Tesla Model Y vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E — Zach vs. Jo Debate Leave a comment

We’re on to the next round of our Ultimate EV Bracket Battle, and this is the best battle yet. It’s the best selling electric SUV in the United States versus the second best selling electric SUV in the United States! That’s the Tesla Model Y versus the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Now, when we say these are the two best selling electric SUVs in the United States, that’s not to imply they are similar in their sales totals. Ford sold 28,089 Mustang Mach-Es through September in 2022, whereas we estimate that Tesla sold well over 150,000 Model Ys in the United States in the same period. But hey, Ford can only produce so many Mach-Es (of course, you could say the same about Tesla and the Model Y), and just because a lot of people buy something doesn’t mean it’s better than something else (ahem, McDonald’s vs. a veggie bowl from Chipotle). Nonetheless, we’re here for a debate, so Jo Borrás and I have picked our sides and are ready to fight it out!

I will just say up front: I’m going with the Tesla Model Y, for reasons I explain below, but the Mustang Mach-E is definitely one of the EVs I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who favors it, and I always mention it when someone asks about good EVs on the market.

Starting off focused on design, I love the Mustang Mach-E’s look. I think it’s one of the coolest looking cars/SUVs on the road. However, I love Tesla’s sleek, slick, sporty design more. The mix of minimalism and prowess is superb. That said, there are so many Model Ys on the road now, that I can say the Mach-E gets points for looking more unique and catching one’s eye. Oh yeah, and Ford also nailed it with the colors! I love some of Ford’s color options. But still — the smooth Tesla design wins in my eyes.

Jo: I have to admit up front that while I did have a chance to drive a Mustang Mach-E Premium for several days this past winter, I haven’t yet driven a Model Y. It’s a huge omission, especially as that car seems destined to become the world’s best-selling EV. While we were planning this post, in fact, Zachary seemed shocked (perhaps rightly so) and suggested that I set out to do that very thing for the purposes of this review, which seemed like a good idea … until my local Ford press fleet reached out to say that they had a Grabber Blue Mustang Mach-E GT available for me to drive — I went and drove that, instead.

Sorry, Zach. Elon’s chonky, high-roof, space-egg minivan deal looks like someone overinflated a Model 3-shaped balloon, and that kind of lazy design just can’t compete with the Pony Car’s long hood, short-decked promise of fun.

And, besides that, I just can’t bring myself to believe that the Model Y will be any more interesting or inspiring to drive than the Model 3 — which shares a platform with the Y but adds a lower cg and reduced mass to the fun-to-drive mix. If the Mustang is a better drive than that, how can the wagon version possibly compete?

Zach: I legit can’t understand it and think you’re quite possibly insane when you disparage the appearance of a Tesla, and I know millions agree with me, but I also know there are plenty of people who think they’re bland and boring. But that’s enough on design. What’s the next category?

Indeed, the Model Y drives very much like the Model 3, but of course with more of an SUV style than sedan style. But the Ford Mustang Mach-E drives even more like an SUV from my perspective. I drove them back to back a few times, and while the Mustang Mach-E certainly has the benefits of a skateboard battery pack and sporty design and drives in a much more enjoyable way than a typical SUV, I found the Model Y was tighter, felt more stable and sportier, and was more enjoyable. I love the Mach-E, but I certainly felt the Model Y was a bit more of a driver’s SUV.

Part of the driving experience is, of course, the interior design and experience. I know plenty of people like the inside of the Mustang Mach-E, and I, like many, particularly liked the blue stitching on the Grabber Blue model I had. However, the clean, smooth, unified interior of the Model Y still wins in my eyes. And while I have issues with the poor soundproofing on my Model 3, I found the Model Y to be notably better and the road noise to be reduced. That said, I will give the Mustang Mach-E points on a still quieter interior.

Jo: This is a tough one. We always get to this point with the Tesla articles, don’t we? The design just doesn’t speak to me at all, interior or exterior. I think Ford’s translation of sorry styling cues to the SUV body is more successful.

That said, it’s pretty clear that Ford cribbed the Tesla design brief when it laid out the Mach-E dashboard. Visually, it’s a somewhat generic copy — set apart only by virtue of a bigger screen, and one they haven’t made the best use of, at that.

Zach: Ford made a brave move on the infotainment, imho. The Detroit auto giant unabashedly learned from Tesla and stuck a giant touchscreen in the middle for almost everything. That takes courage and humility. And I thought the screen worked well and was organized well.

However, Tesla’s infotainment screen is still a bit cooler and there’s soooooooooooo much more there to have fun with. I won’t list it all or even most of it, but will just note: Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, some good video games, “Caraoke,” sketchpad, a music production app, various fun Easter eggs, and more.

Also, I wish Ford had leapt forward and turned the screen sideways (longer horizontally) rather than going the old-school Model S route. The one thing I will say that I do indeed like is including the dial/knob for some uses. I just like it, and I do agree with those who say some things are better off relying on muscle memory.

But seriously, the Ford Mustang Mach-E infotainment center is quite good. One of the best on the market.

Jo: Very good points. The only thing I’d add is that Ford probably committed to the vertical design before the Model Y was considered the standard. I think they probably benchmarked the MX.

All that said, I didn’t like the way Ford handled charging in its dashboard.

Zach: Oh yeah, and there’s charging!

Nothing beats Tesla’s Supercharger network. In fact, nothing else comes close, even though the Electrify America and EVgo networks keep improving.

But hey, the battle is long won — I’ll let you provide your final arguments.

Jo: The Supercharger network is Tesla’s ace in the hole, in any conversation. I don’t think EA, EVgo, or any of the other networks belong in the same conversation, frankly … but Tesla seems like it’s going to open that up to other brands, and then its cars will have to compete on their own. When that happens, I think Tesla becomes the new Subaru. Strong fanbase, loyal following, but ultimately not one of the major players in the space. Once the novelty of electric drive wears off, it’s gonna be bad.

I think that’s about 2030, but that’s just me.

If the Supercharger was available to both, I’d give this to the Mustang. As it is? I can’t pick a winner.

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