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Thursday 27 April 2017
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Cabin Check: Civic, Focus ST and Cruze Hatchback Matchup

Cabin Check: Civic, Focus ST and Cruze Hatchback Matchup

Just head to any auto show and you’ll notice right away that hatchbacks are taking up more space on showroom floors these days. And it’s no wonder why. Hatchbacks offer more cargo space with often the same, or only slightly less, fuel economy of their sedan counterparts. Also, depending on the make, they offer great sporty handling. And don’t forget, with the boom of the millennial driver, it’s the perfect transition car for singles and budding families.

The tough part is finding the right fish – um hatch – in the now ocean of choices flooding the market. One place to start is with the interior. So here’s a look inside three different hatchback cabins during my recent visit to the always popular DFW Auto Show in Dallas.

2017 Ford Focus ST

This literally red-hot model caught my eye on my very first scan of the floor. Sales of the Focus RS trim are huge right now since its arrival last summer. The ST comes with about 100 less horsepower, rating 252 hp, while offering the same sporty feel. Oh and it starts for about $12,000 less than the RS.

It’s easy to see why this fun, comfy, and versatile model is becoming the latest staple in Ford’s lineup. When I first sat down inside the cabin, I felt immediately enveloped in nearly massage-comfortable seats. That is, they seem to hug you with molded shoulders and sides. Texture and embroidery are first-rate. Red and white ST embroidery on the seat backs pop. The rest of the upholstery uses white contrast stitching. These details brighten up the otherwise dark cabin. The fancy textures continue on a variety of plastics, and the door handles.

The center console isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a small compartment with room for a few essentials. It sits back between the two front seats, meaning the area between them is mostly on the level with the seat bottoms.


Conveniently, there are are two USB charging ports. The first is inside the center bin and is easy enough to get to for regular charging. While the second, at the bottom of the center stack, offers the easiest access but lacks the niceness of tucking the cord away without unplugging. The center stack provides a bit of a complex array of controls with a focus on audio controls on top with climate below. The info screen sits back beneath an overhang to help with visibility.

There’s a CD player, which is a bit of an oddity in today’s constant push for the latest tech. The air conditioning and heat seat controls are set low in a separate section. As a result, the stick somewhat blocks these buttons. But nothing unmanageable. All-in-all it’s straight forward.

The biggest disappointment is the giant black blob in front of the passenger’s side. There’s no detailing done on that side of the dash. Not a deal-breaker by any means. It just feels left out. 

I know we’re talking cabins here, but I have to mention the spoiler.  After hopping out of the driver’s seat, I fell in love with it. There are two air openings tucked in that just make it feel so sporty and fun. A subtle compliment to the specific to the ST and RS gauges on the dash. These sit above the center stack and face towards the driver. The ST flat bottom steering wheel finishes the look.

2017 Honda Civic Hatch Sport TRG

First and foremost, we must admit we have a bias towards this darling hatch. We’ve been in love with the Civic Hatch since the new 2017 model came our way.

The first thing that gets your attention in the cabin when you sit down is a weirdly big center console. It’s super deep and tall. Furthermore, it descends from the center stack and makes a clear divide between the two front seats. Good for storage, but a make-out session could be challenging. The only cup holder is down in the super deep bin. A USB port is also down there. A sliding armrest goes over about half of the bin.


Between the center console and the center stack is a double deck area. The bottom level provides a plug-in section with one USB and one plug. The chords then up into special chord holders on the area above. All in all, it’s super nice and should age well considering that even though the port for the iPhone might change, it still is – and should remain – a USB connector.

Above the center console, you find control buttons and a touch screen. The touch screen is not flat with the rest of the dash. Rather, it fits in with the rest of the dash detailing. Including layers of textures that match the textures on the seats and doors. Plastic stitching and a unique texture pattern throughout the cabin.

Aside from the upstairs-downstairs area, it’s simpler than the Ford. The seats are noticeably less contouring, though.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Premier

This brand-spanking new hatch rolled out last summer. Already we’re all over it. Jerry even gave it a two thumbs up test drive. It’s currently gas engine only, but Chevy the 2018 model will offer a diesel.

We’ve always loved the nice tone, and texture treatment Chevrolet does in the Cruze cabin. The Cruze Premier makes the grade. The seats are classic with clean, simple stitching throughout. They feature smooth leather that continues on the door panels and dash. Unlike the other two hatches, the seats don’t feature any flashy details. Nevertheless, they are classic and comfortable. Again, not as sculpted as the Ford.


The center console is simple, straightforward, with a small armrest. This creates a low middle area. Meaning, no seat segregation like the Civic.

The area right in front of the armrest is a bit confusing. Rather than drink holders, there is a smartphone-sized slot. My Galaxy barely fit. In addition to impractical, the idea of trying to clean the narrow grippy slot seems daunting. Drink holders are then further up next to the gear shift. They do not offer adjustable sizing.

The center stack consists of a good mix of buttons and touch screen. You control the volume and power with a physical knob. There’s also a mirroring scroll and menu knob. Air conditioning controls are, again, at the bottom of the stack. This consists of two knobs and a standard array of buttons for climate control. There’s only one USB port.

The steering wheel buttons are covered in rubber. It feels like the rubber keyboard covers people put on their laptops to keep the dirt out. Not a biggie, but a texture that takes some getting used to.

The backseats are more comfortable on this model. The cabin offers a fresher hipper vibe than the above two models.

One final note spanning across the three hatches:

We would love bigger sunroofs on the models. Especially, considering the current boom of panoramic sunroofs. So, if you’re looking for more sky, try a crossover SUV.