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.