2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan: Introduction
It is a not very well-kept secret in the auto industry that Ford Motor Company used to suffer from “quality glitches” with its new models as a routine matter of course during their first year on sale. But given how consistently innovative and successful it has been in recent years at maintaining Toyota and Honda levels of vehicle quality in surveys, it came as a bit of a shock to see its customer satisfaction ratings plummet dramatically in just the last few months.
Given our experience with the 2012 Ford Focus it’s clear that a lot of the blame lies in a few teething problems with their most recently launched models. To say our test car had “issues” would be to understate the matter quite a bit. Still, the Fusion, Flex, F-150, Taurus, Mustang and many of the Blue Oval’s best sellers, do continue to maintain excellent quality rankings.
So what’s the problem with the 2012 Ford Focus? We are sure that time and little bit of engineering hard work, Ford can fix every wrong thing we experienced. But given the number of problems our 2012 tester suffered from it is very hard to recommend that anyone buy this model at least until Ford gets these quality control issues ironed out.
There were small niggles like a trunk that routinely liked to pop open as you crossed speed bumps and it definitely didn’t help matters that the standard six-speed dual-clutch automatic hesitated for at least five seconds when going from park to reverse and then would only do so with a jarring clunk. This gearbox also routinely shook the car with such abrupt judders through the entire body during various downshifts that it made you wonder if in fact you were piloting the Titanic and had hit an iceberg. No transmission with only 4,500 miles on the odometer should behave that way.
But Ford Motor Company doesn’t deserve all the blame as Microsoft was also responsible for some of the engineering work for the new MyFordTouch and updated Sync system which in this test 2012 Focus Titanium sedan was an unmitigated disaster. The response time for the touch screen was abysmal, none of the USB ports were working and the Bluetooth system refused to connect to a brand new iPhone. Suffice it to say, this interface ruined everything that was ever good and easy to use about Sync when it was introduced.
The most bizarre malfunction with our Focus, however, had to be with the voice activation system which routinely asked us bizarre questions as we were driving without any prompting. On one particular drive as we were enjoying a Big Gulp Diet Coke from 7-11, the voice activation asked us yet another random question and at that point we could think of nothing else but to burp loudly in response.
The Focus did not take kindly to this rudeness as the MyFordTouch screen immediately went dark as did the dash trip computer readout. We had to stop the car and turn it back on again to “re-boot” MyFordTouch which sounds a whole lot like how you “fix” most Microsoft operating systems. MyFordTouch doesn’t just need “adjustments” but rather needs to be totally tossed out for a total rethink. Fortunately, a thorough upgrade to the system is promised by Ford for model year 2013.
2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan: Exterior
Now, this is pure personal preference but we think the Focus is downright sexy as a five door hatchback but somehow it mutated into a hunchbacked mutant when they turned it into a sedan. But seriously, we do wonder why Ford designers made the sedan’s trunk line so thin almost as if they were trying to give it a tiny looking rear end. You could almost say the 2012 Ford Focus sedan has too little “junk in the trunk” and may need to visit Kim Kardashian’s plastic surgeon for some implants.
We also would wager that America’s least favorite, recently divorced Kardashian would prefer to own the hatchback version of the Focus given the fact that it offers 23.8 cubic feet of cargo room as opposed to the sedan with just 13.2 cubic feet. That way she would have plenty of room to securely stow the bodies of any loud mouth ex-husbands she might acquire in the future.
2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan: Interior Design and Pricing
First off, the good news is that the 2012 Ford Focus has one of the most stylish and well-built interiors in its class. We loved the design and execution of the gauges and trip computer in front of the driver as well as the face plate for the Sony premium audio system which comes standard with the Titanium trim level. We also loved the unique shapes used for the design of items like the overhead sunglass holder all the way to the unique vertical climate control vents. It comes across as very stylish, European and sporty.
Too bad the team of Ford of Europe engineers who did the bulk of the work on this new Focus forgot to add a decent amount of rear legroom as apparently people on the continent have itsy-bitsy legs and enjoy having any front seat passenger 6 feet or above practically sitting on their lap. They did, however, do an excellent job of giving the 2012 Focus truly North American sized cubbies, cupholders and assorted hidden storage spots for your most important junk.
It was odd to us, though, that this “top of the line” $24,060 Focus Titanium model lacked both a sunroof and leather seating. Currently the Focus is priced higher than competitors like the Chevy Cruze and even the Honda Civic when compared side by side with similar features. For example, we tested a 2012 Honda Civic EX-L that was just a bit cheaper than the Focus but it had leather seats, a moonroof and a much easier to use multi-media interface system.
Beyond that, a 2012 Elantra Limited that we tested even added in a back-up camera only to sticker out a little over $22,000 while a very handsomely equipped Cruze (with no navigation) can be yours for just a little over $20,000 if you option it right. And the Jetta is even cheaper than all of the aforementioned but unfortunately it feels that way from the driver’s seat. Simply put, despite any flaws they may have, those other compact cars offer more bang for less buck than the 2012 Ford Focus with fewer quality control worries.
2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan: Driving Impressions, Fuel Economy and Safety
The 2012 Ford Focus is a safe car according to the crash test experts at the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) as they recently named it one of their “Top Safety Picks.” Too bad the Focus isn’t as fuel efficient as the EPA claims as those 27 city/37 highway estimates were nowhere near our 20.7 mile per gallon average during our time with the car. Perhaps that result was down to a fault in the six-speed dual-clutch transmission but it was disappointing nonetheless.
The 2012 Ford Focus is powered by a 2.0-liter 160 horsepower/146 lb. feet of torque four-cylinder engine that is very powerful off the line for a compact economy car and when you are revving the engine out to redline it makes a delightfully sporty growl. As long as you can hear it over the transmission clunks and groans. The brakes proved to feel very strong over a long freeway road trip in some bumper to bumper traffic and they showed no signs of fade under those conditions.
Where the 2012 Ford Focus really shows its heart and promise is in how precise and razor sharp the reactions are to your inputs through the steering wheel and how this car loves to gobble up corners like an overweight 8-year old likes to gobble up Snickers bars. During these kinds of driving maneuvers it’s like the 2012 Focus is begging you to go faster and push harder. And maybe buy a Snickers bar.
2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan: Conclusion
Yes, dear readers, due to the USB port and Bluetooth glitches associated with the demonically possessed MyFordTouch system, we were forced to listen to CDs all week in the 2012 Ford Focus which to us is the modern day equivalent of having to drag out our old Barry Manilow 8-track cassette tapes. Now, you might get lucky buying a 2012 Focus and have no problems with it or you might wind up with a car that is nowhere near as fun to own to own as it is to listen to Mr. Manilow’s classic hit “Copacabana.” Everyone loves the “Copa” but nobody loves having to take your car in for warranty repairs on a regular basis.
We do wish, however, that Ford would widen the availability of the manual transmission to all trim levels as the Focus really could be a whole lot more fun if it were freed from the shackles of that lackluster double clutch transmission. Also, given how the Focus likes to dance around corners we think Ford would snare a whole lot more of the enthusiast market just by giving buyers that choice.
So there you have it. To be honest, we really wanted to love the 2012 Ford Focus but before that will ever really happen we’d need to have some wishes granted by the Blue Oval. First, we’d insist that our Focus be a five door hatchback with a stick shift, we’d want the rear seats mounted farther back or perhaps set on adjustable rails along with the addition of leather seats and a moonroof as standard on top of the line models.
Then, of course, they’d have to finally fix all of those quality glitches. It’s a tall order but not impossible. Why do we think so? Because at its core the 2012 Ford Focus is a fun to drive, innovative and stylish compact car that is unfortunately being let down at this time by some major failings that could make your life miserable as an owner. And nobody wants that.
- Class-leading steering feel and handling
- Engine offers plenty of power and makes the right noises
- dashboard design and interior plastics quality
- As sexy as its five-door counterpart
- Lack of rear seat legroom and trunk size
- Unimpressive as-tested fuel economy
- Quality glitches
Ford provided the vehicle for this review
select photos courtesy of Ford