Review update: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E evolves an icon

As soon as I parked the Rapid Red Mustang Mach-E at my son’s soccer game, my 7-year-old daughter pointed to a black V-6 Mustang convertible in the parking lot and exclaimed, “Dad! It’s the same type of car we’re driving!”

Even a 7-year old knows the Mach-E is a Ford Mustang, and it’s exciting to her regardless of how many doors it has, its ride height, or the fact it’s electric.

In a word, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is fantastic. It swept four Best Car To Buy awards including being named The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2021.

With a TCC Rating of 8.5 out of 10 the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E isn’t perfect, but it bests the Tesla Model Y and Chevrolet Bolt EV with captivating looks, excellent packaging, and great tech. It falls a bit short with some of its day-to-day features and fast charging presents its own quirks.

I spent a week hauling the kids around town, fast-charging, and living my daily life with the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E to see where it hits and misses. Here’s what I learned.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Hit: Looks like a Mustang

I don’t care what anyone else says, four doors and a hatchback be damned, the Mach-E looks like a Mustang. The tri-bar taillights are clearly those of a Mustang. Add in the fast roofline and swollen rear fenders and it’s clear this EV is a Mustang and not some economy car hatchback with a big battery pack.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Miss: Electronic door buttons

I wasn’t bothered by the circular buttons on the door pillars that act as the electronic door handles, but my 5- and 7-year old kids had some rather strong opinions that morphed throughout the week. At first, when they pushed the small button about the size of a penny, opening the door was “cool” and “awesome.” Though, both kids wondered why the front doors had a small plastic grab handle to open the door while those using the rear doors had to settle for grabbing the metal like peasants. But by the middle of the week both kids were over the electronic door releases and its novel buttons. They weren’t wrong, and I do wonder how the use case works during a Minnesota winter snow and ice storm, but the electronic door releases worked each and every time during my test in fall weather.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Hit: Fun to drive

My Premium AWD model featured the larger optional 88-kwh battery pack ($5,000 extra) delivering an EPA-estimated range of 270 miles. With 346 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque, my Mach-E tester had an estimated 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds, and that felt about right. It’s not the quickest EV, nor does it have neck-snapping acceleration, but it’s fun. In the Mustang world, my tester equates to a nicely equipped Mustang with a turbo-4 under its hood. (A turbo-4 Mustang would have 78 lb-ft less torque, be nearly a second slower to 60 mph, and weigh about 1,300 lb less, which is to say it’s no V-8.) But with 255/55R19 Michelin Primacy all-seasons tires at all four corners, it wasn’t hard to put a smile on my face. With little effort I swung the rear end out of the Mach-E while going around a corner as the tires’ limits were low, predictable, and easy to overcome. Unbridled mode, which is like Sport mode but with a corny Mustang name, provides a little rope to go sideways before kicking in to keep things from getting too bent out of shape.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Miss: Plug-and-charge failed to work as advertised

Ford made a big deal about its FordPass system and Mustang Mach-E buyers getting two years of complimentary Level 2 and 3 charging via Greenlots and Electrify America. The entire system’s supposed to be plug-and-charge, in theory. No fobs, cards, PINs, or credit-card swipes needed, supposedly. It’d be great if it actually worked. In my experience, it didn’t work. Twice. I plugged the Mustang Mach-E into a 150-kw Electrify America Level 3 fast charger and nothing happened. To ensure it wasn’t simply this single charging station, I attempted the same feat with another 150-kw EA charging station, and still, nothing happened. The charger’s screen prompted me to swipe a credit card to pay for the charging session. Once I swiped my credit card the juice started flowing to the Mach-E with a peak rate of 120-kw.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Hit: Great technology

Every Mach-E features a slim 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster and 15.5-inch touchscreen. The gauge cluster features a clean layout with only pertinent information needed at that moment, including range and battery charge, current speed, and the current state of safety systems including what’s surrounding the Mach-E. It puts a digital speedometer right in my line of sight, which is nice, unlike in a Tesla Model 3 or Y. The 15.5-inch touchscreen steals the show with its portrait orientation and easy-to-use interface. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can multitask by showing those smartphone interfaces along with other vehicle systems and controls at the same time. It even has a volume knob glued onto the screen, which is a delight to use.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Miss: Fast charging after 80%

The Ford Mustang Mach-E isn’t the quickest charging EV by a long shot. It doesn’t run on an 800-volt architecture. Ford said the electric Mustang can fast charge its battery up to 80% in 45 minutes. I plugged the Mach-E into a 150-kw Electrify America charging station and it took only 22 minutes to take the battery from 40% to 80%, and it cost me $15.48. Once the Mach-E’s battery hit an 80% state of charge the charging rate dropped like a rock down to 11 kw. The Mach-E’s digital gauge cluster said it would take almost another two hours to hit 100% despite being plugged into an L3 charger. Ford spokesperson Sam Schembari told The Car Connection the wall is going to be moved to 90% in a free over-the-air software update to make it easier to fast charge and recoup range during a road trip. The timing of this software update is unknown. A drop in charge rate at 80% is common in EVs to protect the battery and extend its life, but to drop so dramatically is inconvenient.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E moves Ford’s muscle car in a new direction for a new era. Ample power, fun dynamics, great technology, and competitive range continue to justify our choice as The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2021.

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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD

Base price: $43,996, including destination
Price as tested: $56,200
Powertrain: 346 hp, dual-motor, all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 270 miles of EPA-rated range, 96/84/90 MPGe
The hits: Terrific technology, looks great, fun to drive, it’s an electric Mustang
The misses: Plug and Charge doesn’t always work as advertised, fast charging isn’t always fast, pushbutton door release

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