Ford Focus Electric vs Nissan LEAF

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - January 20, 2015

For drivers who never want to visit a gas station again, we present the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf. With 100% electric operation and no onboard generator, neither car has any use for a drop of fossil fuel.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Focus Electric & Leaf >>

Of course, there are some concessions to make -- you can't go too far or very fast. That's a deal-killer for some folks and irrelevant to others. If you're in the latter group, which of these EVs makes more sense?

What's to Like About the Focus Electric?

The current Focus is well-known for its responsive handling, upscale interior and sharp styling. The Electric has all that, but the interesting part is what motivates it. The all-electric motor generates a respectable 143 horsepower and takes the Focus from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, about what you would expect in an average gas-powered compact.

Top speed, however, is limited to 84 mph to preserve battery power. The payoff is 110 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) in town and 99 on the highway. A full battery charge takes about four hours on a 220v outlet and gives the Focus a range of 76 miles.

The Electric comes only as a hatchback and carries a high level of standard equipment, including heated seats, navigation and xenon headlamps. The rear-mounted battery pack cuts into cargo space, but you still get a very usable 34 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

What's to Like About the Leaf?

Around town, Nissan's signature EV behaves much like any other modern hatchback. Recent engineering tweaks have increased its range to 75 miles and cut charging time down to four hours on 220v outlet. The 107-horsepower electric motor goes about its business silently, taking the Leaf to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. So you don't waste all that juice, top speed is capped at 90 mph. Buyers enjoy stunning efficiency of 129 mpge in the city and 102 on the highway.

Notably, the Leaf's optional quick-charge capability allows the battery to reach 80% capacity in just thirty minutes when using a public charging station. The battery pack has been relocated under the passenger compartment floor, so you get 24 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat in use. Folding it down provides a total of 30 cubic feet.

What's the Difference?

With its mainstream American looks, the Focus seems right for buyers who are simply tired of shelling out money for gas. The eco-obvious Leaf is designed for folks who have been dreaming about a gas-free car for most of their lives.

Our Verdict: Nissan LEAF

With terrific efficiency and no space-stealing battery bulge inside, the Leaf comes closer to EV perfection.

Take a closer look at the Ford Focus Electric >>

Take a closer look at the Nissan Leaf >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


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