My first Ford Mustang had a 4.6-liter V-8, five-speed manual, and rear-wheel drive. My next one might have two electric motors, a one-speed, and all-wheel drive.
The new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric, four-door, battery-powered SUV that’ll eventually have up to 480 hp and 634 lb-ft of torque. More than that, the new Mustang Mach-E is going to force the world to rethink just what it considers a Mustang.
Is it a two-door performance coupe or convertible powered by internal combustion? Or is it a four-door performance SUV with the potential to beat the Tesla Model Y at its own game? ¿Por qué no los dos? I’d argue it doesn’t really matter. What does is that the 2021 Mustang Mach-E is quite good and pays appropriate homage to its nameplate.
Ford Mustang Mach-E Specs
If it’s not immediately apparent, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E has very little in common with the sixth-generation Mustang that’s been on sale since 2014. The new Mustang Mach-E shares many of the same styling cues—like its RWD-like dash-to-axle ratio, signature tri-bar taillights, and even its roofline—but that’s about it.
It’s quite easy to get into the technological weeds here, but the important things to remember are that the Mustang Mach-E rides on an all-new electric platform underpinned by either a Standard Range (SR) battery with 68 kWh of usable capacity or an optional Extended Range (ER) battery with 88 kWh of usable capacity. Single-motor rear-wheel drive is standard; dual-motor all-wheel drive is optional.
There’s a truly dizzying range of power outputs in the Mustang Mach-E, with badging on the doors noting “4” for AWD and “X” for the extended-range battery. None of the other trim grades gets a badge. Base RWD Mach-E Select and Premium SR models make 266 hp and 317 lb-ft and can travel an EPA-estimated 230 miles on a charge. SR AWD models have the same horsepower, 428 lb-ft of torque, and 211 miles of range. Mustang Mach-E Premium ER RWD models have 290 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque and can travel 300 miles on a charge, and ER AWD models have 346 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque and a 270-mile range.
The sold-out Mustang Mach-E First Edition matches the Premium ER AWD’s specs, and the soon-to-be-released ER RWD Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 matches the Premium ER RWD’s specs with a yet-to-be-finalized range of around 300 miles. That’s a lot of alphabet soup, but it’s no different than what Ford does with its regular Mustang lineup.
I spent the majority of my time in a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD ER Premium (a mid-level spec that’s expected to be the volume model) on the roads of Los Angeles and hills above Malibu. Whereas Ford would normally launch a new Mustang with the GT version first, the handful of Mach-E Select, Premium, and First Editions expected to reach customers by the end of December are roughly analogous to the current Mustang EcoBoost. In other words, this is the baseline. Performance-oriented Mustang Mach-E GT and GT Performance Edition models are expected to hit the streets in mid-2021.
How Does the 2021 Mustang Mach-E Drive?
The Mustang Mach-E is one of those cars that immediately feels special from the moment you slip into the driver’s seat. The view out the hood and snug yet comfortable seat scream Mustang, and the simplified McLaren-like instrument cluster and massive 15.5-inch tablet-style infotainment display hint at the wizardry going on underneath.
My old Mustang GT could talk a big game, but it failed to back it up when challenged at a stoplight. The Mustang Mach-E, on the other hand, follows the Teddy Roosevelt mantra: speak softly and carry a big stick. Time after time, I’d stomp on the Mustang Mach-E’s throttle as a light turned green and glance into the rearview mirror to see traffic seemingly frozen in time behind me. Although it lacks the same sort of catapult-shot violence of a Tesla Model Y Long Range or Performance, the Mach-E Premium AWD ER is basically the midlevel model. More neck-snapping histrionics are in the pipeline.
But as we all well know, performance is not all about going. It’s about stopping and turning, too. On the former front, the Mach-E is a mixed bag. Like the Model Y, the Ford offers a one-pedal driving option in each of its three drive modes—Whisper (comfort), Excite (normal), and Unbridled (sport)—with varying levels of off-throttle regeneration aggressiveness depending on the mode.
Braking, when in one-pedal mode, is fantastic—the Mustang responds linearly as your foot comes off the throttle, stopping smoothly where you want it to just about every time. With one-pedal mode turned off, the brakes are more inconsistent; they’re a bit rubbery, and they don’t manage the transition between regenerative and mechanical braking well, making it difficult to be smooth, especially when driving hard.
Despite the unpredictable brake feel, up on the same roads where I had tested a Tesla Model Y Performance earlier this year for MotorTrend, the Mustang Mach-E felt like a true Mustang. Despite its all-season tires (summers are optional for $250), steering was quick and accurate, and the chassis felt remarkably neutral in the same way a good rear-drive driver’s car is.
Unlike its gas-powered siblings, the Mustang Mach-E is easy to steer with the throttle: crank the wheel through a long sweeper, then come off the throttle a touch before hammering back on it and feeling the rear end step out in a controlled fashion, helping get the nose pointed quickly and lined up for the next corner. Try that in a normal Mustang, and you’re bound to wind up facing the direction from whence you came.
The Mach-E’s suspension tuning is top notch, too. It isn’t easy to manage nearly 5,000 pounds of batteries and steel, yet the only time the suspension lets you feel the weight it’s managing is in tight back-to-back hairpins or after hitting a major midcorner bump. Otherwise, the ride manages to be sporty while also remaining supple and composed—a balance Tesla hasn’t managed to pull off in the Model Y. It’s also worth noting that at launch, every Mach-E rides on traditional suspension systems; later models, like the GT, will get adaptive dampers.
How Am I Going to Charge My Mach-E?
Despite popular misconceptions, charging and traveling long distances in the Mustang Mach-E ought to be easier than it is in any other non-Tesla EV. Whereas Tesla built its own Supercharger network, Ford bought one, negotiating rates at third-party vendors like Electrify America and others on behalf of its owners. This cobbled-together network, combined with the FordPass mobile app and the Mach-E’s new Sync 4A infotainment system, helps make long-distance travel as painless as possible.
Example: Let’s say once the world gets back to normal, you’d like to travel from Detroit to Pittsburgh, Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, or why not, New York to Los Angeles. The Mach-E’s trip planner, like Tesla’s, will hopscotch you from A to B, finding DC fast chargers (both in or out of Ford’s network) along the way. It’ll also tell you how long you need to charge and to what state of charge for each leg of the trip. Traveling this way in an EV is far more efficient than depleting the battery completely and filling it to 100 percent, as the rate of charge slows dramatically once you crest an 80 percent state of charge. This is true of most batteries today, whether it be for your car, phone, laptop, or whatever.
A 391-mile journey from Los Angeles to Sacramento, for instance, would have the Mach-E driving about 115 miles to an Electrify America station along the I-5 corridor, charging for 20 minutes to get its battery to 56 percent, and continuing another 125 miles to charge for 40 minutes to 68 percent capacity. That would put the Mach-E in Sacramento 7 hours after starting with 11 percent of battery remaining. That’s an hour longer than if you went nonstop in a car with a particularly large fuel tank, but it’s probably pretty representative of how most Americans really travel if we’re being honest with ourselves.
What Am I Going to Do While Charging?
I know, I know—you can’t stand to be alone with your thoughts, so what’re you expected to do for 40 minutes sitting alongside the highway after a bio break? Although it lacks the built-in video games or Netflix (and the endlessly hilarious cowbell and fart modes) that Elon gives his Teslans, the Mustang Mach-E’s cabin is arguably a better place to spend time.
For starters, Ford actually bothered to design the Mach-E’s cabin. I appreciate the minimalistic California cool of the Model Y. The Mach-E’s cabin has a similar open-air feel, but it also offers a neat mix of textures and materials. This includes the real-cow-feeling vegan leather upholstery, rubberized weavelike trim anchored by that big infotainment display, and a cool cloth-covered Bang & Olufsen soundbar set into the dash (the latter a feature available on all models but the Select).
The seats themselves are snug and supportive up front, and in back I had no issues comfortably fitting my 6-foot frame behind the driver’s seat in my ideal position. Cargo space in back is generous considering the SUV’s sloping roofline. The frunk has a built-in drain and cupholders to function as a cooler when it’s not holding 4.7 cubic feet of stuff. This is the first Mustang to actually be a practical family car (those weird one-off ’60s shooting brakes notwithstanding).
Is the Mustang Mach-E Worth It?
With prices starting at $43,995 before any federal and state rebates or incentives, you’d frankly be foolish to not consider a Mustang Mach-E if you’re in the market for a premium electric vehicle like a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, a Polestar 2, or Volvo XC40 Recharge. Well-equipped from the factory, our Mustang Mach-E Premium started at $48,100 and had three options: dual motor AWD ($2,700), the Extended Range battery ($5,000), and Rapid Red paint ($400), bringing its sticker price to $56,200.
The temptation to pedantically argue over what is and isn’t a Mustang will no doubt tirelessly continue, but I’d say ignore the noise. This Mustang is just as enticing a performance vehicle as my old GT, except it just so happens to be an electric SUV. And a damned good one at that.
|2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E|
|LAYOUT||Rear/front+rear-motor, RWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|MOTOR(S)||266-346-hp/317-428-lb-ft permanent-magnet electric|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,400-4,800 lb (est)|
|L x W x H||185.6 x 74.1 x 63.5-64.o in|
|0-60 MPH||4.8-6.1 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA Range||211-300 miles|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||Not yet rated|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.00 lb/mile*|
|*At the vehicle|