Has it been that long already? It seems like just yesterday that Ford announced a new electric crossover which simultaneously became an “unbridled” success and as controversial as pineapple on pizza. Lightly updated for the new model year, the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E is still a high-value offering with good range, strong performance, and plenty of personality, now offering slightly higher battery capacity and better features on the California Route 1 trim. It isn’t much of a difference, but how much change is necessary when you’re an IIHS Top Safety Pick, Car and Driver EV of the Year, and North American Utility Vehicle of the Year?
Somebody – I’m not sure who, it wasn’t Ford – talked about the Mustang Mach-E as a “lifestyle vehicle.” It’s kind of a silly label, in my opinion – aren’t all vehicles suited to certain lifestyles and thereby definable as “lifestyle vehicles” – but it did raise the question of what lifestyle, exactly, is the Mach-E meant to fit into? Well, some of the obvious possibilities – pony car, off-roader, family hauler – are just wrong for reasons that I’ll get into. But if your “lifestyle” involves a daily commute, maybe dropping kids off at school, and trying to enjoy yourself in the process, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better car today than the Mustang Mach-E.
Cars and Coffee Pony Car
The first and most obvious thought, knowing nothing else about the Mach-E besides its name, is that it would be a cool new guest at a local Cars and Coffee event. It’s not like such events are accessible to only the most select supercars or classics, and after all, it’s a Mustang! Everybody loves the Mustang!
But as soon as you look at one, or the comments section of Mach-E-related internet content, it becomes abundantly clear that this is not your grandpa’s Mustang. No rumbly V8 – or rumbly anything, for that matter – and no big ol’ burnouts, at least not yet. The GT version can do donuts (kind of), and the 0-60 mph time ranges from 6.1 to 3.5 seconds depending on the powertrain, but the visceral, edge-of-your-seat experience that Mustangs are known for just doesn’t exist in the Mach-E.
It seems like everybody who’s driven one enjoys it – Ford was almost entirely successful in their attempt to make the Mach-E drive like any other Mustang. The result is widely-praised handling and ride quality, but always with that caveat – “If only they hadn’t called it a Mustang.”
A lot of people agree with that sentiment. They’re flat-out insulted by the use of the Mustang name for an electric-only crossover and continue to insist that the Mach-E is not a Mustang. This is simply incorrect, of course, as one will not find a single blue Ford oval anywhere on the car but plenty of galloping horses – a badge which automatically makes the car 10x cooler in my book. The body lines and lighting design are unmistakably Mustang as well, so I think the shoe fits.
However, if you line up a Challenger, a Camaro, and a Ford Mustang Mach-E next to each other, one of these things just isn’t like the others. Think of the Mach-E as a part of the Mustang brand, not as a trim or performance level of the same car, and it might feel better. The Mustang Mach-E is most certainly not a pony car.
Bahahahaha! Next lifestyle, please.
Okay, seriously, why does the mere suggestion of using the Mustang Mach-E for an off-roading lifestyle make this writer laugh so hard that it had to be documented? Let Motortrend’s Edward Loh explain:
“A few years ago, we decided to stop arguing with automakers about whether their vehicle was a car or an SUV. “Tell us what it is, and we’ll test it that way,” we said. Which is, in a nutshell, how both the rear-drive Ford Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 and all-wheel-drive Mach-E 4x Premium ended up stuck in the sand on the off-road test at SUV of the Year.”
Now, the Mach-E wasn’t the only so-called SUV to pull their best Happy Gilmore impression and get stuck on the beach, but it lays bare the sum of all the Mustang Mach-E’s design features that make it more of a sports car than an SUV.
First, let’s talk weight and tires. EVs are heavy thanks to large, dense battery packs – the Mach-E is around 4,500 lbs! Mass can contribute to poor performance on surfaces like mud and sand if the tires can’t distribute the weight appropriately, and with surprisingly narrow wheels (225 mm) on the base model, the Mach-E simply can’t handle soft surfaces – it’ll sink right in. Next, let’s talk about off-road readiness. Most off-roaders feature driving controls such as locking differentials, large ratio crawling gears, and drive modes for optimized powertrain control. The Mach-E features absolutely none of these, which is to be expected of a Mustang.
However, even building all of this in wouldn’t be enough to make the Mach-E a worthy off-roader, any more than the Shelby GT350 would be, for one final decisive reason: ground clearance. I don’t care if you’ve got Wrangler bead-lock tires and fully lockable front and rear differentials; if you have less than 6” of ground clearance, you’re barely ready to handle dirt roads, never mind a trail. The Mach-E, thanks to a 6” tall battery pack stuffed beneath the seats, only clears 5.7” off the ground. Who among the competition stands higher with 5.9” of ground clearance? The 2021 Nissan Leaf.
Family Daily Driver
This is it. This is a “lifestyle” where the Mustang Mach-E really shines. From RWD Select trim all the way to GT Performance, every Mustang Mach-E is a nearly-perfect daily driver for family needs. Each one provides comfortable seating for 5, with quality materials and a relatively high bar of standard features throughout. The Premium trim might be the best value for adding the panoramic sunroof and full-dashboard-width Bang & Olufsen sound system, but the California Route 1 with standard heated front seats and a heated steering wheel is pretty sweet too. A smooth, quiet ride, with the full Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 and Assist 2.0 safety tech suites (plus Active Park Assist 2.0 and the nascent BlueCruise hands-free driving tech on all trims besides Select) make it an excellent around-town cruiser for driving to work and school.
With power figures ranging from 266 to 480 hp, and peak torque of 317 to 634 lb-ft available from very low to very high speeds, every Mach-E exhibits a satisfying degree of athleticism and passing power. Then there are the looks. Most reviewers feel the Mustang Mach-E’s heritage-inspired looks blow Tesla away, and the minimalist interior is nice without sacrificing a digital gauge cluster.
Finally, there’s range and charging. There’s virtually no scenario where 250+ miles of range is insufficient for daily driving purposes, and recharging 80% of the battery capacity overnight on a 240 V outlet should recover your Mach-E from any commute without requiring special equipment. Tesla’s biggest advantages are a moot point in this scenario; the driving experience and Mustang recognition are far stronger selling points to this commuting parent.
Then there’s the other side of family car duty. Hauling, in every form, is a weakness of the Mach-E compared to the Tesla Model Y. I’ll sum it up for you:
- The Model Y has slightly more cargo room.
- The Model Y can be configured to seat 7; Mach-E is limited to 5.
- The Model Y is rated to tow 3,500 lbs – the Mach-E isn’t rated to tow at all.
- The Model Y has a longer max range when properly equipped, and the Tesla Supercharger network is more established with a better reputation, making road trips faster and more predictable.
It’s not that the Mach-E can’t do family road trips; it’s just that the Model Y is generally equipped to do it better right now. Essentially, the Model Y can tow, it can go farther, charge faster, and can generally handle a little more cargo or people, putting the Mach-E at a disadvantage for long road trips. Otherwise, the Mach-E is slightly cheaper, barely any slower, and did I mention that it has a digital gauge cluster (which is something worth pointing out since the Model Y doesn’t). Also, don’t be disheartened by the capacity disparity, the Model Y’s third row is tight, and using those seats decimates the interior cargo room.
The 2022 Mustang Mach-E is even more exciting than the 2021 version. It remains nearly the only EV on the market, especially in the crossover segment, to genuinely compete with Tesla. The slightly higher battery capacities this year should unlock slightly longer ranges. I know it sounds like I’ve been ragging on the Mach-E for what it can’t do, but don’t overlook what it does so well. With exuberant power, surprising handling, great pony car looks, and state-of-the-art technology in a package that’s competitively priced and adequately sized, there might not be another car on the market today that’s better suited for a driver’s daily needs. So while the “lifestyle vehicle” label is a strange one, if “daily driver” counts as a lifestyle, that label is perfectly fine with me.