I know the photo at the top of this story will upset some people. Trust me. I know. I understand. I’m just waiting for the comments it will bring.
As a Mustang historian (author of the book Mustang by Design) I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the Mustang community. I have so many friends throughout the country in the Mustang community.
Their passion and enthusiasm is unrivaled. So when Ford decided to put the name Mustang and that beloved, hallowed logo on a crossover, there was outrage. I felt that same outrage. It seemed like lazy marketing or at worse it seemed to water down the cherished, iconic history of the Ford Mustang.
Thus, trying to do something and trying to be the voice of the Mustang community, I started a petition to stop the name. It received a lot of attention and a lot of signatures. In the end, it did nothing to stop Ford from putting the Mustang name on the Mach-E. I do not apologize for starting the petition and fanning the flames of the #NotAMustang movement.
In some ways, the Mustang Mach-E isn’t a Mustang. First off it has four doors and it’s a crossover. In the end, a Mustang by definition of Lee Iacocca himself was not to have four doors. Times definitely change, but looking at the Mustang history through the years it was full of radical change.
Remember when the Mustang II came out? Long, weird looking and certainly starkly different than the first-generation Mustang. The outrage was huge! That is not a Mustang! But it was, and is.
Then the Fox Body came out, drastically changing the Mustang platform. The Fox Body is beloved amongst the Mustang community. Yet I personally think the late 80s and early 90s Foxes are not attractive and those rear taillights are a disgrace to the Mustang heritage. But it’s still, most certainly a Mustang too.
All of that history over six generations and 56 years there’s never been another vehicle as controversial as the Mustang Mach-E. I spent five days driving the Mach-E from a loan from Ford. I’ve written about the one-pedal driving and also about range anxiety as it relates to the Mach-E.
To be 100% clear, I’m under no obligation to Ford or anyone else to take it easy on the Mach-E. So, my review and thoughts here are mine and only mine.
Is The Mustang Mach-E Really A Mustang?
Defining what is a Mustang is hard. The car has evolved both aesthetically and mechanically. From a puny “secretary’s car” as it started out and grew to mass appeal eventually adding the more powerful Shelby versions and starting the muscle car era. The evolution continued with the more suped up Fox Body GT vehicles and leading us to the modern era with the awesome GT500.
The wonderous thing about Mustang is the mass appeal. When I wrote Mustang by Design, telling the story of the design of the Mustang through the eyes of the principle designer Gale Halderman, I developed a close bond with Gale. I asked him what a Mustang was. He said when he sketched the drawing that became the original Mustang he thought about that.
And he said, it had to have mass appeal, have sporty lines and be fun to drive. In the end, what was created was an iconic car that covered all of that and more.
So then it begs the question, does the Mustang Mach-E fit that mold? It does fit that mold somewhat, and yet it also breaks the mold too. And you know what? That’s okay. Look how often the Mustang broke the mold and changed and evolved. In the end, the one constant of Mustang is that it’s been able to adapt and change.
And that’s what has kept it around consecutively for 56 years, as the second longest running nameplate in automotive history.
In order to survive, the Mustang, as Ford deemed, needed to evolve. It’s now an electric crossover, yet we still have our beloved muscle car with a V8 and even a new Mach 1 version. So Ford continues to offer the old-school Mustang too and has vowed to create a seventh-generation Mustang too (and not as a crossover).
So, the answer is, can the Mustang community forgive Ford for putting the Mustang name on a crossover? My answer is simple: Drive the Mach-E and you might just forgive Ford. I have forgiven Ford and while I disagree with the decision, having driven the Mustang Mach-E, and even drove it up to my friend Gale’s Museum Barn (where I got the main photo), I see some of Gale’s design still in this crossover and it makes me happy. And it drives like a Mustang too!
The taillights of the Mach-E have a resemblance to the same taillights that Gale loved helped design. The Mach-E’s headlights are Mustang-like too. That Mustang emblem with the pony running wild deserves to sit there.
I remember before Gale passed away he saw what would become the Mach-E in clay in Dearborn and told me about it. I asked what he thought about it, he said it looked pretty good and still looked like a Mustang.
So, if it’s good enough for Gale, it’s definitely good enough for me.
Driving The Mustang Mach-E
I saw a Ford dealer friend of mine egging on Mach-E doubters and challenging them to drive it to see for themselves. He kept saying, Drive It and See. And he is right.
Driving the Mach-E is a memorable and enjoyable experience. Mustangs are fun to drive and the Mach-E is a blast. It would be one of those cars that is always fun to get behind the wheel of and go for a cruise. Who cares that it has no V8 or even a gasoline engine.
The torque is instant and thrilling. As I wrote earlier this week, in addition to the oh-so-fun one-pedal driving there are three modes that add thrills to the Mach-E as well. None more exciting than Unbridled Mode, which pipes in sound to make you hear the torque your body is feeling.
I love the name: Unbridled. It’s like a Mustang running loose. Sure the noise is artificial and piped in, but that’s not much different than adding extra tune to your gas engine anyway. I will admit I miss the visceral appeal and sound of a roaring V8. The times, they are a changing though, so the all-electric motor is the future, like it or not, even if it’s not going to happen as quick as some say it will.
Later this summer into fall, Ford launches the Mach-E GT which will be even faster. If I were to order a Mach-E, I would probably hold out for the GT as I think the current Mach-E, even as fun and torquey as it is, doesn’t feel as fast as the Tesla. And while I’ve not driven a GT, I believe it will be mind-blowing.
Mach-E Technology And Interior
The interior of the Mach-E is modern. It does not compare to any other Ford vehicle on the road and more mimics Tesla. The giant 15.5-inch iPad-like touchscreen dominates a clean, simple center stack.
While it might look overwhelming, using Ford’s new Sync 4 system, the screen is responsive and intuitive. It integrates wirelessly with iPhones and Androids and will even charge your phone wirelessly while interacting with it.
This comes in handy when it’s time to find a charging spot as both your phone and the Mach-E work together to plan a charging location, through the FordPass app. The technology in the Mach-E might overwhelm some, but I love new car technology and can’t sing the praises enough of the interior of the Mach-E.
The back seat is small, but had enough legroom to be comfortable for two adults in the back seat. The headroom is outstanding and features an all-glass roof (which is stationary and doesn’t open).
With the crossover and almost hatchback-like back area there’s 29.7 cubic feet of rear storage, which is impressive for a battery-powered vehicle. The rear seats fold flat allowing for 59.7 cubic feet of overall space. The front trunk or frunk is more gimmicky than useful with only 4.8 cubic feet of space. But it’s fun to say frunk, at least.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E price
My tester was the Premium trim with the all-wheel drive and extended battery range. The exterior color was Iconic Silver Metallic.
MSRP, according to Ford was $49,700 and the price as equipped was $55,800.
I might get ostracized from the Mustang community for backing off my #NotAMustang stance. I am not apologizing for taking either stance, nor am I talking out of both sides of my mouth when I say, I get both sides of this argument.
The Mustang logo is full of memories and heritage and Americana. Everyone has a Mustang story. Many have owned one. So blowing up the foundation of that heritage in such a revolutionary seemed arrogant to many, myself included. But Ford is in the money-making business, and using the Mustang name to promote one heck of a great vehicle only shows how much they actually respect and appreciate the Mustang nameplate.
The Mach-E represents a historic vehicle for Ford. How cool is it that such an important, keystone vehicle for Ford happens to have the Mustang name? Once again Mustang is part of automotive history. Think of it this way, Ford didn’t call it the Escape EV or something like that. No, they honored this revolutionary, amazing electric vehicle by putting their most cherished name on it.
Let me know your thoughts on this review and the Mach-E in general, whether you agree with me or not. And if you haven’t checked out my colleague John Goreham’s outstanding comparison between the Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y, check it out here.
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.