A Rugged hatch without all-wheel drive

Ford offers an array of Focus-derived variants of its latest generation compact hatch that include the base model, a sporty looking ST Line, a posh Vignale and a high-riding Active. All are available as practical wagons, and the Active is no exception, arguably making more sense to buy as a wagon than the standard hatch.

The Focus Active tourer (and the regular hatch too) sit 30 millimeters higher on its suspension compared to the standard model and features plastic body cladding for a more rugged overall appearance. Front and rear bumpers are different too, as is the grille which gets its own unique design.

This is Ford’s response to similar models from other automakers, like the Skoda Octavia Scout or VW Golf Alltrack, although unlike these models, Ford doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Exterior

2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon Exterior
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The Ford Focus Active wagon looks as good as any of the new Focus-based models and really takes its plastic cladding and taller suspension well - it doesn’t look awkward, or top heavy. And, for a small percentage of its buyer base, it will be the only model that makes sense.

In fact, it probably makes even more sense to get the Active as a wagon in order to be able to pack more stuff with you when you go off the beaten path, when, say, you want to do some camping.

Remember this is still a Focus with front-wheel drive only, so don’t let its faux crossover style fool you into thinking it’s more capable off-road than it really is.

It really stands out as a distinctive model in the Focus lineup, probably just as distinctive in its own right as the lowered, sporty ST Line. This is clearly a crossover-like vehicle, with its unique bumper, side skirt design, and unique rims, all of which are only available on the Active.

Interior

2019 Ford Focus Interior
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Inside it’s all pretty standard Focus fare, and the only difference compared to other models of the Focus is the seat upholstery that is unique to the Active and Active wagon. The rest of the cabin is identical to the rest of the range, so that means a decently stylish dash design dominated by the Sync infotainment screen, rotary control for the automatic gearbox, and no more manual handbrake - it’s electric on all models.

It features no extra rugged touches inside, so even if you have the active lifestyle that this particular version is aimed at, you’re still going to have to pay attention to the interior in order to keep it in good shape.

Not saying it’s not a solid interior, but there’s nothing to make it more “active” than any other Focus in the range.

Quality has also been upped noticeably compared to the previous model, and while it’d still be a stretch to call it “premium,” it’s far closer to that distinction than any previous Focus. Practicality is mostly good too, and even though the Focus Wagon has one of the smaller trunks in its class, with the rear backrests folded the load bay is almost completely flat.

Drivetrain

2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon Exterior
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The Focus Active wagon (for Europe) shares its engines with the rest of the Focus range, starting with the 1.0-liter, EcoBoost, three-cylinder, all the way up to more powerful 1.5-liter EcoBoost and 2.0-liter diesel units. Power ranges from 100 to 182 horsepower and, while most engines come with a standard six-speed gearbox, an eight-speed automatic is offered for the first time (the self-shifter offered in the previous Focus was a six-speed).

All-wheel drive isn't available on any Active Focus, and the raised ground clearance certainly doesn’t help handling - it sits 40 millimeters higher off the ground than the sportiest Focus currently offered - the ST Line.

But that doesn’t mean its handling is compromised, and most drivers won’t even feel the difference between the Active and other Focus models.

Going for an Active over any other Focus shouldn’t incur any significant weight penalty, as there are no major mechanical differences that would require different (heavier) components. This is a Focus wagon with a hint of crossover.

Prices

2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon Exterior
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No pricing information for the Active wagon has yet to be announced, but Ford will probably sell it as a decently well-loaded model with plenty of options already on it. It may also skip some of the basic engines, so its starting price will be similar to that of a decently equipped wagon.

Competition

Skoda Octavia Scout

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout High Resolution Exterior
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The Skoda Octavia Scout was one of the first such vehicles to borrow the raised, plastic-clad wagon formula from Audi Allroad models and repackage it in a non-premium form. Mechanically related to the VW Golf, the Octavia Scout has taller ground clearance than the regular Octavia load lugger and, unlike the Focus Active Wagon, it comes with all-wheel drive as standard. It is, therefore, more serious about taking you a bit further off-road.

Skoda actually has a line of raised vehicles with just front-wheel drive, which are badged Outdoor, but the Octavia is not available in this trim, only the Superb wagon is. The Octavia Scout is only available with the top engine choices for the model, with over 150 horsepower, as well as most of the optional kit installed, so prices in Europe start from around $35,000.

Read our full review on the 2014 Skoda Octavia Scout.

VW Golf Alltrack

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Golf Alltrack is essentially VW’s interpretation of the Octavia Scout formula but in an ever so slightly more premium feeling package. Like the Skoda, it too is offered with only the higher-powered engines and plenty of standard equipment, as well as all-wheel drive.

In the U.S., it kicks off from $27,000 and is only available with VW’s 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter, turbo four, although you do get the option to choose between a manual or automatic transmission.

Read our full review on the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack.

Conclusion

2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon Exterior
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Ford is clearly aiming the Focus Active wagon at the city-goer who occasionally wants to have an outdoorsy weekend somewhere not far from the road. Its raised ground clearance and protective plastic (that shields the vulnerable edge of the wheel arch and bumper) allow you to take it to places where you may be more reticent to take a regular Focus Wagon.

But it’s really more about having the style of a crossover (which is so fashionable these days) but the smaller fuel bills and better driving dynamics of a lower vehicle. It may seem a bit pointless to some that it lacks all-wheel-drive, but for the people at whom Ford has aimed this model, its seemingly rugged appearance will trump the fact it’s not actually good at off-roading.

It will be most useful for climbing high curbs in the city, and as a poster vehicle to tell your friends about that one weekend you used to go kayaking, or how you once used it to carry a folding picnic table with chairs and how you drove over a field to reach the picnic location.

  • Leave it
    • No all-wheel drive

Further reading

2019 Ford Focus Exterior Interior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Focus.

Here's a Preview of What the Ford Focus ST and Focus RS Might Look Like
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Ford Focus ST.

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