The world is going electric. While it’s pretty easy to imagine smaller cars and new car lines being electric, if there’s a car that would have been difficult to imagine in its electric form a few years ago, it’s the Ford Mustang. The iconic car is known for its muscle, its growl, and its…gas consumption. Yet, the Mustang Mach-E is here, and it’s making waves as an all-electric sports car that competes directly with the Tesla Model Y.
The 2021 Mach-E takes some of the things that customers know and love about the Mustang, but ultimately, it’s an almost completely new direction for the line. The car is, after all, an SUV, not the coupe that you’re accustomed to. The interior is redesigned to center around a large display, like a Tesla. And, of course, it makes almost no noise.
The Mach-E benefits from the electrification. It’s fast, sporty, and on-par with other EVs in terms of price. Ultimately, it’s held back a little by the charging infrastructure. But if you have a charger at your home or workplace, that may not matter.
I’ve been using the Ford Mustang Mach-E for the past week. Here are my thoughts.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Exterior
The exterior of the 2021 Mustang Mach-E is almost completely different from the Mustang look that you know and love. There are some similarities — like the slated brake lights and, of course, the iconic Mustang logo. But the Mach-E is almost an entirely new pony altogether.
Of course, much of the difference has to do with the sheer size of the car. The Mach-E is an SUV, and doesn’t replace the gasoline-powered Mustang coupe and convertible. It’s taller than its siblings, but still has sleek curves and a sporty feel.
The roof of the car is pretty high, and higher than it actually looks. Ford has built the Mach-E with a kind of two-tone sloped rear that makes it look like the car is more angled at the back than it actually is. I actually quite like this approach, as it gives the car a sportier look without cutting down on interior space.
The front of the car may not look exactly like the traditional Mustang, but it still has very Mustang-like features. The hood is sculpted, while the headlights are slim and mean-looking. There are fake vents around the Mustang logo on the front, as, of course, electric cars don’t need a grille for cooling the engine. There are vents at the bottom of the front for cooling the electric components, however.
Generally, I really like the look of the Mustang Mach-E. It’s perhaps not as sporty as other Mustangs, but it’s far sportier than your average SUV.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Interior
The interior of the Mustang Mach-E is stunning. The build is clearly premium, everything feels strong and well-built, and most things are pretty much where you would expect them.
Well, almost. Let’s go through the bad first. There are a few bits and pieces that I don’t love, but the good outweighs the bad. Ford has gone for a weird physical volume knob attached to the infotainment display, and while it’s an interesting idea, the knob feels very cheap and obstructs the view of the display. Ultimately, drivers will likely control the volume on the steering wheel anyway, and for the passenger, normal software controls would have been fine.
I would have preferred a horizontal display instead of a vertically aligned one, however that’s perhaps down to personal preference — and on the Tesla, the horizontal screen does obstruct the vents a little. And, I don’t love that accessing the frunk means opening the hood like you would any other car. It’s clunky, and given the fact that it now offers storage, it should be easier to access.
But that’s about where my issues end, and in truth, they’re relatively minor issues. The inside of the car is very spacious, including in the back seat. There’s great visibility from the driver’s seat with plenty of storage for your belongings. There’s also a wireless charger in the front for the driver, which can be used while your phone is connected to wireless CarPlay or Android Auto. I would have liked a second wireless charger for the passenger. There is a USB-C and USB-A port, so it’s not a big deal.
The interior materials are high-quality and soft-touch. There’s a nice synthetic leather throughout the car, coupled with fabric accents in the front covering the speakers, and a comfortable steering wheel. I have no complaints with the build, except for the volume knob.
The trunk is large enough for most. It’s 29.7 cu-ft with the rear seats in place, or 4.7 cu-ft with them folded down.
Generally, the interior of the car looks and feels great. There are some quirks to get used to — but you will get used to them.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Infotainment
As mentioned, the Mach-E offers a large 15.5-inch touch display in the front, where you’ll interact with almost every aspect of the car. It’s high-resolution, and bright enough for use, even in the middle of the day. As mentioned, I would have preferred a horizontal orientation. If you’re going to take a page out of Tesla’s book, at least use the more modern Tesla approach.
The infotainment supports both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, and I really appreciate that. You can use Ford’s own mapping and entertainment, but for most, it’s much easier to just use your phone. I do wish CarPlay could take up more space on the screen though. There’s a “full screen” button, which really just minimizes some of the information cards on the screen, leaving empty space. And, Android Auto seems to integrate a little better, showing directions on the driver display, unlike CarPlay.
Navigating the interface can be a little confusing at times, but you will get used to it. There are tons of controls to sort through, and I recommend spending 15 or 20 minutes when you first get the car and setting them to your preferences. Different key fobs can be linked to different settings for the infotainment, which is very helpful.
The infotainment may be comprehensive, but at times, it can take some time to navigate through all those settings. At times. The system simply felt sluggish. Waiting even a second for climate controls to pop up on the screen when you tap the button can not only be annoying, but also dangerous. Ford should work on ensuring its infotainment has enough processing power to work not just upon release, but for years to come.
Thankfully, climate control settings are always available on the display, meaning that they’re easier to access at any given time.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: FordPass app
The Mustang Mach-E works in tandem with the FordPass app, and Ford is betting that you’ll mostly use the app, rather than the key fob. The app is…fine. It’s not the best-designed app, and at times it can feel a little confusing, not to mention buggy. But most of the time, it worked the way you would expect.
When you open up the app, you’ll get an overview of your car, and the ability to lock, unlock, or start the car, by holding down a button. You can also control the windows and open the trunk. And, you’ll get the car’s charging status, with an overview of when it’s expected to finish charging.
The problem with the app is that it rarely remains updated. I had to force close the appp and re-open it pretty much every time I opened it for it to offer up-to-date information. After charging the car the day before, the app still said that it was charging, and that it would finish charging on “Tuesday at 1:03PM.” I’m writing this on Wednesday. It’s a shame, because with solid updating and a bit of work on some of the bugs, the app would be a whole lot better.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Safety and driver assist
As an electric car in 2021 should, the Mach-E comes with a range of driver-assist features. All of them are relatively helpful and worked well during the five days that I had with the car.
The car comes with the ability to maintain a position in a lane, but it also has the Active Drive Assist system, which can keep the lane position, and maintain speed, on a highway. It works pretty well, though at times it seemed to get close to the edge of a lane during turns. It’s not as good as the Tesla Model Y, even without Full Self Driving. But it’s still not bad at all.
Like some electric cars, you can enable single-pedal driving, which basically more intensely engages the regenerative braking when you take your foot off the pedal. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I actually quite like it — and you could easily go entire trips without using the brake pedal.
The car also offers a park assist feature, which basically involves switching to park and then holding down the park assist button. I found that it worked pretty well, though at times it didn’t detect an open parking space. When it can detect a space, it parked into it quite well, both when parallel parking and when reversing into a spot.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Battery and charging
The car is available in a number of variants. You can get a battery pack that’s either 68kW or 88kW, and get either rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. All of this will impact your expected range, and many will want to go for the long-range option, which should be able to get you past 300 miles of range. With the lower-range option, you should still beat 200 miles, which will be fine for driving around town. You likely won’t quite reach Ford’s estimated range, but the car should adjust its estimations as you go.
When you run out of juice, you’ll want to charge. The car supports charging speeds of up to 150kW. That should get it from 10% to around 80% in 45 minutes or so.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Performance
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is a ton of fun to drive. It’s fast, pretty responsive, and gives you that oomph that you would expect from a modern electric car.
Generally, the Mustang Mach-E drives very well. There are a few quirks to get used to though. The Mach-E is very heavy, and while most of that weight is towards the bottom of the car, making for a lower center of gravity, it still doesn’t quite handle as well as cars like the Model Y. And, because the car is so heavy, the suspension is pretty stiff, and that means you can definitely feel many of the bumps and potholes as you go over them.
The car offers three different driving modes — Whisper, Engaged, and Untamed. The difference between them isn’t huge, but you can feel a slight difference in throttle responsiveness. The other difference is that there’s more or less fake engine noise. I find that to be a gimmick so I turned it off.
The brake pedal can be a little jarring when you use it. As mentioned, you can use single-pedal driving and never have to use the brake pedal. But once you push down on the pedal, you’ll really feel it.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E review: Charging infrastructure
The actual experience of driving the Ford Mustang Mach-E may be great, but ultimately, it won’t matter if you can’t charge it. Therein lies the problem of driving any electric car in 2021. Unfortunately, the charging infrastructure in the U.S. simply isn’t built-out enough to make for a great experience. If you don’t charge at home, you’ll need to find fast charging stations in your area. During testing the Mach-E, that meant buying groceries at a different location than normal, and doing some work in the car while it charged. And, none of the chargers in my area supported the Mach-E maximum speed of 150kW, though many Electrify America stations do support that speed.
If you can charge at home, you may be able to avoid this issue, at least for day-to-day use. You could easily make your way to and from work and charge overnight, as long as your commute isn’t too long. For longer trips, you’ll need to plan charging stops. I hope that the charging infrastructure gets seriously better in the U.S., and quickly.
The Mach-E may be a Mustang, but it’s a car that anyone could get use from. It competes directly with the Tesla Model Y, coming in at a similar price, and offering room for families, and modern features. It’s stylish, fast, and an option that any new car buyer should consider.
The biggest competition right now comes from the Tesla Model Y, and it’s complicated to decide between the two. I actually prefer the overall look of the Mustang Mach-E. And the interior, while not quite as modern, feels a little more premium. But the Tesla will get a longer range at a similar price. Plus, it benefits from the massive and fast Tesla Supercharger network, which beats any other charging network out there.
Of course, at the time of this writing, it’s probably worth going for the 2022 model of the Mach-E, if you do decide to get it for yourself.
Should I buy the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E?
Yes. If range is your top priority then a Tesla is still the way to go. But if you plan on charging at home or work, and like the Mach-E’s style, it’s an excellent option.