2013 Ford Focus Review and Prices

Last Updated: Feb 6, 2012

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2013 Ford Focus Buying Advice

The 2013 Ford Focus is the best car for you if you favor a compact sedan or hatchback with a high-fashion, international feel.

The 2013 Ford Focus widens its lineup with the pocket-rocket turbocharged Focus ST model and expands availability of the battery-powered Focus Electric. They complement a roster of four-door sedans and hatchbacks based on Ford’s global small-car design. The 2013 Focus boasts European-bred styling and road manners compromised slightly by Ford-of-America’s penchant for tricky-to-operate infotainment features.

Should you wait for the 2013 Ford Focus or buy a 2012 Ford Focus? Wait for the 2013 Focus if you’re hot for ST model or juiced about the never-buy-gas-again Focus Electric. The latter actually bowed as a 2012 model in California and New York but availability expands to 15 additional markets for model-year 2013. The 2013 Focus should otherwise be a repeat for overall styling and features content so if neither the ST nor the Electric versions appeals you’ll save a few bucks and still get a thoroughly modern and highly capable compact by buying a 2012 Focus.

2013 Ford Focus Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Ford Focus won’t look different than the 2011 Focus -- unless you’re gazing at the 2013 Focus ST. Style modifications evident on this new-to-the-lineup hatchback broadcast its performance orientation.

The 2013 Focus ST replaces Focus’s standard two-piece grille with a huge one-piece unit. The ST’s nose also features aggressive air intakes and a chin spoiler. The lower body sides are flared. And the tail carries a roof spoiler and a vented bumper that hosts the central dual-pipe exhaust system. Headlights and taillights get a smoked-glass treatment. Inside, the 2013 Focus ST has unique seats, trim, and instrumentation (see the Features section below for details).

The 2013 Focus otherwise reprises the styling introduced for model-year 2012. That’s when Ford shelved the dumpy, archaic U.S.-sourced Focus for basically the same version its sells globally.

Based on the automaker’s “kinetic” styling themes, the Focus has a look that’s edgy and not entirely harmonious from every angle. Size-wise, the 2013 Focus remains in America’s compact category, though its wheelbase is 1-2 inches shorter than that of key rivals such as the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, and the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and Focus’s tighter span results in slightly tighter rear-seat legroom than in some competitors with longer wheelbases. 

Trunk space in the 2012 Focus sedan should remain 13.2 cubic feet, leaving it with less cargo volume than some rivals. The 2013 Focus hatchback should remain class-competitive, with 23.8 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat and 44.8 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. The 2013 Focus Electric hatchback should again have only about 10 cubic feet of storage behind its rear seat because of space occupied by its battery pack. The battery pack’s housing also prevents the Focus Electric from matching the flat load floor other Focus hatchbacks provide with the rear seatbacks folded.

The 2013 Focus cabin will again feature swooping shapes and a dashboard designed to mimic the design of a Blackberry mobile-phone control layout. This, too, can be polarizing, but there should be little to criticize about the quality of the interior materials, which will likely remain well above the norm for this class.

Expect the 2013 Ford Focus sedan to repeat in entry-level S trim, midline SE and upscale SEL guise, and top-line Titanium form. The 2013 Focus hatchback roster will likely start again with the SE level, include SEL and Titanium models, and top out with the new ST. The 2013 Focus Electric will return only as a hatchback and probably in a single level of trim roughly equivalent to the Titanium models.

With the exception of the 2013 Focus ST’s exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tires, little change in available wheel and tire sizes is likely. The 2012 Focus S sedan should again come with 15-inch steel wheels and wheel covers. Expect SE models to continue with 16-inch steel wheels and Titanium models with 17-inch alloys. The 16-inch alloys should again be included in the SE Sport package option, 17s should remain optional on SELs and 18s on Titanium models. 

Mechanical: The 2013 Focus will continue to share the basics of its structure (also called a platform) with a variety of other vehicles. In the U.S. they’ll include the 2013 Ford Escape crossover SUV and the 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid hatchbacks. This is a state-of-the-art compact-car platform boasting a well-sorted four-wheel independent suspension. Most applications, including of the 2013 Focus, are front-wheel drive, though the platform can accommodate all-wheel drive, as available on the Escape.

With exception of the Focus ST and Electric models, every 2013 Focus almost certainly will return with an advanced direct-fuel-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder as its sole engine. Expect horsepower to remain 160 and torque 146 pound-feet. (Envision torque as the force that produces acceleration and horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum).

This 2.0-liter should again provide more than adequate performance for this type of car, though the 2013 Focus’s overall driving experience may continue compromised by the behavior of its six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Ford calls this the PowerShift transmission and says it’s more fuel-efficient than a conventional automatic. But compared with most conventional automatics it sometimes shifts abruptly and can be hesitant to select the optimal gear.

PowerShift should remain standard on 2013 Focus SEL and Titanium models and optional on the S and SE models. The S and SE likely will again come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, itself a bit archaic in a class where top rivals furnish a six-speed manual. 

Fans of high-powered hatchbacks such as the Subaru Impreza WRX, MazdaSpeed 3, and Volkswagen Golf R will be interested in the 2013 Ford Focus ST. This performance version of the Focus hatchback will use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder from Ford’s EcoBoost family of turbocharged engines. Horsepower is listed at 247, torque at 266 pound-feet. The only transmission is a specially calibrated six-speed manual. The ST’s exhaust system is tuned to reduce back pressure and enhance engine tone. The car has a lowered, handling-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, and its own version of Focus’s standard torque-vectoring control, which acts like a limited-slip differential to enhance cornering stability.

The Focus Electric is a pure-electric version of the Focus hatchback. It’s driven exclusively by an electric motor powered by an onboard lithium ion battery pack. Total output is 143 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, an “extended-range electric” car that in effect has a small gas generator on board, the Focus Electric relies on its plug-in charge supplemented by regenerative braking. In this the Focus Electric is similar to the pure-electric Nissan Leaf.

Ford says the Focus Electric will travel 70-100 miles per charge and lists a top speed of 84 mph. The automaker says a full charge takes about three hours using a 240-volt charging station available through Ford dealers. The battery can be “topped off” from any standard 120-volt household outlet using the cord supplied with the car.  A dashboard monitor displays the level of battery charge and distance to the next charging station. The Focus Electric has a one-speed automatic transmission.

Expect the 2013 Focus S sedan and the SE models to again come with rear drum brakes. Four-wheel disc brakes will be standard on SEL, Titanium, ST, and Electric models, and be included in the SE Sport package. Every 2013 Focus will return with antilock technology for added control in emergency stops and an antiskid system to reduce chances of sideways slides. A Focus technical highlight will remain a transaxle with electronic torque vectoring that distributes power left and right to combat noseplow in fast turns and torque steer during rapid acceleration. 

Features: The 2013 Ford Focus’s selection of features isn’t apt to grow much; the car already is the technology and connectivity leader in this class. Taking a global perspective in which cars this size serve as upscale family transportation in overseas markets, Ford has not been shy about offering U.S.-market Focus buyers envelope-stretching features such as automatic parallel parking and two-toned leather upholstery.

Expect every 2013 Focus to again include as standard a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, remote keyless entry, power windows with one-touch-down for the driver, and power locks and mirrors. Returning among available features should be xenon headlamps, keyless entry and pushbutton start, rearview camera, and a Sony-branded premium audio system. Also on tap will be Ford’s MyKey system designed to help parents influence young drivers by limiting audio volume until seatbelts are buckled and by limited vehicle speed, among other measures.

Sync, the infotainment interface developed by Ford and Microsoft, will also return. It’s a system of hands-free connectivity for communications, navigation, and entertainment services. Sync integrates a USB iPod interface and can provide turn-by-turn directions via the audio system. Ford has not thus offered the Focus with a conventional GPS navigation system but may feel competitive pressure to begin doing so for model-year 2013. 

The automaker already has begun to address criticisms of its MyFord Touch interface. This builds on Sync by replacing many conventional audio and climate controls with touch-sensitive liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and mobile-phone-style five-way buttons and keypads. MyFord Touch is designed to respond primarily to voice commands. However, early users found the touch controls difficult to decipher and use while driving and the voice-command system unpredictable. Ford’s response was to simplify aspects of the system to make it simpler and more intuitive.

2013 Ford Focus Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2013 Ford Focus was not announced in time for this review. Don’t expect much change to starting prices for S, SE, SEL and Titanium models, which for model-year 2012 ranged from $16,995 to $24,215. The 2013 Focus ST should be priced from about $30,000. The 2013 Focus Electric is likely to again start around $40,000, a price softened by a one-time federal income-tax credit of up to $7,500 available to buyers of electric cars.

(Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Focus was $725.)  

Estimated base price for the 2012 Ford Focus S sedan is about $17,400 with manual transmission and $18,850 with the PowerShift automatic.

Expect 2013 Ford Focus SE models to be priced from around $18,400 for the sedan, and $19,200 for the hatchback; adding PowerShift should cost another $1,110 or so.

Focus SEL and Titanium models should again come standard with PowerShift and 2013 SELs have an estimated starting price of $21,500 for the sedan and $22,200 for the hatchback. Estimated base price for the 2013 Focus Titanium model is $25,500 for the sedan and $24,600 for the hatchback.

Ford will likely continue to make PowerShift-equipped Focus SE sedans available with the Super Fuel Economy package. It should again cost around $500 and use 16-inch steel wheels with unique aerodynamic wheel covers and low-rolling-resistance tires and a rear spoiler, among other fuel-economy-enhancing modifications.

Among key options, expect 2013 Focus SEL and Titanium models to again be available with the Parking Technology Package. It’ll come with a rearview camera and use ultrasonic sensors to judge whether the car can fit into a street parking space. It can automatically back the Focus into the space while the driver limits the speed. This extra has required the purchase of other options, including leather upholstery, so its total cost is likely to remain around $1,100 on top of those other options.

2013 Ford Focus Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Ford Focus were not released in time for this review but are unlikely to deviate from those of the 2012 Focus. That suggests that good gas mileage will remain a Focus selling point, even if it isn’t among the most fuel-efficient cars in the class. Of course, the Focus Electric won’t use any gas at all.

Expect 2013 Focus S and SE models with manual transmission to again rate 26/36 mpg city/highway and 30 mpg combined city/highway.

Look for 2013 Focus models equipped with the PowerShift automatic transmission to repeat at 28/38 mpg city/highway, 31 mpg combined. The Super Fuel Economy package for SE models with PowerShift should result in a rating of 28/40/33 mpg.

Fuel economy won’t be critical to buyers of the 2013 Focus ST, but should be a car that delivers driving excitement without guzzling gas like a V-8 Mustang or Camaro. With a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed manual transmission, the MazdaSpeed 3 is similar in design and concept to the Focus ST. With marginally less power and a slightly more modern engine, the Ford should beat the MazdaSpeed 3’s 18/25/21-mpg rating.  

2013 Ford Focus Release Date back to top

Mainstream versions of the 2013 Ford Focus should be in showrooms by autumn 2012. At the time of this review, Ford was saying only that the 2013 Focus ST will launch “during 2012.”

Ford will continue to roll out the Focus Electric model during 2012 following its initial introduction at Ford Certified EV dealers in California, New York, and New Jersey. Ford hasn’t given a precise timetable, but future markets on the list include, in alphabetical order, Atlanta; Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

What's next for the 2013 Ford Focus back to top

With the rollout of the ST and Electric models, the Focus lineup likely is set for the next few years. This platform can accommodate two-door coupe and convertible body styles, and Ford may be studying the commercial viability of such offerings.

Meantime, new color choices, revised wheel designs, and the continued simplification of MyFord Touch likely top the Focus agenda.

2013 Ford Focus Competition back to top

Honda Civic: Honda took it on the chin with a model-year 2012 Civic redesign criticized for lackluster styling, underwhelming powertrains, and mediocre interior quality. By early calendar 2012, however, Civic had reclaimed sales leadership in the compact class, suggesting many shoppers find here what they value most in a small car. That would be an exceptionally roomy cabin, good ride and handling, and laudable fuel economy. Add to that Honda’s reputation for reliability and resale value and it’s easy to understand Civic’s appeal. The 2013 version will return in sedan and coupe form, with mainstream models furnishing 180 horsepower and rating 32-mpg combined city/highway with automatic transmission. The impressive Civic Hybrid sedan also will be back, rated 44-mpg combined. Honda is reportedly responding to critics with a planned upgrade to this car’s cabin trim.

Chevrolet Cruze: A strong seller in its first two model years, this sedan will return for 2013 with few expected changes. That’s OK: Cruze is solid and handsome without being as flashy as the other cars in this review. As in the Focus, rear-seat legroom can be tight, but the trunk is usefully larger than the one in the Ford sedan. Expect the return of two four-cylinder engine choices, one turbocharged but neither with more than 138 horsepower and both just adequate for this duty. Fuel economy for volume models should repeat at 27-30-mpg combined city/highway. Cruze doesn’t try for quite the handling sharpness or cutting-edge tech of the Focus, and its cabin design is calmer. To lots of buyers, those are appealing qualities. Look for a styling freshening for model-year 2014.

Dodge Dart: Dodge is a division of Chrysler and Chrysler is controlled by Italy’s Fiat, which owns, among other brands, Alfa Romeo. From that circuitous lineage emerges the 2013 Dodge Dart, an all-new compact sedan that resurrects a model name from Dodge’s past. Built at a Chrysler plant in Illinois, the Dart is essentially a slightly enlarged version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta but with nose and tail styling patterned after the look of America’s Dodge Avenger and Dodge Charger, respectively. Inside and out, the Dart will be among the largest cars in the midsize class and will offer three four-cylinder engines of 160-184 horsepower, the most powerful appearing in the sporty Dart R/T model. Dart isn’t likely to challenge the sales leaders in the class, but will add another potentially impressive car to the stable of domestic-brand compacts.

2013 Ford Focus Next Steps