A High-Five for This Solid Compact
Based on our recent Ford Focus coverage, you’d think the 2.0-liter turbo ST was the only variant available. But there’s also a base model with a non-turbo 2.0-liter engine. That model is largely responsible for pushing the compact’s total sales to 234,570 cars in 2013. That’s a lot of Foci, but only enough to land it in fifth place in the segment behind the Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla, and the top-selling Honda Civic. After spending time with a 2014 Ford Focus Titanium sedan, is its rank in the sales column justified? Let’s see.
The base engine is no scorcher, but the average commuter should find it more than adequate. This sedan was equipped with the six-speed dual-clutch auto, and aside from the occasional rough downshifts at low speeds, the powertrain was smooth and relatively quiet. Rated at 160 hp and 146 lb-ft, the direct-injected I-4 propelled the 3059-pound sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. It needed 16.3 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 85.7 mph. It’s quicker than the CVT-equipped 2014 Corolla S (9.7 seconds to 60 mph and 17.4 seconds for the quarter mile) and 2014 Civic EX-L (8.8 and 16.8 seconds, respectively) we recently tested, though those two compacts make do with smaller, 1.8-liter mills that make less power.
By the way, the Focus is available with a five-speed manual transmission. A Focus SE hatchback with the manual gearbox just happened to be in the office around the same time as the Titanium sedan. Folks willing to row their own gears are rewarded with a Focus that takes on a peppier alter ego. Thanks to the manual’s shorter first and second gears, the manual Focus felt quicker off the line, and rowing through the gears was smooth and satisfying. And despite one fewer cog, the manual returns just 1 fewer mpg in the city and highway compared to the automatic, which is EPA rated at 27/37 mpg city/highway. The Civic and Corolla are thriftier with fuel, while the new Mazda3 — with the 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine — returns an EPA-rated 40 mpg on the highway. The Focus also is capable of reaching 40 mpg when equipped with the Super Fuel Economy package offered only on the SE model with the six-speed auto.
While the Mazda is the most athletic handler in the segment, the Focus is also light on its feet. The Focus feels right at home on curvy back roads, where its chassis feels planted and solid, even through mid-corner bumps. With a figure-eight time of 26.7 seconds, the Focus is quicker than the Mazda3 (including the stronger 184-hp 2.5-liter) and is well ahead of both the Corolla and Civic. Credit our tester’s nimble nature, its optional 18-inch rims and summer tires, and its 104.3-inch wheelbase, which is shorter than most in the segment.
That relatively short wheelbase, however, does sacrifice some interior space. Trunk volume (13.2 cubic feet) is in line with the competition, as is front legroom. All five passengers are provided adequate headroom, but folks sitting in the back are only given 33.2 inches of legroom, about 3 inches less than the Civic and more than 8 inches less than the Corolla.
With a total MSRP of $25,700, our range-topping Titanium sedan was loaded with almost everything offered for the Focus. Notable items include leather seats, dual climate system, ambient lighting, Intelligent Access (just grab the exterior door handle to unlock the doors), push-button start, and a navigation system with the MyFord Touch infotainment system.
That said, a face-lift is just around the corner. Among the changes will be an improved center stack with revised infotainment and climate control buttons. Ford is also tweaking the steering wheel controls and making available more advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and a lane-departure warning system. Ford is also making a few exterior updates, with a new front fascia and hexagonal grille that will match the rest of the lineup. Perhaps most significant will be the availability of Ford’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which should return impressive fuel economy. While the Focus may have landed in fifth place in the U.S. sales race for 2013, Ford says it was the bestselling nameplate in the world. Let’s see if the upcoming update will help maintain or improve its position in the C-segment.
2014 Ford Focus Titanium
- BASE PRICE $24,310
- PRICE AS TESTED $25,700
- VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
- ENGINE 2.0L/160-hp/146-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
- TRANSMISSION 6-speed twin-clutch auto
- CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3059 lb (58/42%)
- WHEELBASE 104.3 in
- LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 178.5 x 71.8 x 57.7 in
- 0-60 MPH 8.3 sec
- QUARTER MILE 16.3 sec @ 85.7 mph
- BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 106 ft
- LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.90 g (avg)
- MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
- EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/37 mpg
- ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 125/91 kW-hrs/100 miles
- CO2 EMISSIONS 0.63 lb/mile