Ground clearance and towing capacity are severely lacking
There comes a certain set of expectations when an automaker labels a vehicle an SUV. I’ve heard plenty of talk about whether Ford’s new battery-powered Mustang Mach-E SUV deserves its pony car moniker, but what about the three-letter acronym that tells us how we’re supposed to categorize the thing?
The now-ubiquitous term stands for sport utility vehicle. When I see those letters attached to a car, I expect that car to clear taller obstacles, hold more of my stuff, and haul a heavier trailer than a similarly sized and powered sedan or wagon. We know as well as anyone that search volume for “electric SUVs” is a magnitude larger than it is for “electric crossovers,” but words still have meaning. Right?
So how about the Mach-E? In terms of ground clearance, standard Mach-E models have 5.7 inches between their lowest point and the ground, but the high-performance Mach-E GT has just 5.3 inches. To put that in context, a Mustang GT (the two-door sports car with a big V-8 up front) has 5.7 inches of ground clearance—almost half an inch more than its battery-powered SUV-labeled big brother. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s absurd.
If we compare the Mach-E to Ford’s more conventional gas-powered SUVs, it makes sense to look at the dimensionally similar Ford Edge. Standard Edge models have 8.0 inches of ground clearance, and the sport-tuned Edge ST—similar in ethos to the Mach-E GT—has 8.2 inches. The Mach-E is much closer in ride height to the U.K.-spec Ford Focus wagon, which has between 4.5 and 5.3 inches of clearance.
Comparing cargo capacity, the Mach-E is once again much closer to Ford’s station wagon than to its similarly sized SUV. The Mach-E has 29.0 cubic feet behind the second row or 59.6 cubes with the seats folded down. Because it doesn’t have an engine up front, there’s also a front trunk between the front wheels with another 4.8 cubic feet of space.
Although it’s labeled an SUV, the Mach-E doesn’t have much of an advantage over that Focus wagon in terms of stuff space. The wagon has 21.5 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats or 58.4 with everything folded flat—only 6.0 cubic feet less than the Mach-E if you include its frunk.
Against the Edge, though, the Mach-E doesn’t compare so favorably. The Edge boasts 39.2 cubes behind the second row or an impressive 73.4 cubic feet of cargo volume with its seats folded flat. Those figures each show advantages of more than 10 cubic feet over the Mach-E.
Perhaps Ford is under the impression that electric vehicle buyers and customers interested in towing don’t overlap. I’m not so convinced (and neither is Elon Musk), but either way, the Mustang Mach-E will not be set up for towing in North American markets when it arrives next year.
On the gas-powered side of things, a standard four-cylinder front-wheel-drive Edge can tow 1,500 pounds (680 kg), and if you spring for an all-wheel-drive Edge ST with the twin-turbo V-6, it’ll tug up to 3,500 pounds (1,587 kg). Those aren’t huge numbers, but it’s plenty of capability for towing a smaller boat or camper. Meanwhile, the overperforming Focus wagon will tow up to 1,800 kg—that’s almost 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg).
So which is the bigger stretch, calling the Mach-E a Mustang or calling it an SUV? If you’re asking me, it’s the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Mach-E. It’s one of very few Ford products I’m excited about right now. It’ll likely make a great daily driver, winter warrior, grocery getter, and maybe even a canyon carver.
My back-seat impressions of the driving experience are optimistic about this car performing like a Mustang should. Just don’t try to fool yourself into thinking it’s any kind of workhorse.