2014 Ford Focus Titanium
2014 Ford Focus Titanium
|Topics: Ford Focus
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.
March 21, 2014
I don't have a test track. Chances are, neither do you, so my review of this car will focus (no pun intended) on the little things I noticed driving around Woodstock, Illinois.
First of all, it took me a while to even get out onto the street in Woodstock. I was handed the remote, given the instruction to push the start button, and sent on my way.
A search (or three) of the dashboard and steering column revealed only a circular cover plate where the key used to be turned to start the car. It is, unfortunately, reminiscent of the sort of blank plate that would cover missing features in stripped models on older cars.
After fiddling with the start button on the fob, then making a phone call, I did finally find the actual start button...right behind a spoke of the steering wheel. Considering the importance of such a button, it should probably be in a better (more visible) spot. Why couldn't they have put the button where the key used to go in?
Once on my way, driving dynamics were what could be expected, except for a little sputter of a few hundred RPMs at idle while sitting at a stop sign or traffic light. The car had less than 5,000 miles on it, but it didn't feel like it should be normal on a new car (not that I've driven a lot of new cars lately...or ever).
It does have enough of room for a six-foot-two driver with a disproportionately tall torso to fit in comfortably, even if climbing up out of it is a little tough at times and I wonder how close my face is to any side curtain airbag there might be.
Other than that, the basic functions of the car are as can be expected: four tires, gas engine, front wheel drive, four doors, two and a half rear seats, hatchback, it hasn't changed much since the days of the Escort.
But what HAS changed, and dramatically, is the little extras that make living with it so much nicer. GPS navigation, entertainment system, dual-zone climate control, smartphone interface (hands-free calling is an Illinois law now), a touchscreen to control all of that, and in the instrument cluster the little icon of the car that shows which lights are on. The blue and white glow of the instruments is pleasant to look at, maybe a little distracting in just how cool
it all looks at night, but I'm sure I'd get used to it. Also very cool looking are the soft blue lights that illuminate everything important inside the car when the door is open, and can be turned on with a dimmer switch while driving. The over-the-shoulder position of the reading light is also much better than the traditional placement between the sun visors.
My only question while checking out that cool blue glow, as it smartly illuminates the door handles, is without a physical switch for the door lock, what happens if the electrical system fails while the doors are locked and the window is up? I'm sure Ford thought of this and has some neat safety trick, but without knowing what it is it leaves me wondering...and worrying.
Popping the car into reverse changes the touchscreen into the backup camera monitor, which doesn't just display the image from the rear camera but also shows guide lines of where the sides of the car will be as you back up, which even arcs as you turn the steering wheel one way or the other!
That's seriously cool tech for a car that's one step up from the smallest Ford sells in this market.
Back in drive, it includes a gear selection of "S," which I can only assume means "Select." This function, which is M for Manual in the Mazda I normally drive, has a bit of hesitation on shifts and the toggle switch for them doesn't have the satisfying shifter lever yank that really simulates aggressive manual shifting. But not all is lost in the Focus, the Titanium is after all a model built for comfort, and the Focus ST has a six-speed manual for the performance driving enthusiast. In the Titanium, this "feature" is easily excused as it is easily overlooked.
A built-in blind spot mirror on each side mirror is a nice touch, they're useful and look so much better than the stick-on ones from the parts store.
Outside the car, the capless fuel filler is also a great idea, as it eliminates the traditional curse of leaving the cap on the roof of the car or the gas pump, or having the dangling attached gas cap flying around while driving. Of note here is that the car does take E85.
I'm not a big fan of the trapezoid-and-triangular pattern of the front grille openings on the Titaninum version, but the Focus ST has a look that is just awesome for a hatchback. If only that shape of grille could be fitted to the Titaninum with a chrome outline around it instead!
When I got out to take a couple pictures of the car, the horn beeped at me as a reminder that I took the keys with me and left the vehicle running, a possibility now that the keys aren't actually physically inserted anywhere. It's nice that Ford thought of that, as new features can be hard to adapt to if they're counterintuitive to how cars have functioned for the last 100 years.
Overall, it's a fantastic little car with a driving experience that is surprisingly technical for the class it's in. Other than all wheel drive for the northern Illinois winters, I can't think of anything major that this car is lacking for a daily commuter or a road trip (providing you pack light). The taller driver might be more comfortable in the more upright C-Max, which is similarly equipped but also comes in a hybrid model.