Skip to main content

The Ford Mustang Mach-E isn’t just getting cheaper, it’s getting better

A red 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E in a field.
Joel Patel / Digital Trends

Ford and Tesla have both made headlines over the past few months for engaging in a relatively aggressive pricing battle. The Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y are among the most popular electric cars out there, and they’ve both gotten a fair bit cheaper in the last few months. The model Mach-E now sells for $42,995, and the base model Model Y goes for $47,490 — both before incentives.

I’ve reviewed a number of different Mach-E models over the past few years, and they’re always one of my favorite cars to drive. But after driving the Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 Edition for a week, it was apparent that the Mach-E isn’t just getting cheaper — it’s also getting better.

Here’s why.

Change is in the air

The updates to recent models of the Mach-E all boil down to one thing: over-the-air (OTA) updates. These are software updates that take place overnight and bring new features to your car without you having to bring it into the shop.

My personal favorite is a relatively small update — but it makes a huge difference. The Mach-E has a big circular dial in the middle of its infotainment screen which, to date, only served as a way to control volume. But with a small update, Ford made it so that this dial could also control the temperature and fan speed of the climate system in the car.

Mustang Mach-E climate controls.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

This sounds minor, and in the grand scheme of things, it is. But I’ve long hated digital climate controls, and in the Mach-E, this update at least partially solves that problem. Not completely, mind you — you still have to tap a button on the screen before turning the dial. But at least you don’t have to mess around with sliders on the screen like you used to.

Another big software update comes in the form of updates to BlueCruise, which currently allows your car to drive you on the highway, hands-free. You’ll still need to pay attention — and I did find myself having to nudge the steering wheel every now and then. But it works quite well and doesn’t buzz at you for taking your hands off the wheel.

Now, to be fair, BlueCruise 1.2 isn’t quite available to older Mach-E models as a software update yet. Instead, it’s available on all new Mach-Es rolling off the factory line. But Ford says it will roll out to older Mach-Es in the future.

All this is to say that Ford may actually be taking advantage of what software updates can provide. To be clear, the improvements made so far are relatively minor — but they still exist, and in a world where just a few short years ago it would have been unthinkable for a Ford to get life-improving updates.

Mustang Mach-E BlueCruie electronic dashboard.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Hardware updates are coming

Not everything comes down to software updates though — despite lowering the price of the Mach-E, Ford is clearly also investing in improving the hardware of the car.

Case in point? Later this year, Ford will switch out the type of battery in the Mach-E, for a new kind of battery called Lithium Iron Phosphate, or LFP. This only applies to the standard-range models of the Mach-E, but it’ll bring a few more miles of range, with the rear-wheel drive models going from 247 miles to 250 miles, and the all-wheel drive from 224 to 226.

Of course, those numbers represent minuscule improvements. The real advantages come in the form of a 45 horsepower boost and the ability to charge at a faster rate — taking five minutes less on a DC fast charger. The car will also be able to charge to full more often on a slower home charger, allowing drivers to take full advantage of the range on offer.

Improvements to hardware are, of course, less unexpected than those to software. Carmakers are used to refining their cars on a yearly basis, only radically redesigning them every five years or so. That, of course, means that the Mach-E may be headed for a redesign in just a few short years.

We will, however, have to wait and see if that actually happens, and how the Mach-E is selling up against what I hope is far-increased competition. One thing that could give Ford the leg-up, however, is continued refinements of its software, and improvements to its hardware.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
Fine, I’ll call the Mach-E a Mustang. But that giant screen has to go
Mustang Mach-E

At age 17, I seriously contemplated stuffing a computer into my Pontiac Grand Prix. I was a geek, all my pirated Deftones MP3s lived on a hard drive, and it seemed infinitely cooler than a CD changer. But I could never quite figure out how to make it look right. Sure, I could hide the guts in the trunk, but where would I put the screen? Just zip tie a touchscreen on the dash? Wouldn’t that look obnoxious? Even as a high-schooler in the era of AutoZone tape-on neon lights, this type of modification just seemed sloppy.

I scrapped my plan altogether. But 15 years later, it turns out my worries were ill-founded. As modern car designers have demonstrated, you can shove a gigantic screen just about anywhere.

Read more
Ford unveils all-electric Mustang Mach-E
Mustang Mach E Feature

Ford is breaking all the rules.

The company has brought pretty much the entire motoring press corps to Los Angeles in advance of the 2019 L.A. Auto Show to witness as they toss 55 years of Mustang tradition onto a bonfire.

Read more
Kia EV3 vs Hyundai Ioniq 5: Can the EV3 take out Hyundai’s best EV?
White Kia EV3

The Kia EV3 has finally been announced, and it could well become the best low-cost electric car yet. The new EV keeps many of the design elements that I loved about the Kia EV9, but in a much smaller body and likely at a much lower price.

However, the Kia EV3 will go head-to-head with a number of other electric cars that we already consider to be the best in the lower-cost segment. One of those is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which is loved for its stylish design, solid range, and superfast charging speed.

Read more