- Wide range of impressive engines
- Really comfortable and enjoyable to drive
- Roomy in the back
- Interior quality isn’t as good as many rivals’
- Hardly an exclusive buy
- Some rivals are better equipped
In this 2022 Ford Focus Estate review it's important to remember that there are fewer estate cars out there than there use to be, but this is still a great example of its type. OK, the Focus Estate might not hit the great estate sweet spot of cars like the Audi A4 Avant or the Mercedes E-Class Estate, but this not-so-boxy Ford is a fine steed. But wait, what’s that you say? ‘Focuses are boring!’ They’re really not, but they’re pretty common – and for good reason. Ford sell so many because they’re actually really good.
From the moment it was launched, Ford went out of its way to make sure the Focus was fun to drive and it’s no different here. The Ford Focus Estate is a car with a level of dynamic accomplishment that some more expensive cars can only dream of. It changes direction with incredible sharpness thanks to strong grip and tight body control. The controls - the steering especially - give you lots of information about what’s going on, making you feel part of the action every step of the way, and no, it’s not all about boy-racer handling. It’s just as much about the feeling of safety the car gives you.
Even more impressively, the Focus manages to combine this handling prowess with a level of ride comfort that’s a match for just about anything else in the class, and that’s not an easy thing to achieve. Meanwhile, you have a wide range of petrol (named Ecoboost) and diesel (called EcoBlue) engines. That means that there’s a Focus for everyone, whether power is a priority or it’s the fuel economy that’s essential.
Is it actually any good as an estate car? Sure is. There’s 635 litres of boot space – not the biggest in its class, but definitely not the smallest. There’s easily room for a baby buggy and some shopping and, even better, there’s no boot lip so you don’t have to lift your luggage up and over. Don’t think all that space makes it uncomfortable for rear passengers, either. Some clever design means there’s plenty of room – enough for a tall passenger to sit behind a tall driver.
There’s also plenty standard equipment, which includes most of the infotainment gadgetry and the all-the important safety gear. Granted, there is one area in which the Focus struggles to match up to its (many) rivals - interior quality. Some of the plastics on show inside the cabin just don’t have the lustre that they do in competitors. Judged in isolation, however, it stops short of feeling cheap overall, and there’s no reason to suspect it won’t be durable.
The Focus isn’t the cheapest car of its type, but it is very competitive when you look at what you get for your money. For once, the sensible option isn’t a boring one.
If you're looking for the previous version, you need our Ford Focus Estate (2014-2018) review.
Is the Ford Focus Estate right for you?
Thanks to an astonishing (and slightly bewildering) array of trim levels and engine combinations, there really is a Ford Focus Estate for everyone. This is why the Focus has been one of the UK’s best-selling cars for years - popularity like that doesn’t happen by accident. The Focus delivers just the right blend of family-friendly comfort, young-at-heart handling, jack-of-all-trades practicality and penny-pinching affordability.
Yes, there are estates that are cheaper, roomier, or better quality but no rival is better to drive than the Focus, and the Ford does well enough on all these other points to ensure its popularity. It may be one of the obvious choices in the class, but that’s because it’s one of the best.
What's the best Ford Focus Estate model/engine to choose?
If you're buying new then the Ford Focus Estate engine range is actually pretty limited in the UK, with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost being the sole option in 125PS and 155PS flavours. That's no bad thing though, because both versions are excellent with a good blend of speed, refinement and economy.
If you're buying used then you have a bit more choice. We love the 1.5-litre diesel engine in 120PS form, because it’s powerful, refined and economical. If you’re a high-mileage driver (which many Focus drivers are), then this is definitely the one to have.
However, you’ll need to really munch the miles to offset the extra it costs over the 125PS 1.0-litre petrol engine, so if your regular distances are more modest, that’s the one you’ll want. Having said that, you’re buying a load lugger for a reason, so if you spend 90% of your time fully loaded or are planning to tow, make sure you get one of the torquey diesels.
On new Focus Estates the trim levels are a bit more simplified, with Titanium, Active and ST-Line trims plus as 'X' version of these with an extra helping of kit on top. Even the basic Titanium has LED headlights, the big screen SYNC 4 system, keyless entry and start plus a good haul of safety systems.
What other cars are similar to the Ford Focus Estate?
As one of the nation’s best-sellers, the Ford Focus Estate is one of those cars that every carmaker wants to compete with and the competition is fierce. There are plenty of good quality mid-sized estates such as the classy Volkswagen Golf Estate, the practical Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, the Peugeot 308 SW with its stylish cabin and the reliable Honda Civic Tourer.
Then you also have more premium offerings like the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate, not to mention all the small SUVs that are proving so popular with families these days.
As is the modern way of things, in the Ford Focus Estate you need to spend more time using the 13.2-inch SYNC touchscreen system whatever function you need to find, including the ventilation controls. The good news is that the screen sits high up on the dashboard where you can easily see it, and the controls for the air conditioning sit permanently at the bottom of the screen so you don't have to go fishing through the menus to get a warm backside.
The seats are very supportive, and there’s loads of movement in the seat and steering wheel to help you find a comfortable position. Go for ST-Line X, Active X or Titanium X trims and the seat moves electrically. Your view of the road ahead is pretty clear, and while your rear view is hampered slightly by a small rear window, it’s a similar story in many of the Focus’ rivals. Even basic Titanium offers front and rear parking sensors, and there's optional automated parking too.
Quality and finish
The Ford Focus Estate offers something of a mixed bag here. In all the places where your eyes or hands fall most often, there are pleasing soft-touch surfaces and textured finishes, and these bits feel great. Unless you find yourself an early Style car, you’ll also get nice leather wrappings for the steering wheel and gear shifter.
Elsewhere on the dash, however, are plastics that are harder, scratchier and of a considerably lower quality, and many of these are in plain view the whole time. One or two of the panels don’t line up with quite the precision that they do in rivals, either. This doesn’t give the cabin a low-rent feel overall, but these inconsistencies mean that the Focus feels some way behind not only the Volkswagens and Hondas of the world for poshness, but also the Kias and the Hyundais.
Each version of the Ford Focus Estate gets a slightly different ambiance, with the odd bit of (fake) chrome, (fake) wood or (very fake) carbon fibre splashed about to tart things up. Despite that, though, the cheap-looking stuff is still very evident, so there’s still a rather flimsy feel.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Ford Focus Estate
If you're buying a brand-new Ford Focus Estate then you benefit from Ford's latest SYNC 4 infotainment system, and while there wasn't a great deal wrong with the old system it's nice to have a suite of new features.
The screen is a sizeable 13.2-inches and all versions include DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six speakers, voice control and connection to FordPass, allowing you to control some functions via your smartphone. The display itself is sharp with nice, clear graphics, and responds quickly to inputs. It's also capable of some clever stuff, like connected navigation which uses a cloud connection to update your route planning as you go.
Go for a Ford Focus Estate X pack car and you also get a digital instrument cluster. There's nothing wrong with the analogue dials of course, but the 12.3-inch digital cluster looks snazzy and allows you to adjust the displaying depending on the drive mode.
Space and practicality: Ford Focus Estate boot space
The Ford Focus Estate is 4667mm in length and 1825mm in width, big enough to offer useful space inside but not so large that you'll worry about getting it parked.
Rear legroom is now among the best in the class, and headroom is very good, too, and this allows tall passengers plenty of room to stretch out, even behind a comparatively lofty driver and there’s even more headroom in the estate.
Sitting three in the back is comfier than it is in most rivals, too, because the cabin and the middle seat are wide, while the central tunnel running down the middle of the floor is low and flat, so it’s comfy to sit with your feet on top of it if you wind up in the middle. A pair of bulky child seats will also fit in without a worry. What’s more, space in the front is as generous as you expect, and there are lots of storage spaces dotted around, even if the door pockets aren’t particularly large.
What about the Ford Focus Estate boot space? There’s 635 litres of very usable load space for you to enjoy in the estate with load cover in place, and there's a few more smart features in here too, including a wet zone, boot dividers and tougher carpet to deal with frequent loads. Clever design means that there are no intruding bits of suspension, so you get space that is big and square. Put the seats down and you’ll have 1,653 litres of space available.
The Ford Focus Estate's suspension gives really impressive control over unwanted body movements, while the optional Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) on higher spec models constantly tweaks the suspension responses as you drive.
Basically, it all means there’s also oodles of grip and steering that’s quick, responsive and packed full of feel. This makes the Focus feel assured and agile as it changes direction, allowing you to scurry along your favourite backroad with a smile on your face, and with a satisfying feeling that you won’t find yourself in a hedge.
If you’re worried that such nimble handling will result in a car that’s uncomfortable over bumps, you needn’t. The suspension is supple enough to absorb most of what a ragged road surface can throw at it, and the ride is also superbly controlled at all speeds, so your life is comfortable and civilised at all times.
Ford Focus Estate ST-Line models sit 10mm lower, which makes them marginally more agile, but happily, that doesn’t put any dent in your comfort levels. An adaptive suspension was also available through the options list, which varies its behaviour according to which driving mode you select, but we haven’t yet had the chance to try it. All Focuses have a range of driving modes, which make minor changes to things like steering weight and throttle response. You can feel the subtle differences, they don’t really change the character of the car in any way.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Ford Focus Estate?
A slimmed-down range on the latest generation Ford Focus Estate means your options are quite limited; it's a 1.0-litre petrol EcoBoost unit with a choice of 125PS and 155PS outputs, with a six-speed manual as standard or the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both engines use mild hybrid technology for additional fuel savings.
The 125PS will be fine for most buyers. It’s not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s flexible enough to pull you around pretty easily in most driving situations.
If you plan on pulling bigger loads then the Ford Focus Estate 155PS version makes more sense, as it offers a useful extra slug of performance. Both gearbox options are strong; the six-speed manual is easy to use while the seven-speed auto is much better than the old automatic, and works well if you're just cruising or in a bit of a hurry.
Refinement and noise levels
The Ford Focus Estate 1.0-litre petrol engine is nice and quiet, but it does transmit a wee bit of vibration through the steering wheel and pedals, especially with a few revs on. The power delivery also has a slightly stuttery, staccato quality that also makes things feel a shade less smooth. It’s noticeable, but it’s not something that’ll annoy you.
Other sources of noise are very effectively isolated, too. Wind and road noise are both audible, but both are kept to very low levels, and you’ll hardly ever hear a peep out of the suspension. It all makes the Ford Focus Estate a very civilised, sophisticated, grown-up way of getting around.
Safety equipment: How safe is the Ford Focus Estate?
Importantly, automatic emergency braking is standard across the entire Ford Focus Estate range, along with lane-keeping assistance, electronic stability control, hill start assist and brakes that lock themselves on after an accident to help prevent any further impacts.
The standard roster also includes MyKey, a programmable fob you can give to your kids when they drive the car, which allows you to pre-set maximum thresholds for things like speed and stereo volume. Clever stuff. Meanwhile, Vignale models add brighter LED lights and a head-up display that beams key driving information onto the windscreen so you don’t have to look away from the road as often.
Optional extras for buyers of new Focuses included blind spot monitoring and a Driver Assistance Pack, which includes traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control with lane centring.
The Ford Focus Estate was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2018 and scored the full five-star rating. Bizarrely, it was then tested again in 2019, and predictably, the result was very similar. Funny, that.
Even if you just have the Ford Focus Estate 125PS and 155PS petrols to choose from, fuel consumption is still decent for a car of this size. The 125PS has an official WLTP consumption of 51.4mpg, while the 155PS version claims an even higher 53.3mpg under the same tests. Achieving these figures in the real world will take some doing, but if you drive sensibly you should be able to regularly get 40mpg and above, which is good for a car of this size.
How reliable is the Ford Focus Estate?
Ford executives will be disappointed to see that it is in the bottom five car brands in the latest HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index. However, modern cars are generally pretty reliable, and the fact that Ford sells so many cars means it's more likely that problems are reported.
Having said that, we've seen an unusually high number of reports of electrical or electronic issues with the Ford Focus Estate. Whether they were just early teething problems on a new car remains to be seen, but if you're looking to buy one make sure everything works and take advantage of heycar's 30 day warranty on every car.
Insurance groups and costs
If you ignore the sporty Ford Focus Estate ST models, then insurance groupings for the Focus lie between groups 8 to 21. Between these extremes, though, look at the versions that will appeal to most buyers, and they all sit in the mid-teens. This should mean affordable premiums, especially for those with a decent no-claims bonus, and importantly, the Focus compares well with rivals on this score.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Ford Focus Estate?
This generation of Ford Focus Estate was released in 2018, after the Government introduced a VED flat rate of £165 per year for petrol and diesel cars. Also, because no version cost more than £40,000 when new, they all escape the £355 surcharge between years two and six of the car’s life.
When considering the car’s original price, you do have to factor in the price of optional extras. However, even if you specify the priciest version and go nuts with the options list, it’s not possible to get the price up to £40,000. So, on all Focuses, the £165 flat rate is what you pay.
As for used examples, the earliest 2018 Ford Focus Estates are now pretty cheap: we found a 2018 car with 70,000 miles, the 1.5-litre diesel engine and in Zetec trim for just £11,000. Further up the scale a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS in Active trim with 30,000 miles was only £15,000.
The recently facelifted version is so new that used examples are still thin on the ground, however there are nearly-new examples out there. How about a 2022 ST-Line with the 125PS engine and just 3,000 miles on the clock for £25,000? That's over £2,000 off list price.
Trim levels and standard equipment
The Ford Focus Estate range kicks off with Titanium trim, and you get features like 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a heated windscreen, cruise control and the 13.2-inch SYNC 4 infotainment system.
Next up is the Ford Focus Estate Titanium X, and that extra letter gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats and steering wheel, fancier Sensico upholstery, electric seat adjustment for the driver, a wireless charging pad and the digital instrument cluster, which is a nice extra haul of kit.
Above that is the Ford Focus Estate Active. The Active model is a slightly different take on the Focus Estate, as Active models have body cladding and slightly raised suspension to give a pseudo-SUV feel. Other than 17-inch alloy wheels and different interior trim you get the same spec as the Titanium. Broadly speaking the same goes for the Ford Focus Estate Active X, which gets 18-inch alloy wheels and the same kit as the Titanium X, but also includes a premium B&O audio system with 10 speakers.
The Ford Focus Estate ST-Line is a sportier take on things, and you get the same kit as the Titanium but with sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and some sportier exterior add-ons like a deeper front bumper and side skirts.
At the top is the Ford Focus Estate ST-Line X, and that gets you the same kit as the Active X but with 18-inch alloy wheels and red brake callipers to complete the sporty look.