Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Ford Focus SE include 2.0L I-4 160hp engine, 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 16" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $18,960
If you’re seeking agile handling and crisp steering responses, Focus is the compact to beat. Regardless of trim level, Ford’s compact feels nimble and athletic. Naturally, ST and RS versions are the ones that set enthusiast hearts to racing.
Installed in most Focus models, the 2.0-liter engine is sufficiently spirited for nearly every driving need. At low speeds, the optional dual-clutch automatic isn’t always smooth, but it keeps engine revs high, ready to be called upon. With this automatic, the 2.0-liter Focus is among the thriftiest in its segment, EPA-rated at 27/40 mpg City/Highway. Manual shift is a bit lower (not as good).
Stepping up to a 240-horsepower Focus ST is the way to get the best handling. The well-engineered ST feels like a performance car, yet it lacks the twitchy behavior that plagues some extra-hot compacts. Premium fuel isn’t needed, and the ST is EPA-rated at 23/32 mpg City/Highway.
Beneath the hood of the new Focus RS, an EcoBoost 2.3-liter engine produces more than 300 horsepower. Full-time all-wheel drive incorporates dynamic torque vectoring. Ready to go against the high-performance Subaru WRX and STI, in particular, the Focus RS features a selectable sports suspension and heftier brakes.
At the other end of the spectrum, the high-efficiency Focus SFE gets a 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 123 horsepower, as well as a heftier 148 pound-feet of torque. The SFE is EPA-rated at 30/42 mpg City/Highway. For 2016, Ford is offering this engine with a 6-speed automatic, which loses 2 mpg compared to manual shift.
Even in basic trim, Focus is among the better-handling cars. Nicely weighted electric power steering ensures precise control, though road feel is somewhat lacking. Despite a rather firm suspension, a Focus won’t bang and bounce through harsh surfaces. Unfortunately, the Focus S and SE still halt with slightly less effective rear drum brakes.
Although a Focus rides more firmly than many small cars, passenger comfort excels. Sophisticated suspension tuning smooths out the most irksome bumps and holes. Still, road noise manages to get inside.
Among the most extroverted-looking compact cars, Ford Focus feels more upscale than its rivals. Whether in four-door sedan or five-door hatchback form, it teases the eye with its sporty air.
2015 brought a modest restyling, led by a wide oval grille, like the Fusion and Fiesta. Sheetmetal shaping mimics other Ford models. Curves and creases mate with a smooth front end. Protruding fenders echo the Focus’s arched roofline. Immense taillamps frame the rear corners.
The high-performance ST and hotter-yet RS stand out enough to attract the enthusiast crowd, with their bigger wheels and modestly lower stance.
Nothing about the Focus suggests that it’s merely a small car. Details grasp at your attention. Trim elements look classy and well-tailored. Careful sculpting suggests complexity, while the refined Focus is almost as comfortable as a European sports sedan.
Space-efficiency, in contrast, falls short because of a constricted dashboard design. Sharp and angular, it steals knee space. Otherwise, leg space and headroom accommodate riders just over six feet, in both front and back.
Whether it’s a sedan or hatchback, rear seats are effectively contoured, though legroom could be greater. Seat-folding isn’t the easiest, and headrests interfere with the procedure.
Ford’s Focus provides just about everything to be found in a compact sedan or hatchback. The more basic S and SE models deliver the best value, while the Titanium brings premium amenities at a comparatively reasonable price. Focus ST and RS bring performance.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
The 2016 Ford Focus comes in sedan and hatchback versions. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.
Focus S sedan ($17,225) includes the 2.0-liter engine, manual transmission, air conditioning, CD player, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cloth upholstery, and 15-inch steel wheels. Automatic ($1,095) is optional. SE sedan ($18,515) or hatchback ($19,015) adds cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, and Ford’s MyKey. An SE Sport Package includes a touring suspension, 17-inch wheels, and, with automatic, paddle shifters.
Focus Titanium sedan ($23,225) or hatchback ($23,725) get dual-zone climate control, automatic transmission, 10-speaker Sony audio, Sync 3, HD radio, sport suspension, and navigation.
Focus ST hatchback ($24,425) features the 252-hp turbo, manual shift, unique fascias, and 18-inch wheels. Focus RS hatchback ($35,730) has 2.3-liter turbo and all-wheel drive, plus unique front fascia and grille, partial leather Recaro seats, and sport exhaust.
Focus Electric hatchback ($29,170) includes eco-friendly heated cloth front seats, Sync 3, EcoGuide instruments, and Sony nine-speaker audio.
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