The Ford Focus isn't as much of a standout as it was a few years ago, but it remains a smart choice for a small sedan or hatchback.
For 2016, the Ford Focus returns with a new Sync 3 technology interface, a six-speed automatic transmission for the available 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and minor adjustments to available options packages.Read more
Balanced ride and handling; quiet interior; attractive interior; abundant list of upscale and high-tech options.
You've likely been told how important it is in life to "think big." Well, we're here to suggest that you flip that familiar platitude on its head and instead try "thinking small." Specifically, we're thinking about the 2016 Ford Focus, a car that delivers a sophisticated day-to-day driving experience that's a big deal among compact cars.
The 2016 Ford Focus' sporty good looks can be enhanced with the available Sport package offered on SE models.
When it comes to that elusive fun-to-drive factor, for example, you'll find the Focus to be one of the more engaging cars in its class, with nimble handling that doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. The Focus additionally boasts a sharp-looking interior that can be loaded up with the latest technology. This is especially true for 2016, as Ford has fitted the all-new Sync 3 touchscreen interface, which promises quicker responses and easier operation than the discontinued MyFord Touch system.
Under the hood, you'll find a full roster of engines. The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a solid effort, but there's also a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder that returns impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy and is newly available with an automatic transmission for 2016, which should greatly expand its appeal. If you prefer to plug in, the Focus Electric can go roughly 75 miles between charges, a bit less than some rivals but still a useful range for many commuters.
There are a lot of great choices for a small sedan or hatchback this year, though. Top alternatives start with the 2016 Mazda 3, which also offers sedan and hatchback body styles and a nice balance of sporty handling and good fuel economy. The redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Cruze and 2016 Honda Civic should be attractive picks, while the value-packed 2016 Kia Forte is another favorite of ours. There's also the refined and roomy 2016 Volkswagen Golf hatchback, which offers both diesel and electric variants. Among this group, the Focus isn't quite the standout it was a few years ago, but it remains one of the better examples of why it makes sense to think small.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Ford Focus is a compact car that's available in a choice of sedan and four-door hatchback body styles. There are three main trim levels available -- S, SE and Titanium -- as well as the Focus Electric. The high-performance Focus ST and Focus RS are reviewed separately.
A choice of sedan and practical four-door hatchback body styles means there's a 2016 Ford Focus for a wide variety of potential buyers.
The S model, which is only offered as a sedan, comes with 15-inch steel wheels, integrated blind-spot mirrors, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, a 4.2-inch central display, power front windows (manual rear windows), power locks and mirrors, Ford's MyKey (limits speed, audio volume, etc. for young drivers), Sync voice controls, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
Move up to the SE trim level (which for the hatchback is the base model) and you get 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, body-color exterior mirrors and door handles, cruise control, power rear windows, a trip computer, a front center armrest, additional front headrest adjustments, rear air vents, a six-speaker sound system and steering-wheel-mounted auxiliary controls. Hatchback models also get a rear spoiler and a removable package tray.
A number of option packages are available for SE models. The SE Luxury package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, foglights, LED running lights, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a rear center armrest, multicolor ambient interior lighting and satellite radio. The SE EcoBoost Appearance package features the three-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission (the manual is unavailable with this package), 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, foglights, LED running lights and black exterior trim.
The SE Cold Weather package bundles heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The SE Sport package includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear discs, a sport body kit, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters (automatic models only). The Navigation package adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Sony audio system with satellite radio, a navigation system and the Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, enhanced voice controls and dual USB ports.
Other SE options include a sunroof, a keyless-entry keypad and remote start.
Spring for the top-of-the-line Titanium model and you get the contents of the SE Luxury package and Navigation package (except the actual navigation system) plus remote start, a rear spoiler, hill-start assist, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, keyless entry and ignition, the keyless-entry keypad, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats.
The Titanium Technology package includes automatic high-beam headlight control, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure alert. A self-parking system is also available. Rounding out the Titanium's options are 18-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare and the heated steering wheel, navigation system and sunroof.
Offered only as a hatchback, the Focus Electric is equipped similarly to the Titanium, although leather upholstery and the power driver seat are optional. The Electric gets exclusive xenon headlights and LED taillights as standard.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2016 Ford Focus starts with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The S and SE models get a five-speed manual transmission standard, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional (technically, it's a dual-clutch automated manual that Ford calls "Powershift"). The automatic comes standard on the Titanium, though the manual transmission is still available as a no-cost option.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Focus SE with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, which is a bit slower than average for this segment. With the manual, that number improves to 8.3 seconds.
This powertrain returns excellent EPA fuel economy estimates of 31 mpg combined (27 city/40 highway) with the automatic transmission. This number drops to 30 mpg combined (26/36) with the manual. On the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route with an automatic-equipped SE, we observed 33 mpg.
The optional turbocharged EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine produces 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; a six-speed automatic is included with the SE EcoBoost Appearance package. Fuel economy estimates for this engine with the manual transmission come in at 35 mpg combined (30/42), while the automatic falls to 32 mpg combined (28/40). On the Edmunds evaluation route, a manual-equipped 1.0-liter Focus returned a disappointing 29.1 mpg.
In performance testing, the same car accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a slow 9.7 seconds.
The Ford Focus Electric has a 107-kilowatt (143 hp) electric drive motor that draws power from a 23kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power is sent to the front wheels through a single-speed direct-drive transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the Focus Electric went from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, which is about the same as the Nissan Leaf.
The EPA gives the Focus Electric a competitive energy consumption estimate of 32 kWh per 100 miles and projects a driving range of 76 miles. With a 240-volt home charger, Ford says the Focus Electric can be recharged in four hours.
The 2016 Ford Focus comes standard with antilock brakes (rear drum brakes are standard on the S and SE; four-wheel discs are optional for the SE and standard for Titanium and Electric), stability and traction control, a driver knee airbag, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. A rearview camera and Ford's MyKey system (which can be used to set electronic parameters for inexperienced drivers) are also standard.
The Titanium trim level can be equipped with a Technology package that includes a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and a lane-departure warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Focus SE (with the rear disc brakes) came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, an average performance for this class. A Focus SE with rear drum brakes stopped in 131 feet, which is worse than average. The Electric took 126 feet.
In government crash tests, the Focus earned an overall rating of five stars (out of a possible five), with five stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Focus a top score of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The Focus' seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts, and it received the second highest score of "Acceptable" in the Institute's small-overlap frontal-offset test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2016 Focus has an unexpectedly upscale cabin for a so-called economy car. The dashboard design is aesthetically pleasing, and the materials have a quality look and feel. Controls are generally straightforward and easy to use, including the newly available Sync 3 touchscreen interface. Replacing the much-maligned MyFord Touch system for 2016, Sync 3 features a revamped menu system and recognizes smartphone-like gestures like swipe and pinch-to-zoom.
The 2016 Focus has a handsome, high-quality interior that can be fitted with impressive technology features.
Up front, the seats offer good support and comfort even on long drives. In back, though, the limited legroom doesn't measure up to many competing models. When it comes to cargo space, the sedan's trunk can hold 13.2 cubic feet, and the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are great for squeezing in longer items. The hatchback model, meanwhile, offers a generous 23.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expanding to 44.8 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. Because of its oversize battery pack, the Focus Electric hatchback offers a more modest 14.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 33.9 cubic feet total.
The 2016 Ford Focus' standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine may not do much to quicken the pulse, but it gets the job done for typical day-to-day errand-running and returns strong fuel economy to boot. Unfortunately, its six-speed automated manual transmission isn't always as smooth as a conventional automatic at low speeds. If you don't mind shifting yourself, the base five-speed manual transmission works well enough and gives the car a sportier feel. We're less fond of the optional turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. It works fine in the smaller Ford Fiesta, but here it's a bit outmatched, and acceleration suffers.
No matter the model, we like how the 2016 Ford Focus handles. Around turns, the car can lean a lot, but it's always stable and secure. Better still, this capable handling doesn't compromise the car's ride quality. The Focus is unruffled and remarkably quiet in everyday use.
As for the Focus Electric, its battery-powered motor delivers immediate acceleration from a standing start, but that snappy sensation diminishes at higher speeds. Handling isn't quite as sharp either, but it's still one of the better-driving EVs in this price range.