Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
2018 Ford Focus OVERVIEW
While the majority of press goes to the hyperactive Ford Focus ST and RS models (each can be found in separate entries), the Focus upon which they are based soldiers on offering buyers a solid value via a variety of trims in front-wheel drive four-door sedan and slightly-pricier five-door hatchback forms.
What's New for 2018
Changes are few for the aging Focus, which is due for replacement in a year or two. There's some rejiggering of the equipment and options content, and the introduction of four new eye-grabbing paint options: Triple Yellow, Lightning Blue, Hot Pepper Red, and Outrageous Green. The latter two are metallic shades while the former are plucked straight from the Mustang's color palette.
Choosing Your Ford Focus
Starting with the $18,375 S trim level in sedan (including $875 destination fee) and $21,320 for the most affordable hatchback (an SE trim), the 2018 Ford Focus line is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional PowerShift six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The manual-trans model returns 25 city, 34 highway, and 28 combined, while the dual-clutch nets 26 city, 38 highway, and 31 combined.
The exception is the fuel-sipping SE sedan, which offers a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with automatic start/stop that puts out just 123 hp and 125 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is standard, with a traditional six-speed automatic available as an extra. Expect 30 mpg city, 40 highway, and 34 combined with the manual, while the automatic drops those figures to 27, 38, and 31, respectively.
The Ford Focus comprises three hatchback and four sedan trim levels:
Unlike the rest of the lineup, the $18,375 S trim is only available as a sedan. And while its price makes it the cheapest Focus, that doesn’t mean that buyers will be left completely wanting. The Focus S' list of standard equipment includes a 4.2-inch display in the instrument clsuter, Ford’s Sync voice-control system and a 4.2-inch (non-touchscreen) infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio and HD Radio, a four-speaker audio system, steering wheel-mounted controls, and a power driver’s seat.
It does show its base status in few ways, including manual climate control, rear crank windows, rear drum brakes, basic-black cloth upholstery, door handles, and mirror housings, a black grille with chrome accents, 15-inch steel wheels with silver-painted covers, and a paint selection limited to black, white, silver, and dark grey.
Attaching the optional dual-clutch automatic transmission costs $1,095. The only other option on the S is a $445 PowerCode remote-start system.
Starting at $20,025, the Focus SE boasts a torquey 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbo, making it the most efficient gas-powered member of the Focus family. As with the Focus S, a manual is standard while a six-speed automatic adds $1,095. The 2.0-liter is a no-cost option, although it requires a dual-clutch automatic.
While what follows is the starting point for the $21,320 hatchback, for buyers of the sedan, the SE un-cuts some of the S’s corners by making the rear windows power-operated, adding lights to the visor vanity mirrors and floor mats for the second row, and making door handles and mirror housings body-colored. Tan cloth can now be had in addition to black, and there are real 16-inch wheels, rather than the S' steelies. The hatchback also comes with a rear spoiler, rear window wiper, and a 60/40 folding rear bench with flip-up cushion as standard.
In addition to adding four colors to the paint palette, the SE trim offers three option packages, but only if you grab the four-cylinder. The SE Appearance Package ($895) adds 16-inch wheels with dark painted pockets, rear disc brakes, a gloss black upper grille and headlamp surrounds, LED running lighting, and fog lamps with black bezels, while the Cold Weather Package ($645) adds a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors with turn signal indicators, and all-weather floor mats.
From here on out, the hatchback body style is just $200 more than the sedan, and the four-cylinder/PowerShift combo is the sole powertrain. Building on the SE with the SE Appearance Package, the SEL’s list of standard features includes Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen display, a Sony-branded audio system with ten speakers (including subwoofer) and a single CD player, two USB ports, rear-parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, and colorful ambient interior lighting.
Remote start remains an option on the $22,250 sedan (and $22,450 hatchback), as do the Cold Weather and Interior Protection packages. A $795 navigation system upgrade to the Sony audio system rounds out SEL options.
The Titanium trim – $25,050 for the sedan and $25,250 for the hatchback – is an SEL with the Cold Weather Package, remote start, and more as standard. It adds leather upholstery (in black or off-white), an eight-way power driver’s seat, 17-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, an exterior keyless entry keypad, proximity entry with push-button start, and, for the first time, the hatchback’s 60/40 folding rear bench with flip-up cushion makes its way into the sedan.
But the Titanium tier is more about what’s optional. In addition to the still-optional navigation system, the $795 Titanium Technology Package includes automatic high-beams and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic and lane-keeping alerts, while Active Park Assist ($395) helps the Focus take all the effort and worry out of parallel-parking.
When all is said and done, the ultimate Focus price-wise is the Titanium-grade hatchback. And if one wants the ultimate Titanium hatchback – via ordering it with all $2,380 in available options – that adds up to $27,630, or a full $6,310 more than the base SE.
Don't let the three-cylinder's size fool you, it's not only the most efficient engine in the Focus family, but outside of the ST and RS, it's the most enjoyable. There's loads of torque that make it easy to operate around town, while it's quiet under freeway cruising. That said, it's limited in terms of content, and that's something even hypermilers should consider before signing on the dotted line.