2010 Ford Focus Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 6, 2009

If you've got around $15,000 to spend, the 2010 Ford Focus is a great choice, especially if you are prioritizing safety or comfort.

In order to put together this conclusive review on the new 2010 Ford Focus, TheCarConnection.com's editors researched road tests and reviews from a wide range of sources. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove several different 2010 Focus models, including the coupe and sedan body styles, and offer more insight and details where they help you with your own research.

While the Focus may have been extensively refreshed in 2008, the 2010 model is still sitting on the same platform introduced back in 1999. Despite its age, the platform has proven to be a capable performer in the past for Ford, although there have been some complaints that the car could be sportier.

It's been two years since Ford's complete redesign of the Focus, but the fresh styling cues and the fantastic interior are still appealing aspects of the car—though some find the exterior design to be a little bit unconventional. One of the major criticisms of the 2008 Ford Focus was that it was aesthetically lacking, and in the case of the sedan, little was changed in between then and now to alter this image. Ford did, however, take the Coupe and redesign it in 2009. While this was an improvement on the styling front, the Focus Coupe still wasn't the prettiest compact car on the block, and this remains the case for the 2010 model.

Powering the 2010 Ford Focus are the same engines as last year's model, including the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that churns out 140 horsepower in the Focus sedan and, thanks to a new sport-tuned exhaust, 143 hp in the Focus coupe. Buyers can opt for either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed auto shifter. There is also a superclean 136-hp variant of the Duratec engine available, and in California this qualifies the Focus as a partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV).

Review continues below

Like last year's Focus, the 2010 Ford Focus is pleasant and quiet on the inside—a big improvement from the last generation of Focus, which could be a little noisy. The well-reviewed Focus interior is also back this year, and with details like sculpted rings surrounding the instrumentation, there has been praise for both its layout and detail. At the same time, not everything is perfect in the interior.

Ford has really stepped up its standard equipment list with the 2010 model. New for this year, Ford includes four-wheel ABS brakes as standard on every model in the Focus lineup, along with Ford's AdvanceTrak stability control system. Side and curtain airbags for those up front are also standard, along with an occupant-sensing system.

Also standard on all 2010 Focus models is the new MyKey system. Parents of teenagers will appreciate this feature, as it allows them to limit the car's top speed to 80 mph, keep traction control on at all times, and restrict the volume on the stereo to 44 percent of its loudest setting.

In terms of models, you can have the 2010 Ford Focus as either a traditional sedan or a more compact two-door coupe. Available trim levels range from the base S to the range-topping SEL trim, while SE and SES trims fill out the middle. The Ford Focus coupe is only available in SE and SES garb. The 2010 Focus has the same acclaimed SYNC entertainment and communications interface, with two significant differences. First of all, the SYNC system is now a standard feature when the Focus is ordered in SES or SEL trim. It is still available as a $395 option in the Focus' SE trim, but not on the base S model. Additionally, SYNC has been updated to include real-time traffic reports, turn-by-turn navigation, and other features, on top of its ability to link the car to all manner of phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and portable storage devices. Depending on how you store your music and what type of cell phone you have, generally the SYNC system is an excellent interface, and the voice commands help you keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

6

2010 Ford Focus

Styling

The 2010 Ford Focus returns with confusing and muddled exterior looks, but all is forgiven for the gorgeous cabin.

It's been two years since Ford's complete redesign of the Focus, but the fresh styling cues and the fantastic interior are still appealing aspects of the car—though some find the exterior design to be a little bit unconventional.

Although it hasn't exactly caused the motoring press to swoon, there are some redeeming features of the 2010 Focus' styling. While the Coupe model was redesigned last year, the "gawky profile doesn't mesh with the restyled front and back at all," according to Cars.com. Similarly, reviewers at Jalopnik are not impressed with "what the Dearborn-based automaker calls a 'sporty new look.' We call it lipstick." Despite the lack of enthusiasm in its last redesign, Ford also gives the newest SES sedan a "euro-look fascia" taken from the Coupe, along with dark chrome on the grille, headlamps, and taillights. Overall, Autoblog says that with the styling tweaks made to the Focus Coupe's previous redesign, it "has surely lost its visual luster, but that's a good thing from a design standpoint."

Kelley Blue Book reviewers report that "base S models come with 15-inch steel wheels; the SE gets alloy rims of the same size." New for 2010, buyers of the SE models can also request a decklid spoiler and fog lamps. This year, the SEL variants still come with 16-inch rims, but both the SES Coupe and Sedan models now receive 17-inchers.

There are also three new colors available for the 2010 Focus: Natural Neutral, Blue Flame, and Ingot Silver.

While the exterior may not get the most inspiring reviews, the opposite can be said of the 2010 Ford Focus' interior cabin, which remains much the same as last year's model. ConsumerGuide praises the "well-arranged dashboard [that] has mostly intuitive and handy controls," although the gauges "can be hard to read in changing lighting conditions" and the new moonroof option available for 2010 can restrict headroom. Cars.com is also impressed, finding that the "striking, winged dashboard draws the eyes immediately." Kelley Blue Book adds that one of the benefits of the more mature dashboard design is that it offers "improved storage spaces, better-positioned controls and attractive ice-blue backlighting." Autoblog laments that the Focus still features a "T-shaped swath of silver plastic...with clearly laid out controls for the stereo and HVAC placed front and center."

7

2010 Ford Focus

Performance

With a good compromise between ride quality and dynamics, the 2010 Ford Focus retains its position as one of the better-handling economy cars—although the brakes let it down with their poor stopping power.  

Performance-wise, the 2010 Ford Focus was never meant to be a truly "sporty" car. What it does well is fit into its designated role as a comfortable commuter thanks to its soft ride and high fuel economy. This year's new Focus, much like last year's, is still no road rocket, despite Ford's claims that they have made it sportier.

For 2010 the Ford Focus features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine "that produces 140 hp in sedans and 143 hp in coupes," according to ConsumerGuide. There is also a "cleaner version of that engine that earns PZEV tailpipe-emissions certification" available in California emissions states, notes Edmunds. Power is generally adequate, but far from spectacular. In the Ford Focus 2010 coupe, Autoblog reviewers find that "the 143-hp 2.0L engine is not nearly enough to make anyone feel fast," and ConsumerGuide reports that the Ford Focus "has just adequate power for highway merging or ascending long grades." Cars.com adds that the Ford Focus sedan's "engine isn't peppy and doesn't induce much confidence of the line." For the number enthusiasts out there, Edmunds says that "in testing, an automatic Focus coupe went from zero to 60 mph in a lackluster 9.7 seconds."

In terms of transmissions, Edmunds reports that "the standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual," and a "four-speed automatic" is available. Both transmissions fail to particularly impress reviewers, although Cars.com finds that "the four-speed automatic shifts upward smoothly enough" but only "when you're not lead-footing it." Edmunds observes that "the four-speed automatic is increasingly outdated by competing models' five-speed units." The reviewers at Autoblog contend that the "unremarkable five-speed [manual] transmission, rubbery clutch and tall shifter" all combine for "an ordinary, economy car driving experience from a vehicle whose exterior promises more." ConsumerGuide points out that "the automatic provides timely downshifts," but they recommend the manual since the "manual-transmission models feel snappier."

As an economy car, high mileage is the Focus' bread and butter, and true to its intentions, it provides above-average fuel economy. For the sedan with automatic transmission, Cars.com reports that the "EPA figures are rated at a very respectable 24/35 mpg city/highway. In comparison, the 2008 Honda Civic gets 26/36 mpg." For the Ford Focus with automatic transmission, the official EPA ratings drop to 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway.

While most agree the 2010 Focus is no handling slouch, TheCarConnection.com editors note it doesn't have the crisp handling feel that pre-2008 Focus models previously possessed. Edmunds finds that "the Focus has commendable steering response and feedback along with a decent amount of grip when driven hard," but it is not quite as fun to drive as the Honda Civic or Mazda 3.  MyRide.com calls the 2009 Ford Focus "a very competent handler," and ConsumerGuide praises the sedans for their "communicative steering and decent grip in fast turns," while they feel that the Ford Focus "SES coupes are sportier, with better grip and balance overall." Car and Driver observes that the Ford Focus' "independent suspension seems to have become a bit softer and more compliant," which leads them to believe that "those seeking luxury in their small cars will approve; those who equate small with fun will be disappointed."

One of the more maligned aspects of the 2010 Focus' performance is its brakes. Cars.com says that the brakes "offer little reassurance. The pedal needs a thorough push to bring a response, making you feel as if you're trying to slow a full-size SUV rather than a small economy car."

8

2010 Ford Focus

Comfort & Quality

Generous passenger room and comfortable seats can't quite make up for only fair quality in the 2010 Ford Focus.   

Reviews of the Focus' comfort and quality are varied, depending on the reviewer. Overall, the general feel is that the comfort and quality in the 2010 Focus is positive, especially since the current generation holds many improvements over previous Ford Focus models. There are still some points that attract criticism, however, such as the cheesy faux aluminum trim.

Inside the 2010 Ford Focus, Car and Driver reviewers find that "the front seats are flat and firm but offer little bolstering." ConsumerGuide notes that the Ford Focus' "legroom is quite good for the class, and headroom is outstanding in models that don't have the sunroof." For most people, the Focus will be a daily driver, and Cars.com says that "the seats offered plenty of support on long commutes."  The rear seats in the Coupe don't fare quite so well, as ConsumerGuide reports that "in the coupe, smaller adults will fit in the back [only] for short trips." Exacerbating this problem is the fact that "the front seats don't automatically slide forward and there's a hanging seatbelt you'll have to battle your way past", according to Car and Driver.

Like last year's model, the 2010 Ford Focus is fairly average in terms of utility. Reviewers at ConsumerGuide grumble that "interior storage is merely okay. The glovebox is skimpy, as are the front-door map pockets," while Kelley Blue Book notes that the "improved storage spaces," differentiate this generation of Focus from the previous. As for the trunk, Cars.com reports it's "plenty big for the class," and while "the rear seats fold flat to expand the cargo area," they also remark that "not much will be able to make its way through the narrow opening they leave. This feature could work for golfers or other athletes with oddly shaped gear, but it probably won't help those with bulky luggage."

One of the major gripes found with the Ford Focus 2010's quality are the interior materials; while they are certainly improved compared to previous models, that doesn't mean they are near the top of the class. Edmunds notes the 2010 Focus features some "cheap-looking plastic interior bits and a button-heavy center stack that some people find a bit confusing." Car and Driver feels that "too many surfaces are cheesy—notably the faux aluminum trim, the hard-plastic door inserts and the flimsy trunk carpeting." ConsumerGuide adds that the "interior materials disappoint overall," and even the "dashboard on the SES model is dominated by dull, silvery plastic trim, which reeks of cost cutting." Cars.com also points out that "the quality of the leather was passable" on their seats, "though nothing spectacular."
While interior quality does not turn in a stellar performance, one area where the 2010 Focus excels is in road noise, which doesn't appear to be a cause for concern. Automobile Magazine calls the Ford Focus 2010 "surprisingly quiet and Edmunds reviewers agree that the "interior remains quiet on the highway, as there's little wind or engine noise." However, the hard-to-please testers at ConsumerGuide reports that "road rumble is marked, and the tires thump over expansion joints."

7

2010 Ford Focus

Safety

The 2010 Ford Focus is a major improvement over last year's model in regard to safety—thanks to ABS, stability control, and MyKey fitted as standard on all models. That's not the case with most of its rivals.

This year's 2010 Ford Focus model makes some improvements in the safety stakes. While last year there was a lot of criticism over the Focus' lack of standard ABS, Ford responds this year by including it as standard, among other safety improvements.

The Ford Focus offers mixed results in NHTSA crash tests. While the Ford Focus sedan earns respectable four-star ratings in both front and side impact tests, the Ford Focus coupe scores a meager three stars in the side impact category—the lowest that vehicles score currently. However, the 2010 Ford Focus coupe does earn a perfect five-star rating for front impact tests. Despite this, the IIHS still awards the Ford Focus its highest possible rating, "good," for frontal offset impacts as it does not differentiate between body styles. In the IIHS side impact test, the 2010 Ford Focus earns a second-best rating of "acceptable."

The 2010 Ford Focus doesn't offer too much in the way of standard safety equipment, except for six airbags, including standard side-impact and side-curtain airbags. Despite its economy car status, Ford takes steps to improve the Focus' safety credentials, chief among them the addition of standard ABS across all models. For 2010, all Ford Focus models also feature Ford's AdvanceTrak stability control system as standard—a big improvement considering that Cars.com found it disturbing that last year's model did not even have stability control "available as an option."

Ford includes its innovative MyKey system as a standard safety feature in all 2010 Focus models. The system "allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their teenage drivers," according to Edmunds, and should give parents greater peace of mind when their teenagers begin driving.
One oft-overlooked safety characteristic is driver visibility, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2010 Ford Focus offers generous sightlines. MyRide.com reviewers point out that "the view all around is very good," while the "angle of the windshield relative to the driver provides an excellent view of the road."

8

2010 Ford Focus

Features

The higher-trimmed 2010 Focus comes with a plethora of standard equipment, but there are still options available for those buying lower trim models.

In terms of features, the 2010 Ford Focus is hard to top with its long list of tech-heavy offerings that shine in the economy car segment.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the base S model is a somewhat stripped-down vehicle, as is to be expected, though by the time you get up to the range-topping SEL trim, the 2010 Ford Focus presents a rather desirable package.
Edmunds notes that the base S includes "air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, center console, split folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, digital-media player connection, tachometer, rear defogger [and] intermittent wipers," along with the new MyKey system. Moving up to the Ford Focus SE brings "power mirrors (sedan), heated power mirrors (coupe)," and full power accessories, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, according to ConsumerGuide. For the top-end Ford Focus 2010 models, Kelley Blue Book says that "moving up to the SES and SEL adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control switchgear, upgraded interior trim, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, fog lamps and the slick SYNC in-car communications system."

The SYNC system is available on the SE model as an option, but not available on the base S model.  SYNC earns high marks from reviewers, with Cars.com reporting that it "allows drivers to integrate their MP3 players and Bluetooth-enabled phones into the system so they can use just one button and voice prompts to play their music or use their cell phone. It can even read text messages aloud." The SYNC system has been updated for the 2010 Ford Focus to receive real-time traffic reports and turn-by-turn directions, making the system even more functional and impressive.

With so many standard features, most people will not likely to dip into the options list if they are opting for the higher trim levels. However, the 2010 Ford Focus does offer some interesting options, such as the upgraded nine-speaker stereo that can be had with SES and SEL trim models. Cars.com says the upgraded stereo "showed a lot of range—rock, rap, and pop all sounded good—and was a surprise in an entry-level car." On the lower end of the spectrum, Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2010 Ford Focus "SE offers the Driver's Group Package (cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, electrochromatic rear-view mirror) and the Moon and Tune Package (power moonroof and audiophile sound system with six-disc CD/MP3 changer)."

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March 17, 2017
2010 Ford Focus 2-Door Coupe SE

great car but had paint problem with rear doors & fenders

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great car but had paint problem with rear doors & fenders
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