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300 Miles in Ford's Focus EV Electric Car

Stocks in this article: F GM NSANY

The Focus EV is a very beautiful car, in my opinion -- as are the new Ford C-Max and Fusion. The body is also very well put together, with no squeaks or rattles. The noise insulation is excellent.

In addition, Ford gets many of the little things right. From the lights to the seats and the seating position, the basic ergonomics are all excellent.

I should say that the basic driving experience of the Focus EV is very similar to the Volt. The casual observer spending a fairly short time in both cars could easily mistake them for each other in many aspects. And that's a good thing -- because they are both excellent electric cars.

That said, there are some differences and nuances worthy of mention:

1. Drivetrain calibration: The braking and acceleration experience is particularly important in an electric car, because you engage in so-called "one-pedal driving." Basically, the brakes are regenerative so that you capture back the otherwise-lost energy in braking. You rarely touch the brake pedal in order to brake.

That whole acceleration-braking experience is a little smoother in the Volt than in the Focus EV. In terms of acceleration, the Focus EV holds back the otherwise similar power to the Volt, so as to make it feel slower off the line for the first 1 or 2 seconds. However, if you are accelerating in the Ford at full force while steering, the inner wheel will spin.

2. Heat: You can make the Focus EV's interior feel like a sauna in a matter of seconds. In the Volt, it takes minutes, and it never gets as warm -- except the seat heaters, where the Volt grills you immediately. This also translates into better defrost for the Ford.

3. Dashboard: This one is a somewhat mixed picture. The Ford has more data to show, but they are buried in so many menus, and displayed in such a small area, that it's not as useful overall. The mobile apps -- Android and iOS -- available on both cars have many relative strengths and weaknesses in both directions, but what stands out for me is it's easier to send a map/destination to the Volt than to the Focus EV.

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