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2014 Ford Focus Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 4 reviews
Currently the best-selling vehicle in the world, the Ford Focus compact car now rolls off assembly lines at 9 plants globally, attesting to its international popularity. The Focus continues to sell well in places like Russia, China and Brazil, and was named Car of the Year in New Zealand in 2012. To date, more than 10 million Focuses have sold worldwide, so Ford has a lot riding on the continued appeal of its most popular vehicle.
Now 2 years into its third-generation makeover, the 2014 Ford Focus continues to come in 4-door sedan and hatchback body styles at S, SE, ST and Titanium trim levels. The automaker also offers the Focus in an Electric trim. For 2014, Ford adds an available manual transmission for the Titanium trim and introduces a new Sport Appearance Package for the SE, which adds such exterior features as foglights with chrome surrounds, a rear spoiler for SE sedan trims and 17-inch aluminum wheels, as well as leather upholstery, a 6-way power adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and ambient lighting inside. Other than that, the Focus remains unchanged for 2014.
There are a number of reasons for the Focus's worldwide popularity, including its sporty exterior styling, good fuel economy and comfortable cabin, as well at its top safety rating. Reviewers and owners like the Focus's efficiency, smooth ride and good balance, and call it a fun car to drive. An add-on Super Fuel Economy Package boosts fuel economy numbers for the Focus SE to over 40 mpg, while an optional sport-tuned suspension takes the Focus ST up a notch in ride and handling for those who prefer to toss the vehicle around curves and cut up the straightaways. Taller passengers will find the backseat a little cramped, but overall the Focus offers a pleasant cabin, and hatchback trims increase the vehicle's versatility. Overall, the Focus seems to hit all the right notes for its many satisfied owners.
Outside, the Focus displays a sporty European-inspired design, with a rounded nose, deep-mouthed black grille and dragon-eye headlights up front. The steeply raked windshield, rising beltline along the sides and tapering roofline add to the Focus's streamlined and athletic appearance. Quad-beam halogen headlights and power side mirrors with integrated blind-spot mirrors are among the standard exterior features across the line. The sport-oriented ST trim adds a number of unique exterior features, including an ST-specific grille and front fascia, side moldings, a high rear spoiler and dual exhaust tips, as well as ST-unique 18-inch wheels and available HID headlights. The Focus Electric also receives a number of unique exterior features, including a Piano Black grille with chrome accents, auto on/off HID headlights with LED accents, LED taillights, a rear spoiler and 17-inch aluminum wheels, as well as an illuminated charger power on the front fender. The entry-level S trim rides on 15-inch steel wheels, while the SE upgrades to 16-inch aluminum wheels and the Titanium receives 17-inch sport aluminum wheels. Ford offers a number of available 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels at the SE, ST and Titanium trim levels.
Three different engines power the various Focus trims. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with high-pressure direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) continues to power all Focus trims except the ST and Electric. Driving the Focus through the front wheels, the engine generates 160 hp and 146 lb-ft, which makes it about average for the class. The Focus won't break any land speed records, but it accelerates smoothly and delivers peppy performance. A 5-speed manual transmission comes standard on the S and SE trims, although owners can opt for a 6-speed PowerShift automatic. The Titanium trim gets the PowerShift automatic with a SelectShift push-button manual-shift mode as standard equipment. Some testers find the 5-speed manual transmission a little sloppy in operation, so the automatic seems like a better bet for most buyers. Unfortunately, paddle shifters are not available on the Focus for fingertip manual shifting.
The base engine runs on both regular and E85 fuel and posts fuel economy numbers of 26 mpg city/36 highway with the manual transmission and 28/38 with the automatic without SelectShift. Trims equipped with the automatic transmission with SelectShift fall into the middle range, managing numbers of 27/37. An optional Super Fuel Economy Package, available only for the SE sedan trim, boosts fuel economy numbers to 28/40 mpg.
Owners seeking the ultimate in fuel economy can opt for the Focus Electric, which features an all-electric powertrain, a single-speed automatic transmission and a lithium-ion battery, which owners can charge in 3 to 4 hours using a wall-mounted, home-based 240-volt charge station. The all-electric drivetrain delivers a top speed of 84 mph and a cruising range of about 76 miles on a single charge. Fuel economy numbers check in at a miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) number of 110 MPGe, which compares to 99 MPGe for the Nissan Leaf and 94 MPGe for the Chevy Volt.
At the other end of the Focus spectrum, the performance-oriented ST continues to lead the pack, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter Ford EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, borrowed from the Ford Edge and Explorer. In addition to low-inertia turbocharging, the direct-injection engine features a unique calibration and specially designed intake and exhaust systems to produce a high level of power, as well as the throaty notes. The engine pumps out 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and links to a 6-speed manual transmission with sport-oriented gear ratios. Ford recommends premium fuel for the turbo engine, and fuel economy numbers check in at a relatively decent 23/32.
The Focus's ride and handling remain among its biggest assets. Good driving dynamics and a sporty feel make the Focus a fun ride, thanks to its independent MacPherson strut-type front suspension and a fully independent control-blade rear suspension design. In addition, a standard torque vectoring control system behaves much like a limited-slip differential, adjusting torque between the Focus's front wheels to improve agility and reduce understeer in tight corners. Testers would like to see a little more feedback from the electric power-assisted steering system, but overall steering remains precise during aggressive driving maneuvers. The ST rides on a lowered chassis with a sport-oriented suspension and high-performance brakes. An optional Titanium Handling Package for the Titanium trim also adds a unique sport-tuned suspension, as well as 18-inch wheels and summer tires.
The comfortable cabin seats 5 passengers and has been called the best in its segment, thanks to its high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and overall clean design, although some reviewers say the dash and center console still have too many buttons and knobs, which can cause confusion. A sweeping wraparound layout puts the driver at the center of the action, with comfortable seats and good visibility out the front and rear of the sedan, though the hatchback's design inhibits some rearward visibility.
Standard features are typical of the class, and include cloth upholstery, manual adjustment for the front seats, remote keyless entry, air conditioning and a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD player, speed-sensitive volume and an input jack. The SE adds Ford's Sync system, cruise control and an upgraded 6-speaker audio system, while the Titanium gets leather-trimmed front bucket seats, a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and a 10-speaker Sony audio system. The ST gets ST cloth sport upholstery, aluminum pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Ford's MyKey system and the 10-speaker Sony audio system, while the Electric includes a number of eco-friendly features, including heated front seats made of bio-based foam upholstered with Repreve fiber, a recycled material, as well as the SYNC system and a 9-speaker Sony audio system.
Although the 2014 Focus has not yet been safety-rated by the IIHS, it was named a Top Safety Pick in 2012 and 2013, so that should continue forward. The AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system with antilock brakes comes standard on every Focus, along with antilock brakes and 7 airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. This last airbag addition in 2013 boosted the Focus's safety rating from the NHTSA to 5 out of 5 stars.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.