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A good EV: A road trip with and review of the Ford Mustang Mach-E

No matter if you call it Rapid Red, candy-apple red, or cherry red, it looks gorgeous on the Mach-E.
Enlarge / No matter if you call it Rapid Red, candy-apple red, or cherry red, it looks gorgeous on the Mach-E.

Eric Bangeman

Last February, we had a chance to spend a couple of days with the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Automotive Editor Jonathan Gitlin’s take on the Mach-E was largely positive, but the short testing window he had left us with some unanswered questions. So when a cherry red Rapid Red Mustang Mach-E recently appeared in front of my house, I set about to get some answers.

In particular, I wanted to find out how good of a battery-electric vehicle the Mach-E is. I jumped on the BEV bandwagon in January 2020 with the purchase of a Jaguar I-Pace. In that time, our family has put over 20,000 miles on it, with a good proportion of those driven between our home in suburban Chicago and my grandparents’ old place outside of Shelbyville, Illinois. With a door-to-door distance of 216 miles (418 km) that covers suburban, interstate, and country driving, it’s a good opportunity to see if a car’s range is as advertised and how real-world driving conditions can affect BEV range.

Ford sent us another Premium e-AWD model with a usable battery capacity of 88 kWh and a sticker price of $56,200. The twin electric motors churn out 346 hp (258 kW) of power and 428 lb-ft (580 Nm) of torque, and the compact SUV has an advertised range of 270 miles. Driving down to Shelbyville and back would give a good read on range and power consumption in different driving conditions.

Another feature of the Mach-E we were interested in trying out is its plug-and-charge capability at level 3 charging stations. Ford has partnered with Electrify America, whose chargers are not difficult to find in larger metropolitan areas and along interstates, to simplify the charging process. With the ISO 11518 protocol, all you need to do is find an open charging station and plug your car in. No fiddling with credit cards or taking off your gloves on a bitterly cold winter day to navigate the touchscreen (the BEV equivalent of pumping gas in subzero temps).

Lastly, we wanted to try out FordPass to see how it measured up against other connected car apps. With the ability to set charging schedules remotely and precondition the battery, these apps make BEV ownership better.

The Mach-E had a reported range of 257 miles and a full charge when I departed my house for Shelbyville. (It’s not unusual for a BEV to show a range above or below the official figure, as variables like temperature and individual driving styles are a factor.) Upon arriving in Shelbyville 218.9 miles later, I pulled into the driveway with 33 miles left. On the return trip, driving in a steady rain for the first hundred or so miles, I ended up with 39 miles of range after beginning with 261. Temperatures were in the high 50s and low 60s during both trips, so the battery range was close to optimal.

One of the bits of data on the Mach-E’s massive, tablet-style infotainment display is especially helpful: a breakdown of your energy consumption. The “this trip” screen shows the percentage of power directed at driving, accessories, climate settings, and air temperature. On my rainy return trip from Shelbyville, the windshield wipers only accounted for 3 percent of the juice I used, while climate took another 1 percent. The other 96 percent was used to propel me to my destination.

On the way back home, I stopped at an Electrify America charging station at a Walmart. I had more than enough battery to get me home, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to test out Ford’s plug-and-play level 3 charging. Charging an EV at a level 3 station doesn’t involve many more steps than pumping gas—plug the car in, tap the touchscreen a couple of times, and get your credit card or smartphone out to pay for the session. With the Mach-E, the process was simpler still—I plugged the car in, the EA charging station thought things over for a few seconds, and then the light next to the port turned blue as the battery was topped off.

FordPass gets the job done. The home screen gives you an at-a-glance look at your charge level and range, and you can also start your car remotely—par for the course for connected car apps. The app can also locate nearby chargers or peek at a charging session to see how fast the car is charging—useful when you’re wandering around Walmart waiting for your BEV to charge.

You can also schedule future departures and precondition the battery while doing so. This is an especially useful feature on frigid January mornings. Not only does it ensure you’re setting out in a toasty-warm car, but it also raises the battery to its optimum operating temperature. If the car is not connected to a charger, preconditioning will still happen but will drain your battery.

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