SAN DIEGO —I’ve never been a particular fan of the Ford Mustang. This isn’t to say that I don’t understand why some folks love the Mustang — I just haven’t been one of them (until now).
I know this is sacrilege for any red-blooded American male, but hear me out. The old Mustang, I like. The 60’s-era Bullitt Mustang? Those are great. But I never understood the appeal of the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s-era pony cars.
This extends to the Mustang’s competition, too, like the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, so I’m not singling out the Mustang here. I think muscle cars are generally impractical, uncomfortable, difficult to see out of and often driven by people with more bravery than skill.
But now, there’s a new Mustang that soundly smashes all of those stereotypes and opens up the pony car to an entirely new world thanks to two significant changes.
First, it has four doors which is enough for any Mustang purist to wail and gnash their teeth. Second, it’s electric. If you believe the commentariat on social media, this is the automotive equivalent of that asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
But they’re missing out because this is the best electric car on the market and the first one that I’m really considering for myself.
Starting on the outside, the Mustang Mach-E is a four-door fastback, which is like a fancy hatchback. It’s roomy and sleek and is as far from a boring electric car as you can get. Big Mustang emblems on the front and back, and the signature Mustang triple taillight complete the look.
Inside, it’s clear that Ford’s designers are subscribing to the Tesla school of minimalist design. There’s an enormous 15-inch screen dominating the center of the dash, with an almost-petite-in-comparison secondary instrument cluster above the steering wheel.
The seats are comfortable, and there’s storage everywhere. Thanks to the nature of electric cars, the floors are flat, and legroom in the rear is exceptional for a vehicle of this size. And the enormous glass sunroof floods the interior with light and a feeling of spaciousness. The glass roof is an automotive trend I am 100% in favor of.
Pop open the tailgate, and you have tons of cargo space, and folding the seats down can handle even the most enthusiastic Costco run. You’ll be limited in moving substantial bits of furniture thanks to the aggressively sloping rear glass, so keep that in mind if you’re switching over from an enormous SUV.
But the real triumph is the powertrain — especially the sound. Sure, the electric motor doesn’t do much other than whirr, but Ford’s sound team has created an otherworldly purr that wouldn’t be out of place on a spaceship — but somehow fits perfectly into the Mach-E. It’s so natural that passengers don’t think anything of it, even though it’s entirely artificial.
The audio system actually measures real-time torque, power output, and current speed to figure out how much noise to make, and it’s uncanny. Sure it’s fake, but you don’t care because it sounds so cool. And it can be turned off if you’re boring.
Put your foot down, and the Mach-E sets off with gusto. Tesla owners may scoff at the car’s 4.8-second 0-60 time (it is a bit slower than a Model 3), but that’s hardly a slouch. And the Mach-E GT coming later this year should get that time down to a supercar-quick 3.5 seconds.
The Mach-E is nimble and playful and a delight to drive, especially in those all-important red-light-to-red-light sprints. I love cars that have personality and presence, and the Mach-E is only too happy to deliver. Put your foot into it in a corner, and it’ll even do a little controlled drift. It’s glorious.
Ford has gone out of its way to make this the easiest electric car for first-time EV buyers, which I suspect will make up a large chunk of Mach-E purchasers.
Ford has put a considerable amount of effort into ensuring that its range meter will be accurate. It considers your personal driving style, altitude changes along your route, traffic and even the weather. And it’ll soon be cloud-connected, allowing tens of thousands of Mach-E owners to help each other get better range estimates as well.
The company is working hard to make on-the-go charging easy, too. Mach-E owners can pull up to Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVGo and some other network chargers and set up and pay for the charging session without needing to establish an account with each network. It even supports plug-and-charge with Electrify America stations, where you don’t need to do anything but plug in to start charging. It’s even easier than buying gas.
I don’t know if the Mustang Mach-E will be the car that really gets non-early adopters excited about electric vehicles — that may be reserved for the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning. But this is the first EV I’ve reviewed that I was really reluctant to give back.
I can’t think of a more significant endorsement — finally, a Mustang for me.