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Thursday January 24, 2013 1:31 pm
2012 Ford Focus Electric review
The 2012 Ford Focus Electric is the very first all-electric car released by the company, and is marketed as America's most fuel-efficient five-passenger vehicle, what with it's 110 MPGe city rating (99 MPGe highway) and up to 76 mile range on a single charge. We were able to spend a week with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, and we're here to report back with our thoughts. Is it a worthy contender in the electric car movement? Read on.
We've driven and tested quite a few electric vehicles, and it's always interesting when you get in an EV that has been designed from the ground up to run on a battery from conception, and a vehicle that already exists and is outfitted with a battery in place of its gas engine. At least for now, the latter vehicles seem to drive better, and the 2012 Ford Focus Electric shines here as well. If you are familiar with driving a Ford Focus, then you'll be right at home in the electric model. It acts and drives like a Focus, and it looks like one as well. Same chassis, steering, and youthful character all appear here.
As noted in the open, Ford is billing this as the most fuel-efficient five passenger vehicle, but it should be mentioned that some EVs (like the Chevy Volt or Tesla Roadster) only have seats for four or two.
One feature that we really appreciated was the light right that is around the charge door. It is split into quadrants, and as the car charges, a quadrant will light up, giving you at-a-glance details of the approximate charge level. Other EVs typically have an indicator light that tells you that it is either charging, or is full.
DRIVING THE FORD FOCUS ELECTRIC
For the average car buyer, the Ford Focus Electric offers a ride akin to any other car as far as handling goes. You won't feel out of place in this vehicle, and while there is no learning curve to driving it, you'll want to master regenerative breaking so that you can get the absolute most out of your battery--a fun challenge. You get three gauges in the dashboard which monitor acceleration, cruising, and braking, moving up and down in concert based on your driving efficiency. When you break and come to a full stop, you'll also be told how much of your momentum was captured and put back into the battery. As you do this over time, you become a much more efficient driver.
The car is nice and quiet, especially when you are on a quiet street. When you turn it on, you don't get any sort of loud engine sound. On the highway, any car noise you hear is likely the vehicles around you, which leads us to wonder how things will sound as more and more EVs are assimilated into home of car buyers across America.
What's missing? We would have loved to have seen Ford's awesome Active Park Assist feature here.
The 2012 Ford Focus Electric packs in MyFord Touch, giving you quick and easy access to media, your smartphone, navigation, and climate control in the vehicle. I recommend playing around with these and getting everything set up when you've got a few minutes to spare, rather than when you are getting ready to go somewhere. Get your phone connected to Bluetooth, and get familiar with the different areas of MyFord Touch, and interacting with the vehicle will be much easier, if not fairly intuitive.
BATTERY & RANGE
As far as battery range, we came away duly impressed by the trips we were able to make with the 2012 Focus Electric and its 23kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery components. One trip in particular went from Bothell, Washington down to Seattle and back again, with the first leg happening right in the middle of rush hour, meaning lots of stop and go traffic, and with the heat pumping to keep the windshield free of fog. It was close, but we made the 50 mile round trip with about 8 miles left of battery power to spare.
We did encounter one issue that we were able to deal with only because we've experienced it with a Chevy Volt before as well. Basically, when waiting at a stop light with a foot on the break, the Focus Electric would no longer accelerate once the light turned green. At most it would go about 2-3 miles per hour. We knew that this meant that something went wrong with the electric system, and we slowly coasted to the side of the road, turned the car off, opened the door (to turn it off completely,) closed the door, and turned it back on and everything was back to normal. Definitely an anomaly, but hey, if it happens to you while driving an EV, now you know how to handle it.
The 2012 Ford Focus Electric is a nice car for those hoping to kick the gasoline habit. You get room for five, but of course, the more weight in the vehicle that there is, the less range you'll get out of the battery. If you don't have a long commute, or if you have access to a car charger where you work, shop, and live, then it likely won't be an issue anyway. It's a nice commuting and errand running vehicle, and we liked it. That said, it's a bit expensive in the grand scheme of things at $39,200 base. Granted, that comes with a fairly loaded configuration that includes navigation, MyFord Touch, and Sony speaker system, but it's still about $23,000 more than the non-electric Focus (although that vehicle isn't as well equipped at its base price as the EV model is.)
All in all, if you are wanting to pick up an all electric vehicle, as opposed to a plug-in hybrid, you can't go wrong with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric.
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