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#7

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $16,810 - $24,115
Invoice: $15,843 - $22,486
MPG: 26 City / 36 Hwy
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Ford Focus Performance

Auto writers say that the 2014 Ford Focus offers fuel economy that’s good for the class, as well as athletic handling and a refined ride. The high-performance Focus ST garners even more praise, and reviewers report that it offers sprightly acceleration and even better handling, as well as a fantastic-sounding exhaust note.

  • "The 2.0-liter engine isn't quite as much of a standout, but it offers above average performance and fuel economy." -- Edmunds
  • "Ford engineers went the extra mile to give the 2014 Focus commendable road manners and comfort, which is something we really appreciate." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The sound of the Focus ST just might be the most satisfying part of the driving experience. At low rpm the cabin is a fairly quiet space, but jump on the gas pedal and a specially designed active sound tube amplifies the throaty notes of the engine's intake and channels them into the cabin. It gives the engine a distinctive growl that enthusiasts should enjoy." -- AutoWeek (2013 Focus ST)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Ford Focus comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automated manual transmission is optional. The EPA reports that the base Focus gets 26/36 mpg city/highway, which is slightly better than what the base Chevrolet Cruze and Volkswagen Jetta get. The Focus achieves its best fuel economy estimates of 28/40 mpg when equipped with the optional SFE package.

The high-performance Ford Focus ST comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 252 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard.

Test drivers say that the 2014 Focus offers can be a bit slow from a stop, but they also write that it offers ample power at higher speeds. Most critics prefer the five-speed manual, noting that it makes the Focus a bit more fun to drive. Still, one reviewer says that he wishes the manual transmission had a sixth gear, while another notes that clutch and shifter take time to master. One test driver writes that the automated manual transmission will sometimes allow the Focus to roll backwards on steep inclines, while another notes that it shifts to higher gears quicker than he would like. In contrast, the Focus ST wins unanimous praise from test drivers, who say that it offers ample power and a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission.

  • "The five-speed manual transmission works well enough and gives the car a sportier feel, though we wish it had a 6th gear to lower engine speed while cruising at higher speeds. The automatic has that extra gear, though buyers should note that it's technically a dual-clutch automated manual and thus behaves a little differently from a traditional automatic. It occasionally allows the car to roll back slightly on hills and can be reluctant to let the car creep forward when parking." -- Edmunds
  • "Focus is pretty sprightly past 3,500 rpm. Before that speed, there's not much going on. The manual transmission takes a bit more acclimation than we're used to, but once you adjust, it's a very easy and fun car to drive. We prefer it to the automated manual, which upshifts too quickly and downshifts to slowly for our liking.” -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The only transmission available for the Focus ST is a six-speed manual, but it's a slick one." -- Automobile Magazine (2013 Focus ST)
  • "There's plenty of torque to pull you out of corners and up steep mountain passes without pause, and to propel you headlong down the freeway at up to triple-digit speeds in a blink, but there's never a whoosh! moment where you feel the turbo kick in." -- AutoWeek (2013 Focus ST)

Handling and Braking

Whether they drove the regular Focus, or the high-performance Focus ST, reviewers agree that the 2014 Focus offers responsive handling and a refined, comfortable ride. One test driver notes that even the base Focus offers communicative steering and capable brakes, while another reports that the Focus ST excels as an athletic hatchback that’s still comfortable enough for daily commutes.    

  • "The 2014 Ford Focus feels like a European car in the way it's been tuned to provide both sharp handling and a refined ride. This is one of the more entertaining economy cars to drive around turns, particularly if you've got the Titanium model with the optional Handling package." -- Edmunds 
  • "With its internationally-inspired engineering and design foundations, the 2014 Ford Focus delivers a first-class driving experience. All trim levels are noted for a comfortable feel to the ride combined with quick response and confidence-inspiring stability." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We said Focus feels like a larger car when cruising, but when you want to push it a bit, this American-made compact is Euro-sporty. The steering feels great, and astute suspension tuning keeps body lean in fast turns at a minimum. Braking control and pedal feel are fine." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Also added to the ST are high-performance brakes, a more solid body structure and tightened-up suspension parts. Yet the ride doesn't suffer much, and the ST can also be a daily commuter car." -- MarketWatch (2013 Focus ST)
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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