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2015 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2015

It's hard to find a serious flaw in the 2015 Ford Focus Electric hatchback's formula. Here's the highlight reel: This electrified runabout boasts a useful 76-mile driving range, a top speed of 84 miles per hour, and the same attractive styling, responsive handling and cool technology as any other Focus. Modest back seat and cargo area aside, it's the rare electric vehicle that would fit most commuters to a T.

On the other hand, the Focus Electric doesn't come cheap, checking in at $29,995 this year. Tax credits could help ease the blow, but you might be thinking that it's just not worth the hassle. Hey, we hear you. There are lots of desirable conventional cars on the market for that kind of coin. But if you're open to what electric vehicles (EVs) have to offer, give the 2015 Ford Focus Electric a close look. It's one of the best of its breed, and when all's said and done, it might come at a price you can't refuse.

What's New for 2015?

Like the rest of the Focus lineup, the 2015 Focus Electric gets significantly revised styling and an interior makeover, though its equipment list remains roughly the same.

What We Like

Upscale styling; confidence-inspiring handling; high-tech interior; 76-mile range; 84-mph top speed

What We Don't

High price; tight back seat; compromised cargo capacity

How Much?

$29,995

Fuel Economy

The Focus Electric is powered by a 107-kilowatt electric motor that's hooked to a trunk-mounted lithium-ion battery pack. In conventional terms, its output is 143 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Recharging time is a claimed 3.5 hours using the available 240-volt charging station (sold separately by Ford). The estimated driving range is 76 miles, while the top speed is 84 mph.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Focus Electric in terms of miles per gallon equivalent (mpge), with one gallon of gasoline equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity. The Focus Electric is rated at 110 mpge in the city and 99 mpge on the highway.

Here's another way to think about it: According to this formula, the Focus Electric uses about a third as much energy per mile as a highly efficient, 35-mpg economy car. Depending on electricity costs in your area, your savings could be considerable.

Standard Features & Options

The Focus Electric comes in one well-equipped trim level.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, xenon headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry/start, cruise control, SYNC voice-command functionality with Bluetooth, the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen and configurable gauges augmented by EV-specific functions, a Focus Electric mobile app with vehicle-status monitoring, eco-themed cloth upholstery, heated front seats with manual adjustments, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors and a premium Sony audio system.

Options include leather upholstery (bundled with a 6-way power driver seat and a rear center armrest), a power driver's seat, a 240-volt home charging system and an exterior protection package with mud guards and a protective rear bumper coating.

Safety

The Focus Electric comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain).

In government crash-testing, the regular Focus scored a perfect five stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Focus its top score of Good in all crash tests except for the new small-overlap front test, where a rating of Acceptable (second best) was awarded.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we found that the Focus Electric uses mostly the same high-quality materials as other Focus models. The eco-friendly cloth upholstery is certainly different, but not in a bad way. If you don't like it, leather is available as an option. In terms of features, the Focus Electric comes standard with luxuries that cost extra on its lesser siblings, including dual-zone automatic climate control and the cutting-edge (if sometimes frustrating) MyFord Touch interface. The Focus Electric may not come cheap, but it certainly plays the part of a premium car from the driver's vantage point.

Rear passengers may be less impressed, as the Focus model's compact dimensions are apparent in the back seat's limited headroom and legroom. Relative to the conventional Focus hatchback, the Electric loses some cargo capacity due to its trunk-mounted battery pack, providing 14.5 cu ft. behind the rear seatbacks and a reasonably handy 33.9 cu ft. with those seatbacks folded.

On the road, the Focus Electric is ultimately a bit less capable on account of its efficiency-biased tires. Overall, however, it has the same responsive, light-on-its-feet feel as the rest of the Focus family. If you want to go electric and still have fun, this Ford delivers the goods. The regenerative braking system takes getting used to, but that's common when an electric motor's involved. We also give the Focus Electric high marks for its quiet, supple ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV -- The Spark is fundamentally a smaller and less refined vehicle, but the electric version's 400 lb-ft of torque could get anyone's attention along with its surprisingly low price.

2015 Kia Soul EV -- The electrified Soul boasts the funkiest styling in the segment along with some real cargo- and people-carrying versatility.

2015 Nissan Leaf -- Nissan's electric hatchback is the one most people think of first in this segment, and while it lacks the Ford's dynamic handling and upscale interior, it can give you roughly the same range at a lower initial cost.

Used Toyota RAV4 EV -- The electric RAV4 is based on the previous-generation model, but it has the most cargo space of the bunch, and it's also downright fast thanks to a powertrain from Tesla.

AutoTrader's Advice

If the Focus Electric's price strikes you as reasonable, we won't stand in your way. This is an excellent all-around vehicle for the right kind of buyer.

Find a Ford Focus Electric for sale

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2015 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review - Autotrader