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2016 Ford Focus SE Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2016 Ford Focus SE
ENGINE: 1.0-liter Ecoboost I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 123 hp @ 6,000 rpm/125 lb.-ft. @ 3,500 rpm
WHEELBASE: 104.3 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 178.7 x 71.8 x 57.8 in.
TIRES: P215/50R17
CARGO CAPACITY: 13.2 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway/30.7 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 12.4 gal.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze
STICKER: $22,350 (includes $875 delivery, $2,900 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Ford Focus is a nice compact sedan. It offers good economy and ride quality.

The Ford Focus has just about the smallest engine in a car I have driven since the Austin-Healey Sprite. It is “only” 1.0-liter in capacity and 123 horsepower, but it does a good job in propelling the Focus to illegal speeds at times and maintaining pace with all the other traffic, no matter what the road.

The small engine tends to be continually buzzy, but it isn’t annoying. It’s more like a small fly buzzing around inside the passenger compartment. Conversation at normal levels is possible and the audio system can be operated at less than teenager volumes. The engine is equipped with start/stop technology, so it will shut off, much like a hybrid, when you’re at a traffic light or stop sign.

Ride quality is very good for a compact car. The wheelbase is fairly long at 104.3 inches, which helps. We took the Focus over our tight hillclimb course and it was fun to drive. Handling is very good. It felt almost like a sports car. I might have liked a manual sequential shifter to enhance the experience.

Additionally, the brakes are good. They stopped the Focus quickly and weren’t tacky, so that smooth stops were the norm.

Styling, at least up front, is very much in the Ford Fusion mode, but smaller. Ford doesn’t list the Focus’s drag coefficient, but my calibrated eye would put it in the 0.28 range, similar to many small hybrids. In fact, I was on the highway one day and looked at the car’s nose to my right and thought is WAS a Fusion, but it was a Focus. 

Focus doesn’t have a blind spot monitor, but makes use of split mirrors to accomplish the same function. The outer third of the exterior rear view mirrors has a convex curve that allows the driver to easily see one or two lanes to the left or right. Our tester did have a rear view camera that helped in backing up.

The instrument panel is standard, with a tachometer and speedometer and an information screen in the middle. Since the speedometer was shaded by a nacelle, I set it to a digital speedometer, which was a great help.  There is a small infotainment screen. Our tester was not equipped with a navigation system, but if it was it would have been next to useless because of the small screen. We also didn’t have satellite radio, so we had to make do with our iPod. Also, it isn’t clear how to switch among the screens. 

The simple HVAC controls had dual temperature controls, air flow and fan speed knobs. The system worked well and kept us cool in hot weather.

Front seats are comfortable with good side support, which adds to the sportiness. Additionally, the fabric repels spilled water easily. I spilled a cup and it beaded and I wiped up before my wife found out.

There is room for a water bottle in all four doors. Additionally, there are the standard pair of cupholders for the front passengers. For storage, there is a small cubby at the base of the center stack that contains a USB outlet. The small center console/arm rest also has a USB, AUX and 12-volt plug.

Rear legroom is tight. Without deep indents at the backs of the front seats, rear legroom would be too tight.There is a low rear center hump which would allow for a passenger back there. The rear seat backs fold easily to increase trunk capacity, which is good to begin with. I did have to fold one seat to get my golf clubs in the trunk, though. There’s a nice rubber Weathertech-like trunk insert (a $75 option) that is easy to clean.

While overall ride quality is not super-smooth, it definitely qualifies as “compact car good.”

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate