Ford’s 2015 Focus SE offers a unique mix of content, style and features and nails the budget.
Ford’s Focus SE does battle in a very difficult segment. The Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra are all excellent vehicles that offer tremendous value. Ford’s SE is the trim tasked with doing the bulk of the work in terms of sales. This is the young family / young adult targeted sedan, and the secret to its success is a well-considered features and content list.
The Focus SE success story starts with the engine. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 160 hp. Just about right for a vehicle with this job to do. Ford makes a hot-hatch version of the Focus, and this is not it. This is the “normal” family car engine. The four in my Focus SE had enough power to keep up with traffic, a little bit of zing when I redlined it, and was mostly out of the way. During starts with the AC on it did lack torque, but one learns to simply rev the engine higher to get moving.
This being a stick shift, and me being an auto enthusiast, I’m supposed to tell you I loved the stick. Sorry, but it was just a hassle for me. I used the vehicle in real life scenarios, and it is just an annoyance. This is not a Miata and shifting it didn’t bring me any pleasure. Since it has only five speeds I assumed I would need them all, but in fact in normal driving I adopted the habit of shifting one – two – four. At about 33 miles per hour the Focus flashes an upshift indicator saying one should shift to the fifth and final gear. On the other hand, if you don’t learn to drive a stick when you’re in your youth, you never will. So kudos to Ford for offering it.
Handling was very good. The suspension and optional 17-inch wheels and tires didn’t slam over pot-holes. The Focus is a good example of an affordable front-drive sedan. Not exactly a road-carver, but easy to enjoy. It was also an easy car to enter. Too many small sedans pull the B-pillar so far forward that it is in the way as you enter and exit. Ford got this right.
The interior was just right for the $23,425 price point. The Ford Synch infotainment system is excellent and dead-simple to use. Synching one’s phone is as easy as it gets, and the menus make sense. GM, Ford and FCA US (Jeep Chrysler) all seem to be going with touch-screen systems instead of mouse-type controllers. I applaud this.
The included navigation system at this reasonable price point is a great bonus. The lack of leather and a moonroof also made sense to me. Someone at Ford understands that buyers in the class have a budget they need to stick to. That Ford employee thought through what made the most sense given that not everything could be included. Well done.
The Focus is a tight fit in back. The Corolla is much larger. The Focus is also not as stylish inside as the Mazda3. That said, overall, the Focus seems to hit all the right notes. Each car in this segment has its pluses and minuses. Ford avoided anything that would exclude a buyer from considering it and with the Sync system and a stronger engine than the Corolla, this car is easy to like.
My tester sipped fuel even though I seemed to be thrashing the engine around town. My mileage in suburban driving was about 32 MPG. The EPA estimates drivers will get 30 combined and 36 on the highway. There are cars in the segment that can top this, but they have just a smidge less power than the Focus SE, and it is noticeable in a class where power is low already.
My Focus test car received a lot of positive comments from both my boys (16 and 13) and also some folks of retirement age. That Ford can build a car with a style and features that appeals to such a wide audience is impressive.
There are cars in the Ford Focus SE’s class than can do single things better than it can. However, very few offer such a balanced package with no weak points. The Focus SE is a safe bet for any shopper looking for value in the small, affordable sedan market.
2015 Ford Focus Sedan SE
- Appearance and Sat Rad Package ($1,995)
- Blue Candy Metallic Paint ($395)
- Reverse Sensing System ($255)
Price as tested: $23,425 Including Destination Charge
- Easy to Use Synch Infotainment System
- Power Driver’s Seat
- Great Mix of Content At Price Point
- Windshield Glare