2016 Ford Focus
The 2016 Ford Focus is a smart blend of sportiness and economy.
The 2016 Ford Focus delivers a good one-two punch, providing practicality and sportiness.
The popular Focus offers a variety of front-drive models and one new all-wheel-drive (AWD) super-performance model.
Models range from an economy version with a turbocharged a 1-liter, 123-horsepower three-cylinder engine, an electric model and a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder high-performance version with 252 horsepower. New is a super-hot 350-horsepower 2017 RS all-wheel-drive model.
Transmissions are a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.
The Focus has no-nonsense styling. It got mid-cycle styling updates in 2015 to conform with the general "Ford family" look of the automaker's Fusion and Fiesta.
Front-drive Focus list prices range from $17,225 to $29,170. The European-style car comes as a sedan and hatchback.
The new 350-horsepower RS finally makes its way from Europe to America, much to the delight of hard-core car buffs.The RS has a stiff suspension, big wing, wide-open grille, 19-inch wheels, six-speed manual transmission and leather Recaro sport seats. The estimated list price is $36,305.
Much less costly is the $24,425 Focus ST. Its turbocharged four-cylinder kicks out 252 horsepower, which is more than enough to provide stirring acceleration. It also has Recaro seats, which some might find confining, and comes only with a low-effort six-speed manual.
The front-drive ST also has special go-fast equipment. However, without a four-wheel-drive system, winter tires are needed for good grip in the snowbelt.
I tested the $23,725 Focus Titanium hatchback with a responsive six-speed automatic and a 160-horsepower four-cylinder. It provided lively acceleration in town and on highways, while delivering an estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on highways. This is the most popular mass-market Focus.
The Titanium's fairly large amount of standard equipment accounts for it barely jumping the 3,000-pound weight mark. Standard items include dual-zone air conditioning, rearview camera, heated front seats, power driver's seat, keyless entry, tilt/telescopic wheel, 10-speaker Sony sound system and reverse-sensing rearview camera.
My test Focus had a bottom-line price of $26,775 because its options included a $625 wheel package with high-performance, all-season 40-series tires on 18-inch wheels and a $795 Technology package containing cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping alert. It also had a $795 voice-activated navigation system and $395 active park assist.
Safety equipment included a variety of air bags and electronic stability control.
My Focus test car was fun to drive, with good balance, accurate steering and secure handling, which was helped a bit by the optional wider tires and wheels located at the far corners of the body. The supple suspension shrugged off most road imperfections and the brakes had a strong grip.
The front seats offered excellent support, although drivers with long legs may want the power front seat to move back more. The rear seat comfortably accommodates two tall adults, although its center area is too stiff for anything but short trips. It's best to use that area for the wide fold-down armrest that contains dual cupholders.
Rear door openings are rather narrow, and the hatch is heavy. It calls for a long reach to pull down after loading is done. At least the hatch has two wide pull-down areas, and the cargo area has a low, wide opening.
Split rear seatbacks fold forward but don't sit flat for a completely even cargo floor. Cargo room is decent with the rear seatbacks in their normal position.
The quiet, rather European-style interior has gauges that can be quickly read. A small digital speedometer located in the regular speedometer gauge helps show perfectly accurate speed. It's no hassle to work the instruments or dashboard screen.
The interior has a good amount of plastic, but it doesn't look cheap, and there are a fair number of storage areas. The center console has conveniently placed cupholders.
The heavy hood is held open with a prop rod, which has a cheap-looking holder. That holder is surprising, considering that Ford didn't skimp on quality. Most fluid filler areas can be easily reached.
The Focus model range offers enough versatility and driving fun to appeal to a single person or family who want practicality and sportiness and to car buffs who crave driving enjoyment but need more room than a compact two-door coupe or sports car provides.