Full 2014 Ford Focus Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Ford Focus is essentially unchanged.
Introduced at the turn of the century, the first Ford Focus was a pretty good car. It was fun to drive, versatile and available in a wide range of body styles. But as the years went on, newer and more polished rivals relegated it to mid-pack status. Not so with the current-generation Focus, which debuted for 2012 and ranks among the best picks in the compact car segment. Major reasons to consider the 2014 Ford Focus sedan and hatchback include sprightly performance, an upscale interior, a refined ride and excellent fuel economy.
Another key attribute is the Focus' abundance of available high-tech convenience features. One such luxury-like standout is the automated parallel parking system that can neatly slip the car into a curbside spot without the driver ever touching the steering wheel. And of course there's Ford's Sync system, one of the first voice control systems to be offered in any car. The MyFord Touch interface (which consists of configurable control screens), meanwhile, has drawn mixed reviews. Upon its debut, the system was rather finicky to use, and although Ford has improved it through software updates, it remains slow and prone to glitches.
Even if technology isn't a priority for you, the fact that Ford offers a choice of hatchback and sedan body styles, as well as a wide range of trim levels, should give the Focus plenty of appeal. There are even all-electric and high-performance variants. The former, the Focus Electric, is propelled by a 107-kilowatt (143-horsepower) electric motor and can be recharged in about four hours from a 240-volt power source. Owners of the electric Focus can keep tabs on its charging state via smartphone integration. (The high-performance Focus ST is covered in a separate review.)
Well rounded as it is, the 2014 Ford Focus still faces some serious competition in the economy sedan and compact hatchback class. If you're looking at mainstream models, you might also want to consider the well-made Chevrolet Cruze, stylish Kia Forte and sprightly Mazda 3. For electric vehicles, the established Leaf and efficient Honda Fit EV are natural competitors. Yet even in this solid grouping, the Ford Focus impresses. This sophisticated, highly refined and fun-to-drive small sedan and hatchback earn one of the highest compliments we can pay any car: They look and feel as if they should be priced higher.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ford Focus is a compact car that's available in sedan and four-door hatchback body styles. There are three main trim levels available -- S, SE and Titanium -- as well as the Focus Electric. The high-performance Focus ST is reviewed separately.
The S model, which is only offered as a sedan, comes with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, power front windows, power locks and mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
Move up to the SE and you get 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, power rear windows, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a six-speaker sound system, Ford's Sync voice-activated phone and audio player interface, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The hatchback is pretty similar but gets a 60/40 split-folding seatback (versus one solid folding seatback) and a removable cargo cover.
A number of optional packages are available for the SE. The SE Sport package adds sport cloth seats, rear disc brakes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SE Appearance package is more expansive and gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, foglamps, ambient interior lighting, a six-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, 60/40 split-folding rear seats for the sedan (with a rear center armrest) and satellite radio. Choosing that package opens up a couple Interior Trend packages that provide two-tone color schemes. The SE Winter package adds heated mirrors and heated front seats.
There's also the MyFord Touch package, which includes an 8-inch touchscreen display, a 10-speaker Sony sound system, a navigation system and dual-zone automatic climate control. Optional only on the SE sedan is a Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package, which adds 16-inch steel wheels with aero wheel covers, low-rolling-resistance tires, rear disc brakes and a rear spoiler.
Spring for the Titanium model and you get the contents of the SE Appearance package, the Winter package and the MyFord Touch packages (minus navigation) as standard. The Titanium also has upgraded exterior and interior trim, rear parking sensors, remote start (automatic-transmission models only) keyless ignition/entry and a rearview camera.
The Titanium Handling package adds 18-inch wheels, an upgraded sport-tuned suspension, a full-size spare and summer tires. The navigation system is optional for the Titanium. A sunroof and an aero styling body kit are optional for the SE and Titanium. The Titanium can be had with an automated parallel-parking system.
The Focus Electric (BEV) is equipped similarly to the Titanium, although leather upholstery and the power driver seat are optional. The Electric gets exclusive xenon headlamps and LED taillamps as standard.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Ford Focus has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 hp and 146 pound-feet of torque. The S and SE models get a five-speed manual transmission standard, while a six-speed automatic (technically, it's a dual-clutch automated manual) that Ford calls "Powershift" is optional. The automatic comes standard on the Titanium, though the manual transmission is still available as a no-cost option.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Focus Titanium with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds -- a bit quicker than average for this segment. With the manual, that drops to 8.3 seconds.
Official EPA estimates for fuel economy stand at 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined with the automatic transmission. These drop to 26/36/30 with the manual. The Super Fuel Economy package raises those estimates to 28/40/33, which we confirmed to be accurate in extensive Edmunds fuel economy testing.
The Focus Electric has a 107-kilowatt (143 hp) electric drive motor that draws power from a 23kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power is sent to the front wheels through a single-speed direct-drive transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the Electric went from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, which is about the same as the Leaf but slower than the Fit EV.
The EPA gives the Focus Electric an energy efficiency equivalent rating (MPGe) of 110 mpg city/99 mpg highway and 105 mpg combined. The EPA also estimates the Focus Electric has an effective range of about 76 miles between charging. But as with all electric cars, actual range will be highly dependent on driving style and environment. The EPA also gives the Ford Focus Electric an energy consumption estimate of 32 kWh used per 100 miles (the lower the kWh number here, the better), a slightly higher usage rate than the Leaf and Fit EV. With a 240-volt home charger, Ford says the Focus Electric can be recharged in 4 hours -- about the same as a Leaf but a bit longer than for a Fit EV.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes (rear drums on S and SE; rear discs on others), stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system, which is available on all Focus models, also includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers, is standard on every Focus except the S sedan. A rearview camera comes standard on the Focus Titanium.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Focus Titanium with the Handling package and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet, an impressive performance. A Focus with the SFE package stopped in 117 feet, which is also impressive considering its low-rolling-resistance tires. A regular Focus SE with rear disc brakes and standard all-season tires stopped in a below-average 130 feet. The Electric took 126 feet.
In government crash testing, the Focus received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal impact protection and five stars for overall side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Focus its highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
While the handsome exteriors of this sedan and hatchback might hook you initially, it's the upscale cabin that will reel you into the Focus fold. The interior is attractive and quiet, and the materials are among the best in this class. However, the layout of audio controls is a little complicated, even on the lower trim levels.
It doesn't get much better with the optional MyFord Touch system, either. The large touchscreen (combined with the truly useful Sync voice command system) looks classy and provides some neat customization possibilities. But in real-world operation, we've found that the virtual buttons are difficult to identify at a glance, and too often get pressed accidentally or fail to respond properly. Make sure to try this out on a test-drive and plan on taking some time to learn the menus if you buy a 2014 Focus.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable over long distances. The rear seats offer adequate headroom, but come up a little short on legroom compared to the accommodations in the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta. The sedan's 13.2-cubic-foot trunk is on par for this class, but the hatchback model is still the better choice for the practical-minded. The latter provides 23.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seats up and 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down. The Focus Electric hatchback, because of its rear-mounted battery pack, drops to 14.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 33.9 cubic feet total.
The 2014 Ford Focus feels like a European car in the way it's been tuned to provide both sharp handling and a refined ride. This is one of the more entertaining economy cars to drive around turns, particularly if you've got the Titanium model with the optional Handling package. Yet the Focus is also smooth riding and quiet on the highway.
The 2.0-liter engine isn't quite as much of a standout, but it offers above average performance and fuel economy. The five-speed manual transmission works well enough and gives the car a sportier feel, though we wish it had a 6th gear to lower engine speed while cruising at higher speeds.
The automatic has that extra gear, though buyers should note that it's technically a dual-clutch automated manual and thus behaves a little differently from a traditional automatic. It occasionally allows the car to roll back slightly on hills and can be reluctant to let the car creep forward when parking. But most drivers will acclimate to its quirks and appreciate the fuel economy and acceleration benefits that come with it.
You won't find any such issues with the 2014 Ford Focus Electric. Its electric motor and direct-drive transmission result in silky smooth power delivery. Acceleration is impressive at low speeds, but tapers off considerably as speeds rise. Ford put in extra effort at making the Focus Electric quiet, and indeed this is one of the quietest small cars you'll find. Handling is noticeably dulled compared to a non-electric Focus, but compared to other EVs, the Focus Electric makes a good showing.