The Ford Mustang Mach-E is our EV of the Year, foreshadowing a future in which an electric car’s range is incidental to how it drives.
It’s difficult to imagine a better car for converting electric vehicle doubters to EV believers than the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It comes in the familiar form and size of crossovers that Americans like, at a price that rivals gas-powered options, and with a distinctive appearance. The Mach-E has the range and charging speed to defy the most typical EV critiques, and because to Electrify America’s recent efforts, there’s now a countrywide charging network that makes lengthy interstate journeys not only conceivable but also comfortable.
Piloting a Mach-E isn’t so unlike from driving a fuel SUV that it seems alien, but it’s futuristic enough to be thrilling for new EV converts. It’s the ideal vehicle for bringing drivers along for the ride as EVs move from niche alternative to new normal.
Most importantly, the Mach-E is entertaining. It goes beyond the argument that we should drive EVs because they’re better for the environment and offers a more basic truth: electric vehicles can be just as enjoyable to drive as their gas-powered equivalents. The Mach-E finds a sweet spot between practical and visceral, putting Mazda in familiar territory. Ford has created an EV that is capable of towing children, running to Costco, and commuting, but it doesn’t take the fun out of driving.
In this Mustang, you don’t tackle a road. As you move between foot-to-the-floor acceleration and fine modulation of regenerative braking during one-pedal driving, you set a quick tempo and find flow in a smooth plateau of torque. The all-wheel-drive, big-battery variant produces 346 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It’s thrilling to tap into such strength on city streets. The Mach-E zaps past sluggish delivery trucks and bursts out of 25 mph bends. Thrust is delivered as quickly as your foot can request it.
A synthesized soundtrack of a big-engine burble that’s been flattened into a warble adds intensity to the film. The piped-in audio does not sound like an internal combustion, nor does it sound like science fiction. However, based on how many of our drivers preferred to left the sound on, it looks like Ford has gotten the nearest to working out what an EV should sound like of any carmaker.
Unlike many mouth gas-powered competitors, the Mach-E is surprisingly neutral in corners when pushed hard, and fast steering puts it precisely where you want it. The body stays level and occupants stay straight when the car swings around corners, feeling as rooted as a hundred-year-old oak tree, thanks to the 88.0-kWh battery pack under the floor. The Mach-E, on the other hand, bounces in a way that reminds us of other Mustangs, both two-door and four-legged, on Michigan‘s worst roads. The Ford’s ride quality is one area where we found it wanting at times.
The Mach-E flies along a 70-mph road in complete silence. The outside world sounds like a 68-decibel wind to travelers. The seats are quite comfortable, and the driving position nicely separates the car and crossover segments. You sit pretty high at the elevated view point that so many customers like, but owing to the underfloor battery, your legs spread out in front of you like they would in a car. Despite the fastback roofline, the backseat capacity is ample, and the deep load compartment is large.
All of these advantages would be meaningless if the Mach-E didn’t have the range to go great distances. The Ford is suitable for 270 miles on a full charge, according to the EPA, and at a constant 75 mph in our hands, it came within 20 miles of that figure. Only the Tesla Model S covered greater ground in Car and Driver’s range tests. Not surprisingly, the Model S is the only EV on the market with a bigger battery.
The Mustang Mach-E begins at $43,995, which is a few thousand more than the typical new car transaction price, however, the federal tax credit can shave $7500 off the sticker price for the time being. The all-wheel-drive variant we tested is more powerful and has a longer range. It starts at $56,400. Even at that price, the Ford boasts excellent materials and craftsmanship that make the more costly luxury cars in this year’s EV test appear like rip-offs.
The Ford Mustang Mach-worst E’s feature is its name, which suggests a noisy and boisterous vehicle that would make you see red whenever a stoplight turns green. Ford sparked our emotions and elevated our expectations by calling its electric crossover a Mustang, then delivered a vehicle that is fantastic in a completely another way. With quiet dynamic competence, enough space for four, and an interior that seems to be luxury-car pricey, it’s as smooth and serene as vehicles go.
But if the name is our biggest complaint, it tells a lot about the important stuff. A well-known carmaker has produced a reasonably priced, long-range EV with the lust factor of a Tesla. Electric vehicles are becoming considerably more appealing to both mainstream customers and enthusiasts at this critical juncture. Even if we can’t call the Mach-E a Mustang, we’re going to call it our EV of the Year.