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Ford redesigned the Focus two years ago and has produced a fairly sporty and refined compact car that has received strong statements of approval from prominent auto publications.

The Focus, which has a sedan and hatchback style, has an appealing exterior styling and the interior design has a smart layout of controls and gauges. Ford has also made an effort to improve the handling and give the Focus a quieter ride. Confident in all its improvements, this is the first time that Ford has simultaneously sold the Focus in the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world.

One additional change was adding the Focus Electric to its trim models. The 107-kilowatt electric car draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack. The great news – it gets between 99-110 mpg! The bad – the Focus Electric costs $39,200, over double the price of the base model ($18,300). Note that the electric model needs charging every 76 miles.

2014 Ford Focus

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 160 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 26-37 mpg
  • Estimated price: $16,810 to $24,065
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

The more standard Focus models all feature improved technology. Although not all standard equipment, available are a rearview camera, HD radio, automated parking assist for drivers who hate to parallel park, plus Ford’s hands-free Sync technology and the MyFord Touch system that utilizes a large center touchscreen and voice commands with much less dependence on buttons and knobs.

The Focus provides adequate comfort and supportive seating, although it could use height adjustable for the front passenger seat. And the backseat could still use more leg room and the trunk (13.2 cubic feet) is only average for a compact.

For a more versatile vehicle, the Focus hatchback provides 23.8 cubic feet of space, and has 60/40 split rear seats that nearly double the available space to 44.8 cubic feet.

Ford has beefed up the performance of the front-wheel drive Focus with a new 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 146-pund-feet of torque. It’s been clocked going 0-60 in 8.7 seconds. Gas mileage is a major plus with a range between 26-37 mpg.

Previous Focus owners will recognize the shift to a more dynamic, sporty handling vehicle that leaves the Focus more in touch with the road and capable of making sharper turns. The Focus definitely allows for more fun factor than ever before, even though the ride can be uneven, especially on bumpy surfaces.

Available as a sedan or four-door hatchback, the new-look Focus can definitely hang with rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai Elantra. The Focus is dramatically improved, so expect its sales to also travel down that same path.