2012 Ford Focus: 40 is the new 30 (mpg)
As far as we can tell, increasing gas prices are right up there with death and taxes: inevitable. So, the heat is on for automakers in the compact segment to produce vehicles that are ever more efficient. Redesigning the 2012 Focus, Ford hopes to answer that challenge through a lineup that achieves up to 40 mpg on the highway and features some whiz-bang technology for keeping fuel consumption low and adding fun and functionality to the drive.
The 2012 Ford Focus is in the increasingly crowded “C-Class” segment that has a long list of competitors, including the Chevrolet Cruze and Volkswagen Jetta. This class of vehicle appeals to young drivers and growing families, as well as urbanites that have an appetite for cool technology, decent storage space, and the ability to shoehorn a car into a parking space the size of a postage stamp. Ford hopes this new model will attract a new generation of customers.
Since its launch in 1998, the Focus has become a global sales leader and Ford’s most noteworthy nameplate, with sales of more than 10 million units. Therefore, the all-new 2012 Focus has been developed under the Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford’ strategy; it has been engineered to meet the needs of buyers around the globe while, at the same time, designers have incorporated preferences for different regions of the world.
Smart technologies and features for North American models include Active Park Assist; SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information; HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging software; Ambient lighting; rear view camera; Intelligent Access with push-button start; and Wi-Fi access.
We drove three different versions of the 2012 Ford Focus, which Ford says will set a new standard in the small car class in North America, with “features that rival many expensive European cars”. While the new model has updated, more contemporary and “athletic” looks, we found the large-mouthed grille cosmetically out of proportion, making an aggressive-looking front end of the car. Although bold and larger-than-life-sized grilles has become a design trend in many of the newest cars and trucks in the U.S., we find some rather toothy! The car’s side profile is attractive and slenderizes to the back, with coupe-like styling.
We enjoyed the sporty dynamics of the Focus, motoring on a route along some of southern California’s tight and twisty roadways in the foothills of the San Bernadino Mountains. The new model has 30 percent greater rigidity and improved stiffness of its body structure which translates to a tauter driving feel. Maneuvering is also enhanced by a new electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system that varies the steering feel for better response at variable speeds and parking. Also new on all models is a torque vectoring control system that performs like a limited-slip differential (often found on more pricey models) to give a balanced distribution of torque. What this means to an everyday driver is better traction and handling, and also adds improved safety. While all models performed well during our day-long drive, we noticed a marked difference between the 15-inch tires on the base model and the 16-inchers found on uplevel versions; recommendation: bump up to the larger rubber, if you purchase the ‘S’ model.
Stepping inside, we took note of the high-quality materials and craftsmanship that give the interior a premium feel. Ford says the new Focus has more first-row shoulder room than an Audi A4, more front headroom than a Toyota Camry, and more hip room than the Audi or Toyota. Also notable is the quietness of the cockpit, as
noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels have been reduced by the design of the windshield’s special acoustic layer, along with thicker side and rear glass.
The MSRP on sedans starts at $16,270, while 5-door versions begin at $18,065
The standard powertrain of the 2012 Ford Focus is a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline direct-injection, DOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque- this is 20 more horsepower than the previous generation model. This motor can be matched to a five-speed manual transmission or a fuel-economy-enhancing, dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, with Power Shift manual-mode shifting. A turbocharged ST model and a hybrid are expected to be on the market in 2013.
The new Focus also gets ‘stop-start technology’, which shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, a boost to fuel economy, especially in city driving.2012 Ford Focus: A Little Wiggle Room
The 2012 Ford Focus isn’t big, but it’s not like flying coach from Tucson to Phoenix, either. Despite its compact class, Focus aims to be roomy, with more front seat headroom and shoulder room than some competitors, and more rear seat hip room than others. The rear seat folds flat for extra room, and the trunk has 13.2 cubic feet of storage, enough for a few bags of groceries, a weekend getaway, or a ski trip for two (if you put your skis on top with optional roof racks).
The cockpit-styled front cabin puts controls and dials in easy reach and incorporates lots of soft-touch surfaces. The center stack includes an AM/FM/CD player, and is kitted out to incorporate MyFord Touch™ technology features that replace many buttons, knobs and gauges with LCD screens and five-way buttons. MyTouch can be added on higher-end Focus models as part of special options packages.
The 2012 Ford Focus is a big-selling little car carved with a smooth exterior that wears a wide-mouthed front grille, with snake-eyed headlamps; above is a steeply raked windshield giving it the look of a more expensive, higher-performance vehicle. A cool addition is the set of active shutters integrated into the grille, which block airflow through the cooling system when it’s not needed and improve the car’s aerodynamics. Standard tires and wheels are 15 inches, with 16-inch and 17-inch wheels available. In addition to the new 5-door hatchback model, Focus is available as a 4-door sedan.2012 Ford Focus: The Small, Safe Type
The body shell of the 2012 Ford Focus is comprised of a mix of advanced materials and 55 percent of high-strength steels. Front disc and rear drum brakes with four-wheel ABS are standard on all models of the 2012 Ford Focus; stability control also is standard, and higher-end models get four-wheel discs. All Focus models come with next-generation front and side airbags and segment-exclusive Safety Canopy® curtain airbags. Optional safety features include active park assist, rear view camera and push-button start.2012 Ford Focus: What You Get for the Money
The 2012 Ford Focus lineup is available in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. Sedans come in all of the above trim levels, while the 5-door hatchback starts at the SE level.
Base models get 15-inch wheels, manual air conditioning and power front windows, as well as AM/FS/CS stereo with four speakers. SE models also include 16-inch wheels, fog lamps, automatic headlamps, floor mats and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, plus power front and rear windows.
SEL adds a six-speed automatic transmission and 16-inch wheels, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. Leather-wrapped steering wheel, MyFord Touch technologies and electronic automatic climate control are also included. The Titanium models top out with 17-inch aluminum wheels and a rear spoiler, push-button start and a host of MyFord Touch technologies displayed in an 8-inch center stack, SIRIUS satellite radio and 10 speakers.
On sale now, 4-door sedan versions start at $16, 270; 5-door hatchback models begin at $18, 065
Ford provided the vehicle and images for this review