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Ford’s Mustang Mach-E unseats Tesla’s Model 3 as Consumer Reports’ top electric vehicle for 2022

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People visit Ford’s all-electric SUV Mustang Mach-E at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, the United States, Nov. 22, 2019.
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Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, the automaker’s bold bet to lead its transformation into selling more electric vehicles, replaced the Tesla Model 3 as Consumer Reports’ “Top Pick” for an electric vehicle in 2022.

The designation is further validation of CEO Jim Farley’s belief Ford can not only compete with Tesla but also beat Elon Musk when it comes to EVs.

Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, says he was impressed with the Mach-E as soon as the nonprofit group bought it. “Not only is it a really fun vehicle to drive, it is sporty, but it is also extremely mature,” Fisher told CNBC. “When I say that it rides nice, it is very quiet. I mean it really feels well built.”

Consumer Reports says reliability data it has collected shows the Mach-E has very few problems, so far. That data, along with owner reviews and testing conducted by Consumer Reports, prompted it to make the Mach-E its 2022 “Top Pick” for an electric vehicle, replacing the Tesla Model 3.

Consumer Reports is still recommending the Model 3, but Fisher says the small electric car fails to match the Mach-E in certain areas, most notably when it comes to hands-free driving and alerting drivers who fail to pay attention. Ford’s BlueCruise system uses a camera to monitor and alert drivers when they are not paying attention. The Model 3 also has a camera watching the driver, but Consumer Reports says that camera could be more effective.

“In our tests we can cover up the camera, we could not look at the road and it really doesn’t give any alerts to the driver to make sure they are looking where they are going,” says Fisher.

Overall, Tesla fell seven spots to 23rd place in Consumer Reports ranking of 32 major auto brands. It’s the poorest showing in the seven years Tesla has been included in the “Top Picks” issue.

In addition to concerns about Tesla’s Autopilot system, Consumer Reports is critical of the automaker’s steering yoke, a change from the steering wheel in the Model S and Model X. Fisher says using the yoke is frustrating. “It is not just about making it harder to turn the wheel, but they also got rid of the turn signal stalk,” he said.

Fisher added that the quality of the “Top Picks” for 2022 are better than ever, with the brands once again dominated by Japanese automakers. Subaru was rated No. 1, followed by Mazda, BMW, Honda and Lexus. At the bottom of the list this year are Mitsubishi and GMC, just above Jeep which was the lowest-rated brand.

CNBC’s Meghan Reeder contributed to this report.

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