As America moves towards electrified vehicles Torque News endeavors to bring you the best comparisons we can so that shoppers can make an informed decision. The Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E are head-to-head competitors in a widening field that started with the Jaguar I-Pace. Both of these new vehicles bring the entry price down considerably while still offering what is easy to call "high performance."
Ford offered us unlimited access to its experts and a week of testing time with the new Mustang Mach-E, which is being delivered to its first owners as this story is written. As always, since Tesla has no automotive media support, Tesla offered us no expert insight and no media test vehicle. Tesla's local dealer had e-mailed me an invitation as a consumer, so I accepted. Short of purchasing a Model Y, this is the best comparison we can provide. We won't choose an overall winner, but we will tell you which vehicle we felt was better in which category. You choose the winner.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - What Are They?
The Tesla Model Y Long Range all-wheel drive and Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range All-wheel Drive Premium are battery-electric crossovers. They are more car-like than lower-cost green crossover SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 Prime and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, both of which are hybrids that can also plug in and act as EVs for a typical daily commute.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - What Powers Them?
The Mach-E and Model Y are powered by electric motors. The Mach-E has a rated torque of 428 lb-ft and the Model Y has a torque rating of 389 lb-ft. Both are all-wheel drive and both use a single-speed “transmission.”
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - What Do They Cost?
The Model Y Long-Range AWD we drove was a white on white version with up-sized wheels.
The Tesla Model Y price broke down this way:
Vehicle Price = $49,990
Wheel Upgrade = $2,000
White Interior $1,000
Destination Charge $1,200
Federal Tax Incentive = $0
Total Consumer Cost As Driven Less State Rebates: $54,190
Our Mustang Mach-E Extended Range (88kWhr battery) AWD had a price breakdown as follows:
Vehicle Price = $47,000
Extended Range AWD = $7,700
Rapid Red Paint = $400
Destination Charge = $1,100
Subtotal Price $56,200
Federal Tax Incentive = $7,500
Consumer Cost As Driven After Federal Tax Incentive Less State Rebates = $48,700
If you qualify for the full $7,500 tax rebate, and if the federal income tax law remains unchanged before the next filing season, the Ford Mach-E has a10% edge in consumer cost over the Model Y from Tesla. Different options would bring these closer together in price. However, Tesla has a $200 per year cost of electricity advantage over Ford in this matchup.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - Infotainment, Controls, and Notable Features
The infotainment systems of the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E are so similar it is obvious that the folks at Tesa copied Ford’s design. We’re kidding! Tesla pioneered the “everything in the screen” infotainment and controls design three models back. Personally, we like Ford’s better for multiple reasons.
First, Ford is not a slave to the idea and Tesla is. The Mach-E has a great multi-informational screen high on the dash behind the steering wheel that augments the main screen. This driver’s view display offers all the info one needs without moving one’s eyes off-center. It even incorporates Android Auto info like Google Maps turns. For us, this was the big win. However, Ford also offers a more logical layout to the screen in our opinion. It seems more intuitive. Finally, Ford’s steering wheel controls are just more sensible.
The biggest difference infotainment-wise is that Tesla does not offer Android Auto or Apple Car Play. Ford offers both and they are wireless and seamless. Ford also has a perfect wireless phone charger, and a place for your passenger’s phone ahead of the cupholders. The space is plenty-big for a modern phone and rubberized. Ford nailed the infotainment system in the Mach-E. It is a big advantage over the Model Y’s more Spartan approach.
Both vehicles offered heated seats, but Ford again wins with a heated steering wheel. We hear that Tesla is adding that to the Model Y, but as of yet, our Tesla salesperson says he has never seen one. Last, the Mach-E’s perforated seats top the Model Y’s solid-surface hands-down. Ford simply gives you more interior features for your dollar, and it’s better stuff than the Tesla offers you. We also felt that the interior materials offered by Ford were of a higher perceived quality than Tesla’s. Make your own call on that.
Both of these vehicles also have a huge panoramic glass roof. They seemed identical to us. Neither of these vehicles had a head-up display or a spare tire. Something Toyota’s RAV4 Prime includes at a lower price point.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - Handling, Road Comfort, Driving Sensations
Both the Model Y and Mach-E are very enjoyable vehicles to drive. Each feels like a slightly lifted large sports hatchback, not at all like an “SUV.” However, drive them back to back and you will find that they do have individual personalities and differing feels.
The Model Y we tested had optional larger wheels. We’d skip these for sure. The Model Y was nervous over anything but perfect pavement. Even on the highway, tiny imperfections are felt, and not in a good way. By contrast, the Mach-E feels more refined and much more settled over bumpy roads (which are all we have in New England). The Mustang feels like it was tuned perfectly for the real world. The Tesla Model Y's poor ride quality has been noticed by other reviewers, notably Consumer Reports.
Each of these vehicles is fun to throw hard into an off-ramp, or to turn hard into a corner on twisty road. They handle like premium sporty cars, not like crossovers such as the Toyota RAV4 Prime and Honda CR-V Hybrid. We would call handling a tie, except that the Model Y feels a bit more unsettled any time the pavement is imperfect, so edge to the Mach-E in our subjective opinion.
Braking is great in both vehicles in real-world use. The Mach-E’s brakes are a bit grabbier, but both of these vehicles offer one-pedal driving, so braking is really different than in most vehicles.
Where the Mach-E really sets itself apart from the Model Y is in the overall driving sensation. The Ford feels more buttoned-down, more premium, and more refined. The Model Y feels a bit boomier on the highway. The pressure waves from the large open interior make unpleasant sensations. The Mach-E feels cozier and quieter.
The Model Y seems to have a slight edge on the Mach-E in terms of raw acceleration. However, only when the Mach-E is in any mode but “Unbridled.” In that mode, they feel perfectly matched and in fact, both manufacturers list a 4.8-second 0-60 MPH sprint time. We found no downside to using Unbridled mode in the Mach-E.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - Living Electric
Tesla wins the living electric section just as decisively as Ford won the content section. Ford has no Supercharger network. Tesla does. We could just stop here, but there is more. Ford’s Mach-E ER AWD has a 270-mile EPA-Estimated driving range. Tesla’s Model Y LR AWD has a 326-mile range. That is a big deal.
During our first day with the Ford Mach-E, we drove to the closest charging station, a Chargepoint location sponsored by a local business, Osram Sylvania. We connected and went for a 24-minute walk. We came back to find we had added 2.259 kWh of power to the 88kWh battery. That equates to a range added back of about 7 miles. You be the judge of whether that is a meaningful added range. Had we been at a Tesla Supercharger, we could have added back about 200 miles of range. However, there is no Supercharger near my home.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - Ownership Experience
Tesla is rapidly expanding its footprint and now offers a full-service Tesla dealership both just north of and just south of Boston. Plus sales and service locations in Boston and some surrounding suburbs. For me, there would be no downside to Tesla’s local support network. However, there is no Tesla service center in the entire states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, places I frequently roam.
Ford includes a 3-year, 36K bumper to bumper warranty, 5-year, 60K powertrain warranty and an 8-year, 100K-mile battery warranty. Tesla offers a 4-Year, 50K bumper to bumper warranty and an 8-year, 120K mile battery warranty. Also, Tesla has service vehicles to help you if you need assistance at home. Tesla also has over the air updates that have earned a solid reputation. You be the judge of which brand offers the better ownership experience. For me, in my area, it would be Tesla.
Quality, reliability, and durability are another matter. Tesla has taken a beating on owner surveys that puts the brand at the bottom of many lists including those from J.D. Power and Associates. Consumer Reports specifically pointed to the Model Y as the reason for its poor reliability score for Tesla as an overall brand. Ford typically falls near the industry average. With both of these vehicles being all-new, problems are a likelihood. You be the judge of which brand would be most likely to have issues. One vehicle some buyers have opted for is the Toyota RAV4 Prime. Owners we interviewed specifically pointed to reliability as to why they oped for a Toyota.
Tesla Model Y LR AWD vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD Premium - Which Is Your Winner?
Before we get to a winner, let’s step back and realize that Tesla, Jaguar, and Ford now offer a pretty similar formula. All three brands have a car-like performance crossover of about the same size. Where is Toyota? Well, actually Toyota has a great vehicle this same size, but with a different personality and a lot of advantages. The RAV4 Prime is not as sporty to drive, but in its own way, it is a viable alternative to the Mach-E, I-Pace, and Model Y. Soon, Volkwagen will join the club with its ID.4.
Which of these two, the Tesla Model Y LR AWD, or the Ford Mustang Mach-E ER AWD would be our choice? We’ll withhold our final judgment. We will say this; What surprised us most was Ford’s driving experience and the edge the Mach-E has in the category of infotainment and features. Had we not actually driven both and tried both brand’s infotainment we would never have guessed that Ford has such a clear edge over Tesla in these two areas.
This one is too close to call. We think it will come down to brand loyalty, and how important living electric vs. better features and driving dynamics ranks on one’s list of needs and wants. Tell us your choice below.
Image Notes: Please forgive our images. We only had access to the Model Y for a short time in a single area, so proper photography was not possible.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin