Introduced more than a decade ago, the Ford Focus was one of the first small cars from a domestic automaker that was truly competitive with traditionally more dominant models from Japan. An affordable price, sharp handling, expressive styling and availability in multiple body styles all contributed to making this one of Ford's most popular cars worldwide.
Since that time, Ford has gone on to introduce second and third generations of the Focus. Sadly, the second generation lost a lot of the mojo built up by the original, first-generation model and is hard to recommend as a used car. However, Ford has refocused its efforts for the latest Focus, and as such it stands as one of our top picks for a small hatchback or sedan.
Current Ford Focus
Available in sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, the Ford Focus boasts eye-catching styling and a sharply designed interior fitted with high-quality materials. There are three main trim levels: S, SE and Titanium, as well as an electric version. The high-performance Focus ST is reviewed separately.
The only engine available is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, the latter actually being a dual-clutch automated manual. Fuel economy is very good no matter what you pick, and with the available Super Fuel Economy package, the Focus earns a 33-mpg-combined estimate from the EPA.
If you don't want to use any gas at all, there's the Focus Electric, which is strictly battery-powered like Nissan's Leaf. Propelled by a 107-kilowatt (143-hp) electric drive motor and powered by a 23kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Focus Electric has an estimated range of about 76 miles between charges. It can be recharged in just 4 hours from a 240-volt power source. Owners can also keep tabs on their electric Focus' charging state via smartphone integration.
Even the base Focus S comes with air-conditioning, full power features, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Moving up through the trims gets you luxuries such as Ford's Sync voice-activated phone/audio interface, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, keyless ignition and entry, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. There's also MyFord Touch, which features a large center touchscreen that minimizes button clutter. Options include a navigation system and an automated parallel parking assist system.
In reviews, we've been impressed by the Focus' refined road manners. Handling is sharp, with little body lean in the corners, while the steering is communicative and fairly quick. The ride is firm but well controlled over bumps. The 2.0-liter engine deserves praise as well, as it provides above-average performance and fuel economy. Changing gears with the five-speed manual transmission adds to the fun, though a sixth gear would be appreciated on longer freeway jaunts. The automatic is the one fly in the Focus' driving ointment, as it upshifts too quickly and is reluctant to downshift unless the throttle pedal is mashed to the floor.
Inside, the Focus boasts excellent materials, supportive seats and a hushed environment. Relative to its competitors, though, the backseat is a little cramped and the electronics interface can be unintuitive. But all in all, the Focus is a well-rounded, well-built economy car that is easy to recommend.
Read the most recent 2015 Ford Focus review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Ford Focus page.