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With its last full redesign coming in 2012, the Ford Focus received a number of cosmetic and functional enhancements for 2015 to help boost its appeal in a category that's getting ever more refined and decidedly more competitive as buyers also begin considering alternative choices -- notably compact and subcompact SUVs/crossovers. While the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic remain the top sellers in the small-sedan realm, well-measured tweaks to this now even-more-stylish Ford 4-door -- and its available 5-door hatchback sibling -- have kept the 2015 Focus a solid third. They've also yielded a variation on this well-established theme that possesses a more contemporary character in addition to retaining its strong value orientation.

2015 Ford Focus at a Glance

2015 Ford Focus Compact Car Graph

Ford's entry in our 7-way faceoff was a mid-level Focus SE Sedan that kicked off at $18,925. That price brings a comprehensive standard equipment list that includes numerous power assists, remote keyless entry, Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment/connectivity, the automaker's trick capless fuel-filler and a new rearview camera system that's now standard on all members of the conventional 2015 Focus lineup -- S, SE, Titanium -- as well as the hot ST and ultra-green, all-electric Focus EV outliers. Our SE also had the optional 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission in place of the base 6-speed manual and the new SE Sport Package with bespoke 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, unique body kit bits, rear disc brakes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters. Rounding out the mix, an SE Power Seat Package added 8-way electric adjustability to the driver's perch as well as an audible reverse-sensing system -- goodies that brought its bottom line to $21,907, which happened to be the lowest sticker in this group.

As for the basic 2015 remix, it commences with a more elegant face that leaves the Focus looking more like its Fusion and Fiesta kin, and also incorporates tidier taillamps. The car's already well-sorted suspension gains less-intrusive stability control programming and retuned springs/shocks that deliver better ride compliance and encourage greater driver-engagement levels. Inside, revisions to the cabin bring improved noise isolation and nicer trim plus easier-to-use controls and enhanced connectivity thanks to expanded capabilities available through Ford's Sync AppLink app set. Those willing to swap some of the spunk found in its standard 2.0-liter/160-horspower naturally aspirated 4-cylinder for additional fuel efficiency can now opt for the new 123-horsepower/1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost alternative -- but only if they can live with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Taking the leap to the leather-lined Titanium grade that starts at $23,995 also allows Focus buyers to add a Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and Lane-Keeping System as part of the new Technology Package.

Here's how the 2015 Ford Focus stacks up against the competition:

Ford Focus vs. Dodge Dart

Like the Focus, the Dodge Dart boasts a fairly quiet cabin and suffers from a relative dearth of rear seat room. Beyond a greater degree of refinement in its overall interior design, the most notable plus for the Dart comes in the form of its impressive Uconnect telematics system. Standard in the Dart GT, the user-friendly, highly legible 8.4-inch Uconnect center screen dwarfs the 4.2-inch unit found in all but the Titanium Focus with MyFord Touch. Beyond that, Uconnect remains one of our favorite infotainment systems. Although Ford's new and much more intuitive Sync 3 setup is on the way, it simply can't arrive soon enough.

Ford Focus vs. Honda Civic

Beyond a modest price advantage, the Focus SE offers a somewhat more refined and arguably more rewarding driving experience than the Civic EX, with or without the bottom-line bumping Leather and Navigation upfit found on our test vehicle. However, the Civic -- KBB's 2015 Small Car Best Buy winner -- does hold an edge in nearly all of the more utilitarian functions, from better fuel economy and a more visually appealing, dual-plane instrument display to its extra measure of rear-seat room. While not without its own notable quirks, the Civic's large, legible central touchscreen that displays navigation/infotainment data along with images from the LaneWatch camera also makes a far better impression than the tiny center display in the Focus.

Ford Focus vs. Mazda Mazda3

Overall, the Focus is quieter than the Mazda3 on most road surfaces and marginally less expensive, but from there on it's advantage Mazda on just about every level. We find the car more visually and dynamically appealing while the Feds officially deem it more fuel efficient than the Focus, even more so with its optional 6-speed automatic in place of the standard 6-speed manual. The Mazda Connect infotainment system - with SD card-based Navigation -- also merits major kudos for its superior form and functionality. While the Ford's 13.2 cu-ft trunk capacity pips the Mazda3's 12.4 cu ft spec, the latter boasts superior decklid/pass-through cutout configurations and the backs on its more adult-friendly 60/40 rear bench seat fold virtually flat to allow far better use of the total available space.

Ford Focus vs. Subaru Impreza

The Focus is less costly to step into and has a demonstrably higher fun factor than its compact Subaru rival, whether hatchback or sedan. However the Impreza is KBB's 2015 Best Resale Value winner in the Compact category and the price of entry for even a base model includes the added confidence of all-wheel drive that's not on offer in the Ford. Front/rear passenger space also is far more plentiful in both Subaru body styles, although trunk capacity in the Focus is considerably larger than in the Subie sedan (albeit notably less than the 5-door's rear bay, even with the seats up). At the top end of the spectrum, Impreza models optioned with EyeSight Driver Assist that brings forward-collision mitigation technology also earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+ ratings compared to Top Safety Pick marks for even the best-equipped Titanium-grade Focus.

Ford Focus vs. Toyota Corolla

The top-selling player in the compact sedan realm, Corolla can't match the Focus when it comes to absolute handling prowess, accelerative enthusiasm or overall cabin isolation. But the Toyota 4-door does bring a good deal to this party beyond its well-established reputation for quality, reliability and resale value, not to mention its class-winning KBB 5-Year Cost to Own rating. The Corolla's comparatively cavernous aft quarters give it a huge advantage in that area relative to the Focus, with a rear seat that really can accommodate adult-size passengers. While both cars deliver solid mileage numbers, the Corolla's LE Eco/Eco Plus variants earn stellar 40 mpg EPA freeway ratings (42 mpg when fitted with the smaller 15-inch wheel/tire package), although that frugality does mandate living with a rather lackluster CVT automatic transmission.

Ford Focus vs. Volkswagen Jetta

Both the Focus and the Jetta bring plenty of dynamic sophistication to their fundamentally driver-centric design themes. However, the admittedly pricier Volkswagen does hold an edge when it comes to overall refinement, and the responsiveness of its potent 1.8-liter turbo engine also makes the SE 1.8T model a bit quicker off the line. The Jetta's well-isolated passenger compartment has a more contemporary character than the Focus, but the VW's big edge here is rear-seat space which challenges the Corolla for best-in-class honors. Further aft, the Jetta's huge 15.7 cu-ft trunk rivals the capacity of some midsize sedans.

More Compact Cars

Build and price your own 2015 Ford Focus, read our full review or check out our Compact Car Buyer's Guide to see more options in the segment.


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