Is The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E EV Really a Mustang?

ford logo - transparent backgroundLet’s start right out with the good news: Ford has a hit on its hands with the Mustang Mach-E. It’s a fun, comfortable, quick-charging electric vehicle perfect for most people. The range isn’t going to break any records (at its best the EPA lists 290 miles, but my experience seems to suggest that 265 is probably more accurate) but there’s enough new and updated that it feels like the next generation of muscle car from Ford. I’m a fan and have really enjoyed driving one, even through snow and icy road conditions.

But is it a Mustang? Well, the design definitely started with traditional Mustang lines, but that chunky front grill forced it to be less streamlined than the best design years of the Mustang, even though 2021 (one of my favorite designs) wasn’t that far in the rearview mirror. Predictably, some purists claim that the Mach-E is just not a Mustang at all, but I suggest instead that it’s “inspired by” the best of the Mustang design and if you squint just a little bit you can still see those classic lines in the design. Then again, it’s listed as an “SUV” on the Ford Web site, weirdly enough. Ford wanted me to decide so it loaned me a 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E EAWD Premium for a week’s driving, in “Star White Met Tri-Coat”:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - front exterior

After a week of driving in gradually melting snow, it was pretty dirty, as you can see, but there’s still a Mustang peeking out through the somewhat more pedestrian sedan design. Where the Mach-E shines, however, is the interior. Being able to create a new vehicle, the designers had a field day with lots of changes and improvements. We can just imagine the discussion “totally new? No continuity hassles with controls? Oh heck yeah!”

Those 12″ infotainment screens on the rest of the Ford line? Not for the Mach-E. A standard main gauge display? Why bother? Tons of controls cluttering up the front dash? We can do better. The result:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - interior dash cockpit

If you’re thinking that the dash looks a lot like a Tesla with its enormous 15.5″ touchscreen interface, well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Again, Tesla designers didn’t have to make their vehicles look like previous generations so could leap ahead in interface experience. Maybe a bit too far ahead, but that’s another article entirely. For the Mach-E the most notable feature is the knob smack-dab in the middle of the display screen. The most old-school control area in the entire vehicle are the window, side-view mirror, and lock controls on the door, but if you look carefully, the doorhandle pull is quite different, a tiny lever you pull towards the rear of the vehicle to open.

The main gauge display doesn’t really have any gauges, actually:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - main gauge display

Who needs a tachometer with an EV that has a continuously variable transmission? Oil temperature? Have you looked under the hood of an electric vehicle? 🙂 Instead, it’s minimalist, showing the range (you can see a 99% charge offers a suggested 266mi), the status of the sensor system surrounding the vehicle, current speed, the speed limit (oops!), and a gear indicator. My favorite part of this section: Under the speed limit it says “Ground Speed”, like you’re flying a jumbo jet, not driving a car!

The center console is similarly austere and functional

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - center console

No drive modes (there are three with the Mach-E if you’re curious: Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled which are the equivalent of Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes), not much of any controls other than the gear dial and parking break. Simple, easy to understand, no features that you’ll just ignore anyway. Not sure why they didn’t include a gear shift, however, which would have given it a bit more continuity with the classic Mustang, but it’s a new world.

All the real action – and controls – are accessed through the massive touchscreen in the center of the console. This is great in many ways and allows a far more intuitive user experience, but it’s also a bit tricky when you’re on a bumpy road or otherwise should be looking out the windshield. On the flip side, there’s a great scoring system where you can learn to be a maximally efficient EV driver:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - drive score

The more I focused on trying to attain a perfect Deceleration score, however, the lower my score got. That’s something I’d need to explore further if I had more time with the Mustang Mach-E, for sure.

Remember I talked about the mediocre weather? When Ford first dropped off the car, the roads were pretty awful, covered in snow and icy in many spots. I hadn’t realized that the Mach-E is an AWD but it was definitely a valuable upgrade and, with all the braking smarts and such, I had a hard time slipping or sliding at all, even when trying to do so in a big, empty parking lot. Compared to when I started driving, vehicle safety has come a long, long way.

One of the most spectacular aspects of the Mach-E design is the panoramic fixed-glass roof. It doesn’t open, but holy cow does it give you a view:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - panoramic fixed glass roof

I’m glad to report that on bright, sunny days, there’s still enough tint on the window that it never bothered me or heated up anyone in the vehicle. Very nicely done, Team Ford.

Stepping out of the vehicle, the door “handles” were quite interesting, little buttons that you pushed to have the door pop and open up an inch or two. Here’s the rear door control:

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - exterior door lock handle

Notice the tiny padlock icon above the door lock: Push on it and the vehicle locks. Easy, if very subtle. The front controls included a numeric entry system where you could set a PIN code for valet or security as desired, though they couldn’t start the vehicle without the key fob.

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - rear leg room

For a car that most people think of as a two-seater, the rear legroom on the 2023 Mach-E was entirely acceptable, as you can see. It’s not great for your 6’9″ NBA buddy, but at least you can move the front seat up to give them a few extra inches as needed. Notice also the attractive stitching on the seats. Next up for our next-gen engineers is to redesign the rear seat compartment, including the been-there-since-the-30s pocket on the back of the seat.

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - rear cargo

The rear cargo space was surprisingly large for what’s ostensibly a sports car. Bulking up the Mustang design lines definitely contributes to far more useful cargo space and, as shown above, the second row turns out to be a 60/40 split where either or both sides can be folded down for even more cargo or gear.

One thing I noticed about the Mach-E that was great is that it charges surprisingly fast, even with a pokey 110V power source. I routinely got 20% or more charge overnight, a stark difference to some of the other EVs I’ve driven that snubbed their virtual noses at anything under 50kW flowing in. This meant that even on days when I drove 50-75 miles, it was simple to plug it in at arrival and have it 90% or more the next morning.

2023 ford mustang mach-e awd - exterior rear

The real fun of EVs is in the drive experience, however, and the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E was great fun with enough acceleration (especially in “Unbridled” mode) to give you a bit of a headrush when you were pushing max acceleration from a stop. I also found that I was nimbly zipping from lane to lane in traffic too, exploiting any holes that opened up in the traffic flow. I’d need to watch that if I owned this car!

This is one of the most enjoyable EVs I have driven and its combination of Mustang-inspired design (see, my compromise), EV performance, and comfort features make it one to check out for yourself if you want an electric vehicle without all the baggage that comes along with owning a Tesla.

2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E EAWD Premium, approx. range 290 miles. BASE PRICE: $57,675.00. Options: Premium paint surcharge, 91kWh ext battery. AS DRIVEN: $68,370.00

Disclaimer: Ford loaned me the Mach-E for a week of driving in return for this candid writeup. Thanks, Ford!


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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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