The Ford Escort is getting long in the tooth, having last been redesigned for the 2012 model year, but it still offers a good combination of ride and handling attributes. The Focus comes in sedan and hatchback versions, with front-wheel drive standard and a choice of powertrains.
Little has changed for the 2016 model year, except for the emergence of a greatly improved Sync 3 infotainment system. Installed in much of the 2016 lineup, Sync 3 replaces the much-criticized, non-intuitive MyFord Touch interface. Sync 3 has a capacitive screen, streamlined menus, smart-charger USB ports, and AppLink capability.
Conveying a sportier aura than many compact sedans and some hatchbacks, the Focus comes in a broad range: from budget-priced Focus S to luxurious Focus Titanium trim and high-performance Focus ST.
Offered only with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the Ford Focus ST can reach 60 mph in a frisky 6.3 seconds.
Reaching further yet, a super-performance Focus RS with all-wheel drive joins the lineup late in the model year as a 2016 model.
Most models hold a peppy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower, teamed with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission. Buyers can choose instead a 1.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder engine, now available with a 6-speed automatic transmission as well as manual shift.
Also available, on a limited basis, is the Focus Electric, which is EPA-rated at 105 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).
Outward visibility is quite good compared to other compact cars, although rearward vision can be an issue. However, a rearview camera comes standard. You can even get Active Park Assist, which actually steers the car into a parking space.
Ford offers a selection of safety features, including a Blind Spot Information System as well as Lane Keeping Assist. Unfortunately, you need to step up to a higher trim level to obtain such features, and some of the latest forward-collision and automatic-braking technologies aren’t available at all.
Built on a global structure engineered to meet international crash-test standards, Focus has earned top Good ratings in all categories, for tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Sole exception was an Acceptable score in the more rigorous small-overlap frontal test. Testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a five-star overall rating, with five-star scores for frontal and side crashes. A rearview camera and driver’s knee airbag are standard.