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2016 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

There are plenty of positives regarding the 2016 Ford Focus Electric compact hatchback. This completely battery-powered runabout has a useful 76-mile driving range and a top speed of 84 miles per hour, along with the same attractive styling, responsive handling and cool technology as any other Focus. Apart from the modest back seat and cargo area, it's the rare electric vehicle (EV) that could potentially fit the lifestyles of most commuters.

On the other hand, the Focus Electric isn't cheap, starting at $30,045 this model year. There are many superb conventional cars for that kind of cash, although tax credits could help ease the blow here. But if you're open to what electric vehicles have to offer, give this one a close look. It's among the best of its breed, and in the final shakeout, it might make sound financial sense.

What's New for 2016?

Ford has upgraded the infotainment system to SYNC 3, replacing the slow and finicky MyFord Touch setup. Updates can be loaded through Wi-Fi, and the system recognizes smartphonelike swiping and pinch-to-zoom gestures.

What We Like

Upscale styling; confidence-inspiring handling; high-tech interior

What We Don't

High price; tight back seat; compromised cargo capacity

How Much?

$30,045

Fuel Economy

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

The Environmental Protection Agency 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 economy car that gets 35 miles per gallon. Depending on the cost of electricity in your area, the savings could be considerable.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Ford Focus Electric ($30,045) comes in one well-equipped trim level.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, xenon headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry/starting, cruise control, SYNC voice-command functionality with Bluetooth, a SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, configurable gauges augmented by EV-specific functions, a mobile app with vehicle-status monitoring, eco-themed cloth upholstery, heated front seats, 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's seat and a rear center armrest, a 240-volt home charging system and an Exterior Protection package with mud guards and protective rear-bumper coating.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver's-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 gave the Focus its top score of Good in all crash tests except for the small-overlap front crash test, in which it earned a second-best rating of Acceptable.

Behind the Wheel

The Focus Electric uses mostly the same high-quality materials as the rest of the Focus range, with one exception. The eco-friendly cloth upholstery is certainly different, but not in a bad way. For those who don't like it, leather is an option.

In terms of features, the Focus Electric comes standard with luxuries that cost extra on its lesser siblings, such as dual-zone automatic climate control and the SYNC 3 infotainment system. This isn't a cheap car, but it certainly plays the part of a premium model from the driver's point of view.

Rear passengers may be less impressed, as the compact dimensions are apparent in the back seat's limited headroom and legroom. Relative to the conventional hatchback, the Electric loses some cargo capacity because of its trunk-mounted battery pack, providing 14.5 cu ft. behind the rear seats or a reasonably handy 33.9 cu ft. with those seats folded. The regular Focus hatchback offers 23.3 and 43.9 cu ft., respectively.

The Focus Electric is ultimately a little less capable handling-wise on account of its efficiency-biased tires. Overall, however, it has the same responsive, agile feel as the rest of the family. For those who 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 with electric vehicles and hybrids. The car also deserves high marks for its quiet, supple ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Spark EV -- The Spark is fundamentally smaller and less refined than the Focus, but the electric version's 400 lb-ft of torque and surprisingly low price could get anyone's attention.

2016 Kia Soul EV -- The electrified Soul has interesting styling along with some real cargo- and people-carrying versatility.

2016 Nissan Leaf -- This is the vehicle most people think of first in this segment. While it lacks the Ford's dynamic handling and upscale interior, it can give 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. It's also pretty quick thanks to a powertrain from Tesla.

Autotrader's Advice

If the Focus Electric's price seems reasonable, go for it. But electric vehicles can still only carry out a limited number of the things we all need cars for. It's a wiser course of action to have this (or any current EV) as a second vehicle in the family.

Find a Ford Focus Electric for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review - Autotrader