Used 2015 Ford Focus Review
Edmunds expert review
The well-rounded 2015 Ford Focus remains a top choice in an increasingly competitive segment. This year's thorough makeover makes it even more appealing.
What's new for 2015
Ford may not have always had the strongest entries in the compact car segment, but the company's Focus sedan and hatchback have been steadily improving in regard to looks, features and performance. The car's ascent continues in 2015, as both body styles receive a restyled hood, grille, trunk lid and available LED signature lighting. Inside, the materials and dash layout have been improved, and for those in cold climates, there's now an available heated steering wheel.
Although the standard four-cylinder engine and choice of two transmissions remain unchanged on the 2015 Ford Focus, there is an entirely new turbocharged three-cylinder "EcoBoost" engine. It replaces the previously optional SFE package (the high-mileage version of the Focus in previous years) and promises to be a fuel economy leader in the segment. While Ford's engineers were at it, they also recalibrated the Focus' suspension, made a rearview camera standard and brought a slew of new safety options to the stalwart compact including blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings. Finally, the automated parallel parking system returns and Ford's Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment controls benefit from another iteration of improvement and refinement.
As before, the 2015 Focus is offered in a variety of trim levels and as either a four-door sedan or hatchback, so it is likely to appeal to a wide variety of buyers. There's also an EV version, the Focus Electric, which provides about 75 miles of pure electric range that can be recharged in about four hours from a 240-volt power source. Still not something here for you? Well, there's also an especially sporty version, the Focus ST, that's covered in a separate review.
Though this year's updates have boosted the Focus's already admirable levels of refinement and equipment availability, there are a few other cars in the compact sedan class that are equally worthy of consideration. Chief among these is the 2015 Mazda 3, which is also available in sedan and hatchback body styles, and stands out for its fuel economy, sharp handling and user-friendly electronics. Other smart choices include the stalwart 2015 Honda Civic, the value-rich 2015 Kia Forte and the sophisticated 2015 Volkswagen Golf. All received Edmunds.com "A" ratings, and although we have yet to rate a 2015 Focus, its "A"-rated predecessor provides a pretty good indication that this new and improved version will also be among the class leaders.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 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 turbocharged Focus ST is reviewed separately.
The S model, which is only offered as a sedan, comes with 15-inch steel wheels; keyless entry; manual air-conditioning; power front windows, power locks and mirrors; integrated blind-spot mirrors; a height-adjustable driver seat; 60/40 split-folding rear seats; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; Ford's MyKey (to limit speeds, audio volume, etc. for additional drivers); a rearview camera with 4.2-inch display; Ford's Sync voice-activated phone and audio player interface (includes Bluetooth) 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, rear air vents, additional front headrest adjustments, a six-speaker sound system and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The SE is the hatchback's base trim.
A number of optional packages are available for the SE. The 201A equipment group (a.k.a. the SE Appearance package) includes 17-inch dark-painted aluminum wheels, rear disc brakes, LED running lights, foglamps, a rear spoiler (sedan), ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (including power lumbar), an overhead console, rear center armrest and satellite radio.
Choosing 201A also allows you to order the Navigation with Sony and MyFord Touch package that adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system, an 8-inch center touchscreen and a 10-speaker Sony sound system.
The SE Sport package (requires automatic transmission, not available with 201A) adds different 17-inch aluminum wheels, rear disc brakes, a body kit, foglights, paddle shifters, sport cloth seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SE EcoBoost package adds all of this but requires a manual transmission paired with the new-for-2015 three-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Some of the above bundled items (like the new engine, MyFord Touch, satellite radio and power front seats) may be ordered individually. Also available are an exterior keypad entry system, remote start (automatic-transmission models only), a sunroof and rear parking sensors. Any 2015 Focus SE may be ordered with the SE Cold Weather package that includes heated front seats, steering wheel and exterior mirrors.
Spring for the Focus Titanium and you get the contents of the 201A package plus the Cold Weather package (minus the heated steering wheel), and the Sony and MyFord Touch packages (minus navigation but with expanded Sync functionality) as standard. The Titanium also has upgraded exterior and interior trim, remote start, keyless ignition and entry, hill-start assist, rear parking sensors and HD radio.
The Titanium Technology package includes automatic high-beam headlight control, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning and lane keeping assist. Automatic parallel parking assist (with the automatic transmission) is also available. Rounding out the Titanium's options are 18-inch high-performance all-season tires and a full-size spare, the navigation system and a sunroof.
The Focus Electric 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.
Performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive 2015 Ford Focus has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The S and SE models get a five-speed manual transmission standard, while the six-speed automatic transmission is optional (technically, it's a dual-clutch automated manual that Ford calls "Powershift"). 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 8.6 seconds, which is about average for this segment. With the manual, that drops to 8.3 seconds.
The official 2015 EPA fuel economy estimates are strong throughout the lineup. With the automatic transmission, the Focus rates 31 mpg combined (27 city/40 highway) with the automatic transmission. This changes to 30 mpg combined (26/36) with the manual. On the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route with an automatic-equipped SE, we observed 33 mpg.
New for 2015 for the SE EcoBoost trim level is a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. It makes 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available. Fuel economy estimates stand at 33 mpg combined (29/40).
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 Nissan Leaf.
The EPA gives the 2015 Ford Focus Electric an energy consumption estimate of 32 kWh used per 100 miles (the lower the kWh number here, the better), which is a slightly higher usage rate than the Leaf. The EPA also estimates the Focus Electric to have an effective range of about 76 miles. But as with all electric cars, actual range will be highly dependent on your driving style and environment. With a 240-volt home charger, Ford says the Focus Electric can be recharged in four hours -- about the same as a Leaf.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes (rear drums on S and SE; rear discs on the others), stability control, a driver knee airbag, 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. A rearview camera and Ford's MyKey system (which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers) are standard.
The Titanium trim level can be equipped with the Technology package that includes a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alerts and a lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Focus Titanium with summer tires and rear disc brakes came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, an impressive performance for this class. A Focus SE with standard rear drum brakes and all-season tires stopped in 131 feet, which is worse than average. The Electric took 126 feet.
In government crash tests, the similar 2014 Focus earned an overall rating of five stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for total frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Focus a top score of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The Focus' seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts, and it received the second highest score of "Acceptable" in the Institute's newer small-overlap frontal-offset test.
The 2015 Ford Focus is one of the more entertaining economy cars to drive around turns, particularly if you have the Titanium model with the optional 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires. 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 transmission 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. Ford has recently improved this transmission's slow-speed "creep" to aid in parking and driving in gridlock, while the addition of hill-start assist prevents you from rolling back on an incline. These two changes handily address our prior criticisms.
The new three-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine isn't as powerful as the standard four-cylinder, but its healthy low-rpm torque output (that shove you feel at low speeds) helps the Focus feels peppy enough in city traffic. At highway speeds, you'll find this engine exceptionally smooth and quiet. For now, however, it's paired exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission, which might be a problem for those who aren't accustomed to dealing with a third pedal. And because the meager power trails off so quickly as revs increase, you'll find yourself shifting quite a lot if you're the sort who likes to be at the front of the pack.
You won't find any such issues with the 2015 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 with similarly priced EVs, the Focus Electric makes a good showing and was awarded a solid Edmunds.com "B" rating.
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. And although we've been critical in the past of the optional MyFord Touch system, it continues to improve and evolve. The large touchscreen (combined with the truly useful Sync voice command system) looks classy and provides some neat customization possibilities. Make sure to try out both this setup and the base "MyFord" system extensively on your test-drive to see if you could use it on a daily basis.
The Focus' front seats are supportive and comfortable over long distances. The rear seats offer adequate headroom, but come up a little short in legroom compared to the accommodations in many competitors. The sedan's 13.2-cubic-foot trunk is on par for this class, and this year its rear seats split and fold (rather than a single seatback) to offer more flexibility. The hatchback model remains the better choice for the practical-minded, as it provides 23.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seats up and 44.8 cubic feet with them folded down. Due to its rear-mounted battery pack, the Focus Electric hatchback drops to 14.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 33.9 cubic feet total.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.