Ford Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model 3: Compare Electric Cars

It’s a case of legacy versus upstart—but in the case of Ford Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model 3, Tesla is the legacy electric vehicle maker, and Ford is the upstart. 

Today, these two choices are among the most compelling affordable electric vehicles. Which one’s the better vehicle? First, a caveat. The Model 3 is a sedan, the Mach-E a crossover. The Tesla Model Y is a better match—but the Model 3 has been on sale longer and may be more common.

The Mach-E is the winner of our Best Car To Buy 2021; the Model 3, a winner of the same award from our sister site Green Car Reports. Here’s how they fare, head to head.

Ford Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model 3: Compare Electric Cars

2022 Tesla Model 3

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E trims vs. Tesla Model 3 trims

  • Model 3 comes in base RWD and Long Range and Performance AWD

  • Mustang Mach-E comes in Select, GT, Premium, and California Route 1 spec

  • Best picks: Long Range and Premium with extended-range batteries

The Mach-E offers more choices. It comes in Select, Premium, California Route 1, and GT models. Select Mach-Es only have the smaller battery, while the GT and California Route 1 only carry the bigger battery. A Premium choice lets buyers pick which serves their needs and budget better.

The base Model 3 comes with single-motor rear-wheel drive and the smaller battery pack; and Long Range and Performance AWD, both with dual motors and the larger battery pack.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E price vs. Tesla Model 3 price

  • Both the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3 will likely qualify for federal tax incentives for purchases again starting in January 2023

  • Neither currently qualify for calendar-year 2022 incentives

  • Both Model 3 and Mach-E sell long-range battery upgrades

How much is a Tesla Model 3? 

That seems to change very frequently. The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is $48,490; the Performance, $64,190. 

How much is a Ford Mustang Mach-E?

The base Mach-E Select with rear-wheel drive costs $44,995 (though pricing for 2023 hasn’t been announced). The Mach-E is more expensive across the lineup of longer range, more powerful versions of either model. 

2022 Tesla Model 3

2022 Tesla Model 3

 

Tesla Model 3 range vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E range

  • Tesla Model 3 range: Base, 267 miles; Long Range, 334 miles 

  • Ford Mustang Mach-E range: Select, 247 miles;  GT, 270 miles; Premium, 303 miles; California Route 1, 314 miles

  • Tesla’s superior range still carries an edge

On paper, Tesla Model 3 range has the advantage here. The base Model 3 has a 60-kwh battery pack (about 58 kwh usable) and a 267-mile range. It powers a motor that produces 283 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, which pushes the car from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds and to a top speed of 140 mph. 

Ford Mustang Mach-E range in the Premium version has a 70-kwh (usable) battery pack to power two motors that produce 266 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 211-mile range, and a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds. But with the available 91-kwh extended-range battery it’s good for 346 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque.

 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Tesla Model 3 performance vs. Ford Mustang Mach-E performance

  • The base Mach-E’s quicker than the base Model 3

  • In top versions, Tesla’s electric-car acceleration is, well, electric

  • The extended-range Model 3 is both quicker and faster than the Mach-E

Range is great to have at your back, but in practice, performance depends on the conditions. Snow flurries and single-digit temperatures in our Midwestern suburban neighborhood provided the backdrop for the road test. Off the line, in consecutive tests, the all-wheel-drive Mach-E charged off as the winner. Yet the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 felt quicker and jumpier. The difference was traction, but we couldn’t confirm that until I whipped it around on our snowy suburban streets.

Is the Tesla Model 3 faster than a Ford Mustang Mach-E?

In most versions it is quicker. The base rear-drive Model 3 accelerates to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds, onward to a 140-mph top speed. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive edition does it in 4.2 seconds and reaches 145 mph; the Performance edition, in 3.1 seconds as it can reach a claimed 162 mph.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds in Select trim, and 4.8 seconds in Premium grade. The Mach-E GT reaches 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Ford doesn’t publish a top speed for it, but an estimated 130-mph top end means the Tesla Model 3 is both quicker and faster.

When the Model 3 starts to slip, the traction control cuts throttle response until there’s grip. Tesla reportedly added a “dyno mode” to the Model 3 last year that lets you disable traction control but we didn’t tempt it. Off the line, it hesitated until it built up enough incremental motion to assure grip, then it took off. 

Once moving, the Tesla had more power for highway passing. This jibes with its higher horsepower number. Winter tires or all-wheel drive would make it quicker off the line, or you could wait until the sun shines, a common wish in the Midwest. 

The response of the Mach-E at highway speed was duller. But off the line, up to about 30 mph, it’s plenty quick. Three drive modes adjust throttle response and power delivery, and the top Unbridled mode even pipes in some pony car engine thrum. Don’t worry, such artifice can be disabled. 

The Model 3 feels quicker because, at about 4,900 lb, the Mach-E weighs a whopping 1,250 lb more than the Model 3. Even the heftier Model Y with all-wheel drive is 500 lb lighter. Even the Ford Explorer is lighter. 

2022 Tesla Model 3

2022 Tesla Model 3

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E handling vs. Tesla Model 3 handling

  • Take the Ford if you drive at all in winter

  • The Mach-E rides better, too

  • Tesla takes the cake on a curvy road

Because most of the weight stretches below the floor and between the axles, the Model 3 has a low center of gravity that makes for good handling for its size. The Model 3 hugs the ground, has three steering settings, and even the one with the least resistance, “Comfort,” felt sportier than the Mach-E’s steering.

The Model 3 owner remarked on the high seating position and tall ride height in the Mach-E; the visual command of the road is one big reason why car shoppers choose crossovers like the similar Tesla Model Y. But the Model 3 tucks in and out of corners like a proper sedan. 

They both ride stiffly, jumping around like a Californian encountering all these Midwestern road imperfections. Keep in mind, the temperature was about 2 degrees. Frigid equals rigid for man and machine. 

The Mach-E was louder on the highway than other crossovers, but the highway ride quality was soft as a blanket compared to the Model 3. Such is the tradeoff for good handling. 

Another notable attribute of the Mach-E was its snow and ice handling. When the road slush from the day turned to ice at night, and a new layer of snow arrived, I sought out a parking lot to relive my teen years and was disappointed by how much grip it had. It held the line remarkably well, and unlike Tesla, the throttle still engaged the axles in a diminished capacity. It instilled confidence, and that’s another plus for the tall hatchback. I eventually found the stability control in the touchscreen, but my opportunity to hoon it in the snow had passed. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E technology vs. Tesla Model 3 technology

  • Big touchscreens rule both interiors

  • Tesla skips smartphone compatibility (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto)

  • Tesla puts more emphasis on screen functionality

There is no question Ford wanted to emulate Tesla with its 15.5-inch touchscreen command center, but Tesla has reinvented the car cockpit with its 15.0-inch touchscreen with a landscape orientation. It replaces the instrument cluster, climate controls, multimedia controller, vehicle info screen, everything, really, aside from two steering wheel toggles and an indicator stalk on one side and gear selector stalk on the other.

The responsiveness of Tesla’s system to touch controls and voice commands, as well as the intuitive layout like that of a MacBook, let me use it with ease in the first five minutes. It’s the best interface on the market, and is far ahead in a category where traditional automakers have stumbled. The fonts and color contrasts are pleasant, and the iconography is clear; when activating Autopilot, Tesla’s misnomer of a driver-assist system, the graphic shows 3D renderings of the vehicles around you, so a minivan looks like a minivan and a semi looks like a semi. It instills confidence that the system sees what you’re seeing, and with regular over-the-air updates, it keeps getting better. Tesla’s crystal clear navigation and mapping is second only to Audi’s system. 

It’s not perfect; there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, and no AM radio. It’s all apps such as Tunein or Spotify. Update those playlists or suffer app fatigue. Adjusting the wipers through the touchscreen is annoying and the small climate bar is wedged in at the bottom, but the owner says you get used to it.  

Ford’s vertical orientation of a similar screen doesn’t look as integrated as Tesla’s, but it has a permanent climate bar in the lower quadrant that’s clear and easy to use even with gloves. A volume dial in that section is a nod to the frustrations aired by owners of other vehicles who loathe touch-sensitive volume controls, but it feels chintzy.

In place of a traditional instrument cluster, Ford equips the Mach-E with a small vehicle info bar that shows vehicle speed and the status of driver-assistance systems. I prefer looking in that space just below the road and beyond the wheel, instead of glancing over to the right as is necessary in the Model 3. 

Both vehicles use phone-as-key concepts, where you can check vehicle status, precondition the interior, optimize charge time, and control other features through your smartphone. Ford has made major strides in narrowing the tech gap with Tesla, but it still trails.

2022 Tesla Model 3

2022 Tesla Model 3

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E interior vs. Tesla Model 3 interior

  • The Model 3’s cockpit is spartan

  • The Mach-E’s cargo space swells, but it’s smaller than the similar Model Y

  • There’s more back seat head room than you ever might expect in the Model 3

The Mach-E has better fit and finish, but the Model 3’s seats feel better.

The Tesla Model 3 interior is spartan, free of buttons and clutter—even the vents are hidden beneath a wood panel that spans the dash—is appealing. The wireless smartphone charger has been upgraded to be more cohesive with the design and the cabin looks like an inviting work zone. 

The Tesla Model 3 center console is deep, with abundant storage. 

Seat comfort favors Tesla as well, with standard heated seats that feel substantial but are pretty thin. Ford’s seat bottoms are short, so the long-legged don’t get as much thigh support, but it has more supportive side bolsters. 

The rotary gear selector on the Mustang Mach-E center console feels low-budget. In our test model, it could be twisted past “Park” and past “Drive” as if it were stripped. 

The Mach-E’s frunk is deeper because the Mach-E is taller; headroom is better inside, and it has more room overall but not by as great a margin as I expected. The center tunnel space is better executed in the Mach-E with an open floor plan approach whereas the Tesla has two deep consoles, one between the cupholder and charger, and the other under the armrest.

With the rear seats up, trunk space appears to be close between the two vehicles. But the Mach-E’s tall hatchback body style gives it 29.7 cubic feet compared to 15 cubic feet in the Model 3. In the Mach-E, four sets of golf clubs can fit across with the drivers removed. You can’t do that in the Model 3, but the Model Y serves as a better paper comparison here. It has 68 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down, compared to the Mach-E’s 59.7 cubic feet. I’d still take the Mach-E because it’s much better looking than the bulbous pod called Model Y.  

In part, that’s because the Model 3 continues to disappoint in quality. Materials look cheaper and the panels and swatches don’t match or fit as well as in the Ford. The cockpit’s noisy, due to efficient tires, and the body has wider panel gaps and misfits of exterior trim that speak volumes about Tesla’s production difficulties. 

 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E safety vs. Tesla Model 3 safety

  • “Full Self-Driving” is overhyped 

  • Bluecruise permits some hands-free driving

  • Top crash-test scores for both

The Mach-E and Model 3 compare well in crash safety, but Ford doesn’t mislead customers about its car’s ability to navigate the world of “self-driving” cars.

The Model 3 earns a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS and a five-star NHTSA rating. It has automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors. But its “Full-Self Driving” package is not what it is billed: it’s a $12,000 option that allows the car to park and change lanes automatically, but cannot safely be left to hands-free driving any longer than the Mustang Mach-E can. 

The Mach-E has also earned a Top Safety Pick+, but the NHTSA hasn’t tested it yet. Each Mach-E has automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, adaptive cruise control with stop and start, automatic rear braking, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beams. It can be fitted with Bluecruise, which enables the car to drive hands-free on more than 100,000 miles of mapped divided highways, so long as the driver is present and attentive. A surround-view camera system can be fitted as well. 

2022 Tesla Model 3

2022 Tesla Model 3

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E charging vs. Tesla Model 3 charging

  • Tesla has nearly 1,500 Superchargers in the U.S.

  • Electrify America operates about 800 charging stations

  • Tesla may open its charging network to other vehicles

The Model 3 benefits from years of Tesla investment in its charging network, while the Mach-E depends on new networks still being built out.

Where can I find the nearest Tesla Supercharger?

Tesla’s Supercharging network continues to be the standard for charging, with simple plug and charge operation and the ability to easily find stations and plug availability in the car’s navigation system. It’s all part of a single system, and it shows it every step of the way. The company claims more than 35,000 charging stations around the world, with about 1,500 in the U.S. On a Tesla V3 charger, the Model 3 can add 170 miles of range in just 30 minutes.

Can you charge a Ford Mustang Mach-E on a Tesla charger?

Not yet, but plans to open the Tesla Supercharger network to other vehicles are brewing.

The Mach-E can be charged on a standard 120-volt outlet, but it’ll take about four days. A Level 2 240-volt outlet lops that time down to about 14 hours. A higher-amp Connected Charge Station trims that even further, to about 10 hours. 

Mach-E owners can use the more than 800 Electrify America public charging stations, the fastest of which can charge its battery up to 80% in 45 minutes.  

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model 3: Winner

Right now, Ford can’t play Tesla’s charging game. Tesla trounces it—and all its rivals—when it comes to charging networks and battery efficiency.

On the other hand, Tesla is that far behind on build quality, and reliability remains a big question. The Mach-E scores better on features, on quality, and subjectively, on its more gregarious style. 

Those weaknesses partially explain why the Ford Mustang Mach-E earns a TCC Rating of 8.5 compared to a 7.5 for the Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 set a pace for compact electric cars, but it’s been superseded in some important ways. The Mustang Mach-E has assured the name of Ford’s pony car will stay relevant for another generation—or another century.