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Ford Focus sheds its mediocre past

Ford Focus

Although around for more than a dozen years, the Ford Focus was one of those small vehicles that the company seemingly overlooked. It was respectable, but Ford didn't put an emphasis on really moving the Focus out of its rather mediocre ranking.

But apparently that reluctance to push the Focus to greater heights has concluded.

Ford redesigned the Focus two years ago and has produced a fairly sporty and refined compact car that has received strong statements of approval from prominent auto publications.

The Focus has an appealing exterior styling and the interior design has a smart layout of controls and gauges.Ford has also made an effort to improve the handling and give the Focus a quieter ride. Confident in all its improvements, this is the first time that Ford has simultaneously sold the Focus in the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world.

One additional change was adding the Focus Electric to its trim models. The 107-kilowatt electric car draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack. The great news - it gets between 99-110 mpg! The bad - the Focus Electric costs $39,200, over double the price of the base model ($18,300). Note that the electric model needs charging every 76 miles.

The more standard Focus models all feature improved technology. Although not all standard equipment, available are a rearview camera, HD radio, automated parking assist for drivers who hate to parallel park, plus Ford's hands-free Sync technology and the MyFord Touch system that utilizes a large center touchscreen and voice commands with much less dependence on buttons and knobs.

The Focus provides comfortable and supportive seating for all occupants. Tilt-steering and height adjustable seats are two additions that drivers will enjoy. However, the backseat could still use more leg room and the trunk (13.2 cubic feet) is only average for a compact.

For a more versatile vehicle, the Focus hatchback provides 23.8 cubic feet of space, and has 60/40 split rear seats that nearly doubles the available space  to 44.8 cubic feet.

Ford has beefed up the performance of the front-wheel drive Focus with a new 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 146-pund-feet of torque. It's been clocked going 0-60 in 8.7 seconds. Gas mileage is a major plus with a range between 27-38 mpg.

Ford decided to give the vehicle a major performance upgrade, introducing the Focus ST. This is one fast compact car, thanks to a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine that produces 252 horsepower and with 270 pounds-feet of torque.

Previous Focus owners will recognize the shift to a more dynamic, sporty handling vehicle that leaves the Focus more in touch with the road and capable of making sharper turns. The Focus definitely allows for more fun factor than ever before.

Available as a sedan or four-door hatchback, the new-look Focus can definitely hang with rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai Elantra. The Focus is dramatically improved, so expect its sales to also travel down that same path.

2014 Ford Focus

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 160 horsepower 
  • Mileage estimate: 27-38 mpg
  • Estimated price: $16,310 to $24,115
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.

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