2018 Ford Focus

2018 Ford Focus Hatchback Review

As the sun sets on this generation of the Ford Focus, it remains a quietly competent compact car.
3 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Carlos Lago
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Ford Focus is a well-rounded and competent small car. It's available in a variety of flavors, including a no-frills commuter machine, a high-performance hatchback and, yes, even as an EV.

The core appeal of the 2018 Ford Focus, however, remains its comfortable ride along with enjoyable handling and a quiet interior. We also like the the available Sync 3 infotainment system. It's fast and powerful and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, ensuring your commute won't lack entertainment.

On the downside, the Focus' rear seating is tighter than its competitors', and the available 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine's power can seem inadequate when you're accelerating to highway speeds or passing. Certain rivals best the 2018 Focus in these areas, but we think it's worth a look if you're shopping for a small sedan or hatchback.



what's new

The Ford Focus is essentially unchanged for 2018.

we recommend

The SEL hatchback with the 2.0-liter engine hits the sweet spot when it comes to features, drivetrain and functionality. The Sync 3 infotainment system alone is almost worth the upgrade, bringing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration so you can skip the optional navigation upgrade. You'll appreciate the hatchback's dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and large cargo area. The 1.0-liter engine isn't available in this trim, but that's OK because its fuel economy benefits don't outweigh its lackluster power.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Ford Focus is a front-wheel-drive compact economy car that is available as a sedan or hatchback. It comes in a variety of styles and trim levels. The core starts with the bare-bones S, which is followed by the budget-conscious SE, the well-equipped SEL and the top-of-the-line Titanium. Adjacent to these trims is an electric variant that is called, simply, Electric. The performance-oriented ST and high-performance RS, which have more powerful engines and aggressive suspension tuning, are reviewed separately.

The base S trim is available only as a sedan and employs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (160 horsepower, 146 pound-feet of torque). A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional.

It comes with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, a 4.2-inch central display, power front windows (manual rear windows), power locks and mirrors, Ford's MyKey (limits speed, audio volume, etc., for young drivers), voice controls, Bluetooth, a four-speaker sound system and USB port.

One step up is the SE, which is available as a hatchback or sedan. The hatchback comes with the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed automatic, while the sedan uses a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine (123 hp, 125 lb-ft of torque) and a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

Standard SE equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power rear windows, a trip computer, a front center armrest, rear air vents and a six-speaker sound system. Available options include a Cold Weather package (adds heated mirrors and heated front seats and steering wheel). SE trims equipped with the 1.0-liter engine have access to an Appearance package that adds different 16-inch wheels, daytime running lights, foglights and black exterior detail elements. A 17-inch wheel upgrade is also available with this package.

The SEL trim is available as a sedan or hatchback. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, daytime running lights, foglights, a sunroof, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear proximity sensors, an 8-inch entertainment screen with Sync 3 (includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support), two USB charging ports and a 10-speaker Sony stereo system. Options include the aforementioned Cold Weather package and navigation with satellite radio.

The Focus Titanium has the highest level of standard equipment. Its exterior wears a different style of 17-inch wheel and chrome exterior trim. The interior gets leather-trimmed seats, four-way adjustable headrests, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped shift knob, rear center armrest, seatback map pockets and remote start. While the Cold Weather package is standard, an optional Titanium Technology package adds automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.

As you might guess, the hatchback-only Focus Electric is powered by an electric motor (143 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque) that runs through a single-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated range is 115 miles. It's equipped similarly to the Titanium trim but boasts xenon headlights and restyled taillights. Leather-trimmed seats are optional.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Ford Focus SE (turbo 1.0L inline-3 | 6-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Focus has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Focus.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration2.0 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Drivability2.5 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The 1.0-liter Focus is rated at a humble 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, and real-world output feels even weaker. Flooring the accelerator is often required to keep up with traffic. The transmission is generally well-behaved. Handling is very good for the class.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Turbocharger adds a little moxie at lower engine speeds — emphasis on "little." It lacks the easy thrust of most modern turbos, despite healthy torque rating, and has to work hard to keep up. Zero to 60 mph took a leisurely 10.6 seconds in our tests.

braking

edmunds rating
The pedal feel is intuitive in everyday usage, and the Focus brakes easily and reassuringly. In a simulated-panic stop from 60 mph, this example covered 120 feet, an average performance given its economy-biased tires.

steering

edmunds rating
The Focus has light and rather numb steering (good for parking), but it's also responsive and confidence-inspiring by class standards. The car feels eager, not reluctant, to change direction, and the steering is a big part of that.

handling

Body roll is notable but expected. What's not expected is the verve of this car on a winding road. Ford has tuned the suspension masterfully, imbuing even this economy-minded model with a playful, light-on-its-feet character.

drivability

edmunds rating
Recent revisions to the dual-clutch automatic transmission make it feel mostly normal, but the gas pedal is clearly tuned for eking out every last drop of gas. If you want to make meaningful progress, mashing it is your only option.

comfort

edmunds rating
The Focus sedan's compliant ride and quiet cabin make it a segment favorite for relaxed cruising. The hard door armrests (with perfunctory fabric trim) detract from the experience, but this is still one of the most comfortable cars in its price range — for front passengers, at least.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are rather nondescript but prove supportive in regular use, even on longer trips. The thinly padded armrests are disappointing. The rear seats themselves are pleasant enough, but there's a shortage of rear legroom.

ride comfort

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Despite the Focus' advanced age, its suspension is quite possibly the segment's best at absorbing imperfections. The car rarely feels unsettled. It's as if you're gliding over the road, except there's a consistent sense of control.

noise & vibration

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The Focus is a class leader in noise insulation. Many economy cars let in ample wind and road noise, but the Focus largely keeps it at bay. This test car did not have the engine-drone issue we noted in the manual-transmission model.

interior

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The stylized dashboard puts most controls close by, but the tiny central display screen is about the same size as the trip computer. Buttons can be hard to differentiate at a glance, while the snug back seat is bested by those of most rivals. Unlike the chassis, the cabin is showing its age.

ease of use

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Most controls fall readily to hand. We like the air flow interface's human pictogram, but many buttons look the same. The central display screen is exceptionally small, though still legible. It's functional but a bit behind the times.

getting in/getting out

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The doors are tall but compact, easing access in tight spots. The front seats are mounted pleasantly high for graceful entrances. If taller folks are sitting up front, rear entry/exit can be challenging due to encroaching front seatbacks.

roominess

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The front row has enough space for larger occupants but adjusts well to a wide range of physiques. Rear legroom is unusually sparse for this class; most rivals offer noticeably more. Rear headroom may also be tight for tall passengers.

visibility

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The thin front roof pillars afford an expansive view through turns. The view over the hood is likewise generous. The standard rearview camera compensates for the Focus sedan's high rump, taking the guesswork out of parking.

utility

edmunds rating
Trunk capacity is slightly above average at 13.2 cubic feet. The rear seatbacks fold flat, but the pass-through could be more generous. Interior storage is so-so; you'll find a place to stash your phone, but Ford doesn't make it easy.

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.