By on May 2, 2018

You’re getting a four-for-one today, folks. With the Glass House deep-sixing all of its sedans, we figured it’d be an apropos time to inspect the cheapest of the lot bound for death row.

Picking on them in order of size sounds like a plan: Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus. Ready, Blue Oval fans? Let’s go!

The base Fiesta S (what was wrong with LX as entry-level trim?) find a 1.6-liter inline-four under that diminutive hood, making 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. Not a rocket, to be sure, but enough to get the thing out of its own way, especially compared to base penalty boxes of yesteryear. Interestingly, Ford notes those power numbers are only attainable on 93 octane fuel. How many el-cheapo Fiesta owners do you think put premium in their rides? I’ll tell you: somewhere between zero and zilch. A five-speed stick is standard.

Externally, this cheapest of Ford sedans doesn’t advertise its lot in life with flat black trim; door handles and bumpers are colour-keyed and the grille is trimmed in (plastic) chrome. Stability control and brakeforce distribution modulate the brakes which are drums out back, natch. There are seven airbags and a backup camera. Surprisingly, air conditioning is included at the $14,205 sticker price. There is up to $3,000 on the hood as of this writing.

Not a bad package, despite being limited to three colors, all on the greyscale. Let’s look at the Focus now. Hmm.

The Focus S (would it kill ya to make a few LX badges, Ford?) has vexed me in the past but at least the 2018 model doesn’t look as downtrodden as older versions. The massaged exterior design has aged rather well. Still, black base-model trim screams “budget!” while the 2.slow motor moans its way to 60 mph in under 10 seconds. It only feels like a week.

Hill start assist will help new drivers get going, and a trunkload of safety nannies will help them stay going. Again, buyers are restricted to whites, blacks, and greys. Air conditioning vents or power windows for rear passengers? Armrest for the driver? Nope. The princely sum of $17,950 graces its window sticker but customers can currently take one home for much less. More than $4,000 worth of incentives are kicking around today.

Ford’s midsize Fusion, once hailed for looking not unlike an Aston Martin, is powered by a 173 hp 2.5-liter four in base S (grumble grumble LX grumble) form. No manual transmission is to be found, unlike Fusions of yore that could be had with a stick that made it kinda fun. Like its little-brother Fiesta, no black trim belies its budget status.

There is no shortage of infotainment features, with the SYNC system on duty to handle Bluetooth and voice recognition duties. A monochrome 2.3-inch information screen dead ahead of the driver looks cheap and, in a move that would only please accountants with the darkest of hearts, rear seat passengers are denied floormats. Cruise, push button start, and a choice of seven no-charge colors round out this $22,215 package. Incentives currently push the price down to near eighteen grand.

This brings us to big-daddy Taurus, which makes an opening bid of $27,690 but has up to $4,500 in available rebates. Get a white one and everyone will think you’re a cop. The venerable 3.5-liter engine – dirt cheap to service in this author’s experience – makes a respectable 288 hp and is paired with a six-speed automatic. Nearly 30 mpg is achievable if you believe the propaganda, good numbers for a stretch-em-out large car.

Eighteen-inch wheels, twin chrome exhaust tips, an appropriate amount of chrome, and LED taillamps imbue the base Taurus with a look that outstrips its price. Power seats, a yaffle of places in which to plug in, and durable cloth on the seats round out this well-equipped sedan. My sole gripe is a base infotainment system that looks like Worf’s forehead.

With the sole exception of the Taurus (and even then, the SHO is tasty) I do not think any of these base models are the best of their range. Will the next iterations of these sedans be better than the current versions? We’ll likely never know.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges but available incentives are mentioned today. As always, your dealer may sell for less … and in this instance, probably a lot less.

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51 Comments on “Ace of Base: Ford Sedans...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Incorrect appropriation of “2.slow”. Sit in the corner.

    The Focus with the 2.0 is not a slow car, a bit over 8 with an auto, under 8 with the manual. The 1.0 3-cylinder is slow.

    Anyone driven a Fusion with the old 2.5? The last gen was pretty pokey with this engine and the current one is heavier so I’d imagine that engine to be the largest demerit with the car. I’d be tempted to opt for the Focus and Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yeah that had me wondering as well. Since when is a 160hp 2.0L motor in the compact class slow? Like you said that is a mid 8 seconds car with the blasted DCT which in this one test environment actually shines (snapping off quick direct shifts when driven aggressively).

      C’mon Matt!

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1 to 30-mile fetch and gtem. As soon as I read “60 mph in under 10 seconds,” I searched for a review of the NA 2.0 DCT Focus. 30-mile is spot on; in 2014, Motor Trend tested a Focus Titanium with that powertrain at 8.3 seconds.

        But Matt’s right: That *is* under 10 seconds. Other cars that fall into the under-10-second category: Bugatti Veyron, Buick Regal Grand National, Acura NSX . . . .

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I had a 2017 Fusion SE rental for a week while mine was getting it’s rear door replaced from a hit and run collision. It had the 2.5 and wasn’t bad but certainly no ball of fire. 0-60 was a tick over 9 seconds and mileage was no better than my W-body Impala with 3.6 liters of 300 HP wonder. It felt much like the 2014 Camry SE rental I had a few years before also with a 2.5 liter engine where it got a decent jump off the line but power petered out as speed built. The Toyota did 8.6 seconds to 60 in Sport mode and 8.9 in normal so it was similar which is not surprising considering both 2.5 engines are close in power output. 178 for Toyota and 175 for 2017 Fusions.

      • 0 avatar

        The Fusion’s 2.5 is a pretty noisy engine. Is it definitely noiser than the engine in my old 2009 Malibu. If you have been driving a Camry for years the Fusion would sound like a lawn tractor in comparison.

  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    This past weekend my wife wanted to get out of Palm Springs and go to Joshua Tree for half a day. Being as we hadn’t rented a car on our arrival and I’m in cheapskate mode, I was given a Fiesta by Alamo. I have to be honest in that I had a bit of fun putting it through the twisties at Joshua Tree, even w/the ever challenged A/T. And for the record, I did not put 92/93 in it upon my return.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The Fiesta ST is a steal of a car for $17K (plus TTT) for 2oohp and highly regarded driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      We also got a Fiesta as a rental a few months ago. It’s a pretty basic car, but it’s pretty good for being a basic car. Plenty of pep and straightforward to drive. I was pleasantly surprised. Not sure about putting the door lock controls on the dash though.

      • 0 avatar
        b534202

        I had so many Focus/Fiesta rentals I will forever associate that Ford door chime with rental cars. I don’t think I can own a Ford product if they continue to use that chime.

  • avatar
    Dan

    None of these cars are very good by 2018 competitive set standards but they’re shockingly cheap. Real world on a stick Fiesta is around $11, a Focus around $13. In 2018 monopoly money. Adjusted for inflation that’s Hyundai Excel money. How they can sell a modern car that cheaply?

    They can’t, which is why they’re killing them all.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Yep, the Ford small car prices are indeed shockingly cheap.

      All the Japanese and Korean car buyers are in for a rude awakening when Ford exists the market, the pressure from the blue oval was keeping their small car prices somewhat in check.

      GM small cars aren’t as cheap but they aren’t selling too many of those to matter in the market anyway.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    I find this “death row” article depressing beyond words. I’m going to go have a nap now.

  • avatar
    arach

    Have you been inside the taurus and the fusion?

    What perplexes me is the FUSION is no question, bigger on the inside. More leg room, less cramped both in the front and the rear.

    The same thing happened to hyundai, with the Sonata sporting a larger interior than the Azera.

    Its always perplexed me, but you wrote that the Taurus will let you stretch out despite the fact that the one thing knocking the taurus is the cramped cabin while the fusion is surprisingly spacious.

    In fact practically every review I’ve seen references the cramped interior on the taurus…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I wouldn’t call the Taurus cramped, it’s just a visual sense of claustrophobia from the high and wide center console. Rear legroom is indeed bested by many in the midsize class, but it’s not cramped by any means, and has good width. The biggest and most valid criticism in this regard is that for how HUGE the Taurus is on the outside, the interior room does not correspond (like it once did back when this was the original Five Hundred with 40+ inches of rear legroom and a non-chopped roof).

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Yep, this thread gets revived every time TTAC mentions the Taurus. It has the visual sense of being cramped, but it’s actually reasonably roomy and comfortable for four adults. Unloved or not, it’s a great interstate cruiser, and I’m kind of sad to see it go.

        I’d take the Five Hundred over either, but I’d definitely rather be in the back seat of the Taurus over the Fusion for an all-day road trip. The Fusion’s roofline is swoopier, and I detest having my scalp up in the rear window and headliner. (In fairness to the Fusion, it’s a class down size-wise, so it *should* come in third in that comparison.)

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        Amen on the old Five Hundred, it was my favorite “Taurus”.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I can confirm from personal experience that the claustrophobia experienced by a Taurus driver is more than just visual. The center console is so high and laterally intrusive that my right kneecap was firmly pressed against its unpadded surface no matter how I adjusted the seat. Given I’m under 200 pounds, that’s hard to excuse in a car 76 inches wide and nearly 17 feet long.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          How tall are you, tonycd? I’m 5’10”, 175 lbs, and I’ve done a 1,000-mile road trip in a Taurus. I was quite comfortable. I’ve also done a day-trip–two hours each way–in a rental Taurus with three adult male friends. My buddy who was driving is 6’6″, and he had no comfort issues.

          I totally agree that the console is bigger than it ought to be, but not so much that it would physically impinge on all but a small percentage of drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Taurus’s problem is that for its footprint, it gives you RWD passenger volume on a FWD chassis.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I have spent considerable time in both. i would pick the Fusion hands down over the disappointing Taurus but only with the 2.0T engine. Not only does the Fusion feel roomier it also has better storage, better rear visibility it is also easier for me to get in and out of and is much better to drive. As a bonus it costs less too

  • avatar
    skor

    Should bring back the 1963 Falcon Sprint with a coyote engine.

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/CgKj-X1Eat4/maxresdefault.jpg

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    “Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers who boast about your project or service, and bring friends with them.” W. Edwards Deming

    The Fiesta and Focus are the least reliable cars in their class according to Consumer Reports. The Taurus is a terrible design, outclassed by all its rivals. The Fusion is the only car that is competitive. Ford, in my view, would be wise keep a toe in the sedan market by retaining and improving on it.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Agreed on all counts, Gardiner. Although, the Fiesta and Focus can be a sweet deal at these distress-sale prices if you’re among the few people willing to row your own – both cars’ biggest trouble area is the automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      The reliability issue has to do with the poor automatic gearbox they put in these. Those same cars with manual gearbox are very good.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    LX doesn’t and hasn’t fit with the trim level scheme in ages. It fit way back when it was at the top of G, GL, GLX and then L and LX but once SE and SEL were above in the hierarchy it didn’t make sense. So now we have S which surprisingly made a short appearance as the base Crown Vic trim in the early 90’s but it didn’t work then so it was quietly dropped.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Of the thousands of articles written about Ford’s sedanicide, this one really illustrates the why. All four of these cars are at the bottom of their respective categories. They all have that classic Ford “farm tractor” feel, as if New Holland designed them.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Prediction – Lots of folks driving ex-rental W-body Impalas will be driving 2nd-hand Taurus in a few years. (As long as they’re not fierce GM loyalists.)

    Why? They’re buying by the pound and their budgets are tiny.

    An odd trait shared by the W-Impala and the current Taurus (but not by the current Impala) is the ability to put 3 car seats across the back seat.

    (I know I’m going to become some sort of weird expert in this field of esoteric knowledge shortly.)

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Both also have big 18+ cu ft trunks (a massive 21 cu ft in Taurus). Perfect for a bunch of family/kiddo gear.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah but so does the LX platform at Chrysler. (Trunk is not as big tho.)

        Daddy is crazy enough to roll the dice on a Charger Hemi 392… (Or an R/T at a minimum)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          SS SS SS SS SS SS SS SS

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          LX trunk is really subpar, and the Charger’s has a high liftover. I was testing with our folded large wire dog cages back when I was considering a cheap large comfy commuter (W vs Epsilon vs Taurus vs Charger) and the Charger could not fit the 42 inch crate that I had transported there in the wife’s Camry (Camry and Charger are both nominally 16 cu ft). Aside from that, the Charger was easily the nicest one to drive in terms of Pentastar+8spd coupling, and excellent roadholding and ride. I didn’t like the way the seats felt either, really stiff back and raised seat bottom that makes it feel like I’m sitting ON the seat rather than IN it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    What the hell happened to the Focus’ acceleration? That 2.0 + NotSoPowerShift were good for a 7.6 0-60 in C&D’s abusive hands 6 (!!!) years ago. HP + weight + transmission indicate that is a realistic number and I don’t recall it feeling that slow as a rental.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m sorry to say that R.I.P. Ford sedans – scarcely anyone will miss them.

    Also, you could say the same for most other OEM sedans, I’m afraid. The future doesn’t look promising.

  • avatar
    FreezingD

    I have a 2016 Focus SE 5M hatchback. It is not slow. Though I don’t rally it, it works fine for every day driving, including enough power to pass on the open highway, etc. And I like how tossable it is. The price was right, the insurance cost is excellent and it has given me 36500 miles of trouble free driving. Guess my next car will not be a Ford.

  • avatar
    brn

    With the pricing this article suggests, I was excited to see if I could get a deal on a new Fusion. The key is that it would need to be an upgrade from my 2013 Taurus. Prices where Mathew is are clearly better than they are here.

    In these parts, a 2018 Fusion upgrade from my 2013 Taurus is around $30K. I paid $21K for my Taurus back in 2013 (it was a year old).

    Dealers around here aren’t discounting the discontinued Fusion. Perhaps, demand is still good here.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    This Ford sedan think has big implications for metro Detroit residents. Clearly, many designers and engineers at Ford and their supplier base will be hit with pink slips. Likely, it is starting now. metro Detroit’s better real estate will take a pounding. If you own something in Novi, Northville, … then you had better sell, sell, sell and fast. Like real fast. The drop in prices will be stunning.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      > Likely, it is starting now. metro Detroit’s better real estate will take a pounding.

      …until OCP moves their corporate headquarters into the metro area and announces their grand plan to revitalize “New Detroit”.

      Nah… I didn’t think so, either…

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    3.5 is cheap to service?

    Didn’t I read elsewhere that it has an issue with a leaking thermostat that is very expensive to replace? Or is that a different 3.5 Ford engine?

  • avatar

    Ford sells Volvo.
    Volvo continues sedan.
    Geely buys Volvo.
    Ford kills sedan.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    Jim Hack-it is nothing more than the second coming of Jacques the Knife. He’s gotta go, NOW. Get on it, Bill Clay!!!


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