Even as consumers all but abandon the compact sedan class, the 2018 Ford Focus continues to offer buyers an automotive smorgasbord of body styles – attractive sedan and hatchback – from ultra fuel efficient to track ready. But after seven years, the Focus is showing its age with an outdated interior, cramped rear seat, and a lack of advanced safety features.

Best Value

Prices for the 2018 Focus range from $18,735 for a five-speed manually-equipped, 2.0-liter four-cylinder base S sedan to a lofty $42,890 for the RS hatchback with its 350-horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder, a six-speed manual, standard all-wheel drive, and optional sunroof. Between those two are four additional trim levels. The S model is only offered as a sedan, while SE, SEL, and Titanium trims are available in both sedan and hatchback bodies. The top two trims – ST and RS – are hatchback only.

All trims feature the usual power features plus automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, and a rear view camera. We prefer the look and versatility of the hatchback, but we'd skip the base SE with its rear drum brakes and head straight for the SEL, with upgrades that include a Sony audio system, automatic climate control, moonroof, larger 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED signature lighting, and a reverse sensing system.

Here, then, is how it would look:

  • Model: 2018 Ford Focus SEL
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 160 horsepower / 146 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed dual clutch automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 26 City / 38 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price:$22,450 (including an $875 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$22,450

Performance

Ford Focus

Like the Civic, Golf, and Mazda3, the Focus is fun to drive with precise, nicely weighted steering, and a composed, well-controlled ride. The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivers excellent fuel economy, while the diminutive 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and six-speed manual achieves a best-in-class EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon in the city, 40 on the highway, and 34 combined.

For a sportier driving experience, the Focus ST features 240 horsepower, sticky tires, and a slick, six-speed manual; while the 350-horsepower Focus RS is a true track day car with an adjustable sport suspension, stability control with programmed Track and Drift modes, Recaro front seats, stronger brakes, and a performance exhaust.

Drawbacks? The dual-clutch transmission in non-performance models feels jerky – especially at low speeds; S and SE models come with rear drum brakes and longer stopping distances.

Style

The Focus shows best as a hatchback, although the sedan is also smart looking. The attractive sheetmetal is wrapped around an interior with supportive seats and plenty of room up front, while the Sync 3 infotainment system is a big improvement over the original MyFord Touch setup. The enthusiast-oriented ST and RS models get their own sets of performance front seats that more closely match their handling capabilities.

On the flip side, the swoopy but outdated dashboard holds a confusing, counter-intuitive array of tiny buttons, the Sync 3 system is still a bit buggy, a low roofline and poor leg room mean accommodations in back are tight – even by compact class standards; while road and tire noise is apparent, especially over rough pavement.

The Best and Worst Things

The Focus's slick design, comfortable ride and fuel efficiency continue to make it competitive in its class, but an outdated interior and lack of advanced safety features keep it from scoring better.

Right For? Wrong For?

Ford Focus

The Focus's attractive design, well-controlled ride, and excellent fuel economy should prove to be attractive to eco friendly buyers.

A rear view camera is standard. If you want lane keep assist, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beams, you have to spring for the Titanium trim plus another $795. Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking aren't offered at all. Safety focused drivers need not apply.

The Bottom Line

Despite a smooth ride, excellent fuel economy, and a pair of road and track-worthy high performance models, an outdated interior, small back seat, and lack of advanced safety features only place the Focus mid-pack in the compact class.