Ford finds remedy for range anxiety with Mustang Mach-E

By Paul Borden

(September 20, 2021) Putting aside the fact that it looks about as much like a Mustang as the late Ford C-Max Hybrid, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E stands tall on its own as the company’s first all-electric vehicle. It really doesn’t need whatever tenuous boost in prestige it might get from association with the company’s iconic Pony Car.

The Mach-E, which strikes me as the name Ford could easily have labeled it, isn’t a coupe or convertible, doesn’t have the sweet tunes of even the 4-cylinder Mustang emerging from the exhaust pipes (of course, it doesn’t even have exhaust pipes to begin with), and it has two more doors than the Mustang.

It does share some styling cues, most notably the “pony” image up front and on the rear deck lid, and the swept roofline hints at the fastback profile while not intruding on rear headroom.

The 2021 Mustang Mach-E comes in six trim levels starting with the base Select and continuing with the Premium, California Route 1, First Edition, GT, and GT Performance Edition. This review is based on the First Edition trim, which already is sold out, by the way.

Rear-wheel or all-wheel drive is available, and range extends from 230 miles for the RWD Select all the way up to 305 miles for the RWD California Route 1. The Premium model comes with either a Standard Range (230 miles with RWD, 211 AWD) or Extended
Range (300 RWD, 270 AWD) battery.

Ford estimates range for the First Edition and GT trims at 270 miles and the GT Performance at 260 miles. Finally, an electric vehicle with reasonable ranges, though charging times do detract from that advantage.

One way in which the Mach-E earns its Mustang stripes is when it comes to performance. Select and Premium trims are rated at 266 horsepower with peak torque of 317 pound-feet with RWD and 428 lb.-ft. with AWD. The Extended Range setup on the Premium boosts those numbers to 290 RWD and 346 AWD. The First Edition model (AWD only) checks in at 346 hp, and California Route 1 (RWD only) at 290 hp.

GT and GT Performance models up those numbers to 480 horsepower and torque of 600 and 634 lb.-ft., respectively. What those numbers mean is that you are not going to be lagging behind at the intersection when the light changes.

Zero-to-60 mph times, Ford says, range from 4.8 seconds to 6.1 for Select, Premium, First Edition,, and California Route 1 models and very quick 3.8 and 3.5 seconds for GT and GT Performance, respectively.

That should clear out any misconception that an all-electric vehicle can’t pack a punch.

The Mustang Mach-E also is a very functional vehicle. It is essentially a hatchback offering 29.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 59.7 cubic feet with those seats folded. There’s also a smaller area in the front  where the engine would usually be with 4.7 cubic feet of space.

Passengers don’t get cheated either. Legroom in back is 38.1 inches. Front riders get 43.5 inches.

The cabin is impressive with high quality materials giving it a premium feel. Seats have synthetic leather surfaces, and heated front seats are available.

Distinguishing features for the cabin include a panoramic fixed-glass roof and a huge touchscreen to operate features on Ford’s Sync4-A infotainment. You also use the screen for such functions as selecting the driving mode.

The instrument panel provides at a quick glance the driver with his driving range (both in miles and percentage of battery available), an image of any potential obstacles surrounding the vehicle, and the car’s speed in big, digital numbers.

When it comes to drive modes, Ford eschews traditional terms such as Comfort, Eco, and Sport with settings marked Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled. With such a smooth throttle response, I really didn’t notice a huge difference in any of the settings and ended up spending most of my time in Whisper (i.e., comfort). The single-speed transmission provides seamless, quick acceleration in any setting. Engage and Unbridled add some artificial sound effects.

There also is the one-pedal operation as often come with electric vehicles. Press the accelerator and you, well, accelerate. Ease off and and the car will brake, not coast, so it takes some getting used to avoid undesired full stops.

Other standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, push-button start, navigation system, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision mitigation, blind-spot warning with rear-cross traffic alert, and lane-center system.

The 2021 Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895 (before destination and delivery charges), which translates to the mid-$30,000 range if you qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

MSRP for the Premium starts at $47,600, for the California Route 1 $50,400, and $59,900 for the GT. As noted earlier, the First Edition is sold out.

What I liked about the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E: This is the first all-electric/plugin hybrid exclusive car I have come across with an interior worthy of the price tag. It goes far enough on a full charge to alleviate the usual range anxiety for all-electric vehicles. It is quick no matter what driving mode you select. Cargo space is good.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E: Charging times are slow. You definitely need a high voltage, in-home charging outlet because using a traditional household outlet takes forever. Fast-charging outlets at malls, businesses, or other locations are options, of course. Operation of the Sync4-A infotainment system takes some getting used to. Some functions (cancel navigation for one) are not where you might logically expect them to be.

Would I buy the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E?
This is the first all-electric vehicle I have experienced that I would consider buying. It has excellent range and is fun to drive. You have the feeling of gliding along in a rather responsive vehicle.