When you shop for a compact car, you ask everyone what they recommend. In every conversation – the Ford Focus comes up.
The Focus is amongst the leaders in the class. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and the Chevrolet Cruze sold more than the Ford in 2013. But, why would the Focus been mired in fifth place? Did it once rule the compact class?
We decided to take a brief drive in a 2014 Ford Focus SE sedan to find out.
You would think it would be the class bestseller considering how it drives. The Focus drives superbly with a smooth ride and good handling. It takes any road surface in stride. There is minimal lean in the curves, thanks to a superb suspension set-up. It simply is one of the smoothest driving compacts in the marketplace.
Snow and ice seems to be no problem with good traction control and Cooper Zeon RS3-A rubber providing grip. Steering response and feel are superb, but on-center action felt a bit vague. Braking is simply sharp to the touch. With all of these attributes, you would think we are talking about the best compact in the market.
Globally, the Focus is offered almost the same in every market it makes an appearance in. In America, the OneFord strategy through its Kinetic design language translates well. It is handsome and curious. The hatchback shows off some of its Kinetic-ness with a rear end that draws a second look. This is perhaps why the hatch outsells the sedan in a market where hatches are passed up easily.
Our SE sedan tester came with an Appearance Package. Larger aggressive wheels add to the sedan’s mundane overall look. Trunk space is decent for its size.
Under the hood is a strong 2.0liter four-cylinder that you could fuel with either unleaded regular or E85 Ethanol. There is plenty of performance from its 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic connected this engine to the front wheels. You should expect an average between 28-30MPG in combined city/highway driving. This driveline adds to the superb driving manners of the Focus making this great for the road.
There is one serious drawback to the Kinetic designed, OneFord Focus – the cabin. The instrument panel’s center stack is a mess of buttons and logic with the standard small infotainment screen. You could never get SYNC right to play music from your audio player whenever you turn on the ignition. One solution would be to opt for the MyFord Touch set-up, but you still have to navigate SYNC to make connectivity work in the Focus.
The seats are supportive with the right about of bolstering, but that is about it.
Perhaps the big complaint is for a driver my size. It took a while to get comfortable. Taller drivers would seem to fit, but negotiating the door onto a seat that is pushed back and lowered to work the right leg between the pedals was a bit of a hassle. Rear seat room has always been at a premium when tall people are involved in the ride. If you an “average” sized person, the Focus would be absolutely no problem.
The Focus range starts off at $17,685 for a manual gearbox S sedan. Our SE sedan example came to $22,685 – about “average” these days for a decently equipped mid-level compact. For the top of the range, you would have to choose a hatchback in two flavors: Titanium and the EcoBoost-equipped ST. If you kept on ticking every box, your Focus would wind up somewhere north of $27,000.
The compact market is a strong one these days. Clearly, the Focus is one of the stronger choices in this segment. It takes a good car to yield key sales – and, the Focus is a good car. Choose wisely on equipment and check the cabin out closely before you make the Focus your own.
Otherwise, enjoy the drive.