The Focus Electric drives very much like a standard Focus, which is a very good thing. The steering is crisp and communicative, the brake pedal feel is pretty conventional, and, of course, the torquey off-the-line acceleration is fabulous, just as it is in all electric vehicles. That makes the Focus Electric a nearly perfect urban commuter and around-town errand-runner, especially if your workplace or your municipality happens to have EV charging stations. Downsides, other than the obvious limited range? The turning circle is awfully wide, which compromises your ability to make quick three-point turns in the city to grab a coveted parking spot. Much of the trunk space is eaten up by the battery pack. And then there's the price; $40K is a lot to spend on a Focus, but we all know that electric vehicles at this stage of the game are for early adopters who are willing to pay for the technology. To those pioneers, I say, bravo; you'll love this Focus.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Interesting throttle response: lift off and the car hardly slows at all -- much different from most other EVs, which immediately switch into regenerative mode when you let off the throttle. I like this approach much better. It makes for smoother driving. Responsiveness is not bad. Did a couple of freeway merges and the focus EV was able to hold its own.
Trunk space is terrible. The battery pack seems to have eaten up better than half the space, and even worse, the load floor is not flat.
The range indicator proved to be pretty accurate on my fairly short drive, much more so than the Nissan Leaf's. It showed 72 miles remaining when I set out for the airport, and 48 miles left when I got there. That's 24 miles of indicated range used, and we drove just about 29 miles.
At $40,000, or twice the price of a regular Focus, this is obviously a "compliance car" -- something automakers are throwing out there to comply with California's zero-emissions-vehicle mandate.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
I took the Focus Electric to a potluck, and when I left, all of the guests followed me outside to see the electric car. Had it not been plugged into my friend's wall, I'm not sure anyone would have realized that this Focus operated without gasoline. The assembled partygoers lobbed lots of questions at me: What powers the Focus? How far will it go on a charge? How long does it take to charge? But the host's father asked probably the most important question to any car nut: What's under the hood? Lifting the hood revealed the electric motor, some soft padding, and plenty of dead space. Everyone took turns peering into the lack-of-an-engine bay and poking at the soft covering for the motor. None of them had ever seen an electric car before; they had all heard of the Chevrolet Volt, but knew that it wasn't fully electric. As I pulled away, the entire group stood, silently, in awe. Upon returning home, I received a text message from one of them that read, "That is the car of the future. So cool."
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
The idea of electrifying a Ford Focus may not seem like a radical one but this car is actually a unique offering in its segment. What makes it special is that unlike the majority of emission-free cars, the Focus electric is really good to drive. Minus the wooden-feeling brakes -- a common trait of the regenerative systems in electric cars -- all the dynamic goodness of the regular Focus has made it into the electric car intact. Plus, its instant, neck-snapping acceleration -- also a trait of electric cars -- puts the gasoline-powered Focus' off-the-line response to shame.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
My family owns a Ford Focus (of the internal-combustion persuasion), so I was particularly interested to see how the Focus Electric measures up. The five-door Focus hatchback is an attractive vehicle, and it's nice to see that the electric version keeps the same styling profile, albeit with a new grille that mimics the one found on the new Fusion. Spending some time behind the wheel of the Focus Electric reconfirms the claims of its maker that it drives like a real car. The electric powertrain responds immediately when you press the accelerator pedal, and the brakes respond well, albeit not as progressively as those in the gasoline-powered Focus. Also like the "regular" Focus, the interior is well-designed, with lots of features that, not too long ago, you would be hard-pressed to find in a compact car, such as a touch-screen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and rain-sensing wipers. Of course, this is hardly a run-of-the-mill compact car, as is evident when you look at its $40,000 MSRP. That's a pretty heft levy, but for now, it's the price of entry in the electric-car market, as the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi I, and the Honda Fit EV all carry similar price tags.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor