2019 BMW i3 vs. 2018 Ford Focus Electric

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The i3 offers optional Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Focus Electric doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The i3 has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Focus Electric doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the i3 and the Focus Electric have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

The i3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Focus Electric’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Focus Electric’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Focus Electric.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the i3’s reliability 76 points higher than the Focus Electric.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 10 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The i3 REx’s standard electric motor produces 27 more horsepower (170 vs. 143) than the Focus Electric’s electric motor. The i3s REx’s standard electric motor produces 38 more horsepower (181 vs. 143) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 184) than the Focus Electric’s electric motor. The i3s’ standard electric motor produces 41 more horsepower (184 vs. 143) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 184) than the Focus Electric’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the i3 gets better fuel mileage than the Focus Electric (124 city/102 hwy vs. 118 city/96 hwy MPGe).

The i3’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 153 miles, 33% further than the Focus Electric’s 115-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the i3s REx can then continue for over 82 more miles on its internal combustion engine, while the Focus Electric has to recharge for 5 hours and 30 minutes. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 20 hours.

Brakes and Stopping

The i3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Focus Electric are solid, not vented.

The i3 stops much shorter than the Focus Electric:

 

i3

Focus

 

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Focus Electric. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the i3 is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Focus Electric.

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 3.6 feet tighter than the Focus Electric’s (32.4 feet vs. 36 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 2.2 feet tighter than the Focus Electric’s (33.8 feet vs. 36 feet).

Chassis

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 700 pounds less than the Ford Focus Electric.

The i3s is 1 foot, 2.8 inches shorter than the Focus Electric, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The i3 has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Focus Electric with its rear seat up (15.1 vs. 14.2 cubic feet). The i3 has a larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Focus Electric with its rear seat folded (36.9 vs. 33.2 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 46% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the i3, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Focus Electric doesn’t offer a memory system.

If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Focus Electric can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Focus Electric’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Focus Electric doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Focus Electric has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the i3 offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Focus Electric doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Focus Electric doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW i3, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Ford Focus Electric isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the i3 third among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Focus Electric isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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