By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating:
Completely redesigned last year, the 2013 Ford Focus goes through some trim level simplification on the conventional side of its lineup but carries over the Focus Electric unchanged and adds a new dimension to the family with the high-performance Focus ST version (reviewed separately). A dynamic player in the super-competitive compact segment, the Focus matches its Ford One global design heritage with avant-garde styling and loads of premium touches that progressively build through S, SE and Titanium trim grades. Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Focus is a match for any of its key rivals, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte Mazda Mazda3, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
Delivering an outstanding mix of style and substance, the 2013 Ford Focus enriches its fundamentally solid and efficient basic package with the availability of class-leading technologies, including MyFord Touch, Active Park Assist and a PowerShift dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission – as well as offering a pure electric alternative.
The avant-garde kinetic design cues of the 2013 Focus won’t please those with less adventurous tastes in styling, but an equally significant consideration involves its comparative pricing. While the Focus does delivers what it promises, the Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte can make legitimate cases for offering better bottom-line value.
Fully redone for 2012, the Ford Focus is largely unchanged for the 2013 model year except for the availability of a 5-speed manual transmission on the top-line Titanium trim level, the departure of the semi-premium SEL version in favor of a more comprehensively-appointed SE and the arrival of the hot, new Focus ST (reviewed separately).
Driving Impressions The Ford Focus has a robust structural foundation and features European-style suspension tuning that imparts a clear measure of fun to the driving experience. Even the base Focus S feels...comfortable yet confident and responds quickly and predictably to all driver inputs. Although ride compliance suffers a bit as you move up through the model hierarchy – and particularly on Titanium versions fitted with the optional 18-inch wheels and 40-series tires – the Focus still merits above-average handling marks across the board. Its AdvanceTrak stability control is complemented by a torque-vectoring control system that helps the Focus slice through corners with enthusiastic competence, and well-modulated anti-lock brakes (front discs and rear drums on the S, 4-wheel discs with the SE, Titanium and Electric) deliver solid, drama-free stops. While the Focus Electric does trade a measure of dynamic sportiness for its more overtly-efficient character, even this super-green sibling leaves no doubt as to its basic heritage.
Standard on Titanium trim levels, Ford's top-line infotainment and telematics package is based on an even more advanced – and now more user-friendly – application of the automaker's acclaimed SYNC voice-command system and includes a premium 10-speaker Sony sound system, with HD Radio, media hub, in-car Wi-Fi access and more.
SUPER FUEL ECONOMY (SFE) PACKAGE
Available on the auto-shifted SE 4-door sedan, the SFE Package includes auto-articulated, aero-optimizing grille shutters – an unseen mileage-enhancing element also found on most other Focus models fitted with the PowerShift transmission – as well as low rolling-resistance tires, wind-cheating wheel covers and a tasteful rear spoiler that collectively bring the car's EPA highway figure up to 40 mpg.
While not the roomiest in its class, the cabin on the Focus boasts the look and feel of a more expensive car, reinforcing that premium character with loads of soft-touch surfaces and an abundance of sound-attenuation materials. Legible instrumentation and well-positioned controls in all versions are complemented by an 8.0-inch full-color touch-screen that replaces the normal multifunction display on Titanium models with the MyFord Touch infotainment and navigation system. The rear seat is scaled for two mid-sized adults but decently padded for three kids. Folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks to a semi-flat position adds utility to the regular Sedan's 13.2-cubic foot conventional trunk and raises the capacity of the Hatchback's cargo area from 23.8 to 44.8 cubic feet. However, the battery pack puts a big dent in cargo space on the Focus Electric.Exterior
Both the Focus sedan and hatchback embody the latest iteration of Ford's "kinetic design" styling language that gives each one a more aggressive and aerodynamic appearance. The look is effectively reinforced by a lower, sleeker windshield rake and flowing roofline set off by smartly-stylized headlamp and taillamp treatments. A relatively long wheelbase and generous front and rear track dimensions contribute to an even more planted stance. Filling its tastefully-flared fenderwells are wheel and tire packages that range from 195/65 all-season tires on 15-inch steel wheels on the Focus S Sedan to 215/55 tires with 17-inch aluminum rims on Titanium models. The top-line Focus Titanium is also available with an optional 18-inch wheel upgrade that includes 235/40 performance tires as well as a sport-tuned suspension.
Even the base Focus S sedan boasts an impressive complement of power assists, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless remote entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, anti-lock disc/drum brakes and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, while the SE – now infused with many ex-SEL features – adds SYNC with MyFord Driver Connect, cruise control, folding rear seat, 4-wheel discs, programmable MyKey and 16-inch tires on alloy wheels. The Titanium trim level has leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, push-button starting, SYNC/MyFord Touch, a 10-speaker Sony HD sound system, Sirius Satellite Radio and a 17-inch wheel and tire package. The richly-appointed Focus Electric features unique eco-fabric seat covers and adds voice-activated navigation.
The Focus offers an impressive selection of model-specific upgrades. While the 6-speed dual-clutch auto-shifter and remote starting lead an intentionally modest list on the S four-door, the SE offers a comprehensive Appearance Package (leather, 17-inch alloys, foglamps, satellite radio, rear spoiler and more) and a Style Package (custom-colored leather, power moonroof, navigation, MyFord Driver Connect and Super Fuel Economy, Winter and Handling Packages); all those options are offered on all but the SFE 5-door model. Titanium buyers can choose a 5-speed manual transmission, moonroof, navigation, the Technology Package (Active Park Assist, front and rear sensors, rearview camera), Style Package, Winter Package and a Handling Package with dedicated sport suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires.
All conventional 2013 Focus models are fitted with a naturally-aspirated, direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that uses Ford's twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). This smooth, free-revver makes 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque and can be paired with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. On the SE with Sport Package and Titanium models, the automated-manual transmission adds SelectShift capability via a rocker switch on the shift lever. Auto-shifted SE sedans with the mileage-maxing SFE Package rate a 40-mpg EPA highway rating but the economy star is the Focus Electric. With a 143-horsepower permanent-magnet motor energized by a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, this ultra-clean hatchback returns a remarkable 105 MPGe combined rating from the EPA.
160 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 4,450 rpm
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 26/36 mpg (manual), 28/38 mpg (automatic), 27/37 mpg (SelectShift automatic), 28/40 mpg (SFE trim, automatic)
Synchronous electric motor/generator
23kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack
184 lb-ft of torque
Projected per-charge range: 76 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 110/99 MPGe
Positioned as a premium compact offering based on its impressive roster of advanced features and available upgrades, the 2013 Focus S and high-volume SE Sedan still start under $17,000 and $19,000 respectively with the entry-level SE hatch opening slightly under $20,000. However, the Titanium sedan and hatch push $24,000 and $25,000, respectively, in base form and can move beyond the $27-$28K marks when heavily optioned. In this ultra-price-sensitive segment, those numbers may have some buyers rethinking the relative charm of some alternative choices, particularly the Hyundai Elantra sedan and GT 5-door, both of which cost less and have a slightly better retained value. At $39,995 before any federal tax credits or state or local incentives, the Focus Electric also requires a fair bit of green from buyers looking to go greener.
Check the Kelley Blue book Fair Purchase Price to find out what customers are really paying for the 2013 Ford Focus.
By bradp0924 (IN) on Sunday, May 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,320overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Plenty of power and great fuel economy."
Cons: "Back seat a little tight & no std Satellite Radio"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I drove every small manual transmission 4 door car and bought the Focus. This is my first new Ford and I am impressed. Just took a trip to Tennessee and averaged 39.1 there and back running 70-75 mph. My overall gas mileage for the first 11k miles is 33.6. This thing definitely has more power than the other cars and is very comfortable. No problems at all so far."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Pepe (FL) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice, sporty design"
Cons: "poor fuel efficiency, transmition vibrates"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car was advertized as a very fuel efficient car with over 30 miles per gallon on highway and that was the only reason why we bought it. Nothing so far to be true!. A combined average of 23 is what we usually get with a hardly 25 per gallon on highway (in winter with no A/C), a total disappointment. Besides that, the automatic transmission is not as smooth as you might think for a new car and after taking the car twice to the dealer the only answer we got was that everything was ok but I dare you to try the car and you will notice what I am talking about. (when different people in the passenger seat mention the strange vibration on the transmission, that means something...)"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Brian (MD) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"bought for the value and the MPG and not disappointed..averaging over 32 mpg in mixed driving with a lot of idling. ........I got a new job after my purchase and drive 150-200 miles a day now. .. very tight in the back seat and hard for some larger adults to get in and out of the front seat as its a slight drop down. ..A fun car to drive, nice acceleration and great on cornering. ......definitely a great commuter car you will enjoy every time you have to buy gas"
By WishIBoughtaLeaf (CA) on Friday, May 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,200overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "Absolutely unreliable and very poor service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This review applies to the Ford Focus Electric car. This is, or was, my commute car. For the first three months, I was very satisfied with it. Then, without warning, the car came to a dead stop in a high traffic area. All of the electrical systems were on. In fact, I could not shut any of them off. The battery was nearly at a full charge. The car simply would not move. We were fortunate to be rescued before someone smashed into the back of us. There were some close calls! The dealership has no idea how to repair my car. I've been told the onboard diagnostics showing 30 different trouble codes. When they check each one individually, no problem is found. However, the car shuts down if they attempt to drive it. The dealership is waiting for Ford to send an engineer because they have no idea what to do. That's encouraging! I don't want this car back. I have 2 years, 9 months left on a 3-year lease but that car is too dangerous to drive again. I know a few Nissan Leaf owners who love their cars, but I picked the Ford. HUGE MISTAKE!!!"
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Koz (MI) on Thursday, May 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Cons: "Auto Transmission, SYNC, Fuel Mileage,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this 2013 Ford Focus Titanium for 7 months now and I wish I could go back in time and kick myself not to buy it. It's fully loaded and cost $25500. I know right for a FOCUS!! It is a company car and I bought it for the 39 MPG on Highway. I don't even come close to that. On the highway I can get 33 MPG. No matter what I do it does not get better then that. I have had it looked at and the dealer tells me that is within range for the model. Not what the sticker says... It has had a new radiator at 3000 miles, the door locks do not work all the time because of the Titanium package, you don't need to use the key FOB just touch the door handle and it unlocks or locks. The AC did not work, service had it over a week to find the problem and fix it. SYNC is very touchy and does not like iPhones with more then 100 contact numbers so Ford tells me not to download my phonebook into Sync but that still doesn't help (most be Microsoft). Don't get me started on the JUNK 6 speed transmission!! nothing smooth at all regarding this transmission. it's jerky, shifts awful, drifts back on a hill like a manual would. Great concept of the dual clutch transmission and many cars on the road have it and have no issues. Ford does not have it right and they need to fix it. The dealer agrees that he feels all the things I state but says it is the characteristics of the transmission and that is all normal for a $25500 car. This will be the last Ford I buy, you can get much more car for you dollar at other car companies. STAY AWAY!!"
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Veronica on Thursday, May 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "great look, great ride"
Cons: "too much maintenance & problems for brand new car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I loved this car from the moment I got it, I bought it with the idea that I wouldn't have to worry about maintenance or breaking down on the side of the road since it was a brand new car. Since purchasing it I have had 3 recalls and now my power steering has gone out on it, which left me driving home from work last week struggling just to turn the wheel. I got the extended warranty, even though when I agreed to it I was thinking that if I ever had to use it then I would never buy a Ford again because why should I expect my brand new car to need this, anyways, I'm glad I purchased it now, however due to the continuous maintenance that this car has required I don't think I will purchase another one, I had a Honda for the previous 7 years, never a problem, I think that will be my next purchase, unfortunately. Like I said I really wanted to love this car and I did for the 8 months, now a year and a half later, not so much..."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful