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2018 Ford Focus vs. 2018 Chevrolet Cruze: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill October 2018
  • The Ford Focus offers high-performance ST and RS variants.

  • The Chevrolet Cruze offers an optional segment-exclusive diesel engine.

  • The Focus and the Cruze are both available in sedan and hatchback body styles.

The 2018 Ford Focus and the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze are the two last remaining compact sedans to be offered by the American automakers. Chances are, if you're in the market for a new economy car, you've considered either or both of these industry staples. Below, we'll discuss the major differences between these two vehicles and try to determine if one is really better than the other.

Background

The Ford Focus was last all-new for the 2011 model year and received an update for 2015. Both sedan and hatchback versions are offered; the Focus coupe was discontinued with the 2011 redesign.

The Chevrolet Cruze was last fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. Like the Focus, the Cruze offers sedan and hatchback body styles. The Cruze also offers a diesel-powered variant, the only vehicle in the segment to do so.

Engines

Non-ST versions of the Focus come with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. Mated to an automatic transmission, this engine achieves 26 miles per gallon in city driving, 38 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg overall. SE sedan models are offered with a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder making 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Paired with the automatic, this little turbo earns 27 mpg city/38 mpg hwy/31 mpg overall.

The performance-oriented Focus ST comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque and is offered exclusively with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Focus ST goes from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds while achieving 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving.

The Cruze is offered with one gasoline engine -- a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo making 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. This is offered with either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. Paired with the automatic, this engine earns 29 mpg city/40 mpg hwy/33 mpg combined.

The Cruze's diesel option is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbo making 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Either a 6-speed manual or 9-speed automatic is available. With the automatic, the Cruze diesel earns 31 mpg city/47 mpg hwy/37 mpg combined.

While the Cruze doesn't offer a bona fide performance variant, it does offer the RS appearance package, which provides more aggressive styling elements.

Dimensions

The Focus offers 38.3 inches of headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom in the front seat, while the Cruze offers 38.9 inches of headroom and 42.0 inches of legroom. In the back seat, the Focus sedan offers 38.0 inches of headroom and 33.2 inches of legroom, while the Cruze sedan offers 37.3 inches of headroom and 36.1 inches of legroom. Hatchback figures are very similar for both vehicles, differing only in terms of second-row headroom.

The Focus sedan has a trunk volume of 13 cu ft., while hatchback models offer 23 cu ft. with the second row up and 44 cu ft. with it folded. The Cruze is slightly larger in either configuration, offering either 14.8 or 13.9 cu ft. of trunk space in sedan models, depending on trim level. The Cruze hatch offers 25 cu ft. behind the second row and 47 cu ft. with the second row folded.

Safety

The Focus and the Cruze both score acceptably in third-party crash testing conducted by the insurance institute for highway safety, but it's worth noting that neither is a leader in the class.

In terms of driver-assistance safety features, the Focus is available with automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, parking assist and rear parking sensors.

The Cruze is available with optional automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic monitoring and rear parking sensors. This is basically the same thing as the Focus, save for the addition of forward-collision warning.

Infotainment

Focus S and SE models come with a small 4.2-in center infotainment screen, while SEL and Titanium models come with an 8.0-in touchscreen offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Through Ford's third-generation infotainment system, the Focus incorporates Amazon Alexa and Waze navigation services.

The Cruze offers a standard 7.0-in screen across the model lineup, along with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Cruze adds available 4G LTE with mobile Wi-Fi.

While the Cruze offers one 12-volt outlet and 1 USB port, the Focus offers two of each.

Both of these vehicles offer highly competent and well-rounded infotainment systems, but the Cruze scores extra points for offering its most premium unit as standard.

Features

Both the Cruze and the Focus come standard with a tilt-telescopic steering column, optional heated front seats and an available heated steering wheel. The Cruze gets a leg up as it comes with a standard power driver's seat and available heated rear seats.

Reliability

Cruze and Focus buyers should both see about average reliability. Both Chevrolet and Ford offer 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties, in line with the rest of the industry.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2018 Ford Focus and the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze are both competent vehicles. Neither is the leader in the compact car segment, but both offer efficiency and practicality, along with great infotainment setups and available driver-assistance features, both of which are things buyers should weigh heavily when choosing a new car. Given their similarities, it's hard to recommend one vehicle over the other, but we're inclined to give the nod to the Cruze, as it offers more standard features, provides more second-row legroom and achieves slightly better fuel economy. Ultimately, though, with these two, personal preference will certainly factor into your decision along with the incentives being offered by either manufacturer at your time of purchase.

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2018 Ford Focus vs. 2018 Chevrolet Cruze: Which Is Better? - Autotrader