By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
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 guido (OR) on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fit/finish of interior. Sporty looks."
Cons: "None as of yet.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Interior fit/finish is excellent. In the first 5 K miles I did have my Dual clutch transmission /computer re-flashed due to some shifting issues. Those were solved. Car is fun to drive with the DCT transmission. I am averaging 32.4 MPG. Sync/my touch work fine, no issues. Sporty fun little car."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By DriverDriver (NC) on Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"0 out of 10 is how I rate this car. It accelerates poorly and erratically...makes loud grinding and rattling noises. At first I was only having these issues during certain driving maneuvers(making left turns or going over railroad tracks or speed bumps) now they occur at all times. The dealership recommended that the clutch be replaced but Ford Motor Company will not pay for the fix. I do not feel safe driving this car. The resale value is so low I can even trade it in without paying thousands of dollars."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tim (NJ) on Monday, November 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great fuel economy, good cargo space"
Cons: "cramped back seat, Microsoft Sync is finicky"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I got the Ford Focus SE Hatchback last January and have loved every minute of driving it. The car is small but there's enough room in the front seats to be comfortable. The back seat is less than ideal but that's to be expected. The car has an impressive amount of cargo space and once after putting the seat down I was able to fit 2 15' poles in it once. The car has great pickup which is great for highway driving. The integrated blind spot mirrors are a great feature because frankly the back window doesn't have the best viability. I average around 32 MPG with my driving split about half city and half highway. The one downside to the car is the Ford Sync system. It will either work perfectly on the first try or fight me for 10 minutes while I try to get it to play a song. I once had to reset the system manually by pulling a fuse which was very difficult to reach. Voice commands are hit or miss as well. Sound quality is great from speakers and even phone calls can be heard clearly while driving. Overall a great car."
By Ruben (TX) on Saturday, November 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power handling looks"
Cons: "lots of plastic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the 2014 Ford Focus ST. This car handles great and has the power to pass on the highway. Handling is awesome, takes corners with ease. When merging onto traffic on the highway, all you have to do is down shift and it takes off really fast. The only reason I don't give it a 10 in reliability is because the rear hatch plastic feels cheap."
By Denny (NC) on Friday, November 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good fuel mileage."
Cons: "Stutters on acceleration and grinding sound"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car has had many issues in the 8 months that I have owned it. The constant problem is the little stutter it does when you accelerate forward. To accompany that is the grinding in the transmission area. It feels and sounds like the transmission is going out but the Ford service department keeps telling me it is normal. Whatever! I don't know how they can keep telling themselves that lie. Who would design and build a vehicle that acts like its going to break every time you move forward. It gets decent Fuel mileage, which is the only thing I like about the vehicle."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Colt (TN) on Thursday, November 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price, High MPG's, Fun driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is an absolute amazing car. The only reason everything is not a 10/10 is the size. Yes I know it is a sub-compact, but that's my only thing. It is amazing to drive especially if you have Shift-tronic in it. Sync is the most amazing thing for a car. I recommend this car to anyone. I live in the foothills of the mountains in Tennessee, and even though its pretty hilly, i still get about 42 mpg Highway around here. it has technology AND good gas mileage."