I was eager to write this review. I love controversy, and if you want to find some in the automotive world, look no further than the Mustang Mach-E. In fact, look no further than the name. But despite the general dislike towards its given title, I will point out that it is a Mustang, whether we like it or not. And there’s some interesting logic in that conclusion. Let’s take a look at the longest range Mustang Mach-E: the California Route 1.
SwerveAutos Score: 75.5/100
This is one of those cars that got a higher score in my book after seeing it in person. It’s always hard to judge by computer renderings or even video footage, and when I first greeted the Mach-E in person I actually liked it. It’s certainly not perfect, but you do see Mustang influences all over, especially with the taillights, headlights and front fascia. This is actually one of my favorite front fascias of any EV, especially in adapting to a grill-less design.
Ford was clever in the use of black accented body color in the top of the rear section. This makes it look incredibly sharp and angled, while actually retaining a decent cargo area and rear headroom. This same tactic is used in the lower side sills, using black accents jutting into the body color to give it a more “slim” appearance. Despite head knowledge explaining it away, it’s still impressively effective at playing tricks on your brain. The door handles, or lack thereof, is still a strange factor. Designers always find them to be a frustration in their concept, and with Mach-E, they simply removed them altogether in lieu of an electronic push-button system. The front doors do technically have a handle, or small “pull”, but the rear just have the button, and then softer-touch rubber on the inside of the door sill. As far as CUVs go, this is one of the better options in the styling department, bringing in a 7.5 out of 10.
Though a mid-tier trim, I enjoy sitting and driving in the California Route 1. The leather seats, while not heated or ventilated, give a nice presence; especially with this contrasting silver stitching. The materials feel on par with Mustang, opting for understated elegance rather than pure luxury. That being said, I find it more than adequate for long drives. The center console carries a unique floating design, complimenting the floating displays.
A statement piece of the interior is undoubtably the new, large 15” center display. It features a welcome volume knob, almost floating over top of the lowest portion of the screen. It houses all of your infotainment, vehicle settings, and climate control, providing an impressive user interface leaning towards simplicity. Apple CarPlay struggles to blend in with the Mustang software, as Apple “rounds” off the corners digitally. I wish they gave a bit more control to the user as far as exact styling.
The steering wheel has a very diverse mix of materials and touches, joining leather, matte plastic, gloss piano black plastic, and metal accent. However, it joins together nicely and looks and feels both comfortable and sporty. The screen above the wheel shows minimal information in a clean format, including battery range, speed, and adaptive cruise control visuals. I loved the screens in both day and night mode formats, so I promptly left it in auto to follow exterior lighting. Overall 8 out of 10 for good interior quality, fit, and finish.
Being the California Route One, this is arguably the worst performing Mach-E in terms of most performance figures. However, that results in the longest range Mach-E available, at over 300 miles EPA. But 0-60 is rated at approximately 6.1 seconds, putting it on par with the slowest mustang in the last decade: the 4 cylinder EcoBoost convertible. Though the instant power delivery does make it “feel” faster. I would actually put it closer in comparison to the last V6 mustang. Suspension is fine, though it is noticeably taller in ride height and that brings a bit more body roll. Despite the relatively “low” number with acceleration, you can still easily squeal tires with traction control off and it is quite fun and manageable even at its limit of grip.
The brake pedal is a bit finicky, though I often left it on the “one-pedal drive” operation. This worked quite well, especially once you get a feel for how much the car slows down and how quickly it reaches full-stop.
A new consideration in performance for EVs is that of charging and power. This is one major downside for Mustang Mach-E, at least as of right now. When you hit 80% state of charge, the otherwise impressive 150+ kW charging speed drops to a crawling 12 kW. Meaning you have to sit for over an hour just to get from 80-100%. Arguably, this isn’t a deal breaker for most people who only intend it as a city car. But for road trips, it effectively renders the EPA rating 20% useless for repeated charging needs. 6 out of 10 for all around performance, as it’s not a tremendous Mustang, and leaves a fair bit to be desired on the EV front.
The California Route One may be the worst from a performance standpoint, but that’s because it is focused on efficiency. This is the only Mustang Mach-E to be rated for over 300 miles on a charge. For an all electric Mustang, that’s about as practical as it gets. Plus, in case you forgot, this is not a 2-door coupe. The Mach-E brings crossover capabilities, including 5 usable seats, a larger cargo bay, and even a small frunk! There’s emphasis on “small”, however, with less than 5 cubic feet of space up front. The rear has 30 cubic feet, or an impressive 60 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. It attempts the impossible, CUV capability in a Mustang nameplate. Given its electric prowess and great storage capacity, at least for a Mustang, I can give it a 7 out of 10. Technically the most practical Mustang in existence!
The charging may not be best-optimized for lengthy road trips, at least not quick ones, but the Mach-E is certainly a comfortable car to sit in. Again, this is the California Route 1, with long-range in mind, and I do enjoy every moment in the cabin. The driver’s seat even moves forward to your memory position upon starting it up, and slides backwards with egress. The seats and steering wheel are all a comfortable leather, and the seats appear almost quilted, at least in appearance. Climate control is convenient and simple to use, allowing for multiple fan speeds within “AUTO”. Materials otherwise are nice, but not posh. This is very much in line with the Mustang mindset, and I find no offense with it.
One major benefit with the Mach-E over the coupe is the rear seat room, unsurprisingly. There are 3 rear seats, and each are usable by adults, especially the outer ones. This concept is a stretch in the coupe, where adults in the back seat are either miserable or highly tolerant. Overall comfort comes out to an 8 out of 10, definitely the highest in the Mustang family.
The highest score in its favor, technology leaves very little to be desired. I was intrigued by the bold center screen ever since the unveiling, and I love the retainment of a volume knob in adaptation along with the screen. The way it floats in front is impressive, and it is easy to operate, though it is rather cheap-feeling when rotating it. The entire user interface is in face easy to use, with most settings and options being no more than 2 taps away. Wireless Apple CarPlay is always a welcome feature, plus the wireless Qi phone charger in the center console.
You also get Ford BlueCruise (eventually), built-in (and beautifully designed) navigation, and even an interesting propulsion sound pumped into the cabin to imitate somewhat the powertrain sound of a Mustang. This is another tangible component to a V6 Mustang, as it’s definitely not a V8 roar, but it’s an engaging and almost thrilling sound when on full acceleration. Also on a sound note, the interesting sounds of starting up or powering down the vehicle, or chimes for various warnings and messages are interesting. I would expect it to get old, especially the startup/shutdown sounds. Though just like a computer, probably not something you can change, at least not yet.
The main center screen does have a bit of input lag at times, somewhat concerning on an early model. Though I can’t confirm whether it’s an overclocked hardware component or an issue in the HTML5 back-end code. Wireless CarPlay also freezes occasionally, but re-initiating the connection from either the car or the phone seems to resolve it for the time being. It does seem to operate much better after a minute or two of startup. Minor initial bugs aside, Mustang Mach-E provides an excellent user experience overall, with 8.5 out of 10.
Connected Services 8/10
As afore-mentioned, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, with both having wireless capability. This is a welcome addition, especially since not all manufacturers offer wireless Android Auto. The navigation was nice to look at, though I preferred the usability of the mobile phone implementations for navigation.
The FordPass app offers convenient connectivity to your Ford vehicle, and there are even options for digital keys. BlueCruise is coming later this year via an over-the-air (OTA) update. OTA updates are one of the most overlooked yet convenient connected services, meaning owners won’t have to take their Ford to a dealer for a simple update to navigation or otherwise. It’s an impressive collection of connected services in a connected world, providing it an 8 out of 10 for this category.
Active Safety 8/10
On paper, it’s a safe vehicle, and in person, it feels even more-so. The higher seating position over a standard Mustang makes you feel slightly more in-control on the road. It also includes one of the nicest 360 cameras for parking, whether backing in, pulling forward, or parallel parking. Ford Co-Pilot360 / Assist are standard, with Co-Pilot Active optional, including BlueCruise (coming soon) and Active Park. I always appreciate safety features, especially those within software, being standard. It seems to be very safe with the cruise control operation, pre-collision avoidance braking, lane-keep assist, and a slough of other features. The pre-collision warning is definitely a noise to wake you up, scaring me half-to-death every time it goes off when someone in front of me brakes a bit too soon. The Mach-E offers most everything you could want in a modern car from a safety standpoint, albeit sometimes annoying in its warnings. Overall 8 out of 10.
The Mustang Mach-E starts at approximately $42,000 which makes it a compelling option in a market of luxury EVs. This California Route 1 comes in at just over $50,000, putting it up against intriguing competition. But overall quality and driving experience did feel premium. It just depends how you look at it. In terms of Mustang money, it’s a tremendous price tag, comparable to nicer V8 models, but in terms of battery-electric CUV, complete with great quality and style, it’s admirable. There are cheaper Mustangs, yes, but not with this overall quality and feel. There are also cheaper CUV’s, electric or otherwise, but they tend to compromise in performance feel. Overall value puts it at a 7 out of 10.
Editors Influence 7.5/10
I expected this number to be very low, but after driving the Mustang Mach-E enough, I started to understand Ford’s mindset. They could not embark on electrifying the brand with their hallmark coupe, but they had to build something more usable and popular with more people: the CUV. But they wanted to present something sporty and fun, relatively speaking, and they did a solid job. It’s certainly not for everyone, and it gets a lot of angry reacts. But I might argue that those who think this isn’t a Mustang are the same people who don’t consider the V6 or modern EcoBoost models a true Mustang either. They’re V8 purists in their right, but the truth is that Mustang is broadening its horizons, and it’s up to us to broaden our minds alongside it.
It’s not for everyone, and in fact it’s not for me. But it gave me a feeling of nostalgia for my V6 from 10 years ago, in both feel and sound. It attempts to bring spice to an otherwise monotonous CUV market, and that’s commendable. I’ll grant it a 7.5 out of 10.