Designed to Impress: The 2017 Ford Focus

The 2017 Ford Focus was designed with its competition in mind, putting a huge focus on the aesthetic appeal of each model. Previously, its design was updated in 2012, making it one of the oldest cars in its class. But Ford has done well to keep its models fresh throughout the years.

The standard 2017 Ford Focus sedan model can start anywhere between $16,775 and $23,575, depending on the trim. The hatchback version is a bit pricier, starting at $19,765 for the SE model and $36,120 for the Focus RS. An electric model of the car is also available, which begins at $29,120.

Whether you’re budget minded, seeking a bare-bones economy car, or looking to shake things up with Ford’s latest hot-hatch, the Focus RS, there is undoubtedly a Focus for you.

Performance Specs

The base 2017 Ford Focus comes off the block with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s pushing 160 horsepower, with 146 lb-ft of torque. It comes with either a 5-speed manual transmission or six-speed dual-clutch auto. It can get from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.3 seconds, making it a bit slower off the line when stacked up against its competition.

The EcoBoost I-3 model sports a 1.0-liter engine, which produces 123 hp and 125 lb-ft. This is the same engine in the Ford Fiesta, and reaches 60 mph in about 11 seconds. Based on its performance, it’s clear that Ford favored fuel efficiency over any type of performance gains.

The Focus ST is Ford’s answer to the hot-hatch segment. It packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which gets 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It’ll get you from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and only comes with a six-speed manual transmission.

The king of the series is the Ford Focus RS, an even more powerful hot-hatch for enthusiasts. It’s got a 350 hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder, which can reach 0-60 mph in a mere 4.6 seconds. You won’t find an automatic transmission in this one either, but unlike the models previous, the RS is all-wheel-drive.

Last but not least is the Focus Electric’s 107-kWh electric motor, sporting a single-speed automatic transmission. It has a bit of a jump when you first press down on the accelerator but struggles to reach highway speeds. It’s perfect if you need a fuel-efficient way to get around town.

The Ford Focus doesn’t offer much in terms of performance, often performing worse than many of its competitors. But that conversation begins to change when you step up to the Focus ST.

Safety and Entertainment Features

The 2017 Ford Focus received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the front crash test, which simulates a head-on collision between two similar vehicles traveling 35 mph, the Focus scored five stars on the front driver side and four stars on the passenger side. And the side crash, which simulates intersection collisions, scored five stars on every rating.

Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Focus “Good,” the highest possible rating, in four out of five categories. The small overlap test is the one test where the vehicle was rated “Acceptable.”

Despite doing so well in safety tests, the Focus actually comes with a limited suite of driver assistance features. A rearview camera comes standard on all trim levels, but drivers don’t get access to blind spot monitoring, high-beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning unless they opt in for the Titanium trim.

When compared to the Focus’ competition, it suddenly seems a bit lacking. The 2017 Honda Civic sedan comes with lane keep assist, road departure alerts, collision mitigation braking, a rearview camera and adaptive cruise control as options for all trim levels. A Civic with the full driver assistance package is only $20,540, compared to the Focus’ Titanium trim which starts at $24,370.

Entertainment options for the 2017 Ford Focus fare a bit better. The standard Ford SYNC infotainment system is pretty full featured, sporting four speakers with a 4.2-inch display. It has voice recognition, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. It’s small but has everything a budget-minded driver would want.

Stepping up a trim, the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which has an 8-inch touch-screen display, offers a more user-friendly experience. The screen is fully capacitive and supports pinch-to-zoom and swiping gestures. The menu is streamlined, features smart-charging USB ports and AppLink, which allows users to use smartphone apps on the car’s touch-screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

The infotainment system is the only thing you can upgrade in the Focus. Depending on the trim you get, the standard four-speaker system can be upgraded to a six, nine, or 10 speaker system.

How It Stacks Up Against the Competition

The Ford Focus hasn’t received a redesign since 2012, and when you compare it to two of its biggest competitors, the Honda Civic and Mazda3, the car begins to feel dated. The 2017 Honda Civic and 2017 Mazda3, which start at $18,740 and $17,845 respectively, are more feature rich in their standard options than the similarly priced Ford Focus and have more contemporary designs.

The drivetrain is a bit of a deal breaker, too, when you consider that both of the aforementioned cars are faster and perform better. And if you think the Focus’ poor performance is due to the car being more fuel efficient, think otherwise. The Focus performs average for its class in this regard, too.

Similarly, while the Focus ST and RS models are well regarded, they each make unique sacrifices to get there. The Golf GTI gives the ST a run for its money despite producing 50 less horsepower while managing to have a better drivetrain and a more luxurious interior. The Subaru WRX handles better and is able to beat the ST in a race to 60 mph by nearly a second.

The Focus RS’ biggest hindrance is its $36k price tag, encroaching on cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, which is noticeably faster and better at handling, and Ford’s own Mustang GT.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency estimates for the 2017 Ford Focus vary depending on the body style and engine. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is EPA-rated at 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission. The five-speed manual transmission performs similarly, getting 25 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway.

The 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine found in the Focus SE is EPA rated at 27 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway with the auto, and 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with the six-speed transmission. This configuration offers the best possible fuel economy.

The Focus ST reaches 22 mpg in the city and 30 in the highway, while it’s big brother, the Focus RS, gets 19 in the city and 25 on the highway.

Pros

  • Excellent handling
  • Features high-quality interior material
  • Rides smooth
  • Lots of trim options

Cons

  • Limited backseat space
  • Rough transmission performance
  • Poor acceleration