Ford has drawn inspiration from its past as it looks to the future with the all-new electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.

There have been many iterations of the Mustang through the decades, from convertibles to high-performance Shelby-badged coupes, but this model represents many firsts for the famous moniker.

The Mach-E has four doors; it's an SUV, and it has an electric powertrain. There also has never been two distinct vehicles with the Mustang name sold at the same time.

To be sure, the Mach-E has familiar Mustang design cues, but it's really an entirely new concept. It has been designed to be an electric alternative for Mustang enthusiasts as well as Tesla intenders. Of course, what it doesn’t have is a V8 rumble. Instead, this electric model runs quiet and quick, based on video shown during the model’s online unveiling Sunday night.

Ford plans to have the Mach-E in dealerships in late 2020, with the higher performance Mach-E GT following in spring 2021. Here’s what we know so far.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach E front

What it competes with: Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model Y
What it looks like: A Mustang-inspired two-row SUV
Powertrain: 255-hp, 282-hp, 332-hp and 459-hp electric; rear- and all-wheel drive.
Price: $45,000 to $61,500
On-sale date: Late 2020 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach E rear

CR's Take

Despite being an early innovator with electric and hybrid cars, Ford has trailed the more aggressive moves by rival automakers in recent years. The Mach-E signals an electric revival at Ford, leading the charge in the company’s pledge to shift toward more electric models in coming decades. We expect to see an electric F-150, thanks to a partnership with Rivian, in the not-too-distant future. And there has been rumor of an electric Mustang coupe coming down the road.

Kicking off this era with an SUV is smart, because the market is clearly shifting in that direction. The Mach-E promises exhilarating performance, something that is essential to carry the Mustang name. Further, rapid acceleration has become de rigueur because of Tesla.

The Mach-E promises to deliver on several key points that have defined the latest electric cars: performance, range, and high-tech. But not in every version. Prospective shoppers would do well to look beyond the marketing sound bites, because the base version has a rather humble range and modest horsepower.

We look forward to seeing how well the Mach-E works as an SUV, with passenger comfort and cargo space. For now, it's a hot new entry in the vibrant electric car race.  

Outside

The exterior has Mustang-influenced headlights, tail lamps, and broad fenders. But it is otherwise its own machine. The pronounced tires and elevated stance make it look like an SUV rather than a road-hugging performance car.

Ford has departed from the trapezoidal grille that has distinguished its models for the last decade. Instead, most Mach-Es have a complex shape that declares: I am electric. The exception is the Mach-E GT. This performance model has a grille shape more akin to a Mustang, although if you look closely, you can see that the contrasting trapezoid is more styling element than means of routing air to the radiator.

The sloped roofline gives the vehicle a sporty appearance, although it's certain to compromise headroom and cargo space, as we have seen with similar designs, such as with the Jaguar I-Pace.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the Mach-E length is 2.5 inches shorter than the gas-powered Mustang car, but it's 8.7 inches taller. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach E interior

Inside

The design of the stark interior looks like it was outsourced to Tesla; it combines minimalist design and large displays. The instrument panel is a rectangular screen that stands up from the dash.

In the center of the dashboard is a giant, 15.5-inch vertical screen that is home to the automaker’s next-generation Sync infotainment system. Most functions are accessed through this screen, and the automaker says that most operations can be done with one touch rather than digging through menus.

The Mach-E will learn from the driver’s behavior, adapting comfort, navigation, and entertainment based on experience. It uses a phone-as-key ability allowing operation from a connected phone, rather than relying on a traditional key or keyless fob. The phone can notify the Mach-E that it's about to be driven, and the SUV will then precondition the cabin as needed by providing cooling or heating before the driver gets inside.

The SUV responds to natural language commands triggered by saying, “Okay, Ford.” This allows the driver to request route guidance, for example, without providing the street address through a series of regimented commands. This approach is spreading through the industry, and we have enjoyed it on models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Under the hood, where an engine would usually be located, is a front trunk with 4.8 cubic feet of space. This is a drainable space, and Ford notes that it could be used to hold ice, say, for a tailgating party. 

What Drives It

The Mache-E Select (aka the $45,000 base model) will be offered in rear- and all-wheel drive. It has 255 hp with an estimated range of 230 and 210 miles, respectively. Ford estimates that the rear-drive version will run 0 to 60 mph in the low 6-second range. The AWD version will do that in the mid-5-second range. This trim has up to 115-kW DC Fast Charge capability and a 75.7-kWh battery. All others have up to 150-kW capability. Ford estimates that this battery can be replenished from 10 percent to 80 percent in 38 minutes on a DC fast-charging station.

The Premium version ($51,500), will be available in Extended Range (98.8 kWh battery), stretching its capability to 270 to 300 miles. The rear-drive version will have 282 hp, and the AWD variant will have 332 hp.

The Mach-E GT version ($61,500) boasts 459 hp and 612 lb.-ft. of torque. (The Mustang GT V8 has 460 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.) Ford is targeting a 0 to 60 mph time in the mid-3-second range. The Mach-E GT Performance Edition is fitted with an adaptive suspension to react to road conditions, optimizing for comfort and handling.

The Mach-E features three driver-selectable modes that adjust various systems, such as steering and the motors, to create different dynamic personalities: Whisper, Engine, and Unbridled.  

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

All Mach-E SUVs get the Ford Co-Pilot 360 2.0 suite of advanced safety and driver assist features, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, cross traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, and post-impact braking (to avoid a second collision). The Assist 2.0 bundle includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane centering, and speed sign recognition.

Higher trim levels add active parking assist and a 360-degree camera. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach E frunk