The hits keep on rolling for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. The controversial all-electric crossover bearing the Mustang name has had a busy week, first garnering a Top-Rated Luxury EV honor from Edmunds, but just yesterday it was also named a finalist for the prestigious North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.
Just writing about the Mach-E garners comments, mostly of the vitriolic variety. I understand. Waiting for the #NotAMustang comment to pop up won’t take long. I’m partially to blame for that movement when I wrote last year about how I thought it was a travesty to put the Mustang emblem and hallowed name on an electric crossover.
I stand by my position. I wish Ford had just called it the Mach-E or better yet the Model E, a name which Ford owns by the way (and Tesla is salty about not having the naming rights to Model E). But putting aside from the name controversy, true critics must look at the vehicle as a whole.
For a first time vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E is indeed a big deal. It’s Ford’s first real all-electric vehicle. And it’s a legit rival to Tesla. That’s why it came as little surprise that the NATCOY jury gave the nod to the Mustang Mach-E as one of three finalists for North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.
The other two nominees are the Genesis GV80 and the Land Rover Defender. These are three starkly different vehicles. And while I’m not a jury member, I do know several members of the jury. They don’t discuss their vote as they take the honor quite seriously (as they should).
Over the last couple of months, the jury members drove 27 vehicles that had made the first round of consideration. Driving the vehicles of different trims levels gave them a full perspective of each vehicle. In the end three vehicles from the car, utility and truck category were chosen as finalists.
“In this very challenging year, these nine vehicles emerged as our Finalists out of an unusually strong field of 27 Semifinalists,” said NACTOY president Gary Witzenburg. “Each one of them – especially the 15 in the ultra-competitive utility vehicle category – is excellent in nearly every way. Not to mention the automakers’ unusually difficult challenge of getting our 50 jurors from all over North America into their candidate vehicles for testing and evaluation prior to our later-than-usual voting deadline.”
So my speculation here is my own opinion, but I have to say, I’ve become quite good at making these predictions and have successfully predicted all the winners for the last three straight years. So, let’s take a look at why the 2021 Mustang Mach-E might win the coveted award.
The Case For The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E To Win Utility Vehicle Of The Year
As a critic, you have to put the naming controversy aside. Strip the Mustang badge off, and ignore all the history that cherished running Mustang logo means. A jury member needs to judge the Mach-E based upon its performance, what it means for the industry and its overall performance and fit and finish.
I have not driven the Mustang Mach-E yet, except for a quick jaunt around the basement of the McCormick Convention Center during the Chicago Auto Show (before the world shut down). That seems like forever ago.
I wrote about my initial thoughts on the Mach-E after that all-too-quick time inside a pre-production Mustang Mach-E. Did it change my opinion? Maybe a little. I never once expected that I’d be disappointed with the driving performance of the Mach-E.
In fact, I like the looks of the Mach-E too. And the interior I saw was different. And, as you’d expect with electric vehicles, there’s a crazy amount of torque. And with the coming Mach-E GT version getting a Performance Edition that will get 634 lb.-ft. of torque, what’s not to like? 0-60 in 3.5 seconds is impressive and is worthy of the Mustang name.
And the jury saw an interior that was different looking with a giant 15.5-inch touchscreen. It dominates the center stack. Some early drive impressions loved it, and some found it to be garish. Overall, from what I’ve seen and experienced, I give the Mach-E credit for having a different interior with personality.
In the utility vehicle class, that has weight with me as so many of these vehicles lack personality. In a boring class, the Mach-E certainly has the spotlight on it. Will the jury reward that?
My final prediction of which vehicle will win Utility of the Year is below.
Which Ute Wins Utility Vehicle of The Year?
My final prediction is that enough jurors will hold the Mustang nomenclature against Ford and reward Utility Vehicle of the Year to the Genesis GV80.
Car and Driver gave the luxury vehicle a 10 out of 10 rating. That’s usually one early indicator when making predictions. Secondly, there was a lot of social media chatter amongst automotive journalists about the GV80 and how well received it was.
Reading those tea leaves says there are a lot of positive thoughts about this luxury crossover. And, like the Mustang Mach-E, it’s a brand new vehicle and those usually fair well when it comes to voting. The jury members like new vehicles.
As for the Land Rover Defender, bringing back an iconic nameplate is a hot trend right now (we’re looking back at you Ford Bronco). So don’t count out the Defender as a dark horse candidate to win the award. The rugged off-road luxury vehicle is so much fun through any terrain but has sophistication too which might win some jury votes.
Additionally the retro look of the Defender might jive with members of the jury, many who were around when the Defender was in its Hey Day. That being said, I think it’s a two-ute race in this segment between the Mach-E and the GV80 with the GV80 edging things out for the win.
The other factor that does come into play and works against the Mach-E is that the F-150 is also a finalist for Truck of the Year. And as I wrote yesterday, it’s the favorite to win. I don’t see the jury awarding the same manufacturer with multiple awards, despite 2021 being a huge year for Ford.
What do you think? Which vehicle is most worthy? Would a win by the Mach-E change your opinion of it? Leave your comment below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.