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2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally first drive: old pony learns new trick

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on dirt.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

With its Mustang Mach-E, Ford promised an electric SUV imbued with the spirit of the iconic Mustang performance car. Now well into its production run, the Mach-E is living up to its Mustang billing in that, like the traditional internal-combustion Mustang coupe and convertible, Ford wants to grow the herd of Mach-E variants.

Introduced for the 2021 model year, the Mach-E is nearing the point where most vehicles would see a redesign, or at least a major update. That seems especially pressing given the accumulation of fresher competition in the form of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Chevrolet Blazer EV. But instead of a redesign, the big news for the 2024 Mustang Mach-E is a new Rally model designed for dirt-road driving.

The Mach-E Rally draws on Ford’s rallying heritage, as well as the current trend toward turning suburbia-friendly crossover SUVs into light off-roaders that can handle dirt roads more easily, but that stop short of full-on rock-crawling capability. To that end, the Mach-E Rally gets a raised suspension and dirt-ready tires, along with a punchy dual-motor powertrain. All of that comes at a base price of just over $60,000, though, placing the Rally among the priciest Mach-E models.


2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally front view.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

The Mach-E somewhat controversially injects an electric crossover SUV with Mustang-like styling elements, but with the Rally, Ford is muddling its lore a bit. Ford has plenty of legitimate rallying experience with cars like the Escort, Focus, and RS200, but the Mustang has mostly emphasized going fast on pavement, not dirt.

Still, the Mach-E Rally looks ready for a fast run through the forest. Fog lights embedded in the grille and white 19-inch wheels scream “rally car,” while a prominent front splitter, rear spoiler, and racing stripes drive home the point that this isn’t an ordinary Mach-E. On the functional side, Ford added underbody shielding to protect the motors, raised the ride height by an inch, and fitted the Mach-E Rally with Michelin CrossClimate2 tires designed for better traction on loose surfaces.

The Mach-E Rally looks ready for a fast run through the forest.

The Mach-E itself still sits on the low-and-sleek side of the electric SUV styling spectrum, closer to the Kia EV6 and distinct from the retro Hyundai Ioniq 5, the more traditionallooking Chevrolet Blazer EV, and the virtually style-free Tesla Model Y. Headroom and legroom in both rows remains close to these rivals, and the Ford’ 4.7-cubic foot frunk is also slightly larger than a Model Y’s.

Interior design follows the minimalist aesthetic that seems to be the in thing with EVs right now. The large infotainment touchscreen and digital instrument cluster stand out because there simply isn’t much else in the cabin to attract attention. That doesn’t mean the interior feels basic or cheap; material quality seemed appropriate for the price range.


2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally interior.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

For 2024, the Mustang Mach-E continues with Ford’s Sync 4A infotainment system, not the new Ford Digital Experience system that rolls out on some of the automaker’s other models soon. A 15.5-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto remain standard as well.

Jutting from the dashboard like a wall-mounted flatscreen television, the touchscreen isn’t subtle, but it is functional. Most tasks can be completed with a minimum of menu surfing, something Ford has worked to achieve through over-the-air (OTA) updates since the Mach-E’s launch. Other updates have focused on improved Bluetooth connectivity and adding more functions for the larger analog knob embedded in the screen (it can now control temperature and seat heaters, as well as audio volume). Still, the on-screen climate controls can be a bit tricky to work.

The touchscreen isn’t subtle, but it is functional.

Like other Mach-E models, the Rally comes standard with expected driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. BlueCruise, Ford’s hands-free highway driving system, is available as well, but a subscription is required for long-term use. Customers get a 90-day free trial, with the option to purchase a three-year subscription after that. Ford ships cars with the hardware needed for BlueCruise, but operation is enabled via software.

The Mach-E gets an updated BlueCruise 1.3 version for 2024. This isn’t as big of an update as BlueCruise 1.2, which added automated lane changes. Instead of new features, BlueCruise 1.3 focuses on refining the behavior of the system to maximize hands-free driving time, according to Ford. this includes recalibrated software aimed at improving performance on tight curves and in narrow lanes. We got to sample the update on a Mustang Mach-E Premium and found that, while it did indeed stay in hands-free mode nearly the entire time, it also tended to hug the right side of lanes temporarily narrowed for construction. As a result, we were brought a little closer to other cars than we would have liked.

Driving experience

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally rear three quarter view.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

The Rally’s dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain has the same tuning as the Mach-E GT with the optional Performance Upgrade, meaning it has the most power you can get in a Mach-E from the factory. Output is 480 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, which will get the Rally from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, according to Ford. That’s 0.1 second slower than the Mach-E GT, but the same as a Tesla Model Y Performance.

In the current glut of point-and-shoot EVs, the Mach-E Rally offers something different.

What really makes the Mach-E Rally special, though, is a Rally Sport drive mode that lets you make the most of that power and acceleration on surfaces that would have a normal Mustang heading to the stables. The fun part of driving on low-traction surfaces like dirt and mud is letting the car get sideways in corners, so this mode loosens the electronic safety net to let that happen. It’s also calibrated for more linear accelerator response — so you can use the right pedal to help steer the car through corners — and sportier damping.

In the current glut of point-and-shoot EVs, the Mach-E Rally offers something different. Find a quiet stretch of dirt road or a big parking lot, and this Ford will show you that going sideways can be just as much fun as going quickly in a straight line. The electric powertrain and the Rally Sport mode’s software mapping make this easy, keeping the car’s reaction to accelerator-pedal inputs consistent throughout. Right now, the closest you can come to this kind of hooligan behavior in an EV is with a much pricier Rivian.

Not every driver will have access to the kind of dirt playground that lets a Mustang Mach-E Rally strut its stuff, but building an EV like this was a clever move. Like other Mach-E models, the Rally is very pleasant to drive on the road. Its combination of the GT model’s 480 hp with softer suspension might make it the best daily driver of the lineup, in fact. But this is still a fairly heavy vehicle with a long wheelbase, which limit its agility on pavement. On dirt, though, when you simply rotate the back end and power the car through a corner, those things don’t seem to matter as much.

Range and charging

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally profile view.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

The Mach-E Rally uses a 91-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the same size that’s standard on all but the base Mach-E Select grade (it’s an optional extra on that model). But the Rally’s estimated range of 265 miles is lower than the 280 miles of the Mach-E GT and the 300 miles for the Select and Premium models with all-wheel drive (Ford also offers this pack in rear-wheel drive Premium models, stretching range to 320 miles).

A maximum DC fast charging power rate of 150 kilowatts isn’t remarkable, but the Mach-E Rally can still accomplish a 10% to 80% charge in a reasonable 32 minutes, according to Ford, while a full Level 2 AC charge takes about 10 hours.

Ford is also working on ways to make charging a Mach-E easier. It’s shipping adapters that let Mach-E drivers plug into Tesla Supercharger stations, and it has the necessary software in place to let cars interface with these stations. The automaker also added a native route-planning function called Intelligent Range that incorporates charging stops when using the built-in navigation system. Apple Maps EV routing is supported as well, and a similar feature for Google Maps is coming with a future OTA update, Ford says.

Battery warranty coverage is comparable to other EVs as well, at eight years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first). That’s in addition to a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty for the car itself.

How DT would configure this car

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally front three quarter view.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

The Mach-E Rally is an interesting new addition to the lineup, but it’s not the most sensible choice. The base Select and one-tier-higher Premium models come with the same array of tech features and, while not as quick, are still pretty nice to drive. And at $61,890, the Rally’s base price is about $5,000 more than the price of a Mach-E GT with the Performance Upgrade. And unless you spend a lot of time driving on dirt, the experience will be nearly the same.

Shoppers can also spend about $10,000 less on a Tesla Model Y Performance and get 279 miles of range. The Mach-E Rally does at least look like a good value compared to a Kia EV6 GT, which costs about the same and has more power, but only 218 miles of range (albeit with more powerful DC fast charging). As a daily driver, the Ford also makes more sense than the $67,475 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, which really needs a racetrack to prove its worth.

Considering the current lack of affordable EVs, a niche performance model isn’t really what the market needs right now. But the Mach-E Rally is a well-executed product, maintaining what made the base Mach-E good while taking its styling and performance in a different direction from competitors.  And it’s not just different for the sake of being different. We need more EVs, but the Mach-E Rally also shows that we need more rally courses.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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