2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test


Read the 2013 Ford Focus ST introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the Ford Focus ST long-term updates.

What We Got
The 2013 Ford Focus ST offered just one powertrain configuration. All STs had the same turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine rated to deliver 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. All that power was routed through a standard six-speed manual gearbox and an electronic limited-slip differential.

2013 Ford Focus ST

We added a handful of interior options to the standard cruise control, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and Sync voice-control system. Equipment Group 201A ($2,505) included Recaro seats, dual-zone climate control, an upgraded 10-speaker Sony audio system and MyFord Touch. The moonroof ($895), navigation system ($795) and Tangerine Scream paint job ($495) increased the price a bit more. We paid a total of $29,065 for the Focus in October of 2012.

Our Impressions

  • "I'm a rear-wheel-drive guy, so it takes a damned good front-wheel-drive car to win me over. I have a short list of FWD cars I truly enjoy: Integra Type R, Mazdaspeed 3. Not many others leap to mind. Our Focus ST is now securely on that list. It's refined, turns in like a shark, sounds great and is way punchier than I expected. It's rewarding to drive without being over the top in any way. Much as I enjoy the Speed3, it doesn't have this car's cohesiveness. And unlike the GTI (the car that inevitably ends up being compared to the Focus), you can turn the ST's stability control off?. The Focus ST is real, it's good, and you owe it to yourself to drive one." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "I like [our Focus ST] a bunch, even as a commuter car?. These seats are supremely comfortable. They remind me of seats in just about any Porsche 911 for their ability to support my whole frame without any hot spots. I'm rarely squirming to find a comfy position?. The clutch feel and action are outstanding, even in stop-and-go traffic. There's just enough feel to know where the engagement point is and plenty of torque from the engine if you still manage to get it wrong. There's so much torque, in fact, that as long as the car is rolling, it'll happily pull its way along in 2nd gear?. The same can be said of both the brake and throttle pedals: sufficient feel, intuitive action and predictable response. It is remarkable how often and how wrong many manufacturers get these simple things." — Chris Walton

  • "I realized I was looking at this car as though it was nothing more than a really nice Focus with a little more power. It's just that easy to live with every day?but it's more than a commuter car?. On these roads the ST's willingness to change attitude in the middle of a corner, or wherever, combined with its big, useful wad of midrange torque makes it absolutely addictive. I like the steering, too. Another thing I noticed is that as deftly as the Focus tucks into turns, its suspension calibration feels softer and less aggressive than the setup on our old 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. Yet on these public roads, with traffic, I'm guessing I was keeping the same pace. Plus, the Ford has a better ride quality on pretty much any type of pavement." — Erin Riches

  • "Given the excellent handling capabilities of the Focus ST, you might assume that there's a tradeoff in terms of ride quality. Well, compared to a regular Focus, I suppose there is. But given how well the ST goes around corners, I'm pretty impressed by the way it takes on bumps and rough pavement. There's a nice compliance in the suspension that complements the all-around usability of this car. It's rarely stiff or jarring. In terms of ride quality, ST is a performance car that I wouldn't have any problems using for daily urban commuting or long-distance freeway trips." — Brent Romans

  • "We interrupt our gushing over Ford's hot hatch to mention that the Focus, ST or otherwise, lacks storage space. The armrest bin can fit your iWhatever plus maybe some sunglasses and that's it. The little bin west of the shifter is essentially useless. The door bins aren't especially large and the cupholders are only sufficient. The glovebox is on the large side but no glovebox can only be so helpful, considering its location relative to the driver?. It's certainly not a deal breaker, but I did find myself running out of places to store the relatively few things I keep in the car." — James Riswick

  • "Last week, I wrote a post about our 2013 Dodge Dart's trunk lid. Basically said how easy it was to lift the hatch after popping the trunk open with the remote button. This weekend I found our Focus ST to be the complete opposite?after pressing the remote button? it's barely wide enough to slide your fingernail into the gap, let alone an entire hand. Plus, a full hatch door with a spoiler makes it inherently much heavier to lift." — Kelly Hellwig

  • "In terms of space, the Focus worked out all right. I had a fair amount of stuff to carry, so I ended up taking out the cargo cover ahead of time so that I could load up as much as possible. I really dislike stacking gear high as it blocks the view out the rear and is somewhat of a safety issue, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. Plus, with the seats up, Ford lists a luggage capacity of 23.8 cubic feet, which is more than you'll get from the trunk of a typical small sedan. Certainly there are better vehicle choices for a family road trip. But if a Focus ST is your only car, I think it will fill the role nicely." — Brent Romans

  • 2013 Ford Focus ST

  • "Not easy to launch, but not as hard as some FWD cars. Doesn't want to bog or coil like Mazdaspeed 3, but also doesn't leave as hard. It needs about 3,500 rpm and quick clutch engagement for best launch. Wheels spin partway through 1st and then hook. When executed properly, the shift to 2nd doesn't bog. Shifter is vague for this kind of use. Probably fine during daily driving (or even road course use), but not direct enough for drag-style shifting." — Josh Jacquot

  • "Readily rotates off throttle, which allows complete freedom of line adjustment here. This car would be brilliant on a road course. Communicative and lively. Fun. Stability-off yields best numbers here. Eagerness to rotate on the skid pad hurts this car in the slalom. Still, its manners are superb if you're willing to drive it hard. Best time in 'Sport' mode. Tuned to rotate so don't bother turning ESC off. Stability control and suspension engineers tuned this car for drivers who understand." — Josh Jacquot

  • "Sync happens. So this happened, again, in our long-term Ford Focus ST during my San Francisco road trip?. On the plus side, this full shutdown-and-reboot of Sync occurs far less frequently in the Focus than it did in our long-term Explorer. But it's still annoying." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "The Focus ST is the best sport compact sold today. It might not be the most powerful, but its refinement and high-level handling are a potent combination. This is not a beginner's car, but it will reward experienced drivers like few other front drivers. Also, it's a genuine five-door hatch, which gives it real utility." — Editors at Edmunds.com

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
The Focus ST requested routine service at 5-, 10- and 20,000 miles. Each interval was comprised of oil and filter changes, tire rotations and in the case of the 20K visit, we also asked to have the cabin air filter replaced. All told, we spent about $250 in maintenance.

2013 Ford Focus ST

Service Campaigns:
No recalls or technical service bulletins were issued during our test.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA prepared us for fuel economy along the lines of 26 mpg combined and 23 city/32 highway. We averaged 23 mpg, with our best single tank at 30 mpg. One primarily-highway road trip stretched 339 miles between fill-ups.

Resale and Depreciation:
We drove our Focus ST 20,780 miles. According to Edmunds TMV Calculator, the private party value was $20,172. This was a far cry from the $29,065 we paid a year earlier. Local used-Focus competition led us to Carmax, which offered us a fair $19,000. We accepted. This equated to disappointing 35-percent depreciation.

Summing Up

Pros: One of the sharpest handling front-wheel-drive cars on the road today, performance-oriented suspension still comfortable enough for daily driver duty, very supportive seats, hatchback utility, ample torque makes it easy to drive in any situation.

Cons: Limited interior cargo space, did not deliver EPA mileage estimates, high level of depreciation after one year, Sync system still required occasional reboots.

Bottom Line: The 2013 Ford Focus ST is one of the best front-wheel-drive performance cars you can buy. If you can live with the lack of storage space and thirsty engine, it will reward you with performance that few hatchbacks can touch.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $247.39 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 30.2 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 13.3 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 23.3 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $20,172 (private party sale)
What It Sold for: $19,000
Depreciation: $10,065 (or 35% of paid price or original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 20,780 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


  • I don't think 23mpg avg is bad at all for a 252 hp sporty car. Especially compared to my 2013 Miata/MX5 CS. With only 170-ish hp I'm averaging 24 mpg. Nice review.

  • marcos9 marcos9 Posts:

    Putting this Focus ST in the same vein as the Integra Type R in regards to FWD handling is a heckuva compliment. I love the look and the paint color/interior. May have to look into getting one!

  • Quaife America makes a Helical LSD for the Focus ST (http://quaifeamerica.com/qdf41z). It would have been a nice addition to a great little performance car and an improvement over the brake based differential.

  • socal_eric socal_eric Posts:

    Is it possible that you could add something to the summary that states Edmunds purchased an "ST2" trim level, as I can't recall it being mentioned during any of the coverage on this car. If someone went to purchase or research the ST there are three trim levels, the base ST1 with non-Recaro seats, the ST2 with cloth/partial leather Recaro seats, and the ST3 with heated leather Recaro seats and HIDs as the primary options (which I recall one writer complaining about not being available). That's what the dealers and Ford calls the three different equipment group packages here in the US market and it's very odd it was ignored during the entire time the car was in the long-term fleet.

  • socal_eric socal_eric Posts:

    Regarding the Integra Type R and Mazdaspeed 3, reviewing the testing/evaluation notes on the '08+ Cobalt SS Turbo as well as driving it back-to-back to the Focus ST will reveal a car with much better steering feel (completely lacking feedback in the ST), brakes that can handle more than a single road course lap without fade, a more refined ride quality, quicker in acceleration, and much better real-world fuel economy. From a driving dynamics standpoint it's probably the best balanced front driver that's been sold in the US market in recent years, although for someone wanting to buy new there aren't many great choices currently available and the ST (Focus and Fiesta) are probably the best hot hatch/front drive compacts if you're looking for a driver's car. It'll be nice to see what changes and upgrades Ford has in store for the 2015 models when the Focus gets refreshed.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    What's with the question marks all through the text? Some kind of formatting issue.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    wow seems like quit the depreciation hit - I would seriously consider getting one of these for $20K. Too bad the wife wants something automatic :(

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    Isn't high first-year depreciation common on sport models like these? The savvy buyers who want them assume-- often rightly so-- that they've been driven hard.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I hate having to post a comment before being able to read the other ones. And the wrap up is loaded with '?' can you fix that? I was surprised at the depreciation until I realized you loaded this car up with a lot of options, and how much do people want to pay for a used compact? I enjoyed this long term test, it proved the car reliable, cheap to operate, and a ton of fun. If I were 23 again, I would give this car a try.

  • handbrake handbrake Posts:

    I guess “thirsty” is a relative term. My 2008 VW Rabbit with the 2.5 5cyl and manual transmission would be lucky to get 23 average. It’s closer to 20. And it’s nowhere near as much fun as the Focus seems to be.

  • rickibobbi rickibobbi Posts:

    I really like this car, but the high initial cost and depreciation is kind of off putting. I got a new 2012 MS3 for 21k, it's worth about 19-20k now. They are very comparable cars so I'm not sure why the big discrepancy. I get around the same gas mileage, have been at 30 mpg on long trips. I've put some suspension mods in for the track, nothing extreme, car is a super fun and CHEAP!

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Over 4 months and 9,000 miles of ownership I am averaging 31.2 mpg (worst 26.9, best 34.7). I don't necesarily drive conservatively, but my daily route is very conducive of high mpg. When the weather warms up again (high of -11F of Monday) I expect my mpg to range from 33-40... if I can resist driving like a hooligan. :)

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    I like how the rear wiper comes on automatically when I put it in reverse and the windshield wipers are already on. I like how easy it was to swap wheels/tires, despite the TPMS. I like how comfortable the base seats are, and how the steering wheel feels near perfect in my hands. I like how there was zero learning curve for the controls (if you opt for a base model without the silly touchscreen). I like how, in a collision, it automatically turns on the emergency flashers and dials 911. I've always been kind of a no-frills guy, so this is absolutely the best "base model" vehicle I've ever owned.

  • Who the heck cares?

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    What was most interesting to me about this particular long term test was that the staff's impressions of the car were initially extremely good, but by the end of the test many started complaining about the seats and preferred the GTI. The depreciation wasn't completely unexpected (discounts and traditional Ford Focus levels of depreciation), but you guys definitely paid too much initially for the car.

  • evodad evodad Posts:


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