To be labeled with the Top Safety Pick+ designation, a vehicle must achieve the top rating of "good" in four out of five IIHS crash tests, as well as score no lower than "acceptable" in the fifth test. The stringent evaluations include moderate- and small-overlap frontal, side-impact, rollover and rear crash tests. Boosted by the extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in its body structure, the 2013 Ford Focus received "good" ratings in four tests and an "acceptable" in the new small-overlap frontal test.
"Unlike some of its competitors, the Ford Focus' smaller size doesn't result in any sacrifice in safety, as its body structure is designed to absorb more energy during an impact," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "Beyond its rigid frame, the Ford Focus uses sensors to determine the weight and seat-belt status of front passengers, allowing the car to tailor the deployment force of airbags for maximum protection."
The Ford Focus also uses smart technologies to promote safe driving, making an accident less likely in the first place. Parents of teen drivers can program Ford's MyKey feature to limit the volume of the audio system or even completely mute sounds when seatbelts aren't fastened. Additionally, they can set the top speed of the vehicle to 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph.
While the Ford Focus is designed to fully protect its passengers, it is far from a snoozer on the road, especially for buyers who opt for the performance-focused ST model. Featuring a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine churning out 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, the 2014 Ford Focus ST hatchback harnesses all that output with a sport suspension and high-performance front and rear disc brakes. Outside, the model's more aggressive demeanor is communicated by a bold one-piece trapezoidal grille with hexagonal mesh, an integrated roof spoiler and wraparound taillamps.
"The Focus ST is a great choice for buyers who want a hot hatch that is still a sensible purchase," added Melkonian. "It is very safe, returns a class-leading manual fuel economy of 32 mpg on the highway, and features intuitive technology like the optional SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment system."