More than a mere model, Ford’s Focus is a veritable family of compact sedans and hatchbacks, each with its own personality and powertrain. The Focus was mildly reworked for 2015.

Pricing and Equipment

The Focus is available in two body styles – four-door sedan and five-door hatch. The same four trims are available on each model, although the roomier and more attractive hatchback demands a $2,990 premium. Starting at $17,650 (destination charge included) for the S trim, the Focus comes in three additional sedan trim levels: SE, SEL and top-level Titanium. The standard engine in the S model and most others is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, rated at 160 horsepower. The SE gets a standard 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, making 123 horsepower. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard with the Focus S; six-speed with other versions. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission may be substituted, while the SE’s three-cylinder engine mates with a regular six-speed automatic.

Standard equipment for the thrifty SE, priced at $19,050, includes:

  • Six-speed manual gearbox (six-speed automatic optional)
  • Rearview camera
  • SYNC infotainment
  • Satellite radio
  • Air conditioning
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Tilt/telescopic steering column
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

An optional SE Sport Package adds a firmer suspension, paddle shifters (with automatic), and 17-inch wheels. Drivers chillier states would be well served by the $645 Cold Weather Package, which adds heated front seats, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated mirrors, and floor mats.

Ford also offers a sporty ST and an ultra-high-performance RS hatchback, as well as a Focus Electric. Each of these models is listed separately.

Performance Pros

Ford Focus
  • The Focus offers a refined ride. The firmly-tuned suspension copes effectively with bumps, transmitting few harsh reactions on rougher pavement.
  • Excellent road manners. Focus tops a number of rivals in agile handling, helped by crisp steering responses. Electric power steering is nicely weighted and provides precise control.
  • Even the base 2.0-liter engine is peppy. The 1.0-liter EcoBoost is genuinely snappy at low engine speeds.
  • Fuel-economy champ is the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, EPA-estimated at 30 miles per gallon city, 40 highway, and 34 combined with manual shift (27/38/31 mpg with automatic).

Performance Cons

  • Focus models with the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine run out of steam quickly. In many ways, the three-cylinder turbo has many of the same pros and cons as a diesel engine – adequate torque, impressive fuel economy, but some clatter at idle and the tendency to peak early.
  • Road noise can be an issue. Coarse pavement may send a tinging sound into the cabin.
  • Low-speed shift quality with the dual-clutch automatic transmission is disappointing.

Interior Pros

  • Sync3 infotainment, with pinching and swiping capabilities on the capacitive screen, is far better than the old MyFord Touch system.
  • Overall, the cabin has a well-tailored appearance, though it does exude a sense of complexity.
  • Cargo space is similar in sedan and hatchback, but the latter is considerably more practical.

Interior Cons

Ford Focus
  • Sculpted dashboard design steals some front-passenger space and produces a rather cramped feeling. In the S model, the button-heavy center stack looks and feels messy.
  • Skimpy back-seat space, short on both head and leg room. Entry/exit is a challenge, too, and seats aren’t so easy to fold.
  • Sport front seats provide better support, but they’re included only with Titanium trim.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

A wide range of engines and trim levels is available, in a choice of two body styles make the Focus attractive to a huge swath of drivers. Five-star crash-test ratings from NHTSA are another “plus.”

The Least Pleasant Surprise

A rearview camera is standard, and such driver-assistance features as blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance are optional, but only for upper-trim models. Active-safety systems like forward-collision warnings and automatic braking aren’t available at all.

The Bottom Line

Smooth styling melds with driving pleasure in a familiar compact sedan (or hatchback) that seems to offer something for just about anyone, from practical-minded family to track-ready zealot. Ford’s compact isn’t the cheapest of the lot, but the base S model (and especially, the fuel-thrifty SE) are the high-value choices.