irritant was to
simply crank up the B&O sound system.
The suspension of our test Mach-E was the Premium RWD
extended range version with the 88-kWh battery. Its road manners were quite
subdued, with a bit of wallowing on windy roads, but for freeway and city
driving, this was the perfect setup.
Driving–How Is It Like on the Road, How Far Will It Go
on a Charge?
Today’s BEVs have gained significant range in the past few
years, due to the combination of cheaper batteries, higher energy efficiency,
and better technology. This is Ford’s first purpose-built BEV, and they seem to
have given the issue of range serious thought.
We wanted to see how the Mustang Mach-E would perform on our
challenging BEV test loop, which is a 228-mile trip (456-mile round trip) from
San Jose Ca. to South Lake Tahoe. This route starts at sea level, and includes
a 7,377-foot (ft.) pass before settling in at 6,327 ft. in South Lake Tahoe.
Essentially, it’s interstate flatland roads for half the trip and up and over
one of the highest mountain road passes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Over the years that we have tested BEVs on this route, most have come up short
in reaching the final destination, usually by between 10 and 30 miles in each
direction. The Mach-E that we were driving was the 88-kWh RWD extended range
version that boasted an EPA range of 300 miles Would it be one of the few to
make it to our Lake Tahoe destination on one charge? And what sort of energy
efficiency would it return?
The Mach-E has quirky drive mode descriptions. These modes,
called Engage, Whisper and Unbridled, are essentially the Mach-E’s version of Economy,
Normal and Sport. They adjust not only the powertrain response, but steering,
instrument cluster graphics, handling and interior synthetic sounds for
acceleration. We chose to use the Whisper mode for the uphill part of our trip
and Engage for the downhill return trip.
FordPass, North America’s Largest Charging Network
To make charging easier, Ford includes a smartphone app
called FordPass Connect, which is also accessible from the vehicle’s main
display. Ford has created a private-label charging network by collaborating
with Electrify America, EVgo, Greenlots and Chargepoint. FordPass Connect
provides a unified user experience to find chargers, plan trips, and monitor
the Mach-E’s state of charge, and identifying charging points along the route
at more than 12,000 locations with access to 35,000 charging stalls. If the
charging station has the ability to identify and provide conditional access,
all the driver has to do is to plug-in the charger to the car, and
authentication, billing, etc., is handled automatically. For other types of
charging stations, the FordPass connect takes care of setting up the session
without having to have a card or app for that particular charging provider. When
we charged up the night before the trip, all we had to do was plug in the Mach-E,
and the details were taken care of automatically. Ford includes two-years of
complimentary access to the FordPass charging network, which is currently North
America’s largest charging network.
The Mustang Mach-E has the ability to charge at up to 150 kW
L3 charger and 11 kW on a L2 charger.
Preparing for the Drive
We started the night before charging the Mustang Mach-E at
our local FordPass/Electrify America CCS 150-kW charger for about 40 minutes.
The car had 37 percent charge on it when we started the charge and ended up
with an 83 percent SOC.
The charger started off at 125 kW and tapered down significantly
to 11 kW at the end. That evening we topped-off on our L2 6.6-kW charger at
home so we had 100 percent available in the morning. Part of the range
estimation is how the car was driven previously, so we started out with an
estimated 276 miles of range. More than enough if we were driving on flat
terrain, but how would it do on terrain ranging from sea level to 7,377 ft.?
Our route took us 126 miles on Interstate 5 to Sacramento.
This section of the trip is pretty flat except for two hills we had to cross,
so we stayed with traffic at about 70 mph. Once we were east of Sacramento we
switched to Highway 50 and started our climb into the Sierra and Lake Tahoe. This
section is a steep uphill climb. Despite our slower speeds, the Mach-E’s SOC was
The nice thing about this section of Highway 50 is that there are EVgo fast chargers about every 40 miles, and in past tests of BEVs that had 78 kWh batteries, we were never able to make it all the way to Lake Tahoe on one charge. We were always 10-30 miles short.
The Mach-E seemed to be taking the climb in stride in normal
mode with climate control on and keeping at the speed limit. By the time we got
close to Pollock Pines and 181 miles into the trip, we were down to 70 miles of
range left, with 47 miles to go. We decided to continue on knowing that we had
one last chance to charge in 30 miles at an EVgo station. After that we were
We passed the last 50 kW EVgo quick charger before Lake
Tahoe with 40 miles of range indicated, and knew that we would be able to make
it. The summit was less than five miles away; after that, it was all downhill
to Lake Tahoe. We cruised to our hotel with 11 percent SOC and 24 miles range
For this uphill portion of our trip that day we ended up
driving 225 miles with an energy efficiency of 3.1 miles/kWh. This was a great
result for such a heavy car going uphill, and one of the better returns. The
total of actual and remaining estimated miles, came out to 249 miles for the
uphill drive. The Mach-E has a nifty energy analysis screen called “Where did
my energy go?,” which showed that 89 percent of the car’s battery went to the
route and the rest went to the climate control, accessories, and dealing with
the ambient temperature. This estimating tool would come in handy for the
In preparation for our downhill drive, we used an Electrify
America charger that was less than a block from our hotel, and ran into a
little bit of a problem with getting the chargers to connect. Two pedestals
would not connect because of a reported ground-fault error, but the 3rd
one did fine. Just plug it in, and FordPass Connect took care of the rest. The Mach-E
charged for 40 minutes starting at 125 kW and ending at 11 kW, and we got a SOC
of about 78 percent. There was also a free L2 charger at the library next to
our hotel, so that evening we let the car sit there all day to fill back up. It
took about six hours to get charged to 100 percent, and the ambient temperature
was down to 30˚F. But something was up because even though the SOC was 100
percent, the estimated range was only 180 miles.
That evening the low temperature at Tahoe was 10˚F, but by
the time we were ready to go the next morning, it had risen to 21˚, but the
estimated range was still estimated at 180 miles. What was going on here? Would
we be able to make it back on one charge even going downhill? For the downhill
run, we chose the “Engage” or Economy drive mode.
The “Where did my energy go?” screen on the Mach-E gave us a
clue to this situation. The estimation of battery usage had allocated 57
percent of the battery to climate use given it was so cold in Tahoe and 43
percent to the route. The Mach-E does not use a heat pump for climate control,
and instead uses resistance heating for both the cabin and battery temperature
controls, which resulted in the lousy range estimate. We hoped that as we went
downhill into the Sacramento Valley that the range would improve. We added a
lunch stop in Sacramento at a bit before the halfway point to reassess the
As we started back down into the flatlands, we had the
adaptive cruise control set, and let the car drive, steer and brake itself.
Initially, the Mach-E restricted its regenerative braking, but as the temperature
got warmer in the lower elevations, it used the friction brakes less and regen
more. But even more interesting is that the estimated 180 miles of range didn’t
budge as we got closer to Sacramento. But what did change was how the car was
estimating its energy usage. The ambient temperature had gone from 21˚ to 69˚;
climate usage dropped from 57 percent to seven percent, and the route power
utilization jumped from 43 percent to 91 percent.
By then we were pretty confident that we would be able to
make it home on one charge with miles to spare. For this section, we ended up
driving 225 miles from Tahoe to San Jose, with an energy efficiency of 4.1
miles/kWh. That’s pretty good, but not as good as high-efficiency BEVs like the
Nissan Leaf Plus.
We went across the finish line with a 36 percent SOC and 88
estimated miles of range left. This trip gave the Mach-E a total range of 313
miles. The average efficiency for the round-trip was 3.6 miles/kWh and estimated
range was 281 miles, which was the estimated range when we left on the trip. This
was a very respectable efficiency and in the top tier range of all BEVs on the
Ford Mustang Mach-E MSRP Pricing
Our evaluation vehicle was a Mach-E Premium RWD Extended
Range with an MSRP of $53,100.
There are currently four versions of the Mustang Mach-E
Mach-E Select RWD Standard Range: $42,895
Mach-E Select AWD Standard Range: $45,595
Comfort /Appearance Package: $2,300
Destination & Delivery: $1,100
Mach-E Premium RWD Standard Range: $47,000
Mach-E Premium AWD Standard Range: $49,700
Mach-E Premium RWD Extended Range: $52,000
Mach-E Premium AWD Extended Range: $54,700
Interior Protection Package: $240
Destination & Delivery: $1,100
Mach-E California Route 1 RWD Extended Range: $49,800
Interior Protection Package: $240
Destination & Delivery: $1,100
Mach-E GT AWD Extended Range $60,500
Interior Protection Package: $240
Destination & Delivery: $1,100
(currently available for reservation only)
Is the 2021 Mustang Mach-E Right for You?
In the $40-60,000 BEV price range there are several good
choices, but all of them have their shortcomings. The Mustang Mach-E is a new
player to the game; they have done their homework very well for their initial
offering, with plenty of room to grow. If you are considering a high-quality
SUV EV, then the Mustang should be at the top of your consideration list.
What We Took Note of:
•The Mach-E is a very heavy car with class-leading battery
sizes and ranges. While its suspension is well designed for the cars heft, the
batteries’ usable range isn’t fully utilized at launch. It would seem logical
that as Ford gets more real-world data from the worldwide fleet, it would be
able to open up more of the battery for increased range.
•The Mach-E uses a simple resistance heater for cabin
temperature control, which as we saw at freezing temperatures severely limited
the car’s range. Moving to a heat-pump based HVAC system would help improve
range efficiency at low temperatures. This isn’t a big deal if you live in
southern climates, but would certainly be an advantage for those that live in
the northern areas of the world.
•The center infotainment stack is a great combination of
digital and analog controls with just the right balance of touchscreen buttons
and actual buttons and knobs. The Mustang also has voice control, but it is
very primitive, knowing only limited commands that need to be spoken precisely
with a proper syntax to operate. It has a way to go to become a natural
•The Mach-E only comes with one key fob standard. If you
want two fobs, you have to pay for the second one. That seemed weird, but Ford
counters that your smartphone can become a key and the driver can set up the
B-pillar keypad up to access the vehicle too. To add insult to injury, the one
key fob that comes with the car doesn’t have a button to release the frunk. If
you want that opened, you have to use the release lever in the drivers footwell.
• While we are in the frunk, there is this divider cutting
up the spacious storage area into several smaller ones. Ford explains that the
divider has something to do with a federal regulation, but like mattress labels
whose removal is prohibited by law, this divider is easily removed.
What We Did Love About the Car Included:
•Fit and finish. The Mach-E is a very well assembled car. We
found a very tight vehicle with no squeaks or rattles, and very consistent
•Driving feel and balance. Despite being a very heavy car,
the balance of the vehicle on the road was excellent. With the low center of
gravity and balance between wheels it was a joy to drive with a neutral feel. Some
might want a bit more aggressive handling, and that will be available in the GT
• A very driver-friendly cabin. The center screen has the
things that should be there, and the driver’s display has the things that a
driver needs to be aware of. The UI of the center display takes a minimal time
to get used to, and becomes very intuitive in a short time.
•The Co-Pilot360 L2 ADAS is very easy-to-use and takes its
tasks to hand very safely and intuitively. With its upcoming OTA upgrade to a
subscription full self-driving service on some roads this summer, it is set to
become one of the best ADAS systems on the market today.
• Lastly, would your humble automobile reviewer consider spending his hard-earned cash on the Mustang Mach-E? The answer is yes; I’ve been driving BEVs for more than a decade, and am currently in the consideration phase for my next BEV. The Mach-E is on my shortlist of cars that include others from Stuttgart, Cuautitlán, Ingolstadt, Wolfsburg and Oppama.
Story & photos by Gary Lieber.
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