$11,067 - $28,732

2016 Ford Focus Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Ford Focus was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

The 2016 Ford Focus earns praise for its nimble handling, which reviewers say makes it lots of fun to drive. Some test drivers report that the turbocharged three-cylinder engine doesn't have a lot of power, and some think that the three-cylinder Focus isn’t geared correctly for low-speed driving. Others mention that the three-cylinder makes the Focus feel powerful. Critics comment that the base Focus’ optional automated manual transmission doesn’t shift smoothly at low speeds.

  • "When it comes to that elusive fun-to-drive factor, for example, you'll find the Focus to be one of the more engaging cars in its class, with nimble handling that doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 Ford Focus follows in the footsteps of its predecessors. As a 'world car,' with similar versions sold in multiple countries, the Focus is designed to appeal to just about everyone in the world, really. So it's not surprising that the Focus delivers a first-class driving experience. All models combine a comfortable ride with confidence-inspiring driving dynamics." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "The Focus' European heritage is also reflected in its sturdy platform and well-executed mechanicals, which make for a surprisingly fun small car." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Thanks to its Continental turbo that helps deliver the engine's full 148 pound-feet of torque from just 1,400 rpm, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost behaves like a much larger unit - in fact, its power delivery characteristics are almost diesel-like in the way it delivers strong low-end performance but doesn't like to rev much." -- Autoblog (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Ford Focus comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. That engine is paired with either a five-speed manual or an available six-speed automated manual transmission. A 123-horsepower, turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine is available. It's paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.

With the base engine and automated manual transmission, the 2016 Focus gets 26/38 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. That's just above average for the class. Models with the optional turbocharged three-cylinder engine get 28/40 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission and 30/42 mpg with the manual.

Automotive journalists say the base engine provides adequate power for the typical commute, but a few say its available automated manual transmission feels unrefined. Some say the manual transmission's quick shifts make for a more enjoyable driving experience. The available three-cylinder engine delivers limited power and slow acceleration, some reviewers complain.

  • "The 2016 Ford Focus' standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine may not do much to quicken the pulse, but it gets the job done for typical day-to-day errand-running and returns strong fuel economy to boot. Unfortunately, its six-speed automated manual transmission isn't always as smooth as a conventional automatic at low speeds. If you don't mind shifting yourself, the base five-speed manual transmission works well enough and gives the car a sportier feel. We're less fond of the optional turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. It works fine in the smaller Ford Fiesta, but here it's a bit outmatched, and acceleration suffers." -- Edmunds
  • "A well-sorted five-speed manual is standard on most Focus models, while a six-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional. The latter behaves differently than a traditional torque-converter automatic, which is both good and bad. On the negative side, the dual-clutch can be slightly herky-jerky at lower speeds, and it doesn't always creep forward the way one would expect, which can make parking a little touch and go. It does, however, provide smooth, rapid shifts once underway and return excellent fuel economy. …" -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "The six-speed manual gearbox we sampled - the only transmission so far confirmed as available with the EcoBoost at launch - was a pleasure to use, with a light, direct action and a clutch pedal to match. With all that torque down low, you won't feel the need for constant shifting around town (though first gear is a bit short). … In any case, the car never felt out of breath." -- Autoblog (2015)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers praise the 2016 Ford Focus for its agile handling, sharp steering and strong brakes.  They say its ride remains comfortable on most models, but some say the Focus Titanium's sport-tuned suspension makes the ride more firm. 

  • "No matter the model, we like how the 2016 Ford Focus handles. Around turns, the car can lean a lot, but it's always stable and secure. Better still, this capable handling doesn't compromise the car's ride quality. The Focus is unruffled and remarkably quiet in everyday use." -- Edmunds
  • "The top-level Titanium with its sport suspension rides a little firmer, but with even better handling. With front disc/rear drum brakes on the Focus S and 4-wheel discs on higher-trim levels, the brakes deliver sure stops." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "With a multi-link suspension - that's a sophisticated touch for this price point - and a well-weighted, communicative electric power steering system, the Focus is a nimble, playful and planted backroads companion." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "[W]e observed a mature, well-damped ride from the Focus' recalibrated suspension and pleasingly weighted steering with good accuracy and decent feedback for an electric system." -- Autoblog (2015)

High-Performance Trims

The 2016 Ford Focus ST hatchback comes with front-wheel drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It's only available with a six-speed manual transmission.

The all-new 2016 Ford Focus RS hatchback comes with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Like the ST, the RS is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.

While some reviewers say the Ford Focus ST isn't the most sophisticated sporty compact car on the market, they agree that it's a lot of fun to drive. They note that it has exhilarating acceleration and a slick-shifting transmission. According to auto writers, both the ST and RS set a new standard for performance among American compact cars.

  • "The ST and RS offer a level of power and performance previously unknown in a domestic compact." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As for the turbocharged ST, it's a hoot. The rush of acceleration is addictive, and the exclusive 6-speed shifter is a willing partner." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The Ford ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics. But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money, it scores an undisputed ten on the entertainment scale, and it won't fall apart when pushed to the limit." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The 2013 Ford Focus ST picks up where the SVT version left off after the 2004 model year by transforming the pedestrian Focus--a nice but otherwise serviceable car--into a true enthusiast's ride. …" -- AutoWeek (2013)

Electric Trim

The 2016 Ford Focus Electric has a 143-horsepower electric motor. According to the EPA, the Focus Electric gets 110/99 mpg-equivalent city/highway and can travel 76 miles on a fully charged battery. (For more about mpg-e, see here.) Those numbers are a bit low compared with the mpg-e ratings and electric ranges of other electric vehicles.

With a typical 120-volt household outlet, Ford says it takes about 20 hours to charge the Focus Electric. Charging time decreases to about four hours with a 240-volt charging station.

According to critics, the Focus Electric feels peppy at low speeds, but is less responsive as speeds climb. They note that the Focus Electric isn't as nimble as the gas Focus, but say it's still more fun to drive than most electric vehicles.

  • "As for the Focus Electric, its battery-powered motor delivers immediate acceleration from a standing start, but that snappy sensation diminishes at higher speeds. Handling isn't quite as sharp either, but it's still one of the better-driving EVs in this price range." --Edmunds
  • "Weighing in at 3,691 lbs., the Focus Electric is considerably heavier than its fossil fuel-sipping counterparts. The extra mass takes a toll on agility, although handling remains safe and predictable." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Focus Electric is among the more rewarding pure-electric vehicles to drive. And, for the most part, it feels like a conventional Focus." -- Consumer Guide (2015)

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