I'd hardly be one to blame you if you didn't give the rear-wheel-drive version of the Ford Mustang Mach-E a second thought. After all, unlike most SUVs, where the only difference between choosing two and four driven wheels is tire wear, opting for all-wheel-drive in the Mach-E brings extra power. Like many EVs, Ford's pony car-branded crossover doubles its traction by doubling its motors, sticking one up front to power the steering wheels and one in the rear for the ones Mustangs have used for power since the Johnson administration.
Still, in a way, rear-wheel-drive seems to suit this EV SUV. After all, as I said, the rear wheels are where Mustangs have always sent their power; doing so here helps diminish, if not demolish, any claims of heresy traditionalists might shout. And while it's technically a crossover, in many ways, the Mach-E looks and feels as much like a station wagon as a sport-utility vehicle — making the RWD version a de facto heir to beloved Motown family cars from the Chevy Nomad to the Dodge Magnum to Ford's own Country Squire.
Perhaps the clearest reason to opt for the two-wheel-drive variant is the fact that it saves you a few simoleons. 2,700 of them, as a matter of fact, no matter whether you're starting with the standard range battery model or springing for the extended range one. That's roughly five percent (or more) knocked off the price of the car, depending on trim and options. It's enough to go a substantial way towards buying and installing an at-home Level 2 charger — something I'd highly recommend having, unless you're okay only adding 1-2 miles per hour of range over a 110-volt household plug.
If you're planning on taking a lot of long road trips in your electric Mustang crossover, the RWD Mach-E boasts another benefit over its cousin: it's more efficient. According to the EPA, standard-range battery models will do about 230 miles in RWD form and 211 as an AWD car; extended-range battery Mach-Es will do 300 miles as RWD models and 270 as AWD ones, according to the feds' estimates.
During a week of driving around Detroit, including both around-town and highway driving, my test car's range-o-meter suggested it wasn't quite willing to go that far; I never was able to charged all the way to 100 percent, but extrapolating out from my max reading suggested a range claim of around 260 miles.
It's possible it was just being conservative, or perhaps its metrics had been thrown off by other lead-footed journalists; stricter real-world tests have shown that the Mach-E can meet or beat its EPA range, so mine may have just been in a mood. Regardless, in any modern EV, any extra bit of range is much appreciated — especially given how erratic public charging infrastructure can be — so if you think you can live without four-wheel grip, you'll likely appreciate the extra breathing room the RWD Mach-E gives you.
The Mustang Mach-E's varying power outputs are a bit unusual, even for an EV. The RWD Standard Range battery base model makes 266 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. Upgrade to the bigger battery but stay RWD, and power rises to 290 hp but torque stays the same; upgrade to AWD but stick with the standard battery, and power remains at 266 ponies, but torque jumps to 428 lb-ft. Opt for the AWD Extended Range battery, and torque remains at 428 lb-ft, but horsepower hits 346.
Still, the RWD Mach-E never feels lacking in pep — especially once you're rolling, where it jumps forward like a spooked bullfrog whenever you give the accelerator a forceful prod. Thanks to the immediate power delivery and the nimble (for an SUV) handling, it's able to dash through traffic with both ease and joy. Sure, you'll never confuse it with a Porsche Macan (or an actual Mustang), but it's still a more entertaining driving companion than most crossovers.
And you also still get all the unique pieces that set the Mustang Mach-E apart from many other vehicles. There's the frunk, which — as I discovered during a football pre-game — makes for an excellent cooler with the help of a bag of ice, serving up room for a couple dozen cans with ease. There's the giant tablet touchscreen for the infotainment system, which seems intimidating at first glance but quickly proves itself to be one of the more intuitive such monsters on the market. There's the svelte design, an eye-catcher that remains one of the few to do the idea of the "four-door-coupe-SUV" well.
Bottom line: if you live where the snow flies deep and often and want to be sure you'll be able to drive your electric 'Stang all year round, the all-wheel-drive version remains the choice for you. (Just make sure you buy some good snow tires, too.) But if you don't deal with the cold white stuff too often, the rear-wheel-drive Mustang Mach-E makes a pretty compelling case for itself.
Price as Tested: $53,595
Powertrain: 91 kWh battery + rear-mounted electric motor, single-speed gearbox, rear-wheel-drive
Torque: 317 lb-ft
EPA Range: 300 miles
Some folks may raise hell over the Mustang name being used on an electric crossover. Pay them no mind.