One of the few reviews I was asked to do for CarsDirect was the 2014 Ford Focus. Fortunately for me, the Ford Focus is a fairly cool, modern, fun economy car which is right up my alley. Unlike the comparisons, where I had some words and observations to add, I’m fairly sure this is my actual take on the ’14 Ford Focus and the competitors I listed.
Like before, I’ll list my original text below:
Ford’s Focus has been an intriguing entry in the compact segment since its introduction in 2000, offering unique and fresh styling inside and out, and class-leading handling. In 2012 the newest iteration of Focus hit American shores, and still holds true to unique styling and top-shelf handling in 2014, while also offering the strongest standard engine in the class with still competitive economy and feature content. Little, if anything, has changed between the 2013 model year and the 2014. Trims still consist of base S, mid-level SE, and top-end Titanium.
While the aggressive styling of the Focus may not be as staid as some entries in the compact class, since the 2012 model year other contenders have come up with likewise flashy shapes to run against it. None have the barracuda-teeth grille, nor the Focus Hatch’s sharp cut forward from the tail-light to fender.
Inside the Focus is a cozy environ, with a fairly small passenger volume in the class, especially for the rear. Focus is also somewhat dark even with brighter surfaces and colors like the optional dark red or white leather, and the metallic trim. The dash is very angular, and the center stack remains a familiar “gremlin face” look as started in the 2009 Fiesta, the Foci’s subcompact brother. Materials are of good quality in higher trims.
With a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder across the range, the Focus is still one of the spryer of the compacts. The 160 horsepower shift through either a five-speed manual or a six-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). The DCT is optional for the S and SE trims, while the top-end Titanium is oppositely equipped where a five-speed manual is the option. A manual shifting toggle switch dubbed Select Shift for the DCT is available for some packages of SE, and standard on Titanium.
The EPA fuel economy for a five-speed manual sits at 26/36mpg city/highway, while DCT’s accomplish 27/37, and the slicked-out SFE package (based off the SE models) comes in at 28/40mpg with the dual-clutch only.
With 160hp standard, the Focus can proclaim the most horses from the base engine, though torque (148lbft), the Focus is quite the force to be reckoned with in a straight line. If the five-speed manual chases those wanting six gears for lower freeway cruising, there’s not much difference—a mere 200 RPM’s. Likewise, the SelectShift DCT isn’t a lightning-quick transmission like those found in higher performance vehicles, lending the manual a very substantial win in acceleration tests.
Handling is well compromised with daily usability thanks to good damping, though the Titanium Handling Package raises road noise and thuds with marginal benefits aside from braking.
Quick model variation overview:
For 2014 the Ford Focus has few changes since the 2013 model, which itself had few changes since the cars inception in 2012. Regardless of sticking to its guns, the Focus remains a strong contender in the compact segment as one of the strongest, best handling vehicles in its class while still maintaining a good hold of fuel economy. Such a feat courtesy of the 2.0L direct injected four cylinder, powered to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or employing a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) to take automatic duty.
Who should look at S? (Those who crave simplicity without too many compromises)
The base Focus S is a sedan only affair, and while no stripper econo car, it shows its humbleness (aside from flashy styling inside and out). Crank rear windows while the front are power, four speakers and a lack of Ford’s Sync system (optional), no cruise control, and color schemes come right out of 1920’s-film with a pallet of white, black, and some colors in between. While not bright in hue, the Focus S is no slouch. Lightest of the Foci, that makes for easier fuel economy and still-welcome performance . The thinner, less grippy 15-inch rolling stock will aid economy (and ride), but a good platform means handling won’t be spoiled for the practical enthusiast. The standard four speakers may not seem like much, but they do the job for this size of interior and have speed-sensitive volume. Also nice is a tilt/telescoping wheel standard.
Who should buy SE trim? (Anyone who likes options from super mileage to sport, the SE covers the widest range.)
Ford’s Focus SE offers the most flavors. Not only does it come in sedan and hatch, but it gives the package range for different lifestyles which is reflected in being the largest take rate in the range. For those wanting to push their fuel savings the SE sedan has the SFE Package to reach the claimed 40mpg, while the SE sedan and hatch up the fun factor with the Sport Package for those more driver Focus’d. Speaker count jumps to six, and adds Ford’s Sync voice activation. Luxury items found in the Titanium can also be had if desired. The SE used to offer the “Tangerine Scream” yellow paint, which has since been dropped to be exclusive to the fast Focus ST color choices.
Who should by Titanium? (The buyer who wants the best and most from the get-go.)
Top model Focus Titanium trim coddles in such features as dual-zone climate control and optional two-tone leathers, 10-speaker Sony with improved MyFord Touch Sync system. Bigger wheels (two styles of 17-inchers or optional 18’s) surrounding standard four-wheel disks also highlight the Titanium badge. Think of the Titanium as the easy way buying a fully-loaded SE, with a few additional perks (the optional 18” wheels are for the Titanium only, for example). In the shuffle of changes through the years, the Titanium was originally a DCT now offers a manual as a no-cost option, but the DCT is still standard fare.
Dart has the exact same power when equipped with the base 2.0L, and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox like the Focus. A six-speed manual can be had, too. Dart has more conservative styling and a larger back seat. Weight slows the Dart considerably and puts economy lower than most compacts.
The Cruze is a softer, less sporty compact with more hard plastic and a tidier exterior footprint. Power comes from two engines, both making the same horsepower, but the small turbo engine provides greater torque. A six-speed manual or automatic are available in most models, as is a 40mpg Eco model.
A perennial best seller, Civic received a mild refresh of a refresh on a car dating back to 2006. While still competitive for sales and dynamics, more is needed underneath if Honda expects to keep their reputation besides good economy, handling, and reliability. There is at least a hybrid advantage.
An old cousin of the Focus, the Mazda3 is biased for performance and style. The SkyActiv technology models rival the Focus for driving fun and economy, but the interior is far too drab considering the step the first models had over the old Mazda Protégé. Comes in sedan and hatchback.