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2017 Ford Focus

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 7/14/2017 JOSEPH CAPPARELLA

2017 Ford Focus hatchback
Overview: A 10Best Cars winner in 2012 and 2013, Ford’s third-generation Focus is now merely a competent small car that is starting to show its age among a set of fresher rivals. The current Focus sedan and hatchback have been around since the 2012 model year without major changes, leaving it behind many competitors in terms of available technology. Although the broader lineup includes an electric version, the Focus Electric, and two hot-hatch variants, the ST and the RS, we’re covering only the standard Focus sedan and hatch here.

The Focus offers a choice of two engines: a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four and a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder that’s designed for better fuel economy. The 1.0-liter is now offered only in the sedan, and it sacrifices some oomph to earn EPA highway ratings of up to 40 mpg. Trim levels start with the bare-bones S sedan, while the SE, SEL, and Titanium offer more equipment commensurate with increased price tags. The hatchback body style costs about $500 more than the sedan, a modest premium given its extra measure of practicality.

What’s New: Ford has simplified the Focus lineup, eliminating certain configurations, including our favorite, the hatchback with the 2.0-liter engine and a manual transmission. In fact, save for the enthusiast-oriented ST and RS models, the Focus hatchback is now automatic-only, and it’s no longer offered with the more efficient turbo 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. The SEL trim level is a new addition for the hatch, slotting in between the SE and Titanium models.

2017 Ford Focus hatchback© Alex Conley 2017 Ford Focus hatchback

What We Like: The Focus remains one of the more fun-to-drive cars in its segment, with quick steering and a responsive, well-balanced chassis. It’s refined, too, with a composed ride and a relatively isolated interior that make it feel more expensive than it is. 

We think the clean exterior styling has aged well against extroverted new competition such as the latest Honda Civic. The available Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system is refreshingly easy to use, with well-organized menus and large onscreen buttons. Sync 3, which is standard on SEL and Titanium trim levels, also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

What We Don’t Like: Neither of the Focus’s powertrains are particularly inspiring. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is not as punchy as the turbo fours available in many competitors, while the tiny turbo 1.0-liter three-cylinder is overmatched by the Focus’s size, requiring more than 9.0 seconds to get the car to 60 mph when equipped with the manual transmission and more than 10.0 seconds when paired with the optional automatic. We’re also not sold on the six-speed dual-clutch automatic that pairs with the 2.0-liter engine on most models. Although Ford has smoothed its operation over the years, it shifts slowly, eliminating any discernible advantage over a conventional automatic transmission while still displaying the sometimes clunky low-speed behavior common among dual-clutch gearboxes.

The Focus resides on the smaller end of its segment, and its interior feels cramped. The rear seat is tight for adults, and, even in the hatchback, cargo space is less than generous. Few active-safety features are available, and the ones that are—namely blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning—come only as part of a $795 option package on the top Titanium trim level, meaning you’ll pay more than $25,000 for a Focus so equipped.

Verdict: As it ages, the Focus slides farther down the compact-car totem pole.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPES: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan or hatchback

BASE PRICES: S sedan, $17,650; 

SE sedan, $19,050;

SE hatch, $20,640;

SEL sedan, $21,650;

SEL hatch, $22,150;

Titanium sedan; $24,450;

Titanium hatch, $24,950

ENGINE TYPES: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve 1.0-liter inline-3, 123 hp, 125 lb-ft; DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 160 hp, 146 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 104.3 in

Length: 171.7–178.7 in

Width: 71.8 in Height: 57.8 in

Passenger volume: 91 cu ft

Cargo volume: 13–23 cu ft

Curb weight: 2950–3100 lb

FUEL ECONOMY:

EPA combined/city/highway: 28–34/25–30/34–40 mpg

C/D TEST RESULTS FOR:

2016 Ford Focus 2.0L Automatic Hatchback

Zero to 60 mph: 8.5 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 23.8 sec

Zero to 110 mph: 30.7 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.1 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.0 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.8 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 16.5 sec @ 86 mph

Top speed (drag limited): 121 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.83 g

Curb weight: 3068 lb

C/D observed fuel economy: 27 mpg

*stability-control-inhibited

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