Over the course of a year, a number of test-drive vehicles circulate through the offices of Automotive Fleet. One of the latest was 2017 Ford Focus, a compact available as either a sedan or a five-door hatchback, It is offered in four trim levels — S, SE, SEL and Titanium.
The model I tested was the five-door hatchback with the SEL trim level package. It is powered by the 2.0L 1-4 engine mated to a six-speed transmission. The engine generates 160 hp and 146 lb.-ft. of torque. Fleet vehicles are not meant to be racing machines. The Focus powertrain is well-suited for company drivers in meeting their daily work driving needs with sufficient power to keep drivers safe in emergency situations requiring quick acceleration. The Focus offers nimble handling for low-speed urban driving or negotiating freeway onramps to quickly merge into moving traffic.
The 2.0L engine and is six-speed transmission makes for a very fuel-efficient powertrain with an EPA-rated 26/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined, which strongly contributes to decreasing the vehicle’s total cost of ownership.
Its exterior styling is very appealing, especially with its 17-inch machined aluminum wheels, which are new for 2017. The attractive design will appeal to buyers in the retail used-vehicle market, helping to moderate its overall depreciation. The SEL trim level is nicely contented to satisfy current fleet drivers, along with appealing to future secondary buyers. The SEL trim level includes four-wheel disc brakes, foglights, LED running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof, a 10-speaker Sony audio system, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen.
The compact car segment is very competitive and the Focus competes against eight highly competent models. The Focus is a strong competitor, especially in the commercial fleet segment, where it is supported by the Ford fleet program infrastructure and an extensive national sales and service footprint.
In terms of ergonomics, the Focus is comfortable to drive, which is especially important for drivers who average 2,000 miles a month. The ride quality is smooth on both highway and urban streets. One of the best attributes of the Focus is its interior design, which is very ergonomic in terms of seating and layout of dashboard instrumentation and controls. The interior materials have a quality look and upscale feel. In addition, the interior compartment is quiet during highway and city driving, insulating itself from distracting road noise.
The Focus hatchback is especially versatile in meeting varied fleet applications, which can run the gamut from courier services, to delivery of medical testing specimens, to being assigned to field inspectors. The cargo-carrying capability of the Focus is adequate for these commercial applications. The hatchback offers 23.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which can expand to 43.9 cubic feet when the seatbacks are folded flat.
The Focus is a safe vehicle and according to NHTSA crash test results, it achieved an overall five-star rating (out of a possible five), with five stars for total front-impact protection for the driver, five stars for side-impact protection for both the front and rear seat passengers, and a four-star rollover rating, which assesses the risk of rollover in a single vehicle crash.
In addition, the Ford SYNC system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cellphone. Other standard safety equipment are a rearview camera and Ford’s MyKey system, which can be used to electronically set driving parameters for secondary drivers.