The fourth-generation Ford Focus — the one that went on sale outside the U.S. in 2018 — is on the brink of a mid-cycle refresh. While we don’t tend to cover the reveals of new cars not sold on our shores here at Jalopnik, there’s an alternate universe where this Focus, or at least the plastic-clad Active version of it, survived Ford’s passenger car massacre of a few years ago. For that reason, I think it’s worth seeing what we could’ve had. And be sad about it.
The first thing you may notice if you’re familiar with the forbidden Focus is the more angular facelift, featuring almost Acura-esque headlights and a harder-to-ignore LED signature. Personally, I preferred the old approach, but the 2022 Focus remains a smart-looking hatchback and wagon — one that manages to be reasonably elegant yet ultimately inoffensive. That’s a good thing for a compact car to be.
While the powertrains have remained the same, most of the other changes can be found inside the cabin where Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system is now on offer. That brings the Focus’ tech in line with what you’ll find on the screens of the new F-150, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco and Maverick. I’ve never used Sync 4, but footage I’ve seen of it suggests it’s a pretty slick system. It certainly seems less slow and useless than Sync 3 in my 2017 Fiesta.
Most people who care about this car like I do will be drooling over the new Focus ST, which is mechanically unchanged for 2022 but will inherit the new sport seats present in the latest Fiesta ST we also don’t get. But the Active is the one Americans were supposed to be able to buy before tariffs on Chinese imports got in the way, so that’s the one I find occupying the bulk of my mindshare. (Those tariffs are still in place, by the way.)
These days, Subaru dealers can’t seem to keep Crosstreks on the lot long enough. And there’s nothing all that great or special about the Crosstrek, other than the infectious spirit of a regular-ass car that thinks it can do anything. As far as I can tell, the Focus Active drums to a similar beat, but has an interior that actually seems somewhat nice for the price — in pictures, anyway.
Because that’s the thing: I can’t say the new Focus is still a good car, because I can’t drive one. That kills me. I can’t find out for myself how well the 155-horsepower one-liter Ecoboost hybrid fares in everyday traffic. That engine, by the way, is equal in power to the Crosstrek’s base 152 HP two-liter four-cylinder, but gets between 37 and 45 miles per gallon to Subaru’s 28 and 33, if my conversion of Ford’s Euro-fied spec sheet is correct.
I liken the Active to the Crosstrek not to rain on Subaru’s parade, but to loudly exclaim that the U.S. is ripe for more cars like it. Hell, ditch the Focus prefix because Americans are allergic to it; call it the Ford Active Max or something similarly meaningless if you must. It just pains me to see perfectly good, reasonable cars left where we can’t get them. Especially when that car is the Focus — a nameplate that’s always been good to us when Ford’s American arm has allowed it to be.