No, I'm not talking about offspring. However, now that I'm thinking of it, the boys are getting to an age where sometimes, if only for a split second, there just might be a clear choice between one or the other. Sarcasm, testing the limits, pleading ignorance, and other undesirable behaviors in general are surfacing all at once. Product of bad parenting? Perhaps. "Do as I say, not as I do," I demand of them repeatedly. Shouldn't that be enough?
Thankfully, that's not the hypothetical situation folks are really curious about. More often than not, when someone asks me which one I'd choose, they're interested in hearing a comparison between what's parked in our driveway -
That being said, my favorite is, and always has been, the Focus Electric. Of the three, I find that it offers the most enjoyable overall driving experience. It has the best handling characteristics, with qualities that instill confidence when tossing it around a bit. By the seat of my pants, it seems to have the quickest steering response, best roadholding ability, firmest suspension, and most predictable reactions to braking and throttle inputs when at or near the limit of adhesion in tight corners as well as sweeping turns. It's got some spunk from 20mph all the way up to its 85mph speed limiter. Nowhere near the acceleration of the RAV4 EV, but in that range it seems to have much more than the Volt, which peters out disappointingly at about 40-50mph. The FFE has more than enough instantaneous oomph to catch territorial drivers of garden variety BMWs and Audis off-guard, so lane changes and passing are a breeze on Southern California freeways. Its only Achilles' heel, which is a crippling one at times, is its embarrassing 85mph cutoff.
The FFE also has the best cabin, as far as fit, finish, quality of materials, quietness, and driver comfort. In my book, it's tied with the Volt. Both the Volt and the FFE are at a level above the RAV4 EV, which suffers from cheap-feeling, easily stained seat materials, inadequate sound insulation, a low driving position with no adjustment for seat height, and awkwardly placed HVAC controls and displays that require the driver's line of sight to focus just left of the front passenger's knees while driving.
|Chevy Volt Center Display|
As for the RAV4 EV's instrumentation - for me, it's a love/hate relationship, mostly hate. Overly complicated, center display screen resolution that rivals Pong and Minecraft, and way too many strokes to do almost anything related to the sound system. It's a freaking mess. Again, I will get into details of controls and displays for these EVs in a future article.
|RAV4 Sport (ICE)|
So in a nutshell, that's why the Focus Electric is my favorite of the three, primarily because it offers the best overall driving experience. But what if I had to whittle the fleet down to just one? Which one is the keeper? Perhaps unexpectedly, that would have to be the RAV4 EV. By a longshot. Why? Well, despite its shortcomings, it excels at what is important in a scenario where I could only have one vehicle. In particular, it has the most cargo capacity, most passenger space, and highest electric range. With over 36 cu ft of space behind the rear seats, seats that are much more roomy than the Focus Electric or Volt, and a range of 100 miles on standard charge (and up to 140 miles on extended charge, in my experience), it's a no-brainer for me that the RAV4 EV is the one to keep if I could only have one.
In fact, it's the one I will buy upon lease termination, for a couple of reasons. For one, its residual is virtually identical to the other two in the fleet, which is in the $20K-$21K range. From that perspective, it's a relative bargain. But the more compelling reason for me is that unlike the Volt and FFE, the RAV4 EV won't be available any more, in current nor improved form, after my lease is up in 2017. So I won't be able to trade it for a new one. The last 600 or so RAV4 EVs will be built and delivered to customers well before then, and no other manufacturer is planning to come to market with a similarly-sized and priced CUV/BEV in the next couple of years. Which is a shame, because the CUV segment could very well be the market that propels BEV acceptance beyond a niche level. Time will tell.