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.