Examine Ford’s high-tech EV with a long range.
Many cars today are little more than massive, expensive, and overpriced electronics. So it makes perfect sense to put a couple of the most modern vehicles through their paces and report on the most recent automotive technology. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is our first subject, and boy, is there a lot to say about it.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric vehicle with a lengthy range. On a single charge, it can go between 211 and 305 miles (340 to 490 kilometres). It has enough room for four individuals to sit comfortably. It appears to be a hybrid of a sedan, hatchback, and crossover. Maybe four-door liftback is a good enough description. In terms of size and pricing, the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, and possibly even the Polestar 2 could be considered competitors for this Ford.
When Ford announced in 2019 that its new, practical electric vehicle would be called a Mustang, many people took to social media to complain over the name. Two years later, as the Mach-E becomes more widely available, the groans have gotten a little more muffled, as the Mach-E has shown to be plenty quick and fun, not to mention reasonably priced.
Is that a genuine Mustang? Does it make a difference? People have been wondering “what’s in a name?” since the 1600s, and this trend is unlikely to alter anytime soon. Whether or not you like the name, it has a beginning price of $42,895 in the United States and a fully loaded pricing of less than $70,000. For comparison, the similar Tesla Model Y starts at about $46,990 in the US, while the VW ID.4 starts at $41,190.
Specs & models: What should I know?
The Mustang Mach-different E’s configurations account for the broad variety in pricing. Customers can select between two battery sizes: a conventional 66 kWh model and an extended range variant with 88 kWh.
Customers can also select between driven wheels and power output. RWD vehicles with the normal battery have 266 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, while RWD cars with the extended battery have 290 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque.
Want extra traction or confidence in bad weather? Then there’s the option of getting an all-wheel-drive vehicle. The basic battery produces 266 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, while the extended battery produces 346 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque.
Do you think those figures are a little flimsy? Then there’s the high-performance GT model, which features the extended range battery and all-wheel drive but has greater power and torque at 480 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, with Performance Editions getting an extra 34 lb-ft of torque.
The model we had on hand was in the centre of all of those options, with all-wheel drive and an extended range battery. The EPA estimates that this arrangement will travel 270 miles (435 kilometres) on a single charge. However, outside of the EPA labs, the range can vary significantly.
Outside temperature, cabin climate, speed, and even the extras used in the vehicle can all have an effect on range. There were times when the projected range of a full battery was within 10% of the EPA values.
What’s it like to drive?
Laying into the throttle doesn’t keep the battery charged for very long, but it’s really pleasant.
While the 346 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque output in this mid-level model may appear ordinary these days, the vehicle accelerates quickly and without lag or reluctance. The 0-60 MPH sprint takes 4.8 seconds, which is about the same as a V8-equipped Mustang GT.
The silent sprint is a hoot that will have you and your passengers laughing and smiling.
The silent sprint is a hoot that will have you and your passengers laughing and smiling. If Ford wants to improve on this kind of acceleration, they should add extra cushioning to the headrests.
It should come as no surprise that the Mach-E is heavy, given its large battery. It can weigh between 4,394 lbs and 4,890 lbs depending on the arrangement. This much weight can have an effect on agility and handling.
It will most likely be fine for the ordinary commuter and will not be a bother. However, enthusiasts who drive the Mach-E along their favourite backroads will notice how SUV-like the braking feels. There is also a one-pedal driving mode, which requires some practise.
The battery pack is hidden beneath the floor between the front and rear axles, creating a low centre of gravity and reducing the impact of the increased weight. Stickier tyres would also assist, but would reduce range. Enthusiasts will remark the steering’s lack of input and engagement. Different drive settings can increase steering effort, making handling feel more complex.
When driving in traffic, the Mustang Mach-E keeps up with ease, can swiftly cover gaps, and passes without hesitation. Unlike early EVs, it never feels like it is lagging behind or impeding other vehicles.
What about recharging?
Eventually, the vehicle will need to recharge. This can be done very slowly with a 120-volt household outlet, replenishing about 3 miles per hour. This task will take nearly 90 hours for a complete recharge. Don’t do this unless it’s an emergency and there are no other options.
Most EV buyers will get a level 2 charger at home or will seek one out when on the go. Using one of these will speed things considerably. Expect this method to completely recharge a battery in 14 hours, though Ford also sells a 48-amp Connected Charge Station that will reduce that further down to just about 10 hours. This rate is about 30 miles of range per hour.
The impatient folks who want to recharge much faster also have an option.
The Mach-E supports DC Fast Charging, accepting charge rates up to 150 kW. Depending on the conditions, you can expect the car to recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in 45 minutes.
This is what I saw using a 150 kW Electrify Canada station, and I also used 50 kW FLO chargers during my time with the Mach-E, which were a bit slower.
Those accustomed to the realities of EV charging know that fast charging an EV isn’t cheap. The FLO chargers near me cost about $20 an hour, and I used it for 37 minutes, recharging over 30 percent of the car’s range for $12.55. The Electrify Canada stations are a bit faster and more expensive. It costs $0.57 per minute on the 150 kW plugs, invoicing me $22 for 54 percent of the battery, which took about 30 minutes.
Additionally, EV newbies should know that the fast-charging charging experience changes dramatically once the battery hits 80 percent. Likely to preserve the lifespan of the battery, the charge rate plummets after the 80 percent mark. The Mach-E started charging at 12 kW instead of the 150 and 50 kW rates during the same session. For planning purposes, if you’re going to take a long road trip in an EV, consider memorizing the range of the vehicle at the 80 percent mark (it’s about 220 miles in the Mach-E).
How high-tech is it inside and out?
Ford follows the trends of other automakers, throwing great big screens in the middle of the dashboard. While it presents a minimalist dash with few physical controls, the operation of this screen while on the go is a frustrating affair.
Tapping on the screen to change items like climate settings requires taking your eyes off the road, and the animations and adjustments seem to take a bit too long to feel safe. Like a smartphone, the touchscreen interface has notification shades and drop-down menus, which can also feel distracting to navigate while driving. Perhaps the future Android Automotive OS system will be better, but that may alienate those who want less Google in their lives.
For a bit of familiarity, the vehicle supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both of which can be initiated wirelessly, although there were a few times when the system wouldn’t automatically start those companion apps. The car also offers a wireless phone charger and a few USB ports (both USB-C and USB-A) for connectivity and charging.
While the cabin features a mix of materials, only one area seems low-rent: the gauge cluster. This is another screen sticking out of the dash. It’s relatively small, isn’t customizable, and just gets the job done, which isn’t what you expect when you see a screen in that place. Usually, they’re full of fun and whimsy, are customizable, and pack a lot of useful information in one place. I’ve seen better displays in the Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai Elantra.
The vehicle can also be equipped with a bunch of safety tech and driver aids. There’s a useful 360-degree camera, (it also has a camera washer that spritzes dirt off the lens) and active park assistance, that will help park the car for you. Press a button and sidle up to where you want to park, and it’ll take it from there.
There’s a lot of branding for these safety features, so Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0, means the vehicle has automatic emergency braking for the front and rear, rear parking sensors, post-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and automatic high beam headlights.
There’s also Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0, which includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, meaning it reacts to traffic and can bring the car to a stop and continue when the car ahead gets moving, lane centering, intersection assist (in case there’s a car coming that you can’t see), speed sign recognition (always handy when you can break the speed limit with a flex of your big toe), and voice-activated navigation, which is already available through Android Auto and CarPlay.
Eventually, all these features will come together in what Ford calls BlueCruise, a hands-free driving mode that uses highly detailed maps in addition to all the onboard sensors to make motoring as easy-going as possible. That feature will be added over the air and will cost $600.
The adaptive cruise control worried me a bit in dense traffic. The braking always felt a bit late and made me uneasy, and there was a moment when it seemed like the Mustang couldn’t detect a tailgate-mounted bike rack on the vehicle ahead.
And yes, you read that right – updates will be coming to this car over-the-air. Currently, the updates are vaguely described as bug-fixes, but there have been small changes to the infotainment interface, like improving the on-screen buttons for the trunk and frunk access. The vehicle also gained Amazon Alexa support through an OTA update.
Is it practical?
Since electric vehicles don’t have big combustion engines under the hood and lack drivelines, they can provide more space for passengers and cargo. Pop the trunk and you’re greeted with 29.7 cubic feet, or 840 liters of storage. Fold down the rear seats, and that expands to 59.7 cubic feet / 1,690 liters.
There’s also a modest front trunk (frunk) with 4.7 cubic feet of storage. Overall, it’s much more space than a typical family sedan, but less than most crossovers like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
The Final Word
There’s a lot to like about Ford’s big-battery four-door. It has enough usable range, is spacious and fast. Charge times are pretty good, though lagging behind some of the German EVs that can charge at 350 kW instead of the Mustang’s peak of 150 kW. While the in-cabin tech is flashy, it’s not as useful as it could be. And I had to babysit the adaptive cruise control at times, which didn’t make the commute any less stressful.
Overall it’s good enough and enjoyable, but still has room for improvement, which is expected for 2022 through to 2024, as engineers have already discussed how to boost the range and performance of the vehicle — likely by shedding weight and improving efficiency.
Fortunately for Ford, the Mach-E’s rivals are equally imperfect: the Tesla Model Y has a higher starting price at $46,990 and more range, though there are quality concerns with it, while the VW ID.4 has a lower starting price at $41,190, but with fewer configurations. More competition is looming, too, as the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 are sure to make a splash when they finally arrive. For now though, the Mustang Mach-E feels like it belongs.