2016 Ford Focus EV Review - Choice in a Familiar Wrapper

Jeff Voth
by Jeff Voth
Fast Facts

2016 Ford Focus EV

107 kW permanent magnet electric traction motor (143 horsepower, 184 lbs-ft of torque)
One-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
110 city / 99 highway / 104.5 combined (EPA Rating, MPGe)
Base Price
$30,045 (U.S.) / $33,699 (Canada)
As Tested
$31,940 (U.S.) / $35,249 (Canada)
All prices include $875 destination charge in the United States and $1,700 freight fee, PDI fee, and A/C tax in Canada.
2016 ford focus ev review choice in a familiar wrapper

The debate about the relative merits of electric vehicles is certain to be ongoing for years to come. For some, it represents the new frontier in automotive engineering and design. Electric powered vehicles for the masses; no more oil taken from the ground and clean air for all. It’s an interesting concept, but I am not fully convinced at this time in history to throw all my gasoline-powered chips in that pile and call.

Companies such as Tesla have made significant waves in the industry and I do think they’ll continue to experience success going forward. In my opinion, Elon Musk is a true automotive pioneer in the same vein as Karl Benz and Henry Ford. I don’t dispute the idea of EV’s for all; I just see a balance between gasoline, diesel, electric and possibly hydrogen-powered vehicles as a better alternative; at least for now.

It appears Ford is hedging its bets on this combination as well. I recently had the chance to test drive the 2016 Ford Focus EV for a week. In short, I was very impressed for the most part. It was comfortable, quick to accelerate, looks un-EV-like and turned a surprising number of heads, which to me is always a good thing.

But is it a car I would buy? On that question, I am keeping my cards to close to my chest.


The emphasis in this case is to look as much like the other Focus models, while offering enough differences to get consumers thinking about driving an EV. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, but doesn’t sound anything like a duck, can it still be considered a duck? In this case, I say the answer is yes.

The Focus is egg-shaped, with clean rounded lines, a significantly sloped front windshield and side windows that start out large at the front, then quickly shrink in size to tiny triangular portholes at the rear. One obvious difference is the plug receptacle up front on the driver’s side, while the non-electric Focus features a fuel-filler cap at the rear on the passenger side. Whereas the upcoming Focus RS looks racy and in-your-face, the Focus EV appears refined, aerodynamically efficient and quietly unassuming.

An exclusive black and chrome grille and color-keyed door handles help distinguish the look. HID automatic headlights that track the road ahead as you turn are standard. So too are a rear roof spoiler and rear wiper. One feature I like in particular is the LED external charge port ring. It lights up blue as you plug in, completing the circle once the vehicle is fully charged. Stylish 17-inch aluminum wheels add an extra touch of class.


Inside, seating is designed for four to five adults, though I would not want to sit in the back for too long if I were truly adult-sized. Legroom is at a premium in the Focus EV and squashing three bodies into its rear space for any time longer than a short commute is very uncomfortable.

Eco-conscious cloth seating made of soy-based bio-foam is standard on the Focus EV. My test vehicle has the optional leather seating package, which adds elegance to the stylish interior and sounds much more appealing than a soy derivative.

A four-spoke steering wheel highlights brushed metal accents to go along with similar appliques on the dash, door handles and gearshift knob. Dual-zone automatic climate control, an excellent Sony audio system with Sync 3 and navigation are standard on the Focus EV.

The good news is the Focus EV has rear storage. The bad news there isn’t much in the way of space with the battery and charging cord taking up prime real estate. When it’s just the two of you, or three at the most, this is still a hatchback and the seats can be folded for added room. But with a full load, forget about bringing anything along other than one or two bags, a set of clubs or a few bags of groceries. This is a vehicle meant to be driven around town and not designed for the weekend getaway.


You would expect an electric vehicle to offer a host of electronic goodies inside and the Focus EV does not disappoint.

The Smart Gauge with eco assist is not only easy to read, but can actually provide a little entertainment as you try to achieve maximum EV driving results. As your economy improves, more butterflies show up on the right side of the instrument cluster. Get it right and a full kaleidoscope of blue Lepidoptera will flutter past on-screen. Should you prefer a different look, both 4.2-inch color LCD displays are driver configurable.

Remote start and remote cabin preconditioning are standard. Charging your smartphone or other accessory is easily tackled with two USB ports. Charging the vehicle is just as easy. Ford states a full charge using 240 volts requires 3.6 hours while standard household charging at 120 volts requires up to 20 hours. In my tests, I was able to achieve a full charge in 12 hours using a standard 120 volt outlet.


A 107 kW permanent magnet electric traction motor is powered by a 23 kW liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery. Matched to a one-speed automatic transmission, it delivers 143 horsepower that drives the front wheels. Acceleration is quick enough, but not blindingly fast. Zero to 60 arrives in 9.9 seconds, but it feels faster in real-world driving conditions. Lag is non-existent; hit the “gas” pedal with your right foot and go!

Top speed is limited to 86 mph with a maximum driving range of 76 miles. Over the course of a week and with outside temperatures ranging in the mid-to-upper 60s, the best I was able to achieve was 68 miles on a full charge. This required me to drive at highway speeds of 50-55 miles per hour and re-generate power with the brakes at every opportunity. EPA-estimated MPGe rates the Focus EV at 110 city/99 hwy.

As a city car, the 2016 Ford Focus EV is excellent. With a longer range expected next year, the 2017 model makes it possible to drive on the highway a little more often. For those living in an urban setting who would prefer never having to drive into a gas station again, this could be your next car. If, however, you commute distances longer than 50 miles back and forth to work, sitting rush hour traffic on a daily basis, you will need to learn how to live with a little range anxiety.


The 2016 Ford Focus EV’s pricing starts at $29,170. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional leather seating for an additional $995 and featured White Platinum paint for $595 on top of that. Ford also equipped our test Focus with the exterior protection package at $245 and Charge Port Door Graphics at $60 for a total MSRP of $31,940.

Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay considerably less as tax credits on EV vehicles are all the rage. For example, living in California would allow you to qualify for a tax credit of $9,750, reducing your MSRP to $22,190. This compares favorably with the Nissan Leaf S as a main competitor.

It’s obvious why electric vehicles are gaining more attention given the available incentives and the lure of never having to buy gas again. That said, I still believe gasoline-powered engines have a lot left in the tank, so stay tuned for what’s next in this area. Having recently driven Ford’s new 1.0-liter gasoline engine in a new Ford Focus, the results and cost were very similar and I had no range anxiety to overcome.

Isn’t it nice to have choice?

Disclosure: Ford Canada provided the vehicle and insurance for the purpose of this review.

[Images: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars]

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4 of 60 comments
  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Jun 18, 2016

    The article refers to using regenerative braking as much as possible to extend range. It's much better to carry only as much speed as necessary and minimize use of the brakes. Maximizing using the brakes means more conversion losses as more energy is pushed into and extracted from the battery. Also if this ev is set up to lightly apply the rear brakes (for stability while braking) then all that braking of the rear wheels is wasted energy. Since regeneration is all done with the front wheels.

    • See 1 previous
    • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Jun 18, 2016

      @Truckducken What I said has absolutely nothing to do with hypermiling. It has everything to do with entirely normal operation of a hybrid or ev.

  • Modifikasimobil Modifikasimobil on Jun 18, 2016

    I think Ford Focus is very good at all

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  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.