The Focus' good looks extend to its cabin, which feels more premium than economy.

2016 Ford Focus Hatchback Titanium Review

Bringing big value in a compact package

By: Lindsay Prossnitz

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: May 20th, 2016

Ford's best-selling compact Focus brought some European styling edge to North America when it arrived for the 2000 model year, garnering the North American Car of the Year Award. Fifteen years later, it remains an award-winning vehicle and a smart buy for shoppers looking to get a lot out of a little package. With its reasonable pricing, abundant tech, and fresh styling, the Focus provides value to shoppers, while an efficient engine lineup and sporty handling keep it competitive in the crowded compact segment.

For 2016 the Focus comes in both a sedan and hatchback model with various trim flavors to suit every taste. From the green Focus Electric to the performance-oriented ST and RS hatches, Ford offers variety in its lineup. New for 2016 is the integration of the highly improved Sync 3 interface, which replaces the dated MyFord Touch system. A 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is also offered with a 6-speed automatic in addition to some slight adjustments on available packages. We drove the Focus hatchback for the week in the top-of-the-line Titanium trim.

  • Driving Impressions

    When searching for a reliable, affordable, efficient vehicle, the driving fun factor can get lost among the list of pragmatic priorities. As the name suggests, however, the Focus doesn't lose sight of what matters. It offers engaging driving, and has a sleek, compact exterior that's easy to maneuver. Sliding in and out of tight spaces in the city is a breeze with. Nimble handling makes it fun to take around twisty corners without forfeiting comfort and composure when you're running errands or commuting to work.

    There are a variety of engines offered in the Focus. If you want to go the green route, you can get the electric motor with lithium-ion battery pack in the Electric model that gets a decent 75 miles per charge. The sportier ST and RS models get turbocharged four-cylinders displaced at 2.0- and 2.3-liters, respectively. For added efficiency, the Focus can be equipped with a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder. Last is the 2.0-liter four that comes standard on most models. A 6-speed automatic comes standard on the Titanium trim, but the 5-speed manual standard on lower levels is available at no additional cost.

    • Ride Quality: The Focus does a nice job of absorbing the majority of blows from bumps and potholes in the road. You'll feel some vibrations here and there, but they're not jarring.
    • Steering: The electronic steering felt responsive and dialed in well. It's precise, without being too touchy or sluggish.
    • Acceleration: The engine delivers linear power that's potent enough for passing on the highway and scrambling around town, with the 6-speed automatic shifting smoothly.
    • Braking: For the most part braking was smooth and progressive, with good pedal feel. However, when rolling along at slow speeds, the brakes would shudder, sounding almost as if the engine were going to stall, though it was an automatic transmission.
    • Handling: The hatchback's sporty and aerodynamic exterior makes it nimble to maneuver on the road. It has no problem being thrown into curves, or making tight turns, with virtually no body roll.

  • Technology and Safety

    Ford's in-car communications and entertainment system has come a long way from where it used to be. The former MyFord Touch system received overwhelmingly negative reviews, with consumers complaining about the lack of physical knobs to manipulate the system, overly sensitive touch buttons, and a cumbersome voice command process.

    The Blue Oval's latest Sync 3 tech system stands to right those wrongs, and it's made leaps and bounds in terms of usability and compatibility. The new system is paired with an 8-inch color touchscreen, and has faster response times with an easy-to-navigate screen that enables swiping and pinch-to-zoom capabilities on the nav.

    Sync 3 also features Siri Eyes Free, so you can make and receive calls easily or send a quick text without ever having to pick up your phone. Voice commands can control numerous functions from adjusting the temperature, to making a reservation, to saying "thumbs-up" when you want to like a song on Pandora. In addition to the improved infotainment system, a boatload of standard tech features are packed in the Titanium trim like HD radio, Sony audio with 10 speakers, and reverse sensing with rear view camera. However, the actual navigation system is still an add-on option.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 8-inch LCD screen displays crisp, clear icons and easy to read fonts. The layout is intuitive to navigate through, with clearly defined virtual buttons that are responsive but not overly sensitive.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Connecting your smartphone is a seamless process in the new Focus. Once the phone is paired, you can automatically download the names and numbers programmed in your phone, and play music from your phone if not using one of the many music apps incorporated with Sync AppLink.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Audio quality is clear and plenty loud with the 10 speakers built into the car's compact cabin. Call clarity on both ends were able to be heard without interference.
    • Controls: There is a nice balance of physical knobs and buttons mixed in with the touchscreen and multi-function display. Steering wheel controls are also plentiful and work well to take calls or adjust volume.
    • Safety: In addition to the airbag systems, the Titanium hatch comes standard with a reverse sensing system and rear view camera, with the ability to add on Active Park Assist, Lane-Keeping Alert, and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    The Ford brand has been adopting a more unified look across its models, and this style update extended to the Focus for the 2015 model year. The now Ford-branded face features a bolder front grille that resembles that of Aston Martin's. The Titanium level gets standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, though ours had the upgraded 18-inch premium painted aluminum variety. The Focus has a low, wide stance that contributes to its sporty, grounded character on the road. At 172 inches long, the hatch slots between the subcompact Fiesta and the mid-size Fusion.

    • Front: The silver upper grille features active shutters. Headlamps incorporate LED accents, with auto halogen headlights and fog lamps with chrome bezel. It's an unequivocally handsome face that has worn well.
    • Rear: Rear disc brakes are added to the Titanium model add some dramatic flair. The rear end is smooth and rounded with a simple taillight design, rear spoiler, and rear wiper.
    • Profile: The Focus hatch has an attractive wagon-like silhouette, with a gradually sloping roofline, marked by a rear spoiler.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    The handsome outer digs of the Focus extend inside the cabin, with nice quality materials used making it feel upscale, rather than economy. A clean layout of the center stack is very user friendly, with a classy-looking touchscreen. Buttons are well placed on the dash and are easy to reach like the dual-zone climate control knobs. A leather-wrapped steering wheel has a good, solid grip to it, and is also heated which is great for those frosty mornings. The Titanium trim also gets leather upholstery, with seats that feel comfortable over a long distance.

    • Front Seats: The leather seats are nicely cushioned and supportive, offering comfort even during long periods of driving. Front seats are also heated for an extra touch, and the 8-way power driver seat with lumbar is easy to adjust to your preferred position.
    • Rear Seats: The back is a bit cozy for rear passengers. The leather-trimmed seats feel good, and there's a rear center armrest that's convenient, but leg space is a bit cramped.
    • Visibility: Good outward visibility thanks to a smartly positioned front seat, and expansive front windshield free of obstructions. Likewise, rear visibility is good out of the hatches back window, though with rear passengers, they'll have to duck to see clearly out of the sloped backend. Thankfully, the rear view camera aids in this department.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    While the Focus is compact, it still offers a generous amount of cargo and trunk space, especially in the hatchback model, which offers more room than its sedan counterpart. The hatchback door makes it easy to load items into the back, with a rear cover that hides things nicely for privacy.

    Comfortable armrests in the front and rear are well placed for passengers to enjoy, and can be used for storage. Nifty cubbies, side pockets, and cup holders provide plenty of spaces to store your belongings.

    • Storage: Little touches throughout the cabin, like the arm rests, coin slot, USB port, and 12v power cover are well-placed and serve a useful function.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: The hatchback offers a generous 23.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, increasing to 44.8 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded down.

  • Final Impressions: Good Things Come in Small Packages

    The cliché adage that "good things come in small packages" holds true for the Focus hatchback. When shopping for a vehicle, it's not all about size that matters, but rather how a vehicle makes use of the space it has, and the Focus doesn't let an inch go to waste.

    An attractive, crisp exterior is matched in looks by a thoughtfully designed, ergonomic cabin. At the Titanium level, a host of tech features come standard like Bluetooth, a rear view camera, and reverse sensing. Its size makes it easy to handle on the road at all speeds, never losing its composure or sacrificing ride quality. It provides a quiet, enjoyable riding experience, while still being able to incite some liveliness with its crisp handling. When it comes to getting the most out of your hard-earned dollars, the Focus hatchback brings big value to compact size.

  • Specifications and Price

    Engine: 2.0-liter I4

    Transmission: 6-speed automatic

    Drivetrain/Layout: front-wheel drive, front engine

    Power Output: 160 horsepower / 146 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 26 city / 38 highway

    Base Price: $23,725

    As Tested: $27,650 (incl. $875 destination)

    Standard Features: Auto halogen headlamps, rear spoiler, rear wiper, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, ambient lighting, heated leather front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual zone A/C, HD radio, reverse sensing and rear view camera, Sony audio, Sync 3, 10 speakers, keyless entry, push button start.

    Options on our test vehicle: 18-inch wheel package, Technology package ($795) with Lane Keeping Alert and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, navigation with voice activation, Active Park Assist, Cold Weather Package with all-weather floor mats and heated steering wheel.

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