The 2014 Ford Focus compact is this week’s test drive, arriving in upper-tier Titanium dress. This five-door hatchback design is one of Ford’s top selling vehicles, and it’s receiving critical acclaim by consumers and the automotive press.
Completely re-styled in 2012, Focus for 2014 is available in sedan and hatchback styles in three distinct trim levels; S (sedan only), SE and Titanium.
The entry S sedan starts at just $16,810 as pricing then moves upward to SE at $18,125 and ends at top line Titanium for $23,575 (sedan) and $24,115 (hatchback).
It’s been a while since we’ve driven Ford products, so we’re pleased to say up front that the 2014 Focus effort may be the best ever by Ford in the compact category.
Had I closed my eyes, sat in the seat and then driven the vehicle without knowing the brand, I probably would have guessed a German built vehicle. From its firm yet comfortable seating, handling characteristics to the feedback through the steering wheel, Focus for 2014 is a compact car that offers a major return on investment for those shopping this segment.
Also important is styling. I’ve noticed Ford Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Taurus and even Mustang have a similar styled grille opening that says “this is a Ford” loud and clear.
This uniqueness is good for highway identification to both Ford owners, and, more importantly, non-Ford owners. I would think the resemblance serves the non-Ford driver even more so than the Ford owner, as the latter is already aware of the fine products Ford is producing these days up Detroit way.
Our Titanium hatchback delivers outstanding fuel mileage with 27 city and 37 highway EPA averages. Ford then “doubles up” on the positives thanks to spirited performance, good handling and a four-cylinder engine that is perhaps the quietest of all the prior four cylinder compacts I’ve driven.
Top tier Titanium models come with an expanded list of standard features, including Ford Sync voice command, MyFord Touch eight-inch touch screen, reverse sensing rear safety camera, push button “Intelligent access” start, dual zone air, chrome bezel foglamps, rear spoiler, rear wiper, 10-speaker Sony audio with Sirius/XM, traction control, four wheel ABS discs and much more.
Titanium models also include the “SE” appearance package as standard fare, delivering leather seating, 17-inch alloys, power driver seat, ambient interior lighting, 60/40 split rear seat, heated mirrors and heated front seats.
Options on our Titanium include a $795 Navigation system and $395 “Ruby Red” clearcoat paint, the latter worth the extra money.
All front-wheel-drive 2014 Focus models feature the aforementioned four-cylinder in 2.0-liter displacement. The engine develops 160-horses and 146 lb. ft. of torque, more than enough to move the Focus in an acceptable manner.
Entry S and mid-level SE feature five-speed manuals as standard, while a six-speed automatic “Powershift” dual-clutch is optional. The automatic is standard on the Titanium, but if you still like to shift manually, your Ford dealer can order your Titanium with the manual transmission at no additional cost.
Notable, too, is the inner-workings of the six speed automatic that is similar to other dual-clutch automatics we’ve tested. To summarize, the Focus six speed automatic acts like a manual in that uses two separate clutches for odd and even gears contained in one unit housing, eliminating the torque converter. The result is better fuel economy and more solid shift characteristics.
On the safety side, Focus earns an overall Five Star safety rating from government crash tests, meaning when you strap into this Ford compact you are driving one of the safest smaller cars on the highway.
Our favorite part of the 2014 Focus, however, is the cabin. From gauge layout to comfort, this interior features high quality materials. One negative is the radio controls, which are somewhat cumbersome to learn.
A positive is the door lock-unlock switch, which is situated with just one button on the center of the dashboard instead of one on each door. Overall, Focus Titanium’s interior is outstanding.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, 2,948 lb. curb weight, from 23.8 to 44.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 12.4 gallon fuel tank.
If you want to drive one of the best compacts on the road today, visit your Ford dealer as the 2014 Ford Focus receives a Test Drive top recommendation.
Likes: Looks, interior, handling, fuel mileage, amenities.
Dislikes: Tight rear quarters, no 100,000-mile warranty.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for BestRide.com and Gatehouse Media publications.