2019 Ford Focus: 5 things you should know

Ford may be spending big money on utility vehicles like SUVs and trucks, but there's no denying how important the 2019 Focus is to the automaker. Now in its 10th generation, the new Focus faces an even bigger challenge, making its pitch to coax drivers out of their crossovers and into something that Ford argues is just as practical. Read on for five things you need to know.

Ford is making better use of space

The 2019 Focus is a little like the TARDIS: it's bigger on the inside, but not the outside. While the footprint of the car has been kept the same as the old model, the new version increases cabin space both in the front and the rear. Cargo area will increase, too.

Partly that's down to extending the wheelbase, pushing the wheels further out to the corners of the car. However clever design of the cabin itself plays a part, too. Automatic models do away with the stick shifter, replacing it with a rotary dial to control the gears; combined with the electric parking brake, it means more space in the center console. Ford has been able to slim that down, while still providing plenty of bins and cup holders.

In the 2019 Focus Wagon, meanwhile, there's up to 58 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seats are folded flat. That can be done with the pull of a single lever, too. Ford says it did that with large pet carriers in mind. Even if it's just groceries you're carrying, the hands-free liftgate system – which opens the trunk when you kick under the rear bumper – will be useful.

Ford plans to KISS

"Keep It Simple, Stupid" doesn't exactly sound like a typical automaker phrase, but that's certainly the strategy Ford is taking with the new Focus. The company has set itself what, on the face of it, is a difficult challenge. On the one hand it wants to offer more Focus variants in different markets; on the other, it wants to simplify the line-up.

The result will be a significant drop in the number of orderable configurations Ford offers of the 2019 Focus. Currently, the company says, there are around 360 different ways the existing car can be specified. Ford plans to trim that by as much as 92-percent, however, bringing the number down – market depending – to as few as 26 configurations.

While that might sound like less choice overall, Ford says it expects the decision to actually help cut through showroom confusion. It'll could also make a big difference when it comes to delivery times, in markets outside of North America where it's less common for dealers to have stock on-hand. Down the line, if all goes to plan, Ford's goal is to increase the modularity of its parts, so that different engines, components like sunroofs, and electrical systems can be shared just like car platforms are.

There's the active safety tech of a much larger car

It used to be that you'd need to buy a luxury car to get features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance. Now, they're available on mass market models. The 2019 Focus will embrace all of that, under the Ford Co-Pilot360 umbrella.

While it won't be standard across the new Focus line-up, Co-Pilot360 will be offered in different regions. For a start there's adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go support, allowing the 2019 Focus to keep pace with traffic jams. Ford will bake in lane-centering, too, to keep the Focus in-between the lines. Speed Sign Recognition will spot the currently posted limit.

A new Active Park Assist system, meanwhile, can take control over acceleration, braking, and – in automatic cars, presumably – the transmission. It'll be able to completely park the 2019 Focus in an empty space with just one button press. The same automatic steering technology will be used for Evasive Steering Assist, which Ford says will help the Focus navigate around potential obstacles when there's the risk of a collision.

Even the lights are getting an upgrade. Ford calls it Adaptive Front Lighting, and it uses cameras to spot upcoming curves in the road and automatically adjust the beams to suit. For the first time, the same system can also spot upcoming road signs, to make sure they're sufficiently illuminated.

The 2019 Focus will be connected

The "connected car" isn't just a buzzword any more, and drivers are expecting more from their dashboards than an FM radio and Bluetooth. Ford has already committed to making 90-percent of its new global vehicles internet connected by 2020, and the Focus will be one of them. It will offer FordPass Connect, with an embedded modem and a WiFi radio, creating a hotspot for up to ten devices at a time.

Even if you're not using the modem to get online, the 2019 Focus will be able to tap into it to pull down live traffic updates for the optional navigation system. There'll be native music streaming, too, while the FordPass mobile app will allow remote access to locate the car, check things like its fuel level and oil life, and unlock and start it from a smartphone.

A nook in the dashboard will offer optional wireless charging, and SYNC 3 will be offered with an optional 8-inch touchscreen. That will have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, too.

The US and Canada will have to wait

Ford may have taken the wraps off the 2019 Focus today, but that doesn't mean everybody will get it immediately. The car is expected to arrive in dealerships later this year, but only in Europe and China. North America, meanwhile, will have to wait until sometime in 2019.

Exactly when next year is unclear, and it's not the only lingering question we have. While Ford may have confirmed some of its engine options – everything from a 1.0-liter EcoBoost gas engine through to a 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel – so far that's only the case for Europe and China. What will be under the hood when the new Focus reaches the US and Canada is another unknown.