1. home
  2. news
  3. One Week With: 2016 Ford Focus SE Sedan

One Week With: 2016 Ford Focus SE Sedan

What’s it like to be a realist?

Chris Nelsonwriter, photographer

HERMOSA BEACH, California — Why would I want to spend a week in a 2016 Ford Focus SE sedan? Because as a realist, I know this life full of exotic cars I drive but don't pay for will one day end, and I'll be left standing in a dealership lobby, hoping to lease or buy a somewhat sensible form of transportation with what meager savings I have. I like the Focus' chassis, I like Ford's Romanian-built, 1.0-liter, turbocharged inline-three engine — now available in the Focus — and I figure the Focus sedan can't get much uglier than it already is, so why not start acclimating myself to a simpler way of life?

The Ford Focus sedan is available in three trims: S, SE, and Titanium. The S model is the cheapest way into a Focus and is available in white, silver, gray, or black. It has steel wheels with hubcaps, rear drum brakes, a four-speaker audio system, and a rearview camera. It's a $5,000 jump to the fully tinseled Titanium model but only a $1,290 hop to the SE model, which gets 16-inch aluminum wheels, a six-speaker audio system, body-color door handles, power side mirrors, automatic headlights, sun visors with vanity mirrors, cruise control, a front center armrest, and power front and rear windows. That's money well spent. (Another $500 would buy you a far more functional Focus SE hatchback fitted with all the same luxuries, but let's not go there.)

Yes, I think it would be the SE model for me. I would certainly tick the box for the very reasonably priced $495 1.0-liter, turbocharged inline-three, which bests the base engine by 6 mpg on the highway, has great low-end power, and never struggles to pull around the 2,960-pound Focus sedan. I would stick with the six-speed manual that comes standard with the EcoBoost engine; dropping another $1,095 on a six-speed automatic transmission seems reckless. I'd think about adding the $895 SE EcoBoost package, but doing so would force me to spec the more expensive six-speed automatic transmission. No, thank you, that's money I'd rather spend on the $645 cold-weather package, which would not only get me heated seats but also a steering wheel wrapped in leather instead of the same rubberized plastic used on the dash.

I would save $395 by going with basic Race Red instead of splurging on Ruby Red, the shade this car wears, and I wouldn't get $245 exterior protection package, the $75 cargo tray, or the $255 reverse sensing system, which isn't very sensible since the aforementioned rearview camera is standard. All in, my Focus would cost $20,530, $325 less than this car. (Of course, my Focus would actually cost $175 more than this car because it would be a far more functional Focus SE hatchback, fitted with all the same luxuries, but let's not go there.)

There it is. Exciting, isn't it, to know what car you'll be mildly dissatisfied by for years? I've come to terms with my decision, and I think there's nothing more to consider, but then I remember the Fiesta. If I got a Fiesta SE sedan, I could get the same engine and a lot of the same features for $17,480, a savings of $3,050. And I'd have more front headroom and legroom, even though I'd lose a bit of rear headroom and legroom and 0.4 cubic foot of cargo space. And sure, I'd be on a simpler chassis setup with steel wheels and I'd take a 1 mpg hit on the highway, seeing how the Fiesta uses a five-speed manual instead of a six-speed manual, but that's OK, right?

Being a realist sucks.

2016 Ford Focus SE sedan Specifications

On Sale: Now
 Price: $19,390/$20,855 (base/as tested)
 Engine: 1.0L turbocharged DOHC 12-valve I-3/123 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 125 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
 Transmission: 6-speed manual
 Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan
 EPA Mileage: 30/42 mpg
 L x W x H: 178.7 x 71.8 x 57.8 in
 Wheelbase: 104.3 in
 Weight: 2,960 lb
 0-60 MPH: N/A
 Top Speed: N/A