The 2018 Ford Focus Electric continues with its mixed bag of delights and drawbacks. Let’s inspect the delights first. It’s a Focus, one of the best-handling compact hatchbacks with the same arguably attractive styling and cool technology as any other Focus, and generally a good car to have around. This version comes with a lot of standard equipment. It makes no emissions, since propulsion comes from an electric motor, has a useful 115-mile driving range and a top speed of 84 miles per hour.
The drawbacks include the modest back seat and cargo area, the latter being compromised by having to accommodate the lithium-ion battery pack. Nor could the Focus Electric be considered a bargain, starting at $29,995. There are many superb conventional cars for that kind of cash, although federal and state incentives will help ease the blow here. Then there’s the overall age of the Focus and Ford’s decision to concentrate on making crossovers. And most rivals offer greater ranges.
However, assuming you are open to what electric vehicles (EVs) have to offer, give this one a look.
What’s New for 2018?
There are no changes for this model year.
What We Like
Upscale styling; confidence-inspiring handling; high-tech interior
What We Don’t
High price; tight back seat; compromised cargo capacity
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 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 combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 5-seater 2018 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, eco-themed cloth upholstery, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob, ambient cabin lighting, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, configurable gauges augmented by EV-specific functions, a mobile app with vehicle status monitoring, remote start, Sync voice-command functionality with Bluetooth, Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, satellite/HD radio 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), a 240-volt home charging system plus an exterior protection package with mud guards and a protective rear bumper coating.
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 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 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 cu ft. and 43.9 cu ft. respectively.
Handling-wise, the Focus Electric is ultimately a little less capable on account of its fuel-saving 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 a little 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
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV — Has a potential range of 238 miles. Yes, that much. About $7,000 more expensive than the Focus Electric, though.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq EV — Can cover 124 miles, but only available in California at the moment.
2018 Kia Soul EV — The electrified Soul has interesting styling along with some real cargo- and people-carrying versatility. Range is 93 miles.
2018 Nissan Leaf — All-new for 2018. Bigger and better than before, capable of 150 miles.
2018 Volkswagen e-Golf — Like the Golf we all know and love, plus a range of 125 miles. Buyers might have to source a 2017 model, because the 2018 version isn’t due until later this year.
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.
There’s only one trim level, so that choice is simple. We recommend the 240-volt fast-charging option. The more vexing question is whether to choose a rival instead. There would be more thrills driving this than, say, the Kia Soul EV. But buyers of electric cars tend not to place much importance on the thrill factor.