Presenting Car and Driver’s 2021 EV of the Year

It’s difficult to imagine a better vehicle for converting EV skeptics to EV believers than the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It comes in the familiar shape and size of crossovers that Americans adore, at a price that rivals gas-powered options, and with a distinctive style. The Mach-E has the range and charging speed to defy the most prevalent EV complaints, and because to Electrify America’s recent efforts, there’s now a countrywide charging network that makes long interstate travels not only conceivable but also bearable. Piloting a Mach-E isn’t so dissimilar from driving a gas-burning SUV that it feels alien, but it’s futuristic enough to be thrilling for new EV converts. It’s the ideal vehicle for bringing drivers along for the ride as EVs move from niche alternative to new normal.

Most importantly, the Mach-E is entertaining. It goes beyond the argument that we should drive EVs because they’re better for the environment and argues a more basic truth: EVs can be just as enjoyable to drive as their gas-powered counterparts. The Mach-E achieves a sweet spot between practical and visceral, putting Mazda in familiar territory. Ford has created an EV that is capable of towing children, running to Costco, and commuting, but it doesn’t take the fun out of driving.

In this Mustang, you don’t assault a road. As you move between foot-to-the-floor acceleration and fine modulation of regenerative braking during one-pedal driving, you set a quick tempo and find flow in a seamless plateau of torque. The all-wheel-drive, big-battery variant produces 346 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It’s thrilling to tap into such strength on city streets. The Mach-E zaps past sluggish delivery trucks and punches out of 25 mph curves. Thrust is delivered as quickly as your foot can request it.

A synthesized soundtrack of a big-engine burble that’s been flattened into a warble adds intensity to the film. The piped-in audio does not sound like a combustion engine, nor does it sound like science fiction. However, based on how many of our drivers preferred to keep the sound on, it looks like Ford has gotten the closest to figuring out what an EV should sound like of any automaker.

Unlike many nose-heavy gas-powered competitors, the Mach-E is surprisingly neutral in corners when pushed hard, and fast steering puts it exactly where you want it. The body stays flat and passengers stay upright when the car swings around turns, feeling as grounded as a hundred-year-old oak tree, thanks to the 88.0-kWh battery pack under the floor. The Mach-E, on the other hand, bounces in a way that reminds us of other Mustangs, both two-door and four-legged, on Michigan’s worst roads. The Ford’s ride quality is one area where we found it wanting at times.

The Mach-E flies down a 70-mph motorway in complete silence. The outside world sounds like a 68-decibel breeze to travelers. The seats are really comfortable, and the driving position perfectly separates the car and crossover segments. You sit pretty high at the elevated viewpoint that so many purchasers like, but because of the underfloor battery, your legs extend out in front of you like they would in a car. Despite the fastback roofline, the backseat capacity is considerable, and the deep load area is large.

The panoramic fixed-glass roof, unique door handles, and vertically aligned center display are all apparent Tesla ideas. While these features aren’t very innovative, Ford managed to keep the cabin design feeling new without relying on gimmicks or attempting to pass off cost-cutting measures as innovation, as Tesla does. There is no learning curve for driving a Mach-E, unlike, say, a Model Y, Unlike Teslas, the gear selector does not function as a cruise control switch. In the driver’s line of sight is a simple instrument cluster. And, if we’re going to have touchscreens in our automobiles, they should all be this big. The Mach-15.5-inch E’s screen enlarges the virtual buttons, making them easier to press, and the interface is well-organized.

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All of these advantages would be meaningless if Mach-E didn’t have the range to travel large distances. The Ford is good for 270 miles on a full charge, according to the EPA, and at a continuous 75 mph in our hands, it came within 20 miles of that figure. Only the Tesla Model S covered greater ground in Car and Driver’s range testing. Not surprisingly, the Model S is the only EV on the market with a larger battery.

The Mustang Mach-E starts at $43,995, which is a few thousand more than the typical new vehicle transaction price, however, the federal tax credit can shave $7500 off the sticker price for the time being. The all-wheel-drive variant we tested is more powerful and has a longer range. It starts at $56,400. Even at that price, the Ford features excellent materials and craftsmanship that make the more expensive luxury cars in this year’s EV test look like rip-offs.

Aside from enjoyment, value, and purpose fulfillment, one of the most important criteria for our EV of the Year is that it makes electric vehicles more appealing to purchasers in a way that advances the industry. That’s where the Mach-E distinguishes itself from the other ten vehicles we looked at. Finally, an EV that competes head-to-head with Tesla in terms of design, performance, pricing, and range has arrived, and it doesn’t look or feel like it was manufactured in a tent. It’s the ideal vehicle for rewriting notions that EVs were too little, too slow, too expensive to buy but too cheap to live with, and hampered by too-short range and too-spotty public infrastructure that prevented them from venturing far from home. Furthermore, the Mach-driving E’s characteristics and styling will propel potential purchasers beyond mere acceptance of EV technology to exhilaration.

The Ford Mustang Mach-worst E’s feature is its name, which suggests a loud and unruly vehicle that will make you see red whenever a stoplight turns green. Ford sparked our emotions and boosted our expectations by calling its electric crossover a Mustang, then delivered a vehicle that is fantastic in a completely different way. With quiet dynamic competence, adequate capacity for four, and a cabin that appears to be luxury-car costly, it’s as smooth and peaceful as automobiles go.

However, if the name is our biggest issue, it tells a lot about the important stuff. A well-known automaker has developed a reasonably priced, long-range EV that has the same lust-worthy appeal as a Tesla. Electric vehicles are becoming significantly more appealing to both mainstream purchasers and enthusiasts, and this is a watershed moment. We’re calling the Mach-E our EV of the Year, even if we’re still not sold on calling it a Mustang.

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