2013 Ford Focus / Focus ST
Long on value, short on fluff, this is America's supercompact.
Never confuse cheapness with value. A cheap car endlessly reminds you of its inferiority. But value is doubly rewarding; it means paying the least amount possible for something of superior grade. And value perfectly describes the Ford Focus and Focus ST. A Focus might cost slightly more than other cars in its compact class, but for a few bucks extra, it's profoundly better. From the basic 160-hp Focus to the new 252-hp hot hatch, the entire lineup transcends the compact caste. It's as if Ford built the Focus's structure to compete with Mercedes-Benz, the steering with Porsche, and the suspension with Lotus. Ford might not have hit every mark—the automatic is still a dullard, for instance—but the reach upward lifts the Focus away from its competition. Even the electric version (deemed too pricey for a 10Best award) boasts the same blend of refinement and handling. Note that we did, however, add the ST to the list this year. It's like a younger, louder, and hungrier GTI, and we fell hard for it. But even the lowliest Focus is suffused with character and quality far above its price.