2015 Ford Focus Titanium Road Test – Edmunds.com

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014

, Features Editor

Quick Summary
Fully revised this year, the 2015 Ford Focus brings slick new style on the outside along with a higher-quality, less sci-fi-inspired interior on the inside. A new 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder motor has also been added as an option. A much improved package overall, this Focus is once again one of the top compact cars in its class.

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2015 Ford Focus

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MSRP from $17,170


What Is It?
The 2015 Ford Focus is a compact car available in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback layouts. There are three trims (S, SE and Titanium) and nine subtrims available for the Focus including SE EcoBoost, SE Appearance, SE Black and Titanium Handling. The difference between these packs is largely relegated to wheel size, feature content and available engines. S models start out with 15-inch wheels with skinny tires while that top-trim Titanium Handling package stuffs on meaty 18-inch wheels and tires.

For 2015, the Focus is thoroughly refreshed inside and out. Exterior changes are immediately clear with a nose pulled straight off the Fusion and cleaner, less fussy taillights. There were also minor changes to the suspension to improve ride quality. The biggest changes by far were on the inside. Gone is the spaceship look of the current Focus, replaced with an easy-to-use assembly of buttons paired with high-quality materials.

At the time of this writing, there are two engines available for the 2015 Focus. The first is a 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that can be paired with either a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The new addition for this year is a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder that currently serves duty in the Ford Fiesta SFE. Preliminary estimates put this engine at 123 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque from a low-low 1,400 rpm. This engine is, bizarrely, only available with a six-speed manual transmission and that’s the configuration we sampled for this test.

2015 Ford Focus Titanium

How Much Does It Cost?
Although it goes on sale before the end of the year, Ford hasn’t announced pricing on the 2015 Ford Focus yet. Still, we can take a few educated guesses and get to a close estimation.

The current 2014 Ford Focus S Sedan starts off with an MSRP of $17,635 and we expect the 2015 model to start in that same ballpark. Now, the engine is a little tricky as it’s not a trim package but rather will be an add-on option like it is on the Fiesta. On that car, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine carries an additional charge of $995 and is only available on certain models.

Assuming that same base price and the same trim constraints, expect the 2015 Ford Focus 1.0-liter to start at about $20,000. Our test car was a 2015 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback with numerous driver-assistance features and should carry a price of close to $25,000.

How Does It Drive?
Though this new 1.0-liter is a normal gasoline motor, it behaves quite a bit like a diesel. There’s some decent low-end torque right off of idle, and the Focus needs to be shifted far, far earlier than you’d expect. First gear is annoyingly short and you’re barely moving before you run out of revs and are forced into a too-high 2nd gear.

Thankfully there’s plenty of torque from this small motor so the car doesn’t buck or shudder. If your commute involves a lot of stop-and-go, sub-20-mph slogging about, the smaller engine will constantly be in the wrong rev range for keeping up with traffic. We don’t remember the Fiesta 1.0 having these same issues, but that car was some 400 pounds lighter.

Bookending this low-speed uncomfortableness is the Focus 1.0’s absolute pleasantness at sustained cruising. Thanks to some high-tech internal balancing, the EcoBoost 1.0 is sour cream-smooth on the open road and very little engine noise penetrates the cabin. There’s enough power for well-planned passing and the Focus has enough grip to be a fun toy on back roads if you plan your attack carefully. Still, the engine doesn’t respond well to immediate requests for power and the electric-assist power steering takes some getting used to.

2015 Ford Focus Titanium

What Is the Interior Like?
We weren’t there, but when the outgoing Focus interior was shown to the designer’s mother, she probably said “that’s very interesting.” And it was interesting. It just wasn’t clean or refined with some obvious missteps when it came to materials and layout.

The 2015 Ford Focus’ interior on the other hand is much improved. The climate control layout is simple and clear and the dual-zone functionality on the Titanium we drove worked quite well. Similarly, the instrument panel was easy to read and though there are a lot of them, the buttons on the new three-spoke steering wheel were easy to figure out. The seats are well-stitched, supportive and the material feels sturdy.

What Safety Features Are Offered?
The 2015 Focus gets the usual stability control, dual-stage front airbags, front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, LATCH points and rearview camera. Beyond that the Focus can be equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist with blind-spot monitors and a hyperactive emergency braking notification that flashes a bright light when anyone near you slows down.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
Ford hasn’t had the 2015 Focus 1.0 officially certified by the EPA yet, but that won’t stop us from guessing. The outgoing Focus with the 2.0-liter and the five-speed manual has an EPA combined fuel economy of 30 mpg while the Ford Fiesta SFE with the same 1.0-liter engine returns 36 mpg. Thanks to the weight penalty and increased frontal area of the Focus, we’re expecting it to return close to 33 mpg combined with 40 mpg on the highway.

2015 Ford Focus Titanium

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Chevy Cruze: The Cruze often gets overlooked in this category, but it’s a handsome small car with a quality interior and an available diesel motor that delivers excellent mileage and drivability.

Honda Civic: The standard-bearer for the class. A raft of updates for 2013 vaulted the Civic back to the top of the pack. It has the least interesting powertrains in the class, but perhaps the greatest refinement.

Mazda 3: The driver’s pick. The current Mazda 3 is the most stylish car in the class, offers a ton of neat tech features and drives better than anything this inexpensive should.

Why Should You Consider This Car?
It looks great, the interior is far more refined and the new 1.0-liter is an interesting and fuel-efficient proposition. If you’ve got a wide-open commute and don’t want to be bothered by a touchy, buzzy motor that cruises at high rpm, this is the car to get.

Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
The optional, more fuel-efficient 1.0-liter engine is only available with a manual transmission. Even if you don’t mind shifting yourself, the power delivery of the three-cylinder engine isn’t ideal for all types of commuting.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

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