New look coming, but good value for 2018 Focus
Agreat time to buy a new car is when an even newer car is on the way. Next year, there will be an all-new Ford Focus. That means there are deals to be had on the 2018 Focus.
And you might just like this one better anyhow.
Spy shots of the 2019 show a racier-looking shape, and while there’s noting wrong with that, it might not be right for you.
What It Is The Focus is Ford’s compact sedan and five-door hatchback.
It’s an unusual entrant in its class, which includes the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra, among others, because it offers several things they don’t, including an available turbocharged three-cylinder engine and an automated manual transmission to go with it. Both are designed to help the Focus return outstanding gas mileage (estimated 40 on the highway).
Base price is $17,950, whereas the 2018 Mazda3 Sport is $18,095 and a 2018 Honda Civic is $18,940.
What’s New There are no major changes for 2018 because an all-new 2019 Focus is on deck.
What’s Good It has excellent gas mileage and an optional 1.0-liter engine and six-speed automated manual transmission.
It has tremendous front-seat legroom (43.1 inches).
The base S trim is well-equipped with the necessities including air conditioning, a 4.2-inch LCD touch screen, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
What’s Not So Good The mileage of the Ford’s optional engine matches the mileage of the standard engine of newer rivals like the just-redesigned Civic.
It has a tight back seat: just 33.2 inches of legroom, almost 4 inches less than the new Civic’s.
Under the Hood The base Focus is powered by a 2.0-liter fourcylinder with 160 horsepower, available with either a five-speed manual transmission (standard) or a six-speed automatic (optional).
This is competitive with (almost exactly the same as) what you’ll find under the hoods of rivals like the Civic and Mazda3, which also come with a standard 2.0-liter engine. The Civic has 158 horsepower, and the Mazda3 has 150 horsepower.
But the Focus’ optional engine is very different. It’s a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder. That’s a smaller engine than most full-sized motorcycle engines — and it has one less cylinder than most of them, too. But the smallness is made bigger when you need it by a turbocharger. Turbo boosts the output to 123 horsepower and 123 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. It also boosts the mileage from an OK 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with the 2.0-liter engine to an outstanding 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.
On the Road Crossover SUVs are currently outselling sedans like the Focus because they are more versatile. They have more interior space and offer more capability — including (usually) available all-wheel drive.
But crossovers are also compromised. They ride high, which isn’t optimal for high-speed handling. And they’re heavier, which causes them to use more gas.
Sedans like the Focus sit lower, so you’ve got a lower center of gravity. This is a natural stability enhancer. They are also lighter, so they sill perform decently with smaller engines while posting good gas mileage.
Most crossovers are only automatic. If you prefer to shift for yourself, many, like the Focus, also offer manual transmission.
So while the Focus and cars of its type may not be as practical as crossovers, they can be more fun to drive, which doesn’t count for nothing.
At the Curb The Ford has best-in-class driver-seat and front-seat-passenger legroom: 43.1 inches. But the back seat only has 33.2 inches of legroom. This is significantly less than both the new Civic (37.4 inches) and the Mazda3 (35.8 inches) offer. Those two have as much or even more back-seat legroom than many midsized sedans.
But the Focus does have more back-seat headroom than most of its rivals: 38 inches versus 37.2 in the Civic and 37.6 in the Mazda3. It doesn’t sound like a big difference on paper, but if you’re 6 feet tall, it can be a difference that makes all the difference.
The sedan has a reasonably large 13.2-cubicfoot trunk, but the hatchback version has almost twice that behind its second row, 23.9 cubic feet. And if you fold the second row down, that expands to 43.9 cubic feet.
The Rest The Focus comes standard with a 4.2-inch LCD screen that’s not touch-activated, but you can upgrade to an 8-inch touch screen that’s larger than the screens available in rivals and comes with Ford’s Sync interface, which has large and easy-to-read buttons for most functions.
Titanium trims also get Ford’s unique exterior touchpad entry system, which you’ll appreciate if you ever misplace your key fob. No other cars in this class offer a similar feature.
The Bottom Line An all-new Focus will be here in a few months, but newness usually comes with a higher price and less room to haggle. You might want to shop for a still-new 2018 given the better deals on the table — and other reasons, too!
Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators. com.
2018 Ford Focus.