Focusing in on…the Ford Focus

Would I drive a Ford Focus? No.

Okay. But would I drive a Ford Focus if presented with the choice of a Ford Focus or any of its in-class competition? Also no.

Then again, compact cars just aren’t my thing. This is especially true when speaking about a compact car which might be described as “fun” or “sporty.” Granted, Ford isn’t exactly losing sleep over the absence of my support (after all, I’m probably nowhere near the target demographic for the Focus), but I doubt there’s much for me to be excited about.

That said, these types of assignments can be among the most interesting, because they require me to strip myself of any bias and explore a vehicle based on its own merit. Before I do so, I like to exorcise my own opinions through a quick venting session, so please excuse me for a moment…

(Releases obnoxious 14-second groan, distracting co-workers who – based solely on the duration and tone of my groan – probably realize that I’m writing about a Ford Focus).

There. That’s better…so let’s get a closer look at the fun and sporty Ford Focus (words which, I really can’t believe that I just typed). Man, this is going to be harder than I thought….

 

The Basics

Starting at $16,775 MSRP, the Ford Focus is available in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The trim levels include the (base) S, SE, SEL, and Titanium. However, there are high-performance options available in the ST and RS models, as well as an all-electric model. If you’re interested in the Focus, those models may be well worth considering, since they bring more to the party than the four primary trims do.

 

Exterior Design

I’m just going to say it: the Ford Focus is the “Butter-Face” of compact cars. I say this because it feels like there’s a complete disconnect between the front-end design, and the rest of the vehicle. While distinctly “Ford,” the front-end of the Focus has been designed with a sense of aggressive athleticism. From the extended, downward sloping headlights to the contoured hood, it offers a surprisingly assertive appearance which is, dare I say? …appealing.

Then you walk around the Focus and it all goes away. The profile of the Focus is neither aggressive, sporty or appealing. In fact, there’s an overall absence of dynamic design that detracts from the front-end appeal. Based on exterior design alone, it’s the equivalent of slapping lipstick on a pig. In all fairness though, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

 

Performance

Standard equipment includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 160 horsepower and 146 lbs-ft of torque. With an estimated fuel economy of 31 mpg combined, the Focus is perfectly suitable for the rigors of daily drivinnnzzzzzzzzzz. (Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just doze off…?)

Jokes aside, the Ford Focus will never be mistaken for a powerhouse. On the upside, the 9.7 seconds that it takes to get from zero to 60 mph makes every highway on-ramp ideal for a quick power nap. (This applies doubly-so, if you happen to be listening to Adele; which you may very well be, if you’re considering a Ford Focus).

But you didn’t come here for my snark (…or did you?). The truth is, once you get its somewhat lacking appearance and performance out of the way, the Focus actually has some pretty cool features.

 

Interior Design

Okay, I’ll say it. Open the door and the Ford Focus is actually pretty sharp, especially at the higher trim levels. While there is nothing revolutionary about the overall aesthetic, it comes across as intuitively-designed with some strong material choices. The cabin and seat-design create a very welcoming environment, centered around the front-seating. The gauge-cluster and various control placements are practical, and deserving of a solid thumbs up.

And I’m 100% sincere when I say that the interior of the ST and RS variants are worthy of anyone’s attention. From heated, full-leather RECARO seats to the carbon-fiber accents, the design of the ST is a sight to behold. That said, it does feel somewhat disjointed from the rest of the vehicle, as a result of being conceived so successfully. To make the interior worthwhile, you must love the rest of the car, as well.

 

Available Technology

That said, the interior is not the only positive mark earned by the Ford Focus. The range of tech amenities available across the various trim levels are surprisingly plentiful. The (base) S model comes with everything you’d expect: a 4.2-inch central display, four-speaker sound system with CD and USB ports, rearview camera, and even Ford’s MyKey interface, which allows parental controls to be set for young drivers.

As you explore the trims, the SE upgrades to a six-speaker system and built-in trip computer. The SEL takes it a step further with a 10-speaker system, 8-inch touchscreen, enhanced voice controls , Sync 3 infotainment, multi-zone climate control, and an optional sunroof. Go for the Titanium and a remote starter is a welcome inclusion among the rich standard features.

Ascend to the ST and RS, and you can expect most (if not all) of these features.

 

Closing Thoughts

In all fairness, there is a very clear market for the Ford Focus. Priced right, it is well-suited to those drivers who are less-burdened by the demands of passengers or cargo. The design might be a little “vanilla” for my liking, but that’s a subjective statement. The Focus’ size and maneuverability make it ideal for urban landscapes and for use by commuters. The interior is both nicely-designed and fabricated, and the deceptive amount of available technologies make it worthy of a peek inside.

Overall, it may not be my dream vehicle, but I can now see the appeal. If you have any inclination to consider the Ford Focus, take the time to explore all of the available features and trim levels. My hunch is that you’ll find plenty of things deserving of your attention.