2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E California Route 1

The Mach E is comfortable, practical, and impeccably built.
The Mach E is comfortable, practical, and impeccably built.

by Nathan Leipsig | December 6, 2022


It’s kind of wild to think about the amount of power a name or a title has over something. Like, what’s in a name? It’s just a means of designating something or someone, it shouldn’t really matter that much – but we all know it does. Titles change everything. Relationships, jobs, movies, cars, can all be made very different with little more than a name change. The 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 carries a hell of a title with it, and it’s handily the worst thing about this otherwise pretty excellent vehicle. It could have been its own thing, it has more than enough merit to stand on its own, but Ford decided to slap a title on it and now the conversation is about the title, not the car.

Adam, 39, luthier:
“It’s marketing malarkey. Car is amazing, should not be branded Mustang.”

I really didn’t want this review to be about the name. Every, every single review in every publication about this thing opens with Ford’s extremely divisive (and make no mistake, very deliberate) choice to call this a Mustang, and I so wanted to avoid that. This California Route 1 Edition is something we’ve all had our eye on for a while, as it’s the semi-sensibly priced long-range luxury commuter Mach E that some of us might actually be willing to spend money on. But try as I might, I couldn’t get away from the damn name. I tried to talk about the range, or the performance, or that it’s actually really well built, but no one would let me.

Randy, 64, carpenter:

“It’s nicer than I would have thought and drives great, Ford did their homework. I still don’t get why they called it a Mustang. This has nothing to do with a Mustang.”

We’ve already reviewed two Mach E Mustangs this year, you already know we think they’re some of the best EVs on the market, so let’s talk about that title, since that’s all everyone’s hung up on. Like the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Mazda Miata, Mercedes S-Class, the Mustang name is an institution unto itself. They all mean something very specific, and you can’t just put those names on anything. You could make an argument that the Mustang is less specific, as it means a lot of things to a lot of people, and it’s not all about what it’s capable of performance-wise.

Andrew, 34, firefighter:
“They shouldn’t have called it a Mustang. Just Mach E would’ve been perfectly fine. The horse should not be on this thing.I know it’s like, good, but the name ruins it.”

There’s a lot of association of freedom with Mustang; the wild horse iconography speaks to this. People in enthusiast circles tend to forget the Mustang isn’t just about V8 muscle and burning rubber, most of the Mustangs sold over the years have been humdrum performers at best. The very first Mustang was little more than a rebodied economy car, and it was a massive success because of its fresh, unpretentious style and accessibility. It was the first car to really succeed with women, too – this was a huge component of its record breaking sales figures. It brought freedom and personality for all.

Christina, 27, bartender:

“Why are they copying Tesla with the fake SUV styling and the giant stupid iPad on the dash and then calling it a Mustang of all things? It’s like it’s trying to be fifty things to fifty people and no one likes it.”

If Ford’s press materials are to be believed, the decision to call their first dedicated electric vehicle the Mustang was because they wanted to inject some personality into it; they had the tech figured out but the product was looking dull. This is… believable, I guess, but I doubt anyone on Earth believes it. To me and many others, even the most exciting electric vehicles are a bit dull – so much character comes from the beating mechanical heart of an engine, and when you eliminate that, a lot of personality goes with it, for better or worse. It’s inevitable, and no name would have gotten around that.

Cameron, 19, apprentice mechanic:

“I don’t care how fast it is, it’s so stupid they called it a Mustang.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is for the better in a lot of ways. If you have the means to charge them, electric vehicles are fantastic point A to point B cars. If you’re just sitting in traffic on the way to work and putting around running errands, they’re kind of perfect. This is not to say that sitting at red lights is the only thing the Mach E is good at. It drives great, with the seamless power of the 346 horsepower electric motor offering brisk performance, and it’s backed up by very impressive handling. The new chassis underpinning the Mach E is incredibly stiff and aided by a very low center of gravity, and it’s blessed with terrifically tactile steering, arguably better than the more traditional GT 5.0 we tested earlier this year. 

Alex, 32, brewery supervisor:

“Is that red SUV kinda thing yours? …why is there a Mustang logo on it?”

Our California Route 1 Edition falls into a sweet spot that we really like, offering all the niceties of the Premium trim, like the quilted leatherette seating and panoramic skylight, while also combining the extended battery from the Performance models without their hungrier 480 horsepower motor, which adds up to an advertised range of 505km. The best estimated range we saw on the display was 430km at a full charge, but it looks like it was a very pessimistic calculation, as the remaining range only dropped by about 60km after having covered more than 100km that evening. Better to under-promise and over-deliver, I suppose.

Tyler, 36, restaurant general manager/owner:

“Kinda dumb that they called it a Mustang, guess it saved them having to do something original.”

The Mach E is comfortable, practical, and impeccably built; the QC issues that have dogged our recent Ford testers are notably absent here. It drives surprisingly well, lacking a lot of numbness that comes with most EV’s. While some things about it are a little too here-and-now for our tastes, like the buttons instead of door handles, or the total absence of any buttons on the dashboard, it’s a fine vehicle that’s held back by a needlessly complicated identity. We have to wonder how much Ford thinks that identity is worth, too, as our tester carries an $85,925 sticker that puts in and among some very serious competition from BMW, Polestar, & Hyundai/Kia/Genesis. Granted, it’s supposed to go further than any of them – you decide what that’s worth.

Micheal, 31, systems engineer:
“It’s unnecessarily diluting the brand. There were so many other name plates they could have used, but instead they rip off one of the last few sporty models they have left.”

It’s easy to assume that with the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach E California Route 1, Ford accidentally built a Model Y, and had to differentiate it somehow. Personally I am baffled to my core as to why, if they wanted to use an established nameplate for attention and easy nostalgia money, they didn’t choose Thunderbird (seriously, how perfect would have been?). It’s a shame because it’s the best car Ford has made in years, and it’s fully capable of standing on its own virtue, and deserves its own identity; preferably one that isn’t shared with a polar-opposite existing product.  Hopefully in time, we’ll all be able to appreciate it for more than being a cynical, misguided branding exercise. Until then, get ready for a lot of the above conversations.

See Also:

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance

2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 Ultimate

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line

Vehicle Specs
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About Nathan Leipsig

Deputy Editor Nathan is a passionate enthusiast with a penchant for finding 80s and 90s European vehicles. He can typically be found messing about on his E28 5-series or on Kijiji looking for the next project. Current Toys: '23 Miata Club 6MT, '86 535i, '99 Beetle TDI 5MT