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Los Angeles —The Mustang Mach-E carries the familiar styling cues of Ford's famous pony car. But the new battery-powered SUV introduces a new user-experience that Ford customers have never seen.

First-adopters will relish its little details:

1. Where are the door handles? Round buttons are embedded in B- and C-pillars to open the doors. The buttons are both practical (for drag reduction) and high-tech: Push the disk and the door pops open by 1.5 inches. Then you grab the door and pull it the rest of the way; front doors have a small hook as a grab-assist.

2. It’ll drive itself. All Mach-Es are equipped with the hardware necessary for eventual autonomous driving. Ford will surely charge a fee, like Tesla, to unlock the software necessary to activate it. Engineers say the hardware resembles that of Cadillac's sophisticated Super Cruise system which not only uses radar, cameras and GPS to orient itself, but also monitors the driver with a camera and laser atop the steering column.

3. New logo. Mustang’s familiar pony emblem adorns the front facia, tailgate and steering wheel of the SUV (Ford logos are nowhere to be found). It’s has been tweaked for the EV age: It is stretched horizontally and detailed — not with a horse’s sinewy contours, but with a ribbed, techie surface. The logo on the GT performance model will be lighted in white.

4. Get to know the acronym “CG.” Although it's a tall crossover, the Mach-E has the third-lowest center of gravity in Ford’s lineup after the Mustang sports coupe and GT supercar. Credit the EV’s inherent physics resulting from storing its giant battery in the basement. At 98.8-kWh – bigger than the mighty Porsche Taycan EV – the Mustang battery weighs 1,300 pounds.

5. One-pedal driving. All electric cars use electric motors for regenerative braking to recharge the battery. Regeneration enables one-pedal driving – that is, lifting your foot off the accelerator slows the car. Want more aggressive regeneration? You can dial in more resistance in the Mach-E by pushing the a button in the middle of the rotary console shifter.

6. Talk to it. The Mach-E debuts Sync 4, the latest generation of Ford’s infotainment system. The 15.5-inch screen wows, but the biggest advance is that you can talk to the vehicle like a phone. Say “OK, Ford” and the system is at your service. Unlike other auto systems that require a slavish adherence to keywords, Sync 4 will respond to multiple demands: “Take me to Campus Martius” of “Drive me to Campus Martius.”

7. “Power My Trip.” A Ford smartphone app called “Power My Trip” is aligned with Sync 4. Use it to plot your trip (complete with charging stops if needed). Then, says Ford, when you jump in the car the app will seamlessly hand off to the Sync screen. Unlike Tesla, the Mach E also recognizes the popular Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps if that’s your preference.

8. We got the frunk. With the battery in the floor and the main power unit powering the rear wheels, the Mach-E offers extra cargo space under the front hood: a front trunk, or “frunk." Ford adds two cupholders and a drain plug to the plastic liner so you can ice it down and use it for tailgating before games. Or as Ford designers call it: “frunk-gating.” 

9. Unbridled. You’ve heard of Tesla’s Insane and Ludicrous acceleration modes? The Mach-E is hip to eccentric modes, too. In a refreshing change from the usual Normal and Sport modes, drivers can select Whisper mode for quiet driving, Engage for sportier driving, and Unbridled – which also pipes a dull roar into the cabin for folks who miss the ol’ Mustang V-8.

10. OTA is OK. The Mach-E promises over-the-air software upgrades (also pioneered by Tesla) so the car should get better over time. But this being a Mustang, OTA will also benefit handling. Engineers will be able to tweak the electromagnetic shocks, electric motors and e-steering. More Drive modes could be added in the future. Think Giddyup Or Stampede.

►MOREFord takes the wraps off the $45,000 Mustang Mach-E electric SUV

►MORE: Ford's new battery-powered Mustang Mach-E challenges Tesla

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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