2018 Ford Focus Review

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2018 Ford Focus Overview

Currently available in two body styles and a variety of trim levels, with a choice of engines and transmissions, the highly versatile and configurable Ford Focus compact car coasts into 2018 with no new changes or updates.

Deep into its third generation, the Focus received a number of updates along the way, most recently in 2016. Since then, it has tread water as it awaits a next-generation update in 2019. Early word says the new Focus will be larger and produced in China, rather than in Michigan or Mexico like the current version. Until it arrives, the award-winning Focus continues to deliver good performance and handling at an affordable price, though the cabin can be tight, especially for adults in the second row, and newer driver-assistance safety features are still sparse.

Overall, the Focus has aged well. Its European-inspired grille and styling look surprisingly fresh. The Focus can still turns heads as it zips along the road, thanks in part to its low stance, sculpted front end, swept-back headlights, and sloping roofline, giving it a sporty appearance, whether it takes the form of a sedan or hatchback. Ford offers the base S trim only as a sedan, but the other trims, including the SE, SEL, and Titanium, are available in both body styles. All trims get a black grille with chrome accents, automatic on/off quad-beam halogen headlights, and black rocker moldings. The SEL adds foglights and LED signature lighting with daytime-running lights, while the Titanium also gets heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and a rear spoiler. The S trim rides on 15-inch steel wheels, with the SE getting 16-inch aluminum wheels and the SEL and Titanium trims upgrading to 17-inch aluminum wheels.

A reliable 2.0-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine powers all Focus trims except the SE sedan. Introduced with the third generation, the base engine continues to produce 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It delivers adequate performance, though it doesn't match the potentcy found in some competitors, like the Mazda Mazda3 and the Honda Civic.

The engine mates to a 5-speed manual on the S trim in its standard configuration, though buyers can opt for a 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. The 6-speed PowerShift automatic comes standard on the SE hatchback, while the SEL and Titanium trims upgrade to a 6-speed PowerShift automatic with SelectShift, which enables manual shifting. Fuel economy numbers check in at 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined with the manual transmission, 26, 38, 31 with the PowerShift automatic, and 24, 34, 28 with the PowerShift automatic with SelectShift.

The SE sedan breaks the mold with its turbocharged 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine, which it shares with the Ford Fiesta. Designed for efficiency, the EcoBoost engine puts out 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, and includes auto start/stop technology to help conserve fuel.

In its standard configuration, the engine mates to the 6-speed manual, though buyers can opt for either of the automatic transmissions, as well as the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. With the EcoBoost engine and manual transmission, fuel economy numbers rise to a respectable 30, 40, and 34, which drop slightly to 27, 38, and 31 with the PowerShift automatic.

The Focus continues to excel in its ride and handling, thanks to its European-tuned chassis and suspension. Reviewers call it a fun vehicle to drive, with agile maneuvering and good stability in tight corners. MacPherson struts in the front and a Control Blade independent suspension in the rear ensure a smooth, comfortable ride, even over rough surfaces, while the electric power- assisted steering delivers a precise feel with plenty of feedback. All trims ride on a front-wheel-drive platform and come standard with hill start assist and torque vectoring control, which automatically applies the brake on the inside front wheel during tight turns to ensure stability.

The Focus accommodates five passengers inside its cabin, which offers roomy, comfortable seats in the front. The second row can be tight for three adults, however, with limited legroom. Cargo space in the Focus sedans remains tight, at just 14.2 cubic feet, while the hatchbacks provide 23.3 cubic feet of space in the rear. That's more than the Mazda3's rear cargo space, which measures 12.4 cubic feet, but not as much as the Honda Civic hatchback, which offers an expansive 25.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row. With the 60/40-split rear seatback folded down, cargo space in the Focus hatchback tops out at 43.9 cubic feet. The S, SE, and SEL get cloth upholstery with manually adjustable front seats and optional heated seats, while the Titanium upgrades to leather upholstery and heated front bucket seats with an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

All Focus trims come standard with a reversing camera, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescopic steering column, and Ford's Sync infotainment system with voice recognition, which includes a 4.2-inch touchscreen and a 4-speaker audio system in the S and SE trims. The SE also gets cruise control, illuminated entry, map lights, and satellite radio. The SEL upgrades to an enhanced SYNC 3 system with an 8-inch screen, HD radio, and a 10-speaker Sony audio system, as well as dual-zone climate control and a power moonroof. At the top of the line, the Titanium comes well-equipped with such additional features as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, and push-button start. Navigation remains an option on the SEL and Titanium trims.

Ford offers driver-assistance features, such as lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring, as options on the Titanium trim only. Parking assist is offered as an option. The Focus continues to receive a top 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In addition to the four sedan and hatchback trim levels, Ford offers the Focus in several additional trims, including two "hot hatches," the sport-oriented Focus ST and the performance-oriented Focus RS, as well as the Focus Electric. The Focus ST comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, which pumps horsepower up to 252 and torque to 270 lb-ft. The turbo 4 mates to the 6-speed manual and posts fuel economy numbers of 22, 30, 25. The ST also receives an upgraded sport suspension as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, HID headlights, a unique grille and foglights, and exclusive exterior rocker panels, body cladding, and badging. Both the Focus RS and the Focus Electric are covered in separate reviews.

The Focus continues to run in a highly competitive class of compact sedans and hatchbacks, which includes vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze, the Hyundai Elantra, the Kia Forte, and the Toyota Prius, in addition to the Civic and Mazda3. For the most part, the Focus measures up well to all of them, but its lack of a recent redesign threatens to put it a step or two behind. That problem should be resolved when the next-generation Focus appears.

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