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2017 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2017

The 2017 Ford Focus Electric is the Blue Oval's battery-powered compact hatchback. Apart from the modest back seat and cargo area, it's one of those rare electric vehicles that might suit most commuters. For example, it has a useful 115-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.

On the other hand, the Focus Electric isn't cheap, starting at $29,995 this year. There are many superb conventional cars for that kind of cash, although federal and state incentives could help ease the blow here.

Assuming you are open to what electric vehicles (EVs) have to offer, give this one a close look. It's among the best of its kind and, in the final shake-out, might make financial sense.

What's New for 2017?

Range has stretched from 76 to 115 miles

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?

$29,995

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. Re-charging time is a claimed 3.5 hours using the optional 240-volt charging station (sold separately by Ford). Estimated driving range is 115 miles and 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, then, is rated at 118 MPGe in the city, 96 MPGe on the highway and 107 MPGe in combined driving.

Standard Features & Options

The 5-seater 2017 Ford Focus Electric ($29,995) comes in one well-equipped trim level. There's no sedan version.

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, Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, configurable gauges augmented by EV-specific functions, 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-adjustable driver's seat and a rear center armrest), 240-volt home charging system, plus an exterior protection package with mud guards and a 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 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

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. 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 SYNC3 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 limited headroom and legroom back there. Compared with 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 33.2 cu ft. with those seats folded. The regular Focus hatchback offers 23.3 and 43.9 cu ft., respectively.

Handling-wise, the Focus Electric is ultimately a little less capable 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 typical with electric vehicles and hybrids. The car also deserves high marks for its quiet, supple ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV -- The new kid on the electric block and with a potential range of 238 miles. Yes, that much. A good $7,000 more expensive than the Focus Electric, though.

2017 Kia Soul EV -- The electrified Soul has interesting styling along with some real cargo- and people-carrying versatility. Range is 93 miles.

2017 Nissan LEAF -- Lacks the dynamic handling and upscale interior of the Focus, but has a lower initial cost. Getting old and due to be updated for 2018.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf -- Updated for this model year, with range extended to 125 miles. Otherwise, just like the Golf we all know and love.

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

The majority of electric vehicles are still better suited as commuting machines to complement a regular gasoline-powered family machine used for weekends and road trips. But if the Focus Electric meets a demand, then it's also a pretty good compact hatchback into the bargain.

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.
2017 Ford Focus Electric: New Car Review - Autotrader