If you care about cars, technology or climate change, it’s impossible not to feel a thrill walking up to a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Not that the first electric SUV to bear the legendary Mustang pony badge is a big deal, or anything, but hey, the first edition is sold out, and the waiting list for others isn’t getting any shorter.
The sleek, five-seat newcomer successfully transfers the magic of the Mustang to the vehicle that launches Ford’s transition to electric power.
Like the classic Mustang coupe and convertible that created the pony car’s mystique, buyers who want all-out performance will have to wait for the upcoming GT and other models, but initial models of the Mach-E make Ford a strong player as electric vehicles bid for widespread acceptance.
The battery-powered Mach-E is everything most of its owners will ask for: Easy to operate, room for people and cargo, up to 300 miles range on a charge, no obvious twitches or glitches to alienate EV skeptics.
In an afternoon driving Mach-Es on highways, city and country roads and a closed course, the Mach-E checked key boxes: Able and responsive in traffic.
Mustang has far more passenger and cargo space than the coupe. Easy to drive, with no bleeding-edge quirkiness. If you can drive, you can drive Ford’s new EV.
The advanced features appear reasonably intuitive, including an app to help plan charging stops on road trips.
Eager early-adopters who ordered in advance should get their Mach-Es shortly. Vehicles ordered now — online or at your dealer — will arrive in 2021. More powerful performance models will arrive in the summer.
Standard safety and driver assist features
• Blind spot and cross traffic alerts.
• Adaptive cruise control.
• Speed limit sign recognition.
• Automatic high beams.
• Automatic front braking and collision alert.
• Automatic rear braking.
• Lane keeping alert and assist.
• Post-collision braking.
Mach-E prices start at $42,895 for a rear-drive model.
Adding a second motor powering the front axle for all-wheel drive raises the base price to $45,595.
Prices for currently available models go to $49,800 for a California Route 1. A limited first edition of AWD models sold out at $58,300 apiece.
All prices exclude destination charges.
RWD with normal range
This was tested on a closed handling course at the American Center for Mobility proving ground just outside Detroit. It stickered at $45,895.
• Heated front seats and steering wheel.
• Foot-operated power tailgate.
• Preparation for Ford’s upcoming system for hands-free highway driving.
• Infinite Blue metallic paint.
• Power front seats.
• Memory for driver’s settings.
AWD extended range
This one was tested on a longer
drive that included highways, twisting country roads and suburban streets. It stickered at $55,100.
• Rapid Red metallic paint.
• Extended range battery.
Compact and midsize electric SUVs are a growth stock. The Mach-E’s price and features appear competitive. Its power and range also stack up well, a comparison that will only get better when the GT and GT Performance Edition arrive this summer.
Ford’s new EV architecture carries its batteries in the floor pan, a design common among vehicles engineered from the start to be EVs, as opposed to old-style cars and SUVs that were modified to hold batteries.
That delivers a couple of benefits:
• The battery doesn’t intrude on the passenger or luggage room.
• Putting the heavy battery so low in the vehicle creates a low center of gravity, which contributes to good road-holding in quick maneuvers. As a result, the Mach-E’s center of gravity is just 1.25 inches higher than a Mustang coupe, despite the fact that the SUV is 9.1 inches taller than the sporty coupe.
New tech, familiar driving feel
The acceleration of extended range AWD Mach-E Premium is more than acceptable. Ford claims 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Electric motors deliver torque immediately, as you’re sick of hearing if you follow the technology.
If you’re not plugged into EV development, that’s different from internal combustion engines, which need to reach and remain in a specific rpm range to generate maximum torque, the force that best equates to acceleration.
The Mach-E will be the first time many drivers experience another EV characteristic: one pedal driving. A setting where the energy from deceleration is recaptured so aggressively that the driver seldom has to touch the brake pedal. The energy goes back to the battery, extending the SUV’s range.
The Mach-E’s steering is firm, with good on-center feel. The suspension holds the body level in quick maneuvers and absorbs bumps well. The interior is roomy, sporty and straightforward and the controls are easy to use. The gauges are clear.
The Mach-E is fun and responsive. The launch models are the appetizer for its ultimate performance, but they deliver enough performance to satisfy most drivers.