What's New for 2010
In addition to numerous trim level and option revisions, all Focus models get standard keyless entry, antilock brakes and stability control. Sync now includes the ability to provide directions, traffic and information when paired with mobile phones.
Ford is definitely shaking things up with its frantic pace of fresh model introductions, and its new world order looks to continue with the upcoming release of a new Focus and Fiesta next year. But where does that leave the current Focus? It stands to reason that anticipation of a sharper redesigned model may relegate the 2010 Focus to lame-duck status.
Though it was heavily updated two years ago, the incumbent 2010 Ford Focus can still be considered a single-termer that started service a rather unbelievable 10 years ago. On the positive side, the Focus still has a liberal amount of feature content, a low cost to maintain and an economically sound price tag. Add in the nifty Sync feature and environmentally friendly fuel economy, and the current Focus holds up as a viable candidate for a small car.
But this car has also built up some undesirable baggage during its term. Notably, there's a general lack of excitement and curbside charisma when the Focus is taken out for a spin, which is a shame because it originally had these qualities. While economy cars aren't typically expected to have high quotients of personality, other automakers have really upped their small cars' game in recent years. Additionally, the Focus is still haunted by the use of some low-quality interior plastics, subpar construction and a four-speed automatic transmission (many other cars have five-speeds or continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).)
Overall, we think that the current Focus is a respectable choice for a compact sedan or coupe, but shoppers should certainly examine the competition before casting a vote. The Mazda 3 is our favored choice, as it combines a high-end interior with a fun-to-drive nature. The Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit are other perennial all-stars, while Kia's new Forte is worth a look as well. And if you are still interested in a Focus, it might be worth waiting a bit to catch the new and improved model for next year.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Focus is available as a sedan or coupe. The four-door body style is offered in four trim levels. The base S sedan comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a four-speaker audio system with a single-CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. Satellite radio is the only available option. Upgrading to the SE will get you all of the above plus 15-inch alloy wheels and full power accessories. There's also more to choose from in terms of options, such as a rear spoiler, foglamps, the Sync electronics interface (includes Bluetooth and iPod integration), an upgraded stereo with a six-CD changer, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, customizable interior lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a sunroof.
The SEL trim (sedan only) will get you all of the SE features and options (minus the spoiler and sunroof) plus 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a sportier suspension, chrome exterior and interior accents, leather upholstery and heated front seats. The SES trim level represents the athlete of the model line by adding 17-inch alloy wheels, a more aggressive front fascia for the sedan, dark chrome exterior trim, a rear spoiler and a performance-enhanced suspension. Options for the SEL and SES are few and include the sunroof and a premium nine-speaker sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
2010 Ford Focus models are powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. A cleaner version of that engine that earns PZEV tailpipe-emissions certification is also available for California-emissions states. That engine makes 132 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque.
The standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual. A four-speed automatic is available as an option. The automatic on SES coupes is geared slightly shorter for better acceleration. In testing, an automatic Focus coupe went from zero to 60 mph in a lackluster 9.7 seconds. Fuel economy for the Ford Focus is rated at 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined for the manual transmission. Opting for the automatic drops the highway estimate to 33 mpg.
Six airbags are standard on all Focus models, including front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for both front- and rear-seat occupants. For 2010, antilock brakes and stability control are now standard on all trim levels. Also new for the 2010 Focus is Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their teenage drivers.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Ford Focus sedan earned four stars (out of a possible five) for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions. In the side-impact test, the sedan received five stars for protection of front occupants and four stars for protection of those in the rear. Curiously, the Focus coupe earned a five-star rating for frontal impacts but just a three-star rating for front and rear side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Focus coupe a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset and side crash protection. The Focus sedan also earns a "Good" rating for frontal protection, but receives a downgraded "Acceptable" for side impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
At night, the cabin of the 2010 Focus has a high-tech feel about it, thanks to a soothing cool blue glow from the gauges and optional customizable ambient lighting. But these lighting effects do little to mask some interior missteps, including cheap-looking plastic interior bits and a button-heavy center stack that some people find a bit confusing.
Despite having a non-telescoping steering wheel and fairly flat front seats, comfort is adequate -- even for extended road trips. Luggage capacity is also suitable for road trips at nearly 14 cubic feet, with 60/40-split-folding rear seats at the ready for even more storage. One other nice attribute is Sync, a voice activation system that allows hands-free operation of mobile phones, iPods and other MP3 players. The 2010 Focus further increases Sync's appeal by adding the ability to acquire driving directions, traffic conditions and other information by pairing it with Bluetooth-enabled phones.
Behind the wheel of the 2010 Ford Focus, you'll likely be pleased with the relatively quiet and smooth ride quality. Engine performance is also respectable for a small car, but the four-cylinder can sound noisy and the four-speed automatic is increasingly outdated by competing models' five-speed units. To its credit, the Focus has commendable steering response and feedback along with a decent amount of grip when driven hard. But those hankering for a bit more fun are going to be happier with a Honda Civic or Mazda 3.