By Aaron Bragman on April 17, 2014
Ford would like you to know that the Focus is the best-selling compact car in the world, and it's not difficult to see why it's popular. The Focus always has been stylish, and adding in its European-style tight handling and excellent interior materials means that there's a definite appeal to the compact sedan and hatchback. Ford showed off the latest 2015 Focus at the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show last month, but now it's time to see the sedan version, which is more popular in the U.S.
The hatchback variant was on display in Geneva, but the 2015 Ford Focus sedan and Focus Electric hatchback are rolling out here at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. All are set to arrive in the U.S. late this year.
Styling on the new Focus is evolutionary, as this is a moderate refresh and not an all-new platform. Up front, the resemblance to the rest of the Ford corporate lineup is clear - the new Focus now apes the Fiesta in its front-end treatment, with new LED running lights and a split grille. The sedan shown at the New York show in blue also has a Sport Package that includes some racier trim and an optional Black Package that paints that trim in metallic black. The grille, headlights, mirror caps, spoiler and wheels all get the dark treatment, and it looks pretty good.
From the side, the Focus doesn't look all that different, but the reorientation of the rear taillights to a more horizontal position does indeed give the car a wider look, as Ford intended. It's a mild update overall, one that you may have to see next to the old car to fully appreciate, but it's still attractive and keeps the Focus competitive.
The bigger news for the Focus is under the hood and in the cockpit. The 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine joins the lineup, but only with a manual transmission, which will severely limit its appeal. Learn to drive a stick though, and you can have it in any of the Focus' trim levels.
The interior gets some mild revisions too, with the big news being Ford sticking with buttons for the top trim levels of the Focus instead of going to touch-sensitive panels.
It seems the company has learned its lesson about touch panels, after a couple years of being dinged by customer satisfaction surveys and negative press. The climate control knobs and buttons are mildly revised for easier use, and the high-end Sony audio system looks relatively unchanged. MyFord Touch still has a big touch-screen high in the dashboard, but its operation has been revised; it is actually faster, more accurate and easier to use than previous versions.
An area not touched by Ford, however, is interior space, which is still somewhat tight in the Focus. A narrow cabin and wide center console eat up some of the room for front-seat passengers, while legroom is still tight for rear-seat occupants. Seats still feel a little on the small and short side as well. But with the Focus' style, versatility and fuel economy, it looks set to keep its competitive position for at least the next few years.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron