By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
In the competitive field of compact cars, Ford’s 2016 Focus sedan and hatchback remain remarkably competitive, offering a wide assortment of trims, powertrains and price ranges. With fresh styling, a tech-rich interior and a reasonable price tag, the Focus has all it needs to challenge cars like the Dodge Dart, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic. From the fuel-efficient 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the SE, to the tire-scorching power of the all-wheel-drive RS, the Focus is able to stare down just about every competitor. Then again, the Focus has no answer to the sporty Honda Civic and Kia Forte coupes, nor the affordable all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza wagon.
The 2016 Ford Focus offers great styling, impressive handling and some of the best high-tech features in Ford’s electronic arsenal. The ST and RS offer a level of power and performance previously unknown in a domestic compact. The Focus electric can take you 75 miles while emitting zero emissions.
As good as it is, Ford’s 2016 Focus can’t match the low price and content of the Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra or Chevy Cruze. The only all-wheel-drive model starts around $36,000 and if you’re seeking a coupe or wagon, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Ford Focus adds the option of a 6-speed automatic transmission to the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford’s Sync 3 is a vast improvement over the previous system, with better voice control and a more intuitive interface.
As Ford’s “world car,” the compact 2016 Focus is sold in multiple countries, meaning its driving characteristic and styling must undergo more scrutiny than the average domestic. What else can...
... explain this simple compact’s excellent driving characteristics, ergonomically pleasing interior layout and wide range of models and engines? We think most Americans will like the ride delivered by the SE trim, which can be nicely loaded up and still remain well below $25,000. The Titanium brings even more bells and whistles, but its larger tires and sport suspension create a rather firm ride. The 252-horsepower ST is Ford’s VW GTI-killer, and it’s quite an impressive piece of work, although when equipped with the optional Recaro seats, anyone with more than a 30-inch waist may find themselves wedged in place. Stopping power is a strong point across the line, even with the base model’s rear-drum setup.
Where some small cars limit the extent of their styling to the grille and taillights, the Focus stands out at any angle. From its handsome wheel options and exterior add-ons to its impressive interior package offerings, the 2016 Ford Focus leads the segment in personalization choices.
GREAT DRIVING EXPERIENCE
From an enthusiast’s point of view, the Ford Focus compact for 2016 delivers one of the most enjoyable driving experiences one can have in a compact car. Even the base models have the ability to instill a sense of confidence in the most novice driver.
Ford’s 2016 Focus compact comes with a host of interior upgrades to enhance usability. For example, there's a small cubby and USB port ahead of the shifter, perfect for your phone. The climate controls and steering-wheel buttons are easy to use, and the blue backlighting is both stylish and easy on the eyes. Optional features like a heated steering wheel help the Focus stand out in this segment, and ample sound deadening helps make the Focus one of the quietest cars in its class. Unfortunately, the Focus’ rear-seat head- and legroom are now surpassed by a number of newer competitors.
The 2016 Focus compact looks a bit like a miniature version of the Fusion sedan. Adopting Ford’s Aston Martin-like grille in last year’s update, the Focus remains fresh despite its age. The sleek aerodynamic look, raked windshield and tastefully flared fenders give the Focus a substantial look that belies its price. Both the sedan and hatchback can be outfitted with wheel-and-tire packages ranging from 15-inch steel wheels on the Focus S to 215/55 tires with 17-inch aluminum rims on Titanium models; Titanium models also offer an 18-inch wheel package with a sport-tuned suspension.
All 2016 Ford Focus models come standard with MyKey, a feature that allows owners to limit maximum speed and other settings for young drivers. Other standard features for the Focus S include air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless remote entry and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio. SE models get standard Sync with MyFord Driver Connect, cruise control, a folding rear seat, rearview camera and 16-inch tires on alloy wheels. Titanium models add leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, 10-speaker Sony audio, push-button starting, and Sync 3 with MyFord Touch; Focus Electric models get eco-fabric seat covers and voice-activated navigation.
Ford’s new Focus benefits from several option packages. SE models can be equipped with the Sport Package, which adds exterior styling enhancements, paddle shifters for the automatic transmission, revised suspension settings and 17-inch wheels. Also available are a blind-spot-warning system and lane-keeping system. Focus buyers can also order the economical 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine for maximum fuel economy. Additionally, Ford's Sync AppLink is available, allowing Focus drivers to interact with more than 60 AppLink-enabled apps on their phones through the car's Sync technology. Active Park Assist, handling and winter packages, and navigation are also available.
To take fuel economy to a new level, the 2016 Ford Focus can be equipped with a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine. Dressed in its most frugal form, the 3-cylinder Focus SE is rated at 42 mpg in highway driving. Most Focus models use a 160-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, with either 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 paddles. Focus Electric models get a 143-horsepower permanent-magnet motor and a range of about 75 miles. The 2016 Focus ST uses a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine that makes 252 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, while the RS gets a 350-horsepwoer 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine and standard all-wheel drive.
1.0-liter turbocharged inline-3
123 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg (manual), 28/40 mpg (automatic)
160 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 4,450 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/36 mpg (manual), 26/38 mpg (automatic), 27/40 mpg (SelectShift automatic)
2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
350 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
Synchronous electric motor/generator (Focus EV)
23kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack
184 lb-ft of torque
Projected range on a full charge: 76 miles
A base Focus S sedan has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $18,000. Hatchback variants are slightly more. The performance-oriented Ford Focus ST hatchback starts just over $25,500. The all-electric Focus EV hatchback starts right around $30,000, while the new RS pushes the price to just under $36,600. Unlike some electric cars, the Focus EV is available in all 50 states, and incentives can potentially be worth thousands of dollars. Prices on most Focus models are in line with those of rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans, but remain more expensive than base versions of the Kia Forte and Mazda3. Do check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Focus. The Focus' resale value has traditionally been fair, but below leaders such as the Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic.