Quick Take: 2016 Ford Focus (Review)

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The updated 2016 Ford Focus soldiers on with good looks, great handling and solid tech.

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

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Pricing: 2016 Ford Focus

Base price (Titanium trim): $26,499

Options: $550 white platinum tri-coat paint; $500 18-inch wheel package; $750 technology package; $300 winter package; $100 block heater; $1200 power moonroof; $800 navigation; $400 active park assist; $300 exterior protection package

Freight: $1,600

A/C tax: $100

Price as tested: $33,099

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Exterior

The last time Ford updated their Focus, the all-new look was startlingly good. Now that it’s been around for a few years, and we’re used to seeing a lot of them on the road, they blend in a little more. But the Focus is still a good-looking ride. Ford has refreshed the model. It retains its confident stance, and gets some slight tweaks in front – a new grille and headlight pods. Otherwise, you’d be hard-pressed to spot visual differences – and that’s just fine.

I reviewed the sedan this time, and while I’m not usually a fan of small sedan styling, the Focus sedan looks fantastic. I think Ford has done a good job of making it look sporty, classy and refined all at once. My Titanium trim’s 18-inch rims complete a very handsome package.

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Interior/Tech/Convenience

The Focus’ interior sticks with the highly-sculpted styling, and keeps its mostly soft-touch plastic materials. It works pretty well overall but I found it quite dark. It’s mostly black, with the exception of the pillars and headliner which are clad in some lighter material.

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The Titanium trim throws some nice touches your way, such as the heated steering wheel (which is wrapped in leather) and heated, leather-trimmed seats (which I found very comfortable – even after a lengthy highway run).

Front and centre is Ford’s SYNC 3 touchscreen system. It works nicely, and I quite like the layout and interface. The voice recognition is perhaps the fastest I’ve used to date – very impressive. The Sony sound system is fantastic, and there’s a dual-zone automatic climate control system. There’s a sunroof overhead and I appreciated the remote start. The Titanium trim brings quite a bit of driver assistance technology to the table – you get a rear-view camera with parking sensors front and back, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert as well as lane keeping alert and assist.

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Rear Seats

Small sedans don’t have a ton of room, and the Focus is no exception. You’ll find three seats in the back, two being useful for adults. I had only adequate head and leg room for me (I’m 5’10”), and there are no conveniences like air vents or charging ports for rear passengers. If you’re transporting kids, there are two sets of LATCH connectors for child seats.

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Storage

There are a couple of places to put your stuff. Something new is the sideways slot on the console that fits (perfectly) an iPhone 6 – yay for me! – and has a USB plug. The trunk isn’t very spacious but is still reasonably sized at 373.8 litres, and of course the rear seats can be folded down if you need to bump that up a bit, or transport something longer.

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Under the Hood

The front-wheel drive Focus keeps its 2.0L 4-cylinder, with its 160HP and 146 lb.ft of torque. Also unchanged is the 6-speed automatic transmission.

Ford rates the Focus at 9.0 L/100 km (26 US mpg) in town and 6.2 L/100 km (38 US mpg) on the highway. My week in the Focus, including a 550 km highway trip and a normal work week of relatively slow commuting, netted me an average of 6.9 L/100 km (34 US mpg), which I found to be very impressive.

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The Drive

The Focus is certainly not a very powerful car overall (feel free to check out my review of the Focus ST if you’re after some more excitement), but it’s snappy enough off the line, and the engine doesn’t mind revving to the higher reaches of the RPM range, so it’s reasonably spirited and has enough power for this category.

The transmission isn’t particularly fast, but it’s smooth and relatively intelligent, and the sport mode will hang onto gears longer and makes things slightly more fun. Ford has endowed the Focus with a very nice, firm ride, and simply outstanding handling capabilities. The Focus is actually quite fun to drive, and that makes up for a slight lack of power. Throw it into some corners, and it will happily comply – you’ll have a tough time approaching this car’s handling limits.

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Road and engine noise is well-dampened for this vehicle class, and I was particularly impressed with the virtual absence of any wind noise, even at highway speeds.

I really like the active park assist for quick, flawless parallel parking – but the Focus continues to suffer from a truly awful turning circle. As a matter of fact, the minivan I reviewed the week prior to the Focus was substantially easier to park. That says a lot. Visibility out of the Focus sedan is great, and the brakes are powerful enough to get the job done.

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The Verdict

Ford’s Focus is a world car, and has to please a lot of consumers across the globe. They did a great job with the styling, and the interior remains pretty current thanks to the new SYNC 3 system. Bump it up to the Titanium trim, and it will feel pretty loaded up – although it’s not that cheap. I’m a big fan of hatchbacks and wagon, but this is a small sedan I wouldn’t hesitate recommending. As long as you don’t mind making 5-point turns on occasion. Sorry, but that turning circle is simply unacceptable.

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WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was quite high. Like me, my girl prefers hatchbacks (the Focus included) but said this car drove very nicely and felt like it had a “lot of stuff” in it. She also commented on the turning circle and that she had difficulty turning it into our garage.

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Disclosure:  Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.

If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.

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sync 3

Sony

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