Mach-E fits inside Ford’s Mustang corral

May 15, 2022 by
Filed under: Weekly test drives, Autos 

Mustang Mach-E strikes stunning pose with a calm Lake Superior background.

By John Gilbert
Just when we had good reason to question whether Ford would maintain the lead it first established in hybrids and electric vehicles with the original Escape Hybrid in the new era of transitioning to electrification of mainstream vehicles, they bend their own rules to produce the Mustang Mach-E.

Ford, of course, said it was going to stop making all cars other than the Mustang, so we now comprehend what they meant: Any new vehicle can fall under the expansive Mustang canopy, even it it’s a 4-door, fairly-SUVish vehicle such as the new Mustang Mach-E, which has been in hot demand since its introduction.

The Mustang Mach-E is a pure, Ford-built, electric-powered vehicle (EV) that can perform with or better than virtually every other EV on the market, and it looks remarkably mainstream. Before we get hung up on automotive details, it was our luck to also drive the Mustang Mach-E from Duluth to Cloquet on the day of the new season’s grand opening of Gordy’s Hi-Hat, the indisputable best drive-in restaurant in the universe.

Shapely Mach-E hides fact it is a 4-door — or that it is pure electric — on season-opening day at Gordy’s Hi-Hat.

We may not be in total agreement with Ford, that not all of its “better ideas” are indeed better ideas, but the Mustang Mach-E is right up there among the best of the better ideas out of Dearborn in several decades.

The Mach-E doesn’t really resemble the conventional Mustang, which remains alive and well among Ford’s car productions. My guess is that Ford was caught in its own cross-hairs. The company had to squeeze the subcompact EcoSport in among its SUVs, and next up was the move to electric vehicles, so when Ford built a pure electric, from the ground up, and rather than give it its own identity Ford decided to call it a Mustang.

That led me to a few sarcastic remarks, suggesting Ford could continue to build the Taurus and the Fusion and the Escort, also, just call all of them models of the Mustang. We probably shouldn’t suggest such ideas.

At any rate, the Mustang Mach-E comes in one body style, a fastback 4-door compact sedan — except that Ford is insisting it be classified as an SUV. So be it, although from the look of it, it more resembles a 4-door sporty sedan. You can. however, get it in two versions — a straightforward rear-drive model with a 68-killowatt-hour battery powering an electric motor, or a “Premium AWD” model with 88-killowatt-hour battery and a second electric motor driving the front wheels, to make it all-wheel drive.

All operation of the Mach-E handled early-spring cold along Lake Superior’s North Shore.

My tester was a Rapid Red Metallic 4X Premium AWD model, and it came to me by trailer from the press fleet service in Chicago. At first glance, the closed-in grille catches your eye, because there really is no normal air intake in the closed grille. Fully charged, the vehicle showed a 270-mile range, and instruments on the gauge package keep you posted of remaining range, and what percentage of full-power you have remaining.

It is that “range anxiety” that causes potential buyers to be reluctant, because it certainly is not in the driving. The vehicle takes off swiftly, and silently, although you can switch a setting on the large center-dash panel screen to introduce a couple of piped-in sounds to alert pedestrians that something is coming, and perhaps because occupants of the Mach-E itself might feel uneasy at the eerie silence. Still guided by a dash of sarcasm, my suggestion is if you can pipe any sound through, let’s pick a Ferrari Formula 1 engine from 1989, or a Ducati road-racing motorcycle roar. Why not make the “noise” music to motor-sound fans?

The interior is roomy for four, or five, with comfortable front buckets, although rear-seat headroom is compromised a bit by the slope of the rear roofline, which drops off in fastback form. You engage drive by turning a rotary dial on the dash, and with only a one-speed transmission, you needn’t worry about any more shifting.

The power of the basic Mustang Mach-E is 290 horsepower and 317 foot-pounds of torque from the rear-drive electric motor, while the 4X Premium improves those impressive figures to deliver 324 horsepower and 428 foot-pounds of torque, with separate batteries driving the two electric motors, fore and aft. Power is smoothly delivered through the one-speed automatic, and you appreciate the silent force available at the tap of your toe. Steering is precise and adds to the feeling of overall safety.

The startling acceleration is best explained by realizing that with a gas engine, you rev the engine up as you move, with the RPMs building until you reach the torque peak at somewhere around 5,000 revs. With an electric motor, you are at maximum torque at zero RPMs. So when you take your foot off the brake pedal and hit the gas, the thing takes off as though shot out of a cannon.

Clean, businesslike interior and comfortable seating for four reveals interior comfort.

Nobody who has ever driven a pure electric car questions the performance, and we can understand how Ford is next bringing out its F150 EV pickup. Handling agility matches the acceleration, and the silent speed is impressive once you get used to hearing conversation and audio music in the otherwise silent cabin.

There are a couple of things we’d want to check on if we were considering a purchase. There are charging devices spreading rapidly through the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but the spread is a little slower away from the big metro areas. Duluth, for example, has a couple of sites with chargers, so you would probably want to buy a charging station to have a quick, high-power unit at your disposal. Otherwise, the smaller battery takes a long time to charge on normal household electricity, and the 4X Premium takes longer, so you’d find yourself plugging it in overnight.

We learned right about the time the car was delivered that a company called ChargePoint, which is building charging stations all around the country, has been accused of excessive charging — for money, not electricity — so Ford, Hyundai, and a couple of other companies have broken off their arrangements with ChargePoint. We were assured we could still use their chargers, however.

After paying only casual attention to the remaining range for a few days, we made our short trips, and enjoyed opening day at Gordy’s, celebrating with burgers, fish ’n’ chips, and a pineapple milk shake. We noticed the range was dwindling, so we hit the two charging locations in Duluth that I know of, and learned that it didn’t like either of my two credit cards. You have to have a specific ChargePoint card, which I don’t have, to get any electricity out of its plug-in hook up.

I contacted a Ford dealership in Two Harbors, and a salesman said they do have a charger, but he would have to ask his manager, who would call me back within the hour. Guaranteed. Two weeks later, I han’t gotten the call. We plugged into our garage household electrical outlet and left the Mustang Mach-E charging overnight, for a total of about 10 hours, and it said our new range would be 65 miles. Not much return, for the time spent, I thought.

I gave a call to NorthStar Ford, and a very accommodating service manager named Kaylee arranged for me to drive up and use their quick-charging unit. I did that, and we left the car there for four hours, until their Saturday 6 p.m. service closing time. When I returned, I was dismayed to see that it showed only “46” on the dash. Then I noticed that was percentage of charge recaptured, which was closer to 77 miles of range.

Gas-filler door opens to reveal charging receptacle in Mach-E, for 270 mile range.

We greatly appreciated the convenience and accommodating nature of Kaylee and her associates at NorthStar Ford, and we’re guessing that Ford will work out a better arrangement with some other aftermarket quick-charge company for its customers.

The number of EVs on the market are growing, virtually by the month. I’ve driven several, from Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla, and Volvo’s Polestar. Some are built onto existing platforms, some are on unique new platforms. The Mustang Mach-E was built all as one, on a new platform, and the tester listed at $56,200. There are government offers available to offset that initial cost, but it’s still not bad, when you consider never again having to pay for gasoline, which has been hanging around the $4 per gallon figure for now, but we don’t know for how long.

Mach-E got loaded up to leave us after a week.

The “better idea” from Ford works, at $56,200, even if it does not include the stop at Gordy’s. Come to think of it, as the Mustang Mach-E and other electric vehicles get more popular, Gordy’s might be wise to install a couple of rapid chargers. Low on electricity? Plug it in and order the fish ’n’ chips and a milkshake, and both you and your car could get charged up at the same time.,


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  • About the Author

    John GilbertJohn Gilbert is a lifetime Minnesotan and career journalist, specializing in cars and sports during and since spending 30 years at the Minneapolis Tribune, now the Star Tribune. More recently, he has continued translating the high-tech world of autos and sharing his passionate insights as a freelance writer/photographer/broadcaster. A member of the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year jury since 1993. John can be heard Monday-Friday from 9-11am on 610 KDAL( on the "John Gilbert Show," and writes a column in the Duluth Reader.

    For those who want to keep up with John Gilbert's view of sports, mainly hockey with a Minnesota slant, click on the following:

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  • Exhaust Notes:

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