The Ford Focus has been impressively redesigned and invigorated for the 2012 model year. With its stylish good looks, fun-to-drive personality, high quality materials, excellent gas mileage and host of available high-tech features, the new Focus has vaulted up to the small car segment leader.
Offered in both sedan and hatchback choices, the 2012 Focus offers an attractive and head-turning exterior design, backed up with a best-in-class, high quality interior. And under the hood is a new four-cylinder engine that's both capable and fuel-efficient, paired with a new automatic transmission and a suspension tuned to provide both a refined drive as well as nimble handling abilities.
But perhaps most impressive is the availability of a wide range of high technology goodies, some usually only offered on much pricier vehicles. Example's include Ford's highly regarded Automated Parking Assist (no driver steering required), the new MyFord Touch technology that replaces controls and knobs with a large touchscreen display and voice commands, as well as the latest version of Ford's hands-free Sync system.
Before going into more details, we always recommend checking out worthy rivals to help make the most informed final buying decision. Those shopping this segment may also want to consider the fairly upscale Chevy Cruze, the also redesigned Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra as well as the sporty Mazda 3. They'll all be pushed hard, however, to keep pace with the new Focus' lively blend of refinement and practicality in a package one would expect to cost more.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2012 Ford Focus is a compact car offered in four trims: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. The four-door hatchback version is available in three trims: SE, SEL and Titanium.
Standard features on the Focus S (sedan only) include power front windows, power mirrors, power locks, air-conditioning, keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, an anti-theft engine immobilizer, quad beam halogen headlights, a tire pressure monitor, a 4-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack and roadside assistance for 60,000 miles/60 months.
The Focus SE adds rear power windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, foglights, automatic headlights, a rear spoiler on the hatchback, 16-inch steel wheels, Ford's MyKey parental controls and a trip computer. The hatchback SE also comes with a removable cargo cover and a 60/40 split-folding seatback instead of the sedan's one-piece folding seatback.
Also available for the SE is the optional Convenience package which includes cruise control and map lights, as well as the SE Sport package that adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, rear disc brakes, sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded inside and outside trim accents and a rear spoiler for the sedan. Also available is a 6-speaker sound system packaged with an iPod interface and Ford's Sync cell phone.
Moving up to the Focus SEL adds most of the SE's available options (but not the sport-tuned suspension), one-touch up/down power windows and multicolored ambient lighting, while the top-of-the-line Titanium model adds the sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, MyFord Touch technology with a center touchscreen and Wi-Fi, keyless entry/ignition, upgraded interior and exterior trim accents, a rear spoiler on the sedan and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio and satellite radio. The MyFord Touch system as well as the Sony audio system are available options for the SEL.
Also available is the Titanium Premium package which includes leather upholstery, a 6-way power driver seat, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic wipers and a rear armrest, while the Titanium Handling package includes an upgraded sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, summer tires and a full-size spare tire.
The Winter package is available on all models except the S and includes heated front seats and heated mirrors with side marking lamps. The Parking Technology package is offered on both the SEL and Titanium and features a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and an automatic parking system. Lastly, a notable option only available on the SE sedan is a Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package which boosts fuel efficiency via 16-inch steel wheels with aero wheel covers, active grille shutters, low-rolling-resistance tires, a rear spoiler and rear disc brakes.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
The 2012 Ford Focus is a front-wheel-drive vehicle powered by a new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 5-speed manual transmission as standard on the S and SE model, while a 6-speed automatic transmission, called "Powershift", is standard on SEL and Titanium models (optional on the S and SE). Powershift is not really a traditional automatic transmission, but is actually a dual-clutch automated manual.
The Focus's fuel economy is another big plus. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for 5-speed manual models is 26 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. Focuses equipped with the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic are rated even better at 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. The best gas mileage performer is the SE with the $495 SFE package, with ratings coming in at 28 and 40, respectively.
Standard safety features for all 2012 Ford Focus models include stability control, antilock brakes (rear drums on the S and SE, rear discs on the SEL and Titanium), front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In addition, the Ford Sync system is available on all models and features a crash notification system that automatically dials 911 when matched with a compatible cell phone.
Government crash tests for the new Ford Focus had not yet been completed at the time of this writing.
Another major positive for the 2012 Focus is its best-in-class cabin. It's attractively designed, comfortable, quiet and well-constructed with high quality materials. And with its many available high-tech features, many occupants may be tempted to spend more time in this vehicle than they are accustomed to. That said, overall user-friendliness is okay, but the quite cool and super convenient MyFord Touch touchscreen controls will likely take some getting used to at first. Even so, competitors have a hard time matching up with technologies like Sync, MyFord Touch, automatic parking and HD radio in this class.
Seating is comfortable and supportive both front and rear, even on long treks. While rear headroom is generally good, legroom can be somewhat on the tight side for some passengers. Trunk capacity for the sedan is about average for the segment at 13.2 cubic feet. Those who need more cargo space may want to opt for the hatchback with its 23.8 cubic feet, expandable to 44.8 cubic feet by folding down the rear seats.
Test-driving the 2012 Focus demonstrates its sharp handling and overall agility, yet it still remains refined and composed in typical driving environments thanks to a well-tuned suspension, solid engine performance and new automatic transmission. Most will consider it a fun car to drive, for those who appreciate that, with precise and responsive steering and little body roll when cornering. The Titanium model equipped with the Titanium Handling package is the best of the group for those who value driving athleticism.
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