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Get into nearly every version and variant of the 2015 Ford Focus family, and it's likely you'll understand why this is the best-selling nameplate in the world—as well as why it fits in so well in the U.S. It's fun, attractive, and well-equipped, all while staying affordable; and the speedy Focus ST might just be the antidote to any bad small-car memories in your past.
This year, the entire Focus lineup gets a design refresh, with revamped interior materials, and there's a new, economical 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine option. The rest of the lineup carries over, with a wide range of models that includes frugal gasoline models, an all-electric Focus Electric, and a high-performance, high-bang-for-the-buck Focus ST.
The most noteworthy design change to the 2015 Focus is right up at the front. The Focus gets a version of the blind yet ornate, wide-mouth grille that both the Fusion and Fiesta have received the past couple of years. It's arguably very close to the look of the Ford Focus Electric the past several model years, now extended to the entire model lineup. Otherwise there are relatively minor changes (like a restyled trunklid and new rear lamps), although we think that the front end does fit nicely with the existing profile; the cleaner front end should lend a calming hand over a design that's been seen by some as a bit too swoopy. Inside, the Focus remains on the overstyled side, but the vertically-oriented vents and pleasant surface sculpting give it a look and feel that's original and complex—a definite plus in a crowded class of look-alike small cars.
The 160-hp, 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that powers most of the lineup carries over with no changes. It provides plenty of pep for the Focus, whether fitted with the five-speed manual gearbox or six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic. Step up to the high-performance Focus ST, and you can get to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph. Both the ST, and the new mileage-minded 1.0-liter EcoBoost model only gets a six-speed manual gearbox.
Those who appreciate lean performance will love that an SE Sport Package returns for 2015, bringing a touring suspension, 17-inch black gloss aluminum wheels, H-rated tires, and paddle-shifters for PowerShift automatic versions.
Although the Focus isn't packaged with quite the level of space-efficiency as some models in its class, it's a rather roomy, versatile, and refined small car. The only thing that we see as a flaw is the overly styled instrument panel layout, which detracts from front-seat space and usefulness--although Ford has upgraded switchgear and trims and reconfigured the center console for 2015. In front or in back, there's just enough legroom and headroom to fit even those over six feet. With the leather upholstery, there's no skimping on look and feel in back; although you won't get mid-size comfort. And Ford has made some suspension changes that might keep the cabin quieter in the 2015 model.
Safety-wise, the Focus holds strong; it's one of the few compact sedans to have earned both a five-star NCAP Overall Score and IIHS Top Safety Pick status—including an 'acceptable' score in the tough new IIHS small overlap frontal test. We see no reason why its ratings will change this year as it hasn't received any structural changes. Although for 2015, the Focus will get a standard rearview camera system, displaying either on a 4.2-inch base screen system or the eight-inch screen of MyFord Touch. Also look for the BLIS blind-spot warning system and a lane-keep system to be featured in top trims.
The Focus lineup includes models that meet needs from rather basic commuting, with base Focus S models, all the way up to top Titanium trims, which have navigation, Active Park Assist, and other extras and effectively play the role of premium sedan without a premium price tag. A heated steering wheel is offered for the first time; and Ford's infotainment system in the Focus now has full AppLink capability, enabling enhanced voice commands, and for notifications to be read out loud.