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Though it had long been a favorite in the compact market, the Ford Focus lost its mojo in recent years. It returned to peak form, however, with a 2012 redesign that included the intriguing addition of the Focus Electric.
Under the hood, it packs a 107-kilowatt motor that produces 143 horsepower -- far more potent than the competition. A 23kWh lithium-ion battery back provides power, and can be recharged in only four hours. The Electric is front-wheel drive and uses a single-speed direct-drive transmission that handles the electric power with ease.
Mileage equates, roughly, to 110 mpg city and 99 mpg highway. The Focus Electric can deliver an effective range of around 76 miles before charging. As with any electric vehicle, however, these numbers are subjective and based on driving conditions.
Like gas-powered Focuses, the Electric features a well-designed interior with high-quality materials and good sound insulation. The layout of the controls can be overwhelming, however. An optional MyFord Touch system features an impressive customization system and a sizable display screen. Headroom is impressive throughout, but rear legroom is a bit tight.
For most Americans, driving the Focus Electric will be an unusual experience. The ride is extremely quiet, the handling precise and nimble -- but less so than other Focuses. Though powerful for an electric vehicle, acceleration won't impress anyone used to a gas-powered cars.
Features of the Focus Electric include: 17-inch aluminum wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; a navigation system; xenon headlights; LED tail lights; keyless entry; air conditioning; power front windows; a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack; SYNC with MyFord Touch; dual-zone automatic climate control; and a tilt-and-telescoping leather steering wheel.
Optional features are limited: leather upholstery and a 240v charging station.
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This is how it works:
Based on effective Prius design and features a spacious interior, but not a fully electric vehicle
Impressive mileage range and well-designed cabin, but a lease-only vehicle and limited availability
Rear-wheel drive electric with great acceleration but limited range and battery use
Large interior with a great navigation system, but limited range and eight-hour charging time