2017 Ford Focus vs Honda Civic

Compact cars might not be as popular as their crossover cousins right now, but there's a great deal of variety and some outstanding quality and value to be had in this large segment--if you know where to look. Some smaller foreign automakers are gaining a foothold in the market these days, but the usual suspects still pretty much reign supreme. The 2017 Ford Focus and the Honda Civic are two of them, so let's see how they measure up to each other.

2017 Ford Focus vs Honda Civic

Exterior Styling

The last notable changes to the Focus came as part of a modest facelift for the 2015 model year. The Focus has always looked great though, and there's a wide range of styles in the lineup to tailor the Focus to suit your own particular tastes and requirements. At one end of the spectrum the Focus can be modest, sensible, and practical, but it can also take sporty to new heights, especially with the positively outrageous Focus RS model.

The Honda Civic got a complete redesign last year, although as complete redesigns go, the exterior changes were pretty mild. The Civic isn't an obviously attractive design, but this generation makes a welcome return to the sportier side of vehicle design. A hatch has now joined the sedan and coupe formats. Although maybe not the best-looking of the three body styles, the addition of the hatchback model allows for the American introduction of the long-awaited Type R. The Honda's current styling is more original, but the broad appeal of the Focus and the sheer flexibility makes it the winner here.

Fuel Economy

The best EPA-estimated figures the Focus gets are from the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which are as good as 30 mpg in the city, 42 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg combined with the six-speed manual transmission.

A 1.5-liter turbo-four equipped Civic, with a continuously variable automatic transmission, is rated by the EPA at 32 mpg in the city, 42 mpg on the highway and 36 mpg combined. The Civic takes the award for fuel-efficiency then, but only barely.

Performance

The 2017 Ford Focus has three different engines, and a case can easily be made for choosing any of them. Just like the Civic, the standard unit in most Focus models is a 2.0-liter inline-four, but you get 160 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque to play with in the Ford. Next up is the sensational 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost, but for performance to write home about, the Focus ST is the one to choose, with its 2.0-liter EcoBoost and impressive 252 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. The excellent chassis and steering of the Focus completes the performance package, and it really is a great drive.

The Honda Civic offers two engines; a fairly sedate 2.0-liter inline-four developing 158 horsepower and a 1.5-liter turbo-four with 174 horsepower. The standard 2.0-liter is okay for the daily commute, but for relatively little cost to upgrade to the turbo, it does question what the point of the 2.0-liter really is. The 1.5 is by far the better choice, but it's certainly no muscle car engine. The Honda is quiet and refined and it can feel sporty in the right configuration, but the Focus is much more enjoyable for those who enjoy their driving.

Technology

In entry level S trim, the Focus can be a pretty basic and lightly equipped car, but it's easy enough to get the Focus that's just right for your needs without having to pay more than you might feel comfortable with. Even then, the Focus S comes standard with the likes of air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system, Bluetooth audio streaming, 15-inch wheels, a rearview camera, power features and steering-wheel audio controls.

Most of what you could wish for can be had with the Honda Civic, but the upgrades are not exactly what you could call "a la carte." Without going up a trim level, the enhancements are mostly bundled together into packages. That's fine if you want everything the package includes, but otherwise you'll be paying for things you might not want in order to get something that you do. The massive choice and competitive pricing of the Focus makes it much better in terms of standard and available features and equipment, so this is another win for the Ford.

Learn More about the Ford Focus

The 2017 Honda Civic is an excellent car that's now even more desirable than it has been, but you'll be disappointed if you expect the car's performance to meet the promises made by the sporty styling. But the 2017 Ford Focus can be just about anything you want it to be, from an affordable city shopper to a fire-breathing track monster and almost anything in between. If the Focus you're looking at isn't the one for you, somewhere in the lineup is a model that will be, and won't cost an arm and a leg to buy it either. The clear winner in this battle of the compacts is the Ford Focus.

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