The 2013 Ford Focus is the best compact Ford has ever built and easily the equal of any import. Based on the much loved European Ford Focus, the American version carries a level of styling and sophistication previously unknown to compact car buyers. Beyond its good looks and great gas mileage, the Focus delivers the kind of ride and handling usually associated with sportier cars, such as the VW GTI and Mazda3. Roomy, comfortable and amazingly quiet inside, the Focus offers budget-minded and first-time buyers a small car with big car features, including SYNC infotainment and audio, Park Assist (a system that parallel parks the car) and a number of upgraded interior trims. The Focus is offered as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, and trim levels include a high-performance turbocharged variant as well as an all-electric car, making the Focus one of the most diverse compact car lines available.

What We Like

Slick styling; roomy interior; great fuel economy; electric model; lots of high-end features

What We Don't

Modest horsepower on nonturbo models; upper end models can be pricey; snug seats on ST; busy dash and LCD screens

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Focus's standard engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder good for 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic is standard depending on the trim. Environmental Protection Agency estimates for this engine are 26 miles per gallon city/36 mpg hwy with the manual, 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the automatic, 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the SelectShift automatic and 28 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the SFE package, which includes low-rolling-resistance tires, auto articulated grille shutters and aerodynamic wheel covers.

The Focus ST uses a turbocharged version of this same engine, boosting output to 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available for the ST is a 6-speed manual that returns fairly respectable fuel economy estimates of 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

Finally, there is the Focus Electric, which employs a 143 hp permanent magnet motor and 23-kWh lithium-ion battery for a projected range of about 75 miles per charge.

Standard Features & Options

The Focus comes in five trims: S, SE, Titanium, ST and Electric. In addition, an SFE (Super Fuel Efficient) package can be added to the SE trim, raising fuel economy to 40 mpg on the highway. For 2013, the SEL is dropped from the line with most of its equipment transferred to the SE. The Titanium trim gains an available 5-speed manual transmission option, and the turbocharged ST is introduced.

Standard features for the Focus S include a 5-speed manual transmission, tilt/telescoping steering column, air conditioning, power front windows, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with four speakers, power door locks, power mirrors, electronic traction and stability control and six airbags.

The Focus SE adds a 6-speed automatic transmission, power rear windows, MyKey programmable key fob, fog lights, SYNC, 60/40 split folding rear seat back, MyFord Driver Connect, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, upgraded audio, trip computer, 4-wheel disc brakes, MyKey programmable key fob and 16-inch wheels.

The Focus Titanium brings leather seating, heated front seats, power driver's seat with lumbar support, 17-in alloy wheels, 10-speaker Sony audio, MyFord Touch, Intelligent Access keyless entry and push-button start, upgraded suspension, sport seats and rear backup sensors.

The Focus ST brings the EcoBoost turbocharged engine, a sport suspension, 18-in wheels and unique exterior trim and colors. Options for the ST mirror those for the Titanium except for the form-fitting Recaro sport seat option.

The Focus Electric mirrors the Titanium in most of its standard and optional equipment.

Options vary by trim and include a power sunroof, voice-activated navigation, winter handling package, 10-speaker Sony audio with subwoofer, Active Park Assist parallel parking, front and rear parking sensors, rear backup camera, Tuscany Red or Arctic White interior styling package (Titanium), remote start, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated side mirrors and rain sensing wipers.

Pricing

A look at resale numbers shows the Focus holds its value better than previous generations but is still not as strong as the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra. This means it is possible to get a really good deal on a low mileage Focus. To get a better idea of the Focus's price range, we suggest using Kelley Blue Book's (kbb.com) used car value page, or check out the AutoTrader classifieds to see what the Focus is selling for in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a recall for the 2013 Ford Focus for a possible defective left rear door child safety lock. The lock may not engage when the operator uses normal force to activate the mechanism.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2013 Focus earns an overall score of four out of five stars in NHTSA's crash tests, earning four stars in the frontal and rollover tests and five stars in the side impact test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Focus its highest ratings in the front overlap, side impact and roof strength test and named the Focus a Top Safety Pick.

The Ford Focus left the factory with a fully transferable 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Ford offers extended warranties on its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles, which include seven years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain from the date the car entered service and a 12-month/12,000-mile comprehensive plan for cars no longer covered by the factory basic warranty. CPO cars also undergo a rigorous 172-point inspection to repair or replace any part not up to Ford standards. The CPO plan has many additional benefits, such as a free CARFAX vehicle report, 24-hour roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.

Other Cars to Consider

VW Golf -- The Golf offers a diesel engine and a nicer interior, but it doesn't have nearly the features or the handling abilities of the Focus.

Honda Civic -- The Civic holds its value better than the Focus and has a longer history of reliability, but the Civic is somewhat bland and lacks many of the Focus's high-tech offerings.

Hyundai Elantra -- The Elantra matches the Focus for fuel economy, features and looks, and it has a longer warranty and costs less. But the Elantra's interior materials are not as refined, and there is no model to rival the ST or Electric.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best value resides in the 2013 SE. This trim is nicely equipped, not too expensive and delivers the best fuel economy, especially with the SFE package.

Find a Ford Focus for sale

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Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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