2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Electric SUV: This Is It
Ford's all-electric Mach-E crossover offers two powertrains, two batteries, and a future-forward interior.
Meet the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, Ford's all-new, all-electric SUV. No doubt the Mach-E will garner a lot of attention for its nomenclature relationship to the Mustang, but what you should really take notice of is the resemblance in size, specs, and mission to Tesla's upcoming Model Y. This is the first time a major automaker (let alone one of the domestics) is taking aim directly at the heart of Tesla's product lineup. If the Chevrolet Bolt EV was a shot across Elon Musk's bow, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is an entire salvo of electric-powered torpedoes.
The Mach-E—which we also got to go for a ride in—is the brainchild of Team Edison, a company within a company that Ford established to rethink its entire vehicle-creation and -design processes. (Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were buds, and Henry's wife Clara drove a Detroit Electric with an Edison battery.) Team Edison wanted a vehicle that would appeal to risk-takers and early adopters while leaning on Ford's traditional strengths and icons—and those would be the F-150 and the Mustang, the latter being the obvious inspiration for its new electric vehicle.
The Mustang Mach-E rides an all-new dedicated EV platform which can be had with either single-motor rear-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive. Power ratings vary from 255 horsepower and 306 lb-ft in the standard-range rear-drive model up to 459 horsepower and 612 lb-ft for the all-wheel-drive GT. Ford estimates that the slowest Mach-E will get to 60 mph in the mid-six-second range, while the GT should be able to do it in the mid threes.
The Mach-E will offer two battery options, both built in-house from lithium-ion cells developed in partnership with LG. The 75.7-kWh standard-range battery is expected to get an EPA rating of 230 miles with rear drive and 210 miles with all-wheel drive, while the 98.8-kWh extended-range battery is aiming to deliver 300 miles with rear-wheel drive and 270 miles with all-wheel drive. The exception to this rule is the AWD GT, which is shooting for 235 miles while using the extended-range battery. A Performance Edition of the GT will offer quicker acceleration as well as standard MagneRide magnetorheological dampers.
From a styling perspective, the Mach-E looks a bit like the love child of a Ford Mustang and a Mazda CX-5. The Mustang styling cues are so obvious that we hesitate to point them out for fear of sounding condescending. You'll note the elongated hood, headlight shape, and grille outline (which has an actual grille-like texture on GT models), and three-section sequential taillights. Toward the back, the body-side stamping dips below the black-painted cant rail, a clever and largely successful attempt to mask the Mach-E's hatchback shape with a more coupe-like profile. The door sculpting lacks the sharp creases of the Mustang coupe, hence the resemblance to the aforementioned Mazda; the smoother sheetmetal is a concession to aerodynamics.
The bulge over the rear fenders is lifted directly from the Mustang—and this may be our imagination, but do the Mach-E's quarter panels bear more than a slight resemblance to those of the Tesla Model X? And while we're chasing shadows, we can't help but notice something vaguely Jaguar I-Pace-like in the relationship of the D-pillar and the rear wheels.
Open the Mach-E's front door, and it's almost impossible not to see the Tesla influence—after all, that company pioneered the button-free interior and the giant portrait-style screen on the center stack. Ford uses a 15.5-inch screen, but unlike Tesla's, it's dedicated primarily to nondriving functions. A 10.2-inch screen in front of the driver serves as an instrument panel. Attracting tech-savvy early adopters is one of the Mach-E's key missions, so Ford developed an all-new Sync interface. You'll note the dial at the bottom of the screen, which serves whatever purpose is necessary (stereo volume, drive-mode selector, etc. ). The "in focus" application, be it navigation, audio, or what have you, runs on the top half of the screen, with other active apps in tiles just below. The bottom section of the screen is dedicated to climate controls, with touch-sensitive temperature sliders at either side.
The Mach-E's dashboard borrows its shape from the Mustang, and the twin brows are a bit more prominent than they appear in photos. The interior is notable for being animal-free; the available leather and suede choices are synthetic. We were impressed by both the material quality and the space—the back seat has decent legroom and enough headroom for six footers, and the available full-size panoramic glass roof is impressive.
One interesting detail is that the steering wheel has only basic cruise and stereo controls. Ford's research found that the multifunction, multi-direction thumb controllers they were using were unpopular, so they're gone. The Mach-E will take advantage of greater internet connectivity with web-enabled searches and a voice-assistant system along the lines of Siri or Alexa.
Pop open the hood and you'll find a frunk with enough storage space for a carry-on suitcase. The cargo area is lined with plastic and has a drain plug so you can use it for muddy boots and hose it out afterward, or even use it as a cooler. The traditional trunk has a nice, big hatch opening and stores a reasonable 29 cubic feet, with extra space available under the removable trunk floor.
The Mach-E will offer three driving modes called Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled, the latter with piped-in sound to enhance the performance feel. To us, it sounds vaguely like a space-age version the Mustang's old entry-level V-6. All three modes will offer the option of one-pedal driving. Ford says a semi-autonomous geofenced driving system, similar in function to Cadillac's Super Cruise, will be available after launch; the hardware will be optional, and the software will be beamed to the cars in an over-the-air (OTA) update once development is finished. The plan is for the Mach-E to offer hands-off driving, with cameras aimed at the driver that will trigger a warning if his or her eyes aren't on the road.
The Mach-E uses a standard charging plug, and all trim levels can be fast-charged at up to 150 kW. Ford will offer an optional 240-volt Level II charger, but it's worth noting that the plug adapter included with the car can be used with either a standard 120-volt outlet or a 240-volt outlet, the latter adding range at the rate of about 22 miles per hour of charging, about two-thirds the rate of a Level II charger. To ease on-the-road charging blues, Ford is creating the FordPass network, which allows access to several pay-per-charge networks through a common billing system. Their mapping app can provide real-time charging-station status, and will plot routes with charge stops, charge times, and attractions near the stations.
Ford will offer the Mustang Mach-E in five trim levels. The entry-level Select can be rear- or all-wheel drive but only has the standard-range battery. The volume-selling Premium offers both battery and driveline setups, while the California Route 1 will be offered exclusively with the extended-range battery and rear drive. The GT Performance model comes with the big battery and all-wheel drive, as does the limited-run First Edition. The Premium and First Edition are scheduled to arrive in late 2020, followed by the Select and California Route 1 in early 2021 and the GT that spring. Ford will begin taking reservations immediately; a $500 deposit is the price of entry.
Pretty much everything we've seen about the Mustang Mach-E is impressive. Okay, maybe the Mustang tie-in is a bit of a stretch in some regards, but it gives the car a unique presence and selling point, and considering the advanced cabin, controls, and powertrain, it's arguably the one element that identifies the Mach-E as a Ford. This car shows a lot of new thinking, and whether Ford came up with the same answers or really were looking to emulate Tesla is an open question—and largely irrelevant. The future is certainly electric, and we already have proof the Ford Mustang will be part of it.