2016 Ford Focus ST Review

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful turbocharged engine paired with a precise six-speed manual gearbox makes for an engaging driving experience
  • sharp handling around turns
  • civilized ride quality for a performance car
  • interior looks stylish.
  • Automatic transmission isn't available
  • some drivers may find the optional Recaro seats overly confining.
Other years
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$14,590 - $20,956

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Small cars don't have to be boring. You'll get a kick out of the 2016 Ford Focus ST. It's fast, polished and ready for both daily driving duty and weekend fun. Read more to learn what else we like about this year's Focus ST.

Vehicle overview

Maybe you hunger for precise steering and sharp, balanced handling. Or maybe you're just genetically programmed to crave the thrill of dumping the clutch and mashing the gas pedal. Regardless of the explanation, the high-performance 2016 Ford Focus ST is here to meet your desires.

The 2016 Ford Focus ST's attention-grabbing "Tangerine Scream" is the only color that costs extra.

This sporty compact four-door hatchback gets significant powertrain and suspension upgrades compared to mainstream Focus models. Topping that list is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out a healthy 252 horsepower. The only transmission is a short-throw six-speed manual, further emphasizing the Focus ST's high-performance purpose. Handling, meanwhile, is honed by sport-tuned underpinnings that can even facilitate a touch of oversteer for accomplished drivers at a track day.

Though the above formula isn't new, what makes the Focus ST stand out from the pack is its overall civility. The optional Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system (replacing MyFord Touch this year) is on the cutting edge of cabin technology, while the ST's premium materials and livable ride quality make it a sport compact you can comfortably drive every day. Of course, you have to be willing to drive a stick shift every day, as there's no automatic offered. We should also point out that the rear seat is short on legroom when measured against competitive compacts.

Though the MyFord Touch interface is pictured, the Focus ST now comes with Ford's latest Sync 3 system.

Nitpicking aside, the 2016 Ford Focus ST is a very appealing choice in the so-called "hot-hatch" category. Of course, you'll likely want to check out the competition, too. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is another excellent choice, providing comparable refinement, a larger backseat and sharp handling that was missing from the previous-generation GTI. The Mini Cooper (S or JCW) offers punchy performance and high customization possibilities, while the Subaru WRX sedan offers the benefit of all-wheel drive in adverse weather. At the end of the day, it's hard to think of a small car with a better balance of adrenaline and adaptability than the Edmunds "A" rated Focus ST.

2016 Ford Focus ST models

The 2016 Ford Focus ST is a performance-oriented version of the Focus four-door hatchback. There is no sedan version. The higher-performance Focus RS is reviewed separately.

The 2016 Ford Focus ST is available solely in the hatchback body style with a manual transmission.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, performance brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, LED daytime running lights, foglights, a sport body kit, keyless entry and ignition, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, front sport seats (with driver height adjustment), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, MyKey parental controls, a rearview camera, a 4.2-inch central display, Sync voice controls and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.

The ST2 package adds xenon headlights, cornering lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, Recaro front sport seats, cloth and leather upholstery, the Sync 3 electronics interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio, satellite radio and dual USB ports.

The ST3 package adds heated mirrors, a keyless entry keypad, full leather upholstery, heated front Recaro seats (with eight-way driver power adjustments), additional head-restraint adjustments, a heated steering wheel, a rear center armrest, multicolor ambient interior lighting, carbon-fiber interior accents and a navigation system.

Stand-alone options include a sunroof, dark gray 18-inch alloy wheels with red-painted brake calipers, all-season tires, the navigation system (requires ST2 package) and a set of black or red racing stripes (with matching mirror caps) that run from the front of the car to the rear bumper.

2016 Highlights

The 2016 Focus ST gets Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system as an option, replacing the controversial MyFord Touch system. Carbon-fiber interior trim has also been added to the available ST3 package.

Performance & mpg

Under the hood, the front-wheel-drive 2016 Ford Focus ST gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 252 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a six-speed manual transmission that includes hill-start assist.

In Edmunds testing, the Ford Focus ST accelerated from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds, which is a bit sluggish for this type of performance car. That's partly explained, however, by the fact that you have to shift into 3rd gear to hit 60, which puts a little extra time on the clock; most rivals with manual transmissions can get there in 2nd gear.

The EPA estimates that the Focus ST will achieve 25 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway), a respectable showing for a hot hatch.

Safety

The 2016 Ford Focus ST comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, a driver knee airbag, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Sync system includes an emergency crash-notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard are blind-spot mirrors, a rearview camera and Ford's MyKey system, which can be used to set electronic parameters for inexperienced drivers.

In Edmunds testing, a Focus ST needed 109 feet to stop from 60 mph, a good result for an affordable performance car with summer tires.

Driving

If you go strictly by the numbers, the 2016 Ford Focus ST might seem a little underwhelming. Take it for a spin, however, and it'll show you its true colors. Real-world acceleration is strong, even at higher speeds, and the precise action of the six-speed manual is bound to put a smile on your face. The outstanding steering calibration and confidence-inspiring brakes only add to the fun.

Perhaps just as importantly, the ST's suspension delivers a ride quality that, while firmer than that of the base Focus, is easy to live with in day-to-day commuting and errand-running. The interior also stays impressively quiet, making for unexpectedly relaxing highway hauls.

Interior

The 2016 Ford Focus ST features one of the nicer cabins in the segment. The design is attractive, the layout driver-oriented and the materials quality above average. The standard front sport seats serve up solid comfort and support, while the optional Recaro seats feature more substantial side bolsters that offer extra lateral restraint in hard cornering. A word of advice, however: Be sure to spend some time sitting in the Recaros if you're considering them, as some drivers may find them too confining on long drives or while zipping around town.


Optional Recaro seats are wonderfully supportive, but also very snug. Try before you buy.

New this year is Ford's Sync 3 system, a replacement for the automaker's much-maligned MyFord Touch setup. Instead of the standard 4.2-inch display, Sync 3 features an 8-inch touchscreen designed to incorporate gestures like "swiping" between pages or "pinching" to zoom that will feel familiar to smartphone or tablet users. The menu structure is greatly simplified, ditching MyFord Touch's quadrant-based layout in favor of a more familiar layout with categories arrayed in a strip at the bottom of the screen.

In back, rear seat passengers will find an acceptable amount of headroom, but less legroom than in competitors like the GTI and WRX. There's cargo space aplenty, however, with 23.8 cubic feet of room behind the 60/40-split rear seats and a handy 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Ford Focus ST.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The ride I have always wanted
Doug Failor,11/02/2015
4dr Hatchback w/EcoBoost (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Brand new car. No initial purchase issues and not driven long enough to have reliability or service issues. This is more a first impression that a long term ownership review. The Focus ST is a niche car. It is aimed (noticed how I didn't say focused ;-) ) at someone who wants a fun and exciting car that is also practical and affordable. I don't believe everything I read, especially in advertising, but this car delivers. I am surprised at how well it delivers. The acceleration is quick, the steering is quick, and the braking is quick. There are 5 other cars and a pickup in my driveway, but there is only one car you would chose if you said to yourself "I just feel like going out for a drive". There is great power delivery even down low and when the turbo kicks in you feel it push you back in the seat. Gearbox is smooth. You can row back and forth through the six gears if you want, but the powerband is broad enough that downshifts are not nearly as necessary as some manuals I have owned. The tires and suspension let you feel all the road imperfections, but it is not harsh and handling always feels connected instead of busy or mushy. Torque steer? It is there if you push it in first or second. Not hard to control, but can be surprising when the car decides it doesn't want to accelerate in a straight line like you expected. Overall the car is reasonably quiet. You do hear the engine 'power symposer' when you accelerate, but not even loud enough to drown out a normal conversation. I have yet to hear the turbo whistle at all. Didn't get the Recaro seats. The base seats fit me much better. My ST1 has the base Ford Sync, so I can't comment on Sync 3, either. Although this is my daily driver, in no way is it just an average commuter car. It is for people who enjoy cars and want something that involves them in driving. Choosing an ST is a personal statement. I think it is a mistake by Ford to offer it only in the ST1/2/3 packages. I would have liked to pick and chose exactly which options fit me. A marketing decision I am sure. I don't challenge Mustangs, Camaros and Chargers at the stop lights. I don't wait to ambush BMW's and Vettes on twisty roads. I don't look for 2 miles of straight road where I can wind it out (but I do admit, on ramps have become lots of fun all of a sudden). There are bigger cars and faster cars and smoother cars and easier cars to drive. My ST is an every day driver that puts a smile on my face. It knew it was what I wanted as soon as I drove it.
Special Transportation
Marty Weiner,02/06/2016
4dr Hatchback w/EcoBoost (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
This is not your father's daily driver. I was looking for a replacement hatchback for my beloved 2002 Honda Si (251,000mi). I had recently rented a 2015 Focus sedan and was surprisingly impressed by it's "big car" characteristics. I have never owned a Ford automobile. Since Honda didn't have a replacement Si available I went to test drive a basic 5spd Focus hatchback. Looking around the lot I was impressed from the window view of the ST interior. I had not researched that car and didn't know what I was in for after asking for a test drive. Not surprisingly, the salesman offered no resistance... I bought it the first time I shifted into 3rd gear carrying some revs. I won't soon forget the experience of that turbo propelled acceleration. The overwhelming harmony of the power, steering and symphony of engine and exhaust notes was instantly addictive. It was the Si I had always dreamed of and much, much more. The fit and finish of the interior is excellent, very easy on the eyes and full of discovery. I'm 6'1", 210lbs and find the seats fit like a glove. They are comfortable and meaningful when you accelerate into a curve and pleasant while waiting for the green. I have owned this car for 3 weeks, have 1300 miles of city/freeway driving and the only think I miss from the Si is the somewhat less frequent stops at the gas station. This is truly a 6-star vehicle and feel fortunate I stumbled upon it. Some 6 months and 9,000 miles down the road and I'm still giving my ST 6 stars. This car has completely failed to disappointment me. I never thought I'd offer to get off the couch to go buy a loaf of bread but there I am, still enjoying the first blush of excitement this vehicle offers every time I fire it up. Could I get better gas mileage? Sure, if there weren't any freeway on-ramps. It's nice to know that if I keep my foot out of it, I can easily get 30+ mpg on the freeway. I took a friend on a 200 mile ride recently and he commented repeatedly how much quieter the cabin was than in his Prius C. It's also much more quiet than our 2013 Mazda 3. You don't see many ST's on the road but when I do, the knowing smile and nod between drivers tells the whole story.
The ST1 variant is the best bang for the buck.
William Thomas,04/05/2016
4dr Hatchback w/EcoBoost (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Ford has managed to pack a 252 HP pocket rocket with a top speed of over 150 into a family friendly car that's just as much at home hauling around your brood as it is hauling A**! Make no mistake, this little car is a performance automobile, and while it is soon to be eclipsed by the more track "Focused" RS model, the ST still reins supreme at performance for price. The car is available in three trim levels, ST1 (base), ST2 and ST3. The ST2 and ST3 models include the now "infamous" Recaro seats. It's a shame that Ford could not have optioned the seats separately like they did with the moon roof. The highly bolstered Recaro seats are in a love/hate relationship with certain owners. Some owners find the seats amazingly comfortable, while others find them much too confining and almost abusive on long road trips. So prevalent is this view, there are active threads on ST enthusiast boards requesting seat swapouts with other owners. If you want more cabin refinement (leather interior, power seats, 10 speaker radio, Sirius XM, ambient lighting, etc) then you have no option but to get the Recaro's. If you don't like them, you are stuck giving up some refinement on the base model. Let's not kid ourselves here, though. The base model ST is still hansomely appointed with keyless entry and pushbutton start, a six speaker AM/FM CD system with bluetooth and USB connectivity and hands free phone integration. Air conditioning, power windows and mirrors are also standard, as is the leather trimmed steering wheel and sport pedals and backup camera all standard. From an interior standpoint the ST1 is no slouch, but if you don't want to deal with the Recaro's then your back passengers are going to have to settle with less cupholders and the lack of dual zone climate control. If you do like the Recaro's then the world is your oyster and you can push up the price of this automobile past $30K with the addition of full leather seating, heated drivers seats, ambient lighting, back passenger center console with cup holders and the like. The bottom line is that you should perform an extended test drive with the Recaro's prior to purchasing this car, especially if you tend to tip the scales on the large side as I do. But whatever your choice, you will soon forget about the lack of cup holders when you fire this bad boy up. The car has plenty of acceleration across the entire RPM band, and the six speed gearbox is a joy to use. The ride is a bit more stiff than the standard Focus, but is not what I would call uncomfortable. The fuel economy is not great, but that's to be expected given the type of engine being used. However careful shifting and expressway driving can bring your MPG's up to a respectable 30 MPG. And while driving like a responsible adult may appeal to your practical, it's ability to throw you back in your seat, and grip corners like on rails that will put that permanent smile on your face and turns you back into your inner 12 year old. You'll be fighting over your significant other who gets to take junior to his play date. This car is not for everyone. If you are simply looking for a vehicle to haul your two young kids around town, then you can get a suitable substitute with more room and much less cash. However, if you really appreciate driving, and you want to get behind the wheel of a car that is able to always put a grin on your grill AND haul the little ones, then it's hard to beat this car for bang for your buck.
Traded our Focus Hatch for a Focus ST
Charles,07/02/2016
4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
We were looking at an SUV (Escape) when the ST caufgt our attention. We really hated the idea of driving an SUV on an every day basis and we loved our Focus. The dealer threw in roof racks for those occasional hauling duties and we stayed with a Focus but one with amazing performance. The one weak point in our previous Focus was the auto transmission. We love driving a manual again as it ups the fun factor to a considerable degree. The ST is a delight, fast, fun, and engaging. We take it everywhere because its such fun to drive. One down side is the Recaro seats. My butt fits fine. However, I'm 5'7", 175, with broad shoulders. The Recaro seats are too constricting at the shoulders. I'd have been happier with the regular front seats in the Focus. Overall, we love the ST and are looking forward to putting many miles on it as we explore the back roads of America. An addition benefit is that I get to buy American, something we consider important.

Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
252 hp @ 5500 rpm
See all Used 2016 Ford Focus ST features & specs
More about the 2016 Ford Focus ST

Used 2016 Ford Focus ST Overview

The Used 2016 Ford Focus ST is offered in the following submodels: Focus ST Hatchback. Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Ford Focus ST?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Ford Focus ST trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Ford Focus ST Base is priced between $14,590 and$20,956 with odometer readings between 38311 and90752 miles.

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Which used 2016 Ford Focus STS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Ford Focus ST for sale near. There are currently 4 used and CPO 2016 Focus STS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $14,590 and mileage as low as 38311 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Ford Focus ST.

Can't find a used 2016 Ford Focus STs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Focus ST for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $13,031.

Find a used Ford for sale - 8 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $20,032.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Focus ST for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $17,496.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 7 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $23,352.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 Ford Focus ST?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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