2016 Ford Focus

Starting MSRP: $17,225 - $35,900

Estimated MPG: 26 city / 36 hwy

2016 Ford Focus Review

Incremental changes keep the 2016 Ford Focus as good as it ever was. A new available infotainment system and the addition of an available automatic transmission for cars with the 1.0-liter engine mark the major changes for Ford’s fun-to-drive compact car.

By Tim Healey
Last Updated 08/16/2016

Available in sedan or hatchback form and in several trims, the Ford Focus offers plenty of variety for buyers. The lineup includes the standard gas-powered model as well as an electric version, and there are also two extra-sporty options, the Focus ST and RS. Sedan buyers can choose between S, SE and Titanium trims, while hatchback shoppers can choose from SE, Titanium, ST and RS. The electric version is hatchback only.

New for 2016 is the availability of Ford’s Sync 3, which is a revamped version of the infotainment system that Ford has offered for the past several years. Also new is an optional automatic transmission for models with the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, which is available on the SE trim of both the hatchback and sedan.

Exterior

Exterior
8

Ford gave the Focus a styling update - complete with the new grille that’s been popping up across the automaker’s lineup – last year, so outside of two new available paint colors, nothing much changes. Both the sedan and hatchback have Euro-inspired looks, and the ST and RS add go-fast bits, such as spoilers and cooling ducts for the brakes and engine.

The sheet metal still looks fresh, even though the current-generation Focus has been on sale since the 2012 model year. Though the updated grille bears a passing resemblance the face of a largemouth bass, overall, the look is sporty and attractive.

Interior

Interior
9

Open the doors, and you’ll see the Focus’ interior is stylish yet functional.

The driver’s information center is nice, but the best part is the steering wheel-mounted five-way controller that can be used to scroll through it. Gauges are mostly easy to read at a glance. Surfaces are generally soft touch, but some hard plastics detract from the experience.

There’s enough space up front for adults, but the rear seat is a tad tight. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat is useful for loading large objects. Heated front seats are standard on the Titanium trim.

Design-wise, the Focus’ cabin is a mix of squared-off curves and angular lines, which make for a slightly strange but visually interesting look. Most controls are easy to reach and intuitive, but the radio controller, which consists of a single knob and a four-way rocker switch, isn’t as easy to use as a two-knob setup. Ambient lighting is a nice touch.

Performance

Performance
9

On the road, the 2016 Focus shines. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood of our test Focus Titanium makes only 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque, but it’s still peppy enough for a car of this size. Acceleration isn’t breathtaking, but it’s strong enough around town to avoid worries about passing or highway merging, and when you choose to drive hard, it will get you moving quickly enough to satisfy.

The six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard on the Titanium doesn’t hesitate too long on downshifts, but a manual is more fun with a car like this. Fortunately, one is available, but it only offers five forward gears. Only the SE and the high-performance ST and RS get a six-speed manual transmission.

The Focus corners with scalpel-like precision - it’s a fun, tossable little machine. Midcorner corrections do not upset the car, and should you enter a turn too aggressively, backing off the gas should tuck you in nicely. Even a tap of the brakes won’t upset the rear end, provided you’re not overdoing it too much.

Punishment for that handling prowess comes by way of ride quality, which is on the stiffer side. It’s not so harsh as to annoy in most daily driving situations, but it’s firm enough to be noticeable. If your local roads are pothole filled, this might give you pause, but if you live in a place with quality roads that tend to be on the curvy side, the Focus will provide you with entertainment.

In addition to the 2.0 liter - which is available with a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic - the Focus is also available with a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that can pair with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

The RS and ST have turbocharged four cylinders: a 2.0-liter unit in the ST and 2.3 liters in the RS. Both are available only with a six-speed manual. Opt for the RS, and you get all-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive.

The base Focus gets an EPA-estimated 26/36 mpg city/highway with the five-speed manual or 26/38 mpg with the automatic. Models with the 1.0-liter engine and manual transmission offer the best fuel economy in the lineup at 30/42 mpg.

Technology

Technology
8

The tech centerpiece of the 2016 Ford Focus is the Sync 3 multimedia system, which is meant to provide a better user experience than the MyFord Touch system that was offered with the 2015 model. While we personally didn’t dislike MyFord Touch, enough customers did to force Ford to make a change.

The new system does away with the four quadrants for audio, navigation, climate and phone controls and replaces them with a home screen. Menus transitioned quickly and smoothly, and everything was laid out logically, making Sync 3 a breeze to use. Even if you didn’t have an issue with the old infotainment system, Sync 3 is still a strong upgrade.

The Cold Weather package adds a heated steering wheel and all-weather floor mats, while navigation and active-parking assist are also options.

Safety

Safety
9

The 2016 Ford Focus comes standard with a rearview camera, which makes city parking even easier than it already is with a car of this size. An available Technology package adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2016 Ford Focus sedan as Good in all tests except the small overlap front crash test, in which it earned an Acceptable rating.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the Focus gets a perfect five-star overall rating, with five stars in all tests except the rollover test, in which it scores four out of five.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
10

The 2016 Ford Focus sedan starts at $17,225 plus an $875 destination charge. The Focus hatchback starts at $19,015 for the SE trim, while a Titanium model like our test car starts at $23,725.

Our test Focus clocked in at $27,650 after options. That sounds like a lot for a compact car, but it’s actually price-competitive these days. For under $30,000, a Focus Titanium dressed similarly to our test vehicle provides you with a sporty yet fuel-efficient hatch with a few luxury touches and advanced safety tech. The lineup gives you flexibility based on budget, needs and wants, and that makes the Focus a versatile buy.

Overall

Overall
9

The 2016 Ford Focus is a jack-of-all-trades compact that offers performance, fuel efficiency and a strong amount of standard and available features at a reasonable price. The result is an appealing pick for your compact-car shopping list.