The Electric Vehicle…Not The Badge
From the badge seen in various parts of this vehicle, one might think it belongs to another cult. One that is truly an American classic for the ages.
A Victory & Reseda review of the Ford Mustang Mach-E…and The First Experience of Living With an Electric Vehicle.
What you’re about to read is a result of more than a decade of your insistence that I review a vehicle that signifies the future of the automobile.
As you can tell, this vehicle is not from that one brand that you sometimes kowtow to. The one that could be seen as a symbol of some cult of personality.
From the badge seen in various parts of this vehicle, one might think it belongs to another cult. One that embodies legendary performance and its deserved iconic status. One that is truly an American classic for the ages.
However, there are enthusiasts of vehicles representing this badge who do not see this particular vehicle as one of their own.
To all of these camps, I could explain what “brand equity” is and how that is played out on this 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. I won’t. I’d rather celebrate the fact that this this first battery-electric vehicle ever reviewed in Victory & Reseda.
After all, this is the future right now.
Because it is a different kind of vehicle aside from the usual internal combustion engines and – sometimes – electrified add-ons to that driveline, this will not be your normal “My Thoughts Exactly” review. Before I get on to where I am going with this review, let me take you through the Mustang Mach-E.
As you are aware, this is Ford’s deepest plunge into battery-electric vehicles to date. That, before the arrival of the F-150 Lightning. It is shaped like a Mustang – somewhat. It has some of the Mustang coupe/convertible’s design elements. Yet, there has never been a four-door version of America’s pony car icon. Nor has there been one identified as a crossover/SUV. Clearly, this is the first electrified vehicle of any sort wearing the galloping horse badge.
To the Mustang purists, I hear you. I see you. I noticed the comments and reaction emojis showing your anger over this vehicle. So, I ask you to not shoot the messenger. I only worked with this for a period of time that I might forget about it in a few years…
Even with that badge, it is a good vehicle. It seats up tom five human beings, can carry up to 59.7 cubic feet of cargo space – along with a 4.7 cubic feet “frunk” – and drives quite nicely.
The Mustang Mach-E does have some interesting elements to it. Inside is a small digital instrument cluster with only a few bits of information – speed, driver assist functions, and the range/battery life. The tilt-telescope wheel can be adjusted for a full view of this screen.
However, the Mustang Mach-E’s party trick is its 15.5-inch touchscreen set in portrait mode. Ford’s Sync 4A infotainment system was designed to handle more functions beyond just audio, navigation, and other related items. It is also the hub for a lot of vehicle functions. The screen is very responsive and has wireless smartphone connectivity, as well as wireless charging and onboard Wi-Fi.
It is also worth noting that this is the first Mustang to offer all-wheel drive. My tester has this on top of the Premium trim level. That means there is a motor on each axle. Ford claims that this dual motor set-up has a peak power rating of 316 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of peak torque.
My Premium tester was also equipped with an 88-kilowatt-hour extended use battery pack. At 100% capacity, I saw that this Mustang Mach-E yielded a range of 245 miles. When charged up to 80%, that range was at 206 miles.
This is a good time to talk about some real world driving data. When I first charged up at a DC fast Charger to 80% battery capacity, I noticed that it returned about 206 miles. My longest recharge at a DC Fast Charger was just 38 minutes when it recovered 60% battery capacity to 81%. These were done at the Electrify America charging station in Woodbury, Minnesota.
One time, I handed off the Mach-E to our videographer George to recharge it using his home-installed Level 2 charger. There, he recovered 39% battery capacity back to 100% in under 7 hours.
While there had mostly successful charges from either a Level 1 or DC Fast Charger, I did run into a few issues with the charging network.
Through the FordPass app, you are pointed to several stations connected to the Blue Oval Charging Network. The primary search is set to DC Fast Charging stations, which is great and all. Along with Electrify America, Ford can connect you with ChargePoint and Greenlots/Shell stations, as well.
While the Electrify America station was the most successful out of the DC Fast Charging stations, it is located about 25 miles from my current home. I found myself wasting battery juice to get there to fill up on more.
The charging stations that were closer to home provided a greater challenge. I found one that had a broken connector, another that simply did not work, and one that was being used which the app told me it was not. They also had a few that were located at dealerships of other brands – a couple of which does not allow their DC Fast Charger to be used to external customers.
One could top off at a Level 2 charging station. I did that when I was shopping at a couple of Target stores. Interesting enough, they were located next to a proprietary network provided by that certain start up EV manufacturer. Imagine the smirks I got pulling up in my Mach-E up to those Level 2 chargers. Imagine if I had an adapter to use on their network…
I will say that when I was charging at the Electrify America station in Woodbury, the folks around me were much friendlier. When I pulled up in the Mach-E, people were genuinely curious about the EV experience – and vice versa. I was changing next to – and not at the same time – a Rivian R1T, a Porsche Taycan Cross Tourer, a few Chevrolet Bolt EVs, and a Volkswagen ID.4. There was even another Mach-E there. Couldn’t find the owner from Wisconsin, but I was glad I was not alone that time.
When the charging network works to the advantage of the EV owner, it becomes beneficial towards a complete ownership experience. I have to go back to my argument about the advantage homeowners have when the right amount of juice to support a home-installed level 2 charger.
Navigating through the public charging infrastructure helped me to understand – rather, to confirm – the frustration that potential EV owners have when they cannot recharge their vehicles where they live. We’re talking about those living in rental and/or multi-dwelling residential properties here.
Just as a data point, my 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium all-wheel drive tester with the extended use battery came with a sticker price of $56,200.
Now that I accomplished working with my first fully scheduled electric vehicle for your reading pleasure, there are plenty of lessons to be learned here. Yes, one can live with an EV. I survived my week in the Mach-E just fine. I liked how it drove overall. It drew some curious faces and semi-excitable chats from onlookers. While it drives like any other vehicle on the road, Ford certainly executed the Mach-E to fulfill its mission for it.
I could address the elephant – er, horse – in the room. However, I’d rather not stir the pot. I have friends who are Mustang owners and enthusiasts and have expressed their consternation that Ford would put their precious galloping horse on this battery-electric coupe crossover/SUV.
What came out of this experience was something more valuable than focusing on a simple vehicle to spotlight. It is about facing the future. Instead of relying on petroleum coming from volatile and politically sensitive sources, our energy will come from our electrical grid. We have to at least ready for this, but not without a lot of work to fix, improve, and grow the infrastructure to meet the demand of the automobile’s future.
As for the Ford Mustang Mach-E, it deserves to live in a world where these challenges will be met – no matter your feelings about the badge on this vehicle.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by the Ford Motor Company
All photos by Randy Stern