Ford Focus Photo: Caranddriver.com
To be successful in the highly competitive compact-car market, a sedan typically must find its niche and sprint toward the finish line. A successful model can corner the market in just one major category, such as price, fuel economy, available features, or comfort. However, true success in this segment means being more than a one-trick pony—it means being versatile and practical enough to resonate with just about every type of driver.
Take the 2016 Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus as prime examples. Both of these compact cars sit at the top of the rankings annually because they deliver on promises of being efficient, roomy, and feature-filled sedans that don’t cost a fortune. Although they can each be qualified as a Jack of all trades, only one can call itself a master of all. Let’s compare these two compact juggernauts and find out which is the segment’s best.
Interior: Mid-size Space in a Compact’s Guise
Understandably, a lack of worthwhile passenger volume is often the deciding factor for drivers considering a sedan. Upon entering the redesigned and impressively distinctive 2016 Chevy Cruze—trim levels include the base L, LS, LT, Premier, and Premier RS—you’ll be welcomed by a warm and roomy cabin that’s far from compact and anything but frugal.
Premium cabin appointments and roominess are inspired by the Chevy Malibu, as is its mid-size interior space that adds two extra inches of rear legroom compared to the sedan’s previous model year. In fact, the Cruze provides more rear knee room than the Ford Focus, which should attract all you Kansas City carpoolers. The front seats are comfortable on all trims—the seats on the Cruze Premium are particularly excellent—and provide admirable outward vision to the driver. Armrests are built into the front console, and rear armrests with cupholders are a nice touch of convenience. Soft and never-itchy high-quality cloth stretches over the seats to up the ante on the Cruze’s luxuriousness.
Critics from both sides of the aisle have dinged the Ford Focus for having a more compact cabin that feels overly stylized. Particularly distracting is the instrument cluster and dash, which darts out and invades that all-important front leg room. Rear leg room on the Focus is even more of a concern; should front passengers be of diminutive comedian Kevin Hart’s stature, you’ll probably find the rear space to be just fine. Otherwise, you should prepare for a cramped ride. Even top trims of the Focus offer optional seats that feel very constricting depending on your physique. Poorly designed seat-folding mechanisms and intrusive headrests can also be added to the sedan’s growing list of shortcomings.
At the end of the day, the Ford Focus has been surpassed in nearly all facets of spaciousness by new competitors like the 2016 Chevy Malibu.
Features: Quality and Quantity
A successful compact car must embrace the modern world by offering myriad standard and optional tech and safety features, all while remaining a financially sensible sedan.
In this price range, sedans typically have few standard features—but not the Cruze. Offering features normally reserved for upscale trims, the 2016 Cruze L comes with a standard infotainment system, 7.0-inch MyLink touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, rearview camera, and OnStar. The infotainment system never lags behind and reacts instantaneously to your finger flicks and voice commands. Smartphone integration works nearly flawlessly and allows you to project some apps onto the car’s touchscreen. USB and Bluetooth are also available options for smartphone connectivity. Navigation, automatic climate control, heated seats, wireless charging slots, 8-inch touchscreens, and 4G LTE/WiFi hotspots are all popular options that are also available beginning with the base L trim.
The Cruze’s goody bag of tech doesn’t end with being more connected than any of its competitors. Two active-safety packages are available on the Chevy Cruze that bundle features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, lane-keeping assist, intelligent headlamps, forward-collision warning, and auto-dimming rearview mirrors. Note to all parents who value safety: Starting with the 2017 Chevy Cruze, which is available for sale and lease now at McCarthy Chevrolet in Olathe, Teen Driver technology comes standard.
Although the Ford Focus has added to its list of features, what’s currently available leaves something to be desired. Bright colors alone cannot save the Focus’s smaller infotainment screen; if you aren’t lucky enough to have child-size fingers and an owl’s impeccable vision, navigating the system’s menus will not be simple. Utilizing the backup camera without squinting will prove to be even more of a challenge. Considering the Focus has fairly poor rearward vision from the driver’s seat, an improved backup camera and screen would have been a welcome addition. Both the 2016 Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus come with standard and available safety features, but you’d have to pay for a higher trim Focus to get them all.
Engines: Who’s Down with MPG?
Leaner, lighter, and more spacious than past models, the 2016 Cruze has begun its transformation from a compact car to a mid-size sedan, while still popping our impressive fuel-efficiency numbers. The sole engine across the Cruze lineup is a 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder—Chevy has stated that a 1.6L turbodiesel engine will also be available for its 2017 Cruze—produces 153 horsepower and comes with a start-stop system that runs as smooth as silk. Fitted with a 6-speed automatic, the Cruze is rated at 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway. Although typical across the segment, engine noise on the Cruze is nearly nonexistent at low speed and substantially subdued when the turbo-4 is pushed to be a workhorse.
The same can’t be said for the 2016 Ford Focus; its 1.0L engine, while offering the same mpg ratings, can produce some excessive road noise, particularly on rough roads and at high speeds. The 2.0L direct-injection inline-4, standard across the majority of the Ford Focus’s models, generates just 1% more horsepower than the Cruze’s 1.4L, but is rated at just 27 mpg city/40 mpg highway.
Announcing the Cruze vs. Focus Winner
While the Ford Focus may be strong enough to put up a fight with other compact rivals, it stood little chance against the upstart Chevy Cruze. With a bevy of remarkable features, outstanding passenger volume, and a higher MPG rating, the 2016 Cruze should fit the bill for drivers seeking a pragmatic car that has modern gadgetry and accessories.
If you’re on the hunt for a new car and live in Kansas City or Olathe, come into our dealership to test drive the new Cruze! As a prominent used car and Chevy dealer near Kansas City, McCarthy Chevrolet of Olathe is here to help you find the best vehicles at the best prices. Visit our showroom at 675 N Rawhide Rd in Olathe, KS, or call us at (913) 754-7208 to speak with one of our sales specialists about our current inventory of new Chevy models and available Chevrolet incentives.