2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Review and Test Drive
As it faces more rivals, new regulations, and lower prices, Ford upgrades the electric crossover SUV.
Electric vehicle sales are booming. The International Energy Agency, a global energy organization that provides governments with analyses and policy support,) estimates EVs will account for 18 percent of new car sales globally in 2023, up from 5 percent in 2020. The agency reports a 55% increase in EV sales in the U.S. market in 2022 and expects them to account for 20% of all sales by 2030.
Ford is ramping up production of the 2023 Mustang Mach-E. Assembly plant upgrades and new lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for the standard-range models are now in place, and Ford has dropped Mustang Mach-E prices to make it more competitive with its competitor, the Tesla Model Y.
The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E isn't like any pony-badged car of Ford's past. Ford calls the Mustang Mach-E a crossover SUV, but with a meager ground clearance of 5.1 to 5.8 inches and a fastback roofline, I beg to differ. However, the Mach-E is too tall and sleek to qualify as a sports wagon, and it has far too much personality to be confused with a drab multipurpose vehicle. In my opinion, the Mach-E is a grand tourer similar to the discontinued and largely forgotten BMW 3 Series and 5 Series GT models.
Whatever you call it, the Mustang Mach-E arrived in 2021. Later that year, Ford added performance-oriented GT versions. Since then, the automaker has made regular updates to the EV.
The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E comes in Select, Premium, California Route 1, and GT trim levels. Base prices range from the mid-$40,000s to the low $60,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from the Cuautitlan, Mexico, factory that builds it to your local dealership. Ford says the Mach-E may qualify for a federal tax credit of $3,750, per the Inflation Reduction Act.
I reviewed a Mach-E Premium in 2022 and came away impressed. For this Mach-E review, I test-drove the GT in Southern California. It came with optional Cyber Orange paint, a Ford Mobile Power Cord, and a hands-free highway driving-assist system, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $65,190 at the time of writing, including the $1,800 destination charge. Ford provided the vehicle for this Mach-E GT review.
2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Review: The Design Mimics the Muscle Car
You can easily spot the differences between the Mach-E GT and other versions of the EV. The GTs have a black "grille" panel featuring an illuminated pony emblem, a revised front fascia with lower splitter, red brake calipers, and GT badges. In addition, the GT gets a 20-inch, five-hole, aerodynamic wheel design, while the GT Performance Edition has a multispoke wheel with a machined surface finish.
The Mach-E trades on signature Mustang styling cues. This approach has been unpopular with some people, but Ford is wise to adopt this tactic, which could help first-time EV buyers feel more comfortable with their choice due to the Mach-E's familiar name and appearance. I think the design elements work well on the EV and make it immediately identifiable as a member of the Mustang family.
The Mach-E doesn't have traditional door handles. Instead, the E-Latch doors recognize the presence of the key fob or respond to the standard Phone As A Key technology, accessible through the Ford Pass smartphone app. The Mach-E also has Ford's Securicode technology, which allows you to set up a personal identification number code that you can enter using a touch-sensing panel embedded into the door frame trim.
Inside the GT, a new-for-2023 standard panoramic fixed glass roof makes it feel roomy. The heated front seats offer eight-way power adjustment, and the upholstery is a mix of Ford's ActiveX artificial leather and simulated suede. Copper contrast stitching appears throughout the cabin.
Finding a proper driving position in the Mach-E GT is easy, and the driver's seat is comfortable on longer drives. A multitiered center console separates the front seats, offering a mix of open and covered storage areas that make the Mach-E the first modern Mustang with enough usable storage space for a long road trip.
The driver and front passenger face a layered dashboard with a Mustang-traditional dual-cowl form. Ford deftly integrates air vents within the line of demarcation between the upper and lower portions of the dashboard, and both the dash and door panels feature upscale fabric trim. A thin but wide digital instrumentation display sits behind the steering wheel, and it fits well with the cabin's design and aesthetic. Ford uses a rectangular 15.5-inch touchscreen display mounted in portrait orientation on the middle of the dashboard, and it looks as out of place as a big-screen TV hanging on the wall of an art gallery.
The Mach-E is the first Mustang in history that is friendly to rear-seat passengers. While the supportive bench seat accommodates three people, two will be happier. The EV is still a snug fit. Nevertheless, rear-seat passengers sit up high with a good view out, and the panoramic glass roof lends an airiness to the cabin.
Around the back, a standard power liftgate opens to reveal the Mach-E GT's cargo area. It measures 29.7 cu-ft behind the back seat and 59.7 cu-ft with the rear seat folded down. In addition, the Mach-E has a small trunk up front that holds 4.7 cu-ft of gear. The frunk is water resistant and equipped with a drain plug, making it easy to clean out.
2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Review: Tech and Safety Features
In addition to its tastefully sized 10.2-inch digital instrumentation display, the Ford Mustang Mach-E has a 15.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system display affixed to the dashboard in portrait orientation. It looks like an afterthought and contains all primary settings and controls, including the climate system. Ford embeds a single physical dial into the lower portion of the screen, and it controls stereo power and volume.
The Sync 4A system has Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, enhanced voice recognition, and connected navigation with three complimentary years of service and predictive destination recommendations. Over-the-air updates, called Ford Power-Up, keep the system current.
In addition, the Mach-E includes FordPass Connect services and an associated smartphone app. Highlights include access to a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Phone As A Key technology, a Locate & Pay For Charging feature, and navigation routing with charging station stops. The Mach-E GT also has standard wireless smartphone charging, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, and a surround-view camera system.
It might look inelegant, but the infotainment system is easy to use. After a week of driving the Mach-E, I only wished it had a radio tuning knob to match the volume knob. The voice recognition and Bang & Olufsen sound systems are excellent, too.
Every 2023 Mustang Mach-E has Ford Co-Pilot360, a collection of advanced driving-assistance systems that includes common safety features. In addition, the EV has Ford Co-Pilot Assist 2.0, which adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane-centering assist, evasive steering assist, intersection assist, and a speed-sign recognition system.
The big news for 2023 is the standard BlueCruise 1.2 hands-free driving technology. Ford includes a complimentary 90-day trial subscription to the feature, after which you can pay for three years of access. BlueCruise combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance and hands-free driving capability on 130,000 miles of approved North American highways that Ford calls Hands-Free Blue Zones. The 1.2 version of the technology adds hands-free lane-change assist, the ability to autonomously reposition the Mach-E within the lane to give larger vehicles a wider berth, and smoother overall system operation.
To put this new version of BlueCruise to the ultimate test, I joined the morning commute from the suburbs into the West Los Angeles area and quickly determined that the Mustang Mach-E needed a head-up display. As it stands, BlueCruise system readiness and status messages appear only on the thin 10.2-inch strip of digital instrumentation. Sometimes, an audible alert accompanies them, but not always. In addition, some notifications appear only briefly, so if you're not looking at the display, you'll miss them. You're also dependent on the screen to know when BlueCruise is active, unlike in a General Motors vehicle equipped with Super Cruise, which has a green indicator light embedded into the steering wheel.
During the morning drive, BlueCruise proved impressive, except when it didn't. For example, while winding through the hills of Calabasas, the system told me to take control without an apparent reason. Not long after, as the Mach-E crested a mountain pass into the rising sun, BlueCruise urgently requested that I take control and remained inoperative until I joined the 405 freeway heading south. Presumably, this was due to the direct sunlight ahead of the Mach-E. However, after getting on the 405 and pointing the pony-decorated nose away from the sun, BlueCruise gave me a "Ready" status notification for quite some time before finally activating the system.
Overall, I find BlueCruise effective under the right circumstances. However, a recent drive in a Cadillac CT5-V equipped with the latest iteration of Super Cruise has me preferring the General Motors technology, partly because of the green indicator light on the steering wheel rim and the accompanying head-up display. Super Cruise is simply more communicative about its status and what is happening with the tech. In fairness, though, I must point out that I did not evaluate the Cadillac under the same morning commute conditions as I did the Ford.
Regarding Mustang Mach-E safety ratings, testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is incomplete as of this writing. The EV gets five-star ratings for side-impact protection and rollover resistance, but the NHTSA has not assigned a frontal-impact or overall rating. For more guidance, look at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash-test ratings. The IIHS gives the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E favorable ratings in all completed assessments.
2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Review: The Driving Experience
Ford equips the 2023 Mustang Mach-E GT with a dual-motor electric drive system. One electric motor powers the front wheels, and the other powers the rear wheels, creating an electronic all-wheel-drive (eAWD) system.
A 91-kWh battery stores the electricity for the motors, and with the optional charging cable, owners can recharge the battery using a 120-volt household outlet or a 240-volt 32-amp Level 2 home charging station. Otherwise, the Mach-E is compatible with public Level 2 and Level 3 chargers rated at up to 150 kW.
The GT's eAWD system makes 480 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. According to Ford, the 4,991-pound GT can accelerate from a stop to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. If you choose the GT Performance Edition, a more robust front motor bumps the total torque output to 634 lb-ft, and Ford estimates it can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Drivers can choose from Whisper, Engage, and Unbridled driving modes. The GT Performance Edition adds an Unbridled Extend mode intended for track use.
The GT's official EPA rating is 84 MPGe (40 kWh/100 miles) and 270 miles of driving range. The GT Performance Edition comes in at 82 MPGe (41 kWh/100 miles) and 260 miles of range.
On the 76.6-mile evaluation loop, my test vehicle averaged an indicated 2.7 miles per kWh (37 kWh/100 miles), suggesting the Mach-E GT is more efficient than its official EPA rating. However, the remaining range indicator sank from 178 miles to 88 miles, a 90-mile difference that didn't align with the distance traveled. I did not use the Mach-E's aggressive one-pedal drive function, mainly because you can't turn it on or off without setting variable degrees of regeneration in between.
Both GT variants have 20-inch wheels, ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes, and a MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension design. The GT Performance Edition adds a MagneRide adaptive suspension, larger front brakes with Brembo calipers, and standard summer performance tires.
Driving a 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is fun. It accelerates quickly, pushing you back into your seat like the Incredicoaster at Disney's California Adventure, a sensation that never gets old.
In addition, though the standard GT does without the Performance Edition's suspension, tire, and braking upgrades, it exhibits the slot-car cornering feel common to electric vehicles due to its low center of gravity. The brakes feel natural underfoot and provide consistent, fade-free performance.
Unfortunately, regardless of driving mode, the GT's steering feels relatively lifeless for what is supposed to be a performance-oriented version of the Mach-E. It also has a firm ride that can border on uncomfortable. And though the standard suspension quells most of the unwanted body motions that are common to EVs, enough remains that Ford should consider making the MagneRide adaptive damping system more widely available.
Ultimately, in my opinion, the reason to get a Mach-E GT over a different version of the EV boils down to a preference for its design details, its quicker acceleration, and access to the Performance Edition option package. Otherwise, you can derive similar satisfaction from the Premium eAWD with the extended-range battery and save a few thousand dollars.
Is the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT a Good Electric Vehicle?
Considering the Mustang Mach-E is Ford's first serious attempt at building an electric vehicle, it is impressive.
It takes the most common form of a modern EV, the compact four-door crossover, while leveraging the beloved Mustang's styling cues and brand equity. In addition, the Mach-E lineup offers up to 312 miles of maximum range, DC fast charging in a little more than 30 minutes, and technological sophistication in the form of Sync 4A and BlueCruise 1.2.
Furthermore, Ford is continually improving the Mach-E, the interior looks and feels upscale, and this EV offers plenty of utility, including a competitively sized frunk. Perhaps most important, given it is a member of the Mustang family, the Mach-E is lots of fun to drive, firm ride and all.
As long as Ford can keep the price competitive with rivals, it should have no trouble selling more Mach-Es as it ramps production.