POSTED ON MARCH 7, 2012:
A relatively successful revamp couples style with a modest budget
Ford debuted the Focus in the U.S. in 1999 as a 2000 model. It was popular and well received when it first came on the market, but over time the competition improved and Focus lost its appeal. Fast forward to 2011, when the 3rd generation, 2012 Focus hit dealerships. Ford really thought outside the box for this compact car and gave it a lot of personality, compared to most of the others in its class. In an attempt to revamp their whole line of cars, Focus was one of the first to get radically remodeled.
Pros: MPG, peppy 4 cylinder, and cool available features
Cons: Controls are cluttered and backseat folding options
The Focus, along with many other Ford models, in the past has had an uninspiring exterior styling. The Focus now has a totally different look than any other preceding Fords. The exterior is sporty and aggressive and the interior follows the same design. With sport fabric, metallic accents, and leather wrapped steering wheel, you hardly feel as though you're in a budget-minded car.
The dash and console are aesthetically pleasing with sweeping controls, something you would more likely see on a European or Japanese made car. The controls don't feel cheap either. Ford definitely paid attention to the fit and finish and overall feel of the interior. However, some of the controls are cluttered and confusing. It would take a while to play around with all the controls to feel comfortable with it. Not super user friendly. The last thing you should be doing while driving is figuring out which screen you're controlling with your steering wheel controls.
One of the most appealing aspects of the new Focus is the availability of some very cool features, which are not usually available on vehicles in this size class.
•Bluetooth audio and phone
•Sirius with play/pause feature
•MyKey: Allows you to set a max speed and volume when your teenager drives.
•MyFord Touch with SYNC voice-activation -- integrates entertainment, navigation, and communication in a touch-screen console.
•Intelligent access with push button start -- keyless ignition and doors
•Heated cloth seats
Comfort and Versatility
You usually sacrifice comfort in budget-minded small cars, but not in the Focus. The front seats offer great support for the back and legs. There are adjustments to lift the driver's seat up and down, and coupled with the tilt/telescopic steering wheel, anyone can find a comfortable position.
Even the rear seat was quite roomy. Of course you're not going to get mid-size comfort here, but it was very respectable. I could see having two adults fit very comfortably back there. Ford also included some cubbies for storage in the backseat.
The trunk was quite large also, but the rear seat only folds down in one section. So, there is no ability to fold down one side and leave the other up for passengers. So the rear storage space versatility is a little limited.
For extra versatility, the 5-door hatchback Focus offers more storage space for those that need it.
Ride 'n Drive
When you first take off in the Focus, it is quiet and smooth. Even merging onto the highway, it held its ground and is surprisingly peppy, getting up to 70 MPH in a jiffy with absolutely no complaints. The ride is firm yet agile. You feel the road but not too much. Over bumps and around turns, the Focus just feels solid.
The turning radius is excellent, for the typical city driving. The Focus has Electric Power Steering, which provides more precise control and less maintenance over time. Ford has done an excellent job of making the Focus more engaging and fun to drive. This, again, is not something you would expect from a vehicle in this class.
The Focus gets its power from a 2.0 L 4 cylinder direct-injected engine and produces 160 HP. It is coupled with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic, which will give you the better top-range performance and fuel economy on the highway. Speaking of fuel economy, the Focus is definitely a fuel saver! It touts 27 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway.
Value for the Money
The Focus has four available trim levels: S, SE, SEL, and Titanium.
The base model Focus S with manual transmission starts at $17,000, modestly equipped with standard front power windows (rear manual), CD player, and tilt/telescopic steering wheel.
The SE model jumps up to a $17,995 base price adding on features such as fog lamps, auto headlights, secondary audio controls on the steering wheel, power front and rear windows, and MyKey owner controls.
The SEL starts at $21,095 and features a 6-speaker audio system, MyFord driver connect system, SYNC voice-activated system, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise, and dual-zone automatic temperature control.
The most highly equipped Focus is the Titanium model, starting at $22,995 with 17-inch sport alloys, SYNC with MyFord Touch with 8-inch center stack touch screen, push button start, Sirius Satellite radio, and a 10-speaker Sony audio system with subwoofer.
What's the Deal?
Right now through March, Ford is offering a $2,000 rebate on Focus. In lieu of the rebate, there is also some special low interest rate financing available to those that qualify. Ford also has their X-Plan pricing, which is available to certain companies and their employees. This pricing equates to $200 over invoice. Ask your employer if they are a Ford partner and are on the X Plan, for exclusive pricing.
Ford has done an outstanding job of updating the new 2012 Focus, with a European feel, engaging driver experience, and aggressive styling. With gas prices on the rise every day, the Focus would be a great candidate if you're in the market for a fuel saving, budget-minded vehicle with some very cool features not available on many other vehicles in this size class.
--Walk around and test-drive provided by Bill Knight Ford
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