By on May 4, 2011

Yes, this is a $27,340 Ford Focus. And nav would add another $795. How could a Ford Focus possibly be worth this much? Read on.

As with the smaller Fiesta, there’s a whole lot going on in the exterior design of the 2012 Ford Focus. But all of the curves and creases manage to come together to form a coherent whole the looks both upscale and sporty—especially in the top Titanium trim with the $595 18-inch alloys and $495 “yellow blaze metallic tri-coat” paint. Some would prefer cleaner, simpler lines, but among the current crop of compacts this one looks the best to my eyes. Unlike many complicated designs, it shouldn’t age badly, as the proportions are good and none of the many details seems excessive or extraneous. (The large tail lights come closest to crossing this line.)

Inside the Focus, aesthetic complexity continues, and not quite as successfully as with the exterior. The design struggles to successfully combine both gunmetal and piano black trim, chrome highlights, contrasting stitching on the seats, and a prominent multicolored display. Like the exterior, the interior looks both upscale and aggressively sporty. In the upper trim levels materials and construction are as good as they get in this segment, and far, far ahead of those in the new Honda Civic. But on repetitive commutes or long drives it can help for an interior to be calming. This one is always sharply dressed for a night on the town. It’s not a place to kick back and relax.

Reviews of Ford’s latest-and-greatest controls have been mixed, at best. The touchscreen display looks fantastic—competitors’ control systems appear dated in comparison—and it’s fun to play with. But it isn’t easy to operate while driving. A very good voice control system reduces the need to use the touchscreen, but this isn’t a valid excuse. Luckily, well-designed knobs and buttons are provided for the HVAC controls and heated seats. There’s a physical power control for the audio system, but I couldn’t initially find it—it’s the small button beneath the left side of the CD slot.

As in the new Honda Civic, though for different reasons, the instrument panel is surprisingly tall. I had to crank the drivers seat up to comfortably see over it. Thankfully, the windshield isn’t laid back as far as some, and the pillars flanking it aren’t overly thick. Spotter mirrors aid rearward visibility; a good thing, as the rear deck is high. The front seats are outstanding, with both abundant padding for comfort and large, firm bolsters for lateral support. Perhaps Ford learned a thing or two from Volvo?

A disadvantage of the large front seats: there’s barely enough room behind them for the average adult. This could be a deal killer for some. A shame, as the rear seat is mounted high off the floor—for good thigh support and forward visibility—and nicely shaped. The trunk is a little larger than the class average, though conventional hinges do cut into the usable space.

Fire up the four and get going, and the initial impression is of a heavy, well-insulated car. As speed climbs the car feels lighter and more compact, but never quite tossable. Even with the Titanium’s sport suspension and the optional ultra-low-profile high performance tires ride quality is very good, only getting a touch abrupt over some minor bumps. The quantity and quality of the noise that enters the cabin suggest a premium car. The new Focus sounds and feels like money.

Even optioned for best performance, the handling of the new Focus isn’t overtly sporty. Like some high-end European sedans the new Focus feels a bit lazy in casual driving, but rises to the occasion on a challenging road. The 235/40WR18 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 summer treads that attend the optional 18-inch wheels provide a ton of grip, and the well-damped chassis has composure to spare. Perhaps due to the sport suspension there’s none of the on-center squishiness that afflicts the Fiesta. The steering feels quick and well-weighted around town—but borders on twitchy at highway speeds. As is almost always the case, feedback through the thick, heavily-padded rim could be better. For a direct, delicate feel and nuanced feedback, a Mazda3 remains the way to go. Though certainly fun to drive, the Focus Titanium is a luxury sedan first and a sport sedan second.

The powertrain could be the car’s weakest link. The direct-injected 2.0-liter four kicks out a very respectable 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, but it has to contend with over 3,000 pounds of curb weight. Consequently, while acceleration is easily adequate, it’s short of thrilling. The sound of the engine is also a bit out of line with the rest of the car. Though not unpleasant, and largely suppressed, the high-pitched whir is clearly that of a smallish four, and would seem more appropriate is a less luxurious, lighter-feeling car.

While a five-speed manual is offered in the lower trim levels, a six-speed dual-dry-clutch automated manual is mandatory with the SEL and Titanium. This transmission didn’t behave well when I sampled it in a Fiesta, with overly frequent, sometimes clunky shifts. This time around Ford’s new box behaved much better, more or less mimicking a conventional automatic. What it didn’t do: contribute to a sporty driving experience with lightning quick, firm shifts the way Volkswagen’s dual-wet-clutch DSG does. Unlike in the Fiesta, it is at least possible to manually select gears via a rocker switch on the shift knob. While this should do for grades and such, shifting via the lever would be better and paddles flanking the steering wheel would be ideal.

With the manually-shiftable dual-clutch transmission, the Focus earns EPA ratings of 27 city and 37 highway, very good numbers for such a well-equipped, rock-solid, reasonably quick sedan. The Hyundai Elantra does a couple mpg better, but it has a less refined, less granitic feel to it. The Focus weighs a couple hundred pounds more, and this has benefits as well as costs.

Reliability could be an issue. Based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey, the smaller Ford Fiesta has gotten off to a rocky start. Many of the reported repairs involved a poorly functioning electrical ground, because of which the car would not start or the transmission would not go into gear. In a few cases the dual-clutch transmission shared with the Focus suffered a major failure. Hopefully Ford spent more time working the bugs out of the 2012 Focus.

Then, of course, there’s the price. The sticker only tops $27,000 if you get the top-level Titanium trim and load it up with options—many of which are not even available on competitors. For the features included and the car’s premium look and feel, the price isn’t out of line. Equip the new Focus SE like the $21,255 2012 Honda Civic EX, and it lists for $21,165. The main outlier: an Elantra Limited lists for $20,700, and includes heated leather in both rows. Even after adjusting for feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, the Hyundai is about $1,300 less at MSRP and $700 less invoice-to-invoice (Ford dealers have larger margins to play with). The Ford’s higher price seems justified: it rides and handles better than the Hyundai, and simply looks and feels like a more expensive car.

Overall, the new Ford Focus is very impressive, with the look, feel, and features of a premium car, but also very good fuel economy. By most metrics it’s the best car in an increasingly competitive segment. The Mazda3 remains more fun to drive, and the Elantra costs a little less. But most people care more about ride than handling, and will be willing to pay a little more for the Ford’s advantages over the Hyundai. The big question mark: reliability. Time will tell. With owners’ help, TrueDelta—and TTAC—will have initial reliability stats for the new Focus in November.

Frank Cianciolo, an excellent salesperson at Avis Ford in Southfield, MI, provided the car for this review. Frank can be reached at 248-226-2555.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.


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147 Comments on “Review: 2012 Ford Focus Titanium...”


  • avatar
    stryker1

    “$27,340″
    *Whistle*

    refined or not, that still seems high considering you could be rolling in a v6 mustang with leather and the upgraded sound system for a little less.

    • 0 avatar

      Equip the Focus like that Mustang and it’s $4,000 less before adjusting for feature differences, $6,000 less afterwards. Easily done here:

      http://www.truedelta.com/prices.php

      Either you want the toys, or you don’t. No point in comparing one car loaded up with another that isn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        My point is not that they math out the same. My point is, I think, going to be a very common psychological reaction to that sticker price.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        My point is, I think, going to be a very common psychological reaction to that sticker price.

        Yeh, I don’t think the market for coupes is nearly as big as you think it is…

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Michael, how does this compare to the Lexus CT200h? The Focus may be handling better and have more feature, but the CT has an “L” badge after all and looks decent.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      I don’t believe anybody is cross shopping a mustang and a focus. Those 2 cars appeal to different sides of the brain and completely different personalities.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        Wrong. I’m ready to unload my 2006 civic, and I am torn between getting a fiesta for the mileage and the quirky appeal, or the mustang for the… well… it’s a mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        I wouldn’t be so sure about that…I’ve been considering a Mustang GT as well as a Camry and the Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        New cars on my list… Focus SE hatch with 5-speed manual, Buick Verano, Mustang V6 track pack, Hyundai Sonata

        Used Cars – Impala LTZ 3.9V6, Buick Lucerne, 2005-2010 Mustang GT, Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego

        But then I’m an enthusiast and at some primal level all cars hold my attention.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        Just like he said, completely different (i.e., split?) personalities.

        Here are the vehicles on my current ‘next commuter’ list.

        A List: Soul, 2012 Impreza, 2012 Beetle, Mazda CX-5

        B-List: Fit, Fiat 500, Golf, Rio, Juke, Focus, Fiesta, Tribute

        C-List (would like very much, but very likely can’t afford): C30, Countryman, Tiguan, A3

        D-List (gently used, reliable): CR-V, Rav4

        (multiple personalities?)

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        @Educator(of teachers)Dan:

        The world will probably give us better Sonatas, Veranos, and Focuses in the future. We might even get a better Mustang.

        But, there will never be another car with a pushrod V6 sold in the United States after 2011.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Ajla, that’s a 3.9V6 endorsement isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, people cross-shop every combination possible. I once had someone emailing me who was deciding between an STI, Evo…and Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        mdensch

        My experience: I pre-ordered a Fiesta in March of last year, 5-speed manual but otherwise fully loaded. When month after month passed by without any word as to when it might be delivered I finally gave up waiting for it and bought a 2011 Mustang V-6 Premium instead. Never regretted it.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Maybe it’s because I’m 6’3″ tall, but the big difference for me between a Mustang (I used to own an ’87 GT 5.0) and one of these other cars is the existence of a usable back seat. I really wouldn’t call the back seat of my Mustang usable, except for my kids who where 6 and 3, respectively when I bought the car and 11 and 8 when I sold it. I am assuming that the back seat in both the Focus and even the Fiesta is more usable than the one in the Mustang, although I haven’t checked the numbers. I put the MINI Cooper, the BMW 1-series and the Lexus IS in the same category (with the Mustang) of “kid and dog only” back seats.

        I would concede that I could carry my 90 lb. Golden Retriever around in a Mustang . . . something I can’t do in my Z3, although he looks pretty cute belted into the passenger seat next to me. However, deployment of the passenger airbag while the dog was in the seat would not be cute . . . so he only sits there to pose for pictures while the car is stopped.

    • 0 avatar
      karnoldy

      $27000 is only if you want it equipped better then a $32000 Audi. If you want to equip it comparable to a Honda, Chevy, or Toyota, then it pretty much matches the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      karnoldy

      The $27k Focus now comes with more options then the Mustang can offer hence you can’t really compare the two.

      In the other direction if you are considering the Mustang you likely want to hear the sound of your engine and don’t care if it can park itself, so why would your consider a $27k Focus anyway?

  • avatar
    redliner

    It really is interesting to me that the Focus is trying to play in the same space as the VW Jetta did, while the Jetta is no longer a premium compact.

    At $27,000+ I think would rather get a Ford Fusion Hybrid. Better fuel economy, more space, although lower on feature count.

  • avatar
    76triumph

    I drove the Focus SEL last week. I liked the car but didn’t care for the transmission. I was expecting something that felt more like a manual than it did. I was looking for something fun to drive, and ended up taking delivery of a Mazda3 with a 6sp manual yesterday.

  • avatar
    keyman

    For $27,000 plus, I can get a loaded GTI that out performs Focus in everyway.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Looks sorta like an Audi. And… weighs like and is priced like one!

  • avatar

    Before I even read the rest, I stopped at the first paragraph. This baby sells in brazil for a whopping R$71,000 (US$1=R$1.6)or 44,375 dollars! So 28 000 sounds like a bargain to me! Plus we have it only in the last generation design. Sigh!

    • 0 avatar

      Brazilian taxes make cars absurdly expensive, but at least you get options. Down here a 1.6 5speed Focus is US$21.000, but thats all we can get. There is only one version, power windows, A/C and dual airbags. No automatic available at any price.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I want to like this car, I was looking forward to this car, but I’m not sure if I could bring myself to buy it simply because of that infotainment display. I don’t want a touch screen in my car because of the difficulty in using it while driving (let alone when wearing gloves) and I get the feeling it’s going to lead to an expensive repair down the road.

    • 0 avatar

      Then get a Focus SE. Better yet, get one with a manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        76triumph

        That is a valid point. I have a little trouble following Ford’s options, but it seems that an SE with a stick can be optioned up to SEL territory. However I’m not sure everything is available. I spoke to two sales guys from Ford, and it was only the 2nd guy who suggested I could order an SE with the stick I wanted and option it up to get the features I also wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        In that case, Ford needs some different/better pictures on their website. Every image I’ve seen of the new focus showed a large display area – even on non-Ford sites. Of course it makes sense that they’re pushing the high buck options whenever possible.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Hey, at least Ford includes a nice, big, black plastic triangle ahead of the side mirrors…

      That’s says it’s a 2010+ vehicle.

  • avatar
    340-4

    An ecoboost 2.0 and 6 speed with a limited slip and I’d consider it for $27k.

    Saw two of these on the lot this weekend, and I agree, they look expensive.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Marcello..whats with the insane prices in Brazil?

  • avatar
    vbofw

    Finally! A car where you can option the uplevel electronics, in this case MyFordtouch, but can deselect the navigation!

  • avatar

    just went to Ford’s site and built an SE hatchback with a 5 speed manual, leather, sport package, MyFord, SYNC, and Sat Radio and it came out to $21k and change. base price was $18k, the electronics were about $1200, sport package was $700, and leather about $800. Much more reasonable.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    No small car…that ugly…should cost that much.

    It really is a shame that Ford cannot design an aggressive, clean, non-offensive car anymore. The front on this Focus is absolutely horrid. And the interior…terrible.

    There are far better options out there…this Focus is mediocre at best. It must be a Ford.

  • avatar

    It’s a very attractive product, considering the rest of Ford’s lineup still looks too blocky. I’ll never be shopping in this segment, but, if I was a 5’0 female with less than $30,000, I’d give it a shot.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Hey Karesh,
    Nice writeup as usual. Where does the Cruze fall in your rankings? Or do you feel that the Cruze, Elantra and Focus all excel in different aspects?

    • 0 avatar

      The Cruze has excellent seats, a high quality interior, and a very smooth, quiet ride. But the Focus more or less matches it in these areas, performs better, and is more fun to drive.

      The Elantra doesn’t feel as solid or ride as well as the Chevrolet or the Ford, but it costs a little less and should get a little better real-world fuel economy. I’d be more likely to recommend it if they tuned the suspension better.

  • avatar
    aspade

    Seems like a more livable car than the blatantly light and cheap competition e.g. the Elantra, Civic or Corolla. Because it isn’t light and cheap.

    But if you’re giving up on light and cheap I’d have trouble justifying not going the rest of the way and shopping against real midsizes with a more refined engine and a real back seat. It’s a lot harder to outshine a Sonata than an Elantra.

    The hatchback doesn’t face that competition, for all three people who are willing to be seen in one.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    “Most Ford Focus sedans are EPA rated 28/38. For some reason—the wide performance tires?—the tested car was rated 27/37.”

    I noticed that Focus automatics are rated 27/37 *with* SelectShift, and 28/38 *without* SelectShift (unless it’s an SE with SFE option, which is up to 28/40).

    The S (sedan-only) trim does not get SelectShift.
    The SE only has SelectShift if you opt for the SE Sport Package.
    The SEL and Titanium both get SelectShift.

  • avatar

    Thanks, this makes more sense. There’s not going to be any actual difference everything else being the same, but the lowest trim with SelectShift is heavier than the lowest trim without it, and this might bump the car into the next test weight class.

  • avatar
    ajla

    This car makes me feel poor. Good thing I’m too set in my ways to really consider a vehicle in this class anyway.

    I’m hoping Ford lays it all out on the ST though (and keeps it under $25K).

  • avatar
    mazder3

    The last vehicle I saw in this color was my grandmother’s 1980-something Chrysler Fifth Avenue Le Baron (the color looks butterscotch to my screen.)I could totally see this Focus wearing a vinyl roof.

  • avatar
    Derby129

    It would appear that a similar spec is $30,479 CAD for our Northern Neighbors.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Well they said they would move upmarket in search of profits and they did. This is much nicer than last gen. Last gen was selling for 11-12k towards the end. Different value proposition.

    I don’t quite want one but its nice. Wish I bought “F” at $1 a couple years ago.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Hideous. Even if you don’t order it painted in McDonald’s Hot Mustard, as pictured.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The direct injected engine will be an expensive headache down the road. The dual clutch gearbox will fail. The electrical system will strand your loved ones. And a guy who runs a website that tracks reliability statistics is recommending it over a Honda…

      I see some people think it is attractive, and I find that entertaining. When this car came out, I posted it on an F1 website frequented by Europeans, Brits, and Australians as the new US market Focus. They didn’t know they were going to be stuck with it too, and they mocked it in ways I can’t quote here. The emperor has no clothes. Europeans only think American cars are ugly because they’re American cars, and Americans think European cars are attractive because they’re European.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Do you ever have anything nice to say about an American-brand car? I assume you know the 2012 Focus is going to fall apart because you have some kind of experience with them. Oh wait, it’s only been on sale for a month, so that can’t be the case.

        Nice to know you find other people’s opinions so amusing too.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        I guess we’ve found the thread where CJ pimps his Hondas without complaining about VAG products.

        “And a guy who runs a website that tracks reliability statistics is recommending it over a Honda…”

        That should tell you something.

        I think I speak for many Americans here when I say I could care less what folks with the Queen on their currency think about styling cues. I don’t often rock a speedo at the beach, for example.

        While there is no accounting for taste, anyone who lavishes praise for Honda’s styling over the last decade, while laughs at this model, well, there is no accounting for taste.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “That should tell you something.” It does tell me something. I won’t be wasting my time participating in True Delta surveys any longer.

        You guys spend a lot of time on automotive blogs to not know about the built in flaws of direct injection. Even if Ford perfects the high pressure fuel pumps that the Germans can’t master, the intake valves and passages will still coke up unless a redundant port injection system is used. The way Toyota does it, in other words. If Ford had the Lexus system, they’d say so. I’m sure an old Focus will be worth the effort needed when the time comes to take the head off though.

      • 0 avatar
        Roundel

        Your import bias is getting a bit tiresome.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        What about the direct injection on Mercedes, Audi, BMW, et al.? I guess their cars are gonna strand them too…just saying. And your import bias is kinda old…obviously you never had an older (or newer) Mitsubishi.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    What’s the point of this car? The price seems ridiculous indeed. I understand the concept of a well equipped compact car but there are so many better competitors. The worst thing is the engine. The price is upper 20s and you get all you get is the 160HP engine? What was Ford thinking? Honda Civic SI with Navi MSRP is under $26,000. VW GTI with Navi is around $27,000. There are also plenty of fine midsize cars for this price. Ford’s own Fusion SEL-i4 is $25,110. I am sure you can add a premium electronics package for 2-3K. And that rear leg room is ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The Focus ST will be coming soon enough with 250hp and a base price in the mid-20s. If you don’t want to pay $27k for a 160hp car, don’t; that’s why there’s a Focus SE.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @SV, Focus ST will cost $25K, less than the pedestrian version? When did Ford announce this aggressive pricing?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        th009 –

        The Taurus SHO AWD starts at $38,595, but you can price a Taurus Limited AWD out above $42K and still keep the standard 3.5 liter non-turbo V6. You can also price a Mustang V6 higher than the starting price of a Mustang GT.

        The performance version will have a higher MSRP than the standard Focus, but that doesn’t mean that the starting price will be higher than the most heavily equipped Focus with the standard engine.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Most are predicting a $27k base price for the ST. Which honestly sounds a bit steep, considering both the Mazdaspeed3 and the GTI start under $25k.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The point of this car is simple, profit. Americans equate the size of a car with it’s price. Like you many have said but you could get a midsize for that price. The problem is that smaller cars don’t cost that much less to build. That has traditionally meant that they weren’t that profitable. I can see a Titanium generating up to 5 times the profit of a “S” so even if the take rate is only 10% it could mean a significant impact to the overall profitability at the bottom line. Ford is Focused (pun intended) on making a real profit in this segment. So I say more power to them.

      The customer the Titanium is targeted to isn’t really looking for HP numbers and will rarely use any modern cars full rated HP. They will have the ST for the person who is looking for more performance. Remember it was only a couple of years ago when 160 hp would have been considered better than most non performance cars in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      What’s the point of this car? Simple, Ford decided to stop competing on price and focus (pardon the pun) on a solid quality feel. As for your comparison points, a Civic Si is under $26,000 with the nav system, but the interior quality isn’t anywhere near the Focus, and it’s far too noisy for a car at that price. And the GTI, I’d like to know where you found a GTI with nav for $27,000? The ones I’ve seen with nav all run around $29-$32K.

  • avatar
    MoppyMop

    Any chance we’ll see a full TTAC review of one of the more low-end models (S or SE)? It seems like everybody and their brother has been talking up how great the new Focus’s interior is; I just test drove the base S model and I just didn’t see it. There seemed to be plenty of hard, shiny plastics, and the base Mazda 3 and VW Golf are both much nicer inside. I’m curious as to what Ford might have cut out to hit that base-model price point.

    • 0 avatar
      Suter

      That’s almost exact my impression after sitting in the car at NY Auto Show last week (although I’m seeing Golf’s and Jetta’s dashboards as a miniature of a proper dash from other VW model).

      I’m not sure where all the praises are coming from. Interior looked cheap, a lot of shiny silver plastics that looked and felt like “Made in China” electronics from 10 years ago. I felt cramped in the driver’s seat and the look of the gauges was like “I’m a toy for 6 years old”. And I own 2006 Focus which appear to me more pleasant than the new one (not the quality, but the impression and a space of the interior).

      For many months I was trying to convince my wife to check out and maybe buy the Fusion, as it was, again, praise in most reviews. It took us 1.5 secs sitting in it, for me to realize that I wasted a lot of time reading about it and for her to reassure that Ford’s interiors are POS.

      No more Ford products in our driveway.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        Hmmm, I wonder just what you’re expecting in a sub-$20K car? I just drove a Focus SE with the sport package, 16 inch wheels, and the auto/manual transmission and rather liked it. Yes, the plastics are shiny in some places, but that’s the case on most economy cars – which is what the Focus is, despite Ford’s best efforts to deny this. And since you mentioned the Jetta, I’ve seen it, drove it and have come to the conclusion that the Germans haven’t forgotten how to rip customers off, as the interior was actually several steps down from the Focus, and the same goes for the new Honda Civic.

  • avatar

    In the S and SE they cut some of the soft-touch trim from the door panels, they use cheaper upholstery, the trim plates are painted silver rather than the more lustrous gunmetal, and so forth. The S and SE do look and feel quite a bit cheaper inside.

    I have requested an SE with manual transmission from Ford. Could be a while before I get it, though.

    • 0 avatar
      mculbert

      On the ‘S’ the dash plastics are all a satin black. I think it’s a more cohesive look than the combination silver and black. I highly recommend the manual transmission.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Michael – I’m confused about what appears to be a different placement of the handbrake lever between the sedan and the hatchback; in the sedan, it’s further forward (like the previous-gen Civic); the hatch has it further back.
    Now, I’ve not seen this in person (I’ve been looking at dealer videos of both styles), but it may be dependent on trim level or transmission choice – any ideas from you or the B&B?

    • 0 avatar

      Good eye, I hadn’t noticed this. There are clearly two different center consoles. It’s trim level and/or whether the car has heated seats. On the car I drove the heated seat controls are located where the handbrake is on an SE I also took some pictures of but didn’t include in the set. Both had automatics, so that’s not it.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    This might be a winer to replace my aging ’99 Accord. The real test will be sitting in it to truly see if the interior is equally as refined. Everything I’ve looked at that isn’t a pure blood luxury car has a less refined interior than my Honda from 12 years ago, absolutely asinine. The new Accord is a freaking tank and the Civic even in the best trim has felt cheap compared to the Accord.

    I did look at an Elantra and found it to be quite cheap feeling, but the Sonata is relatively decent. Still not quite sure about buying a Korean car. That said, I’d cross shop this with a Fusion Hybrid and a Sonata Hybrid. I’d like to get at MPG’s close to 40 and have a nice leather trimmed and soft touch interior. Anything else out there that compares? (BTW, I won’t go Toyota unless Lexus makes a hybrid IS.)

    • 0 avatar

      And just what is wrong with buying a Korean car?

      Think of SK giants LG and Samsung. And everything being made in China.

      A bias against asian manufacturers is not an intelligent one.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      Maybe a Buick Regal eAssist / Malibu Eco? They’re mild hybrids, so they won’t get the city mpg of other hybrid midsizers (Regal 26/37, Malibu 26/38, estimated). But the Regal interior should be a pretty big step up from compacts.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Well, I don’t have a bias against the Koreans. It’s just the memory of some pretty terrible early 90′s Hyundai’s are still very fresh in my mind. That said I do have a strong bias against Gov’t Motors. I did not support the bailout and I will not support them by purchasing one of their vehicles, no matter how good they are.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    These are the first pictures I have seen giving complete views of the sedan’s exterior and surprisingly (to me) I like the styling a lot better than the hatchback version. With the Fiesta I like the hatchback’s styling a lot more than the sedan model.

    I am also quite impressed at the level of interior trim quality but I doubt the sales of the Titanium model will account for very much. Nothing about this car says econobox to me but for $27+k it shouldn’t.

    I think Ford definitely has a winner with the new Focus and before years end expect this car to be the #1 seller in the compact segment.

  • avatar
    slance66

    What is this obsession with the price of the most loaded version? As I’m sure every single one of you knows, any car, loaded to the max, is overpriced and a bad bargain. The profit margin on high-end audio and gadgets must be absurd. They are the large sodas of the movie theater and fast food world.

    You can get everything that makes this a good car, the SEL trim, engine and dual clutch A/T, for $21k. My Ford Touch plus Nav is a toy, one that costs more than a fantastic home entertainment system. I applaud Ford for not packaging things I care about, like the engine, nice heated seats and quality interior materials, with the pricey electronics.

    The backseat room is my only concern with this car. If I hadn’t bought a car last September, the SEL hatchback would be at the top of my list.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’d love a “base” hatchback with the 5-speed manual. (I just don’t trust anybody’s dual-clutch automatic.) The limited backseat room is easy to solve. Get a partner much shorter than you and put them in the passenger seat with the seat slid up as far as they can go comfortably and then put the next tallest passenger behind them! My sister and I would sit behind various people in a car based on leg room. I always sat behind mom cause she was shorter than dad.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’m really surprised at how much I think I like this car. I grew up in a Ford family, but had many bad experiences with my Fords, I eventually gave up on them. But this car really piques my interest. Even better news for Ford, is my Audi-loving kid really likes the new Focus, too.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    Some of the comments here are reflecting a problem Ford is going to have in moving the price range upmarket – people are going to balk at “Why would I spend X for a Focus when I could spend the same amount for Y?” This to me shows that 1) people are not as comfortable with having a large price range on the Focus, and see it as a lower range player only, kind of the opposite of the $30K range in the F-150 line, and 2) Ford should be very careful about pulling a Pacifica and having only super expensive models available at the outset, as it may turn showroom traffic away – it’s easier to talk someone from a cheaper model to a more expensive one that it is to even talk to someone with $27K as the only starting point.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Well, ‘Y’ is going to be rather more expensive in the next generation, so right now Ford (and everyone else) only needs to worry about the overlap between price scales during the transition.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        That makes sense – I wondered how the new Fusion, if it is based on the next gen Euro Mondeo, was going to be priced. Since Euro mid-sizers seem to start around the mid to upper $20K (Euro Passat, Opel Insignia and Honda Accord which have all be or are being sold here)

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      Why indeed…seeing as you can get a loaded Hyundai Sonata SE non-turbo for about $1000 LESS than the Focus Titanium, and you can get a Sonata SE turbo for not too damn much more, if you can get past the dealer gouging going on here in Texas. Oh, and I should point out…the Sonata is a bigger car with room…meaning you can fit grown Americans in the back seat.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    I think this has been discussed before, but Ford is doing the same thing as Mazda where you can only get the hatchback in higher model grades, right?

    I like the look and practicality of hatchbacks (wannabe Euroguy?), but don’t like to invest too much money into the profit driving upgrades I don’t really care about…
    It irks me that I couldn’t get a Mazda 3 with the more than enough power smaller engine in hatchback form… and the same thing irks me here. (I do own a ’06 Hatchback though which had the same issue…)

    Hey, at least they are offering hatchbacks at all, right Honda?

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      At this point beggars can’t be choosers in the hatch/wagon segment. I have zero interest in any sedan or coupe so I take great interest in ANY wagon/hatch that is offered. Of course this means I usually have to compromise on something, be that price, reliability, engines, etc…

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        We must be the 3 Americans who prefer hatchbacks/wagons to sedans that aspade refers to, above.

        Can’t beat them. The only downside to owning a hatch is, you’re on the B-list any friend who is moving furniture across town (A-list being the ones said friend hits up for their truck.)

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        Agreed.

        At least I put my money where my mouth is once- I own a 2006 Mazda 3 Hatch, even though I didn’t really care much about the additional required features. I’m not one of those people who talk about wagons and don’t buy ‘em.

        I also own a 2010 sedan, and honestly I would have paid out for the hatch that time too, but my wife preferred the Sedan style, and it was hard to win the argument when the hatch cost more and she’d be the primary driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        I put my money where my mouth is also as I own a 2006 Legacy Wagon. Me and the wife are wagon/hatch only drivers and she insists on wagons as much as I do. We are and will remain childless but we still have to haul stuff and in general, on the subjective side, I think wagons look better than many sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Ditto the whole money/mouth, swapped my Accord for a ’10 GTI.

        Tried to cross shop the Fiesta, Mini, and Fit, but the Fiesta had no available hatches at the time (and wasn’t enamored with the ‘rear’ ‘seat’), the Mini while fun to drive is merely a ‘symbolic’ hatch (see Fiesta), and the Fit’s fit and finish are not suitable for anyone gainfully employed.

        Would have bought a new Civic hatch, site unseen, but the geniuses at Honda decided to poop the bed on that one, the middle of the last decade.

        Would have loved to have test driven a Focus ST, but that would have required a time machine at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        gogogodzilla

        Same here. I don’t like sedans and prefer hatchbacks. Currently, I’ve got a 2006 Mk V GTI. But with the expired warranty, VW reliability, and the skyrocketing price of gas… I’m more and more considering that it’s time to trade-in.

        While I was incredibly impressed with the Mazda3, it’s clutch and fuel economy left me expecting better. If the Focus has the same (or better) interior and handling… combined with it’s extra 10 mpg fuel economy, will definitely put this in my ‘must test drive’ category.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I am very interested in the ST hatch version of this when it comes out, and I will take mine in my favorite color orange.

  • avatar
    greenb1ood

    Great review MK. I’m looking to exit my 2005 Volvo S40 which is actually an ancestor of this ride, so I’m giving it a lot of consideration. However, I’m very, very disappointed that I can’t get a Titanium with a true manual shift. Should I wait to see if an SVT or ST version is released that offers a high trim level with a manual or does it seem like Ford has made their choice on where the manual tranny belongs on the price chart?

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    I’m starting to warm to this car relatively quickly, especially considering the cost of fuel in the LA Area. The interior (in the Titanium trim at least) strikes me as upscale and worthy of the price that Ford is asking. All of this and I really wasn’t considering a vehicle in this class at all. The closest competition is a no-go thanks to the Joker inspired front end design and silly display setup.

    I’ll reserve my final judgement until I can actually drive one, but overall it looks promising.

  • avatar
    SV

    I test drove an SE hatchback with the sport package a while back and my impressions were pretty similar. It felt very expensive, bank-vault solid and extremely refined overall. I also thought it was more fun than the Fiesta, mostly because the steering was lighter (I thought the Fiesta’s was a bit too heavy).

    I don’t think I’d call the powertrain a weak link, as relative to its rivals it manages both above average performance and gas mileage. I thought it was responsive enough and very quiet.

    The SE interior has one notable difference to the SEL and Titanium models inside, beyond MyFord Touch and auto A/C: the upper door panel is finished in a rather cheap hard plastic. Not a deal-killer, but a bit disappointing. Otherwise, I thought it was very well finished inside; I especially liked the chunky steering wheel and gauges.

    Rear seat room seems to be this car’s main flaw, same as the Fiesta, oddly enough. It’s strange, too, because the Mk1 Focus had rather excellent packaging if I remember correctly. That being said, the Cruze isn’t any better and it’s selling very well, as is (for the last few months anyway) the Fiesta.

    About the Mazda3: I drive one and I find the steering overly heavy, but I don’t know if that’s specific to my car or not – the reason I wonder is because sometimes the steering effort lightens up considerably and the car is actually fun to drive like I thought it would be; other times, it’s leaden and dull. Compared to my car I thought the Focus was better to drive, with much better-weighted if numb steering; but if my car’s steering is just unusually heavy (and I have no idea why it would be) then I can see how the Mazda is better. Either way, though, I still found the Focus enjoyable and the superior NVH and vastly superior sense of solidity make it a better all-around package, IMO.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Wish Chevy would offer Cruze hatch here. Ugh! Awful color! Triangular lower grille is bad, otherwise Focus is very nice looking. Base “S” models for $18,000 with auto are sitting on my dealers lot. Higher trims seem to be moving.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    If you´re gonna charge big money for a small car, you need a special car.
    They should put the B5254T3 Volvo engine in this car, like in the Ford Focus RS MK2.
    It produces 305 bhp and 325 lb-ft.

    As it is, i don´t see this Ford as special enough.

    • 0 avatar
      PennSt8

      One could always go easy on the options checklist and spend way less than the sticker price of the vehicle above.

      Besides a Focus with that amount of hp is going to cost north of 30K

  • avatar
    jeffsnavely

    Just had a stripper Focus as a rental – loved the look outside, but very cheap interior and drove poorly.

    Very twitchy on the highway – a lot of work to keep it straight.

    The dual-clutch tranny is not nearly as refined as VW’s DSG, and it always seemed busy.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I’m puzzled by comments about the twitchy steering – while I only drove it at 60mph briefly, it seemed extremely stable.

      I don’t think the S interior makes a particularly good impression since they basically took everything out of it. I actually really like the SE’s cabin, cheapish door tops aside.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s odd, but the steering goes from stable to twitchy somewhere north of 60. I tested the car at 75, and the first time I changed lanes was a shocker.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Interesting. I never got up to 75, maybe 65 tops, so that would be why I never noticed anything.

        I should take a highway test-drive then, as that could annoy me. Then again, compared to my 3, the Focus will probably still be quieter and smoother.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Looks like what a 4 door Integra/RSX would have looked like, if you ask me.

  • avatar

    “In a few cases the dual-clutch transmission shared with the Focus suffered a major failure. Hopefully Ford spent more time working the bugs out of the 2012 Focus.”

    After seeing such epic fails as the CD4E and AXOD transmission, I’m much too terrified to purchase any Ford with a newly designed automatic transmission before enough time has passed for all the kinks to be worked out…Dual clutch, or otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      A word to the wise here. I drove one of the first Fiestas earlier this yeat and noticed that the transmission seemed to be shifting late and the car had no power to boot. In fact, it seemed to have less pep than my old Geo Prizm with 198,000 miles. However, I drove one a bit later, and it drove like a whole different car. I think ford slipped a software patch on the tranny on the cool and hoped no one noticed…but I did ;)

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The two biggest issues I had with the new Focus after spending 20 minutes looking one over was the cramped interior, especially the tight back seat legroom and claustrophobic back seat, and the small narrow trunk. The Cruze and Elantra especially have far roomier feeling interiors with the Hyundai variant having the most rear seat legroom and overall space.

  • avatar
    afflo

    You always write excellent reviews.

    I’ve heard so many good things about this car, it was on my “hmmmmm” list until it was revealed that only the family sedan and wagon versons would be built.

    You mention the dash being rather high, and having to crank the seat up. I remember you saying in another review that you’re around 5’10. I’m 6’1 and long legged, and I usually prefer the seat as low as I can get it, as the design of most current seat-height-adjusters moves the seat upward as it moves forward. I couldn’t believe how tall the seat felt in a friend’s ’08 Civic SI, even at its lowest setting. At the same time, the tall car thing (which I think started with the Echo before spreading across almost all small and even large cars, i.e. the Ford Taurus/500) has pushed drivers’ seats higher and higher.

    Is the dash actually that high, or does the seat simply drop to a lower minimum height than other cars in this class? I’m not in the market for a car now or the near/mid-term future, but I frequently rent cars, and if the Focus is long-limb friendly (and the Focus is quite beloved by rental companies), I’ll request one next time.

    When I was car-shopping a couple of months ago, I was looking to get back into a somewhat sporty, compact coupe with decent mileage and a usable rear seat, and specifically, a low, legs out driving position. The market is a bit crummy for those as of late. Civic, tC, Forte… yah, I think that’s about it (pre-12 Focus coupe… I spent a month in a ’10 Focus sedan as a rental, and wouldn’t touch it with a 20 foot pole). Altima, Accord, and Genesis are if you want to go up into the 20K+ range, but as a divorced guy with an income under $100,000/year, that’s a sizeable psychological barrier to me.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re not offering the wagon here, only the sedan and hatch. But you mean no coupe, right?

      The instrument panel is tall. In the photos notice how much higher the base of the windshield is than the base of the side windows.

      I also like a low driving position as long as visibility is also good. I rarely raise a driver’s seat.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, the hatch looks basically like a wagon. Ford simply calls it a 5 door, but it’s got glass on the sides after the C-pillar, which would make me call it a wagon. Since it does have an abbreviated rear end, I suppose hatchback is more appropriate, but these lines have been blurring quite a bit lately.

        But yeah, no coupe. I don’t really like the look of four-door cars, but the reason is more practical than a styling consideration for me – it seems that in most modern 4-doors, once you slide the seat all the way to the back, and lean the seat back a bit, you are next to the pillar instead of the door, and have no door armrest, no windowsill to rest your arm, and have to lean forward to look around the pillars.

        How is the rearward seat travel? I ended up buying a tC, largely after reading a review that boasted “Even 6-footers won’t need to slide the seat all the way back.” That meant that when I did slide the seat all the way back, it was perfect for me. I can almost let the clutch out without having to splay my knee around the steering wheel. I dont’ know about the 2012 Civic, but the ’06-’11 Civic’s feel much like the Fit – I want to reach down and slide further back every time I sit down inside… a real shame since the older Civics always seemed like the legroom should have mile-markers. (I have a 35″ inseam)

        (Oh yeah, still me, just logged in through FB this time)

      • 0 avatar

        They are offering a true wagon in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Roger that. Looks like a lot of overlap with the C-Max. I wonder why they didn’t offer it here, since there is an American obsession with being able to cram half of Costco in the back of the car, just in case. It’s been 10 years since I had a car with a separate trunk – I like the versatility of a hatch… just wish more of them were 3-doors instead of 5 doors.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    If the new US Focus is anything like Euro-market Fords, I’m interested. I rented a new Mondeo TDCi 6-speed manual at Otopeni airport in Romania and was wondering why we can’t get this car in the US. It drove well, handled nicely on shitty and twisty Carpathian roads, and got 32mpg (and diesel fuel in Romania was $US7.79/gal). I’m sure it would have done better on a highway. What a torque-monster; I barely had to downshift except on hairpin turns.

    It was unlike any other Ford product I’ve ever driven; I refused a Grand Marquis last month at PHL. “But we upgraded you!” “Errr, thanks, but can I have that Altima Coupe over there?”

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Well, the new Focus is pretty much identical to the European Focus. The main difference is the engine (no 2.0 in Europe). Cosmetically the only difference is that the US Focus has orange bits in the headlights that are mandated by the DOT, and the side mirrors only get indicators on higher-end models (in Europe they’re mandated for all trim levels)

      It certainly feels a lot different inside than any other US Ford apart from the Fiesta.

  • avatar

    I have a sort of general question for quite a few of you, following on the interior comments.

    Do you place interior materials high on your list of cross-shopping criteria?

    I ask because the interior seems to come into play quite often both here and in automotive reviews (which seems to be because frankly, there isn’t that much qualitative difference in cars these days, and they have to fill multiple pages with something, and gushing about interiors is cheaper than doing the type of in-depth evaluation that Consumer Reports or Consumer Guide Auto writes.)

    Interiors make a nice first impression, the moment you open the door, and sit down behind the wheel, but who notices and gushes over interior design after the first month with a car? There are so many practical considerations that one makes, and so many things that only become annoyances after living with a car for a while. For example:
    - Are the heat vents in the right location to blow on my frozen fingertips when I leave in the morning in the winter.
    - Can I easily adjust the heat/A/C without looking away from the road.
    - Are the seats comfortable for my frame? can they be made comfortable.
    - Is the armrest in the right place?
    - Once I’m adjusted into the correct position, do I have significant blind spots?
    - Are the quirks going to remain charming, or just bug me after a while?
    - With the steering wheel adjusted, can I still see the speedometer.
    - Does my knee rub against the dash or console?

    Some things are easy to fix later (I’ve added Clazzio leather seat covers to my current car and previous car, as they are far more cost effective than having a car reupholstered in leather if it’s not included), but others are more or less hard points that you’ll either like or not like.

    I had a 2003 GMC Sonoma that, despite it’s horrific build quality and ugly interior design, was extremely comfortable to drive, and the ergonomics worked perfectly for me. If it didn’t show signs of lemoniciousness right off the bat, I probably would have kept it. My ’10 Fit only stayed with me for about 18 months – despite all the rave reviews, I never could get completely comfortable in it, and decided that if I had to pay the $1500 or so on which I was upside down, I’d rather do it in another car. Of course, leave it to me to trade it just before the KBB values shot up about $1500 following the spike in gas prices and production bottleneck following the earthquake.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Sorry, I’m just not buying it. I like the design (although why does Ford get a pass on the black A-pillar trim, but not Honda?), but the lower-trim versions I’ve seen on the road just aren’t impressive. At all – save for some nicer sheet metal they don’t impress anymore than the old Focus, or any other econobox. And the fancy Titanium model just isn’t a good value-for-money proposition. For that money, you could get any number of midsizers with most of the same options and have a more comfortable car without sacrificing much fuel efficiency.

    And my experience with my Mustang so far hasn’t made me a believer in Ford quality and reliability. Certainly not with a new direct injection engine and a flakey dual clutch transmission. Just because J.D. Power, Consumer Reports or TrueDelta says Brand X is now more reliable than Brand Y doesn’t make it so.

    I wanted to like the new Focus, I really did. But seeing it in person was a major disappointment. I actually think I prefer the Cruze, despite my blinding hatred of GM, and would take it over the Elantra, too, which still looks and feels like a weird, chintzy Korean crapbox. All things considered, I’d probably go with the Civic – it’s underwhelming, but everything in this segment is. The Honda’s a known quantity for me (I’ve had one for nine years) and I don’t think any of these cars have objective advantages over one another.

    • 0 avatar

      The triangles don’t look as bad here as they do on the Civic, because the Honda also divides the front door glass. I do wish they’d managed to execute the design without them, though.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Finally stopped by the local Ford store to look at a blue 5-door, and the first impression that I got was “Damn! That’s a SMALL car!” No, the dealer was closed, so I didn’t sit in it, but I didn’t have to – the interior looks cramped, the roofline is low, and the area under the hatch is tiny; there are certain things that I have to carry for work, and they would not fit under that hatch without putting the rear seat down. The interior looked OK, but the 16″ steel wheels certainly looked out of place on a car with a sticker (SE) of $20,600. This car will have people looking into bigger alternatives for just a bit more money… seriously, when I first saw it, I thought it was a Fiesta.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Hey Mr Karesh,

    27,3 for a loaded 2012 3box Focus.. and ya didn’t get the hatch, what gives?

    What other interior is optional..
    Leather = seat heaters and coolers..

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      you can order cloth seats even on the Titanium. and you can get em heated, but not cooled

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        N8iveVA:

        Think about how STUPID that sounds…. for just a minute.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        not everyone wants leather, and what car in this class has cooled seats?

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        Think about that concept.

        Ya can get it heated.. but not cooled? Do ya know how easy it is to reverse HEAT in a heating unit for a seat to COOL?!
        It doesn’t matter what “people want”. It’s the STANDARD option for having leather seats.. its the heat cool option. Ya do a leather interior its going to come with black leather.. which means its going to be HOT in summer and cold in winter. That means.. its going need to be COOLED in the summer and heated in the winter.

        WHY..
        Because equally priced competitive interior options are avail in the germans as well as the Japanese.

        AGAIN,
        Ya cant compare ANY CAR in THIS class.. to THIS CAR.. (Civic, Corolla, Mazda3speed (no speed competitive version for Ford), not even a hatch avail for most of the market that can compete in the C/D market size)

        WHY?!
        Because FORD finally has figured out.. you can get the size of car you want.. with the options you want. Forget about the stupid competitors cars. The reason why this car should succeed.. is because the others have failed.

        NOW..
        When I buy this car.. (and I will because the Japanese have OFFICIALLY watered down their offerings to the point that its a piece of shit.)
        Its going to be blue, orange or red.
        With the hatch for about 22.. no leather, no heated b.s, no electronic b.s systems.
        Its going to have some kind of a light tan CLOTH and a nice stick.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    USA Today’s Healey gives Focus a largely negative review and really can’t recommend the car:

    …•Price. Too high. The base model is about $17,000, and that quickly seems expensive in contrast to the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. The midlevel test Focus sedan test car, for its $20,000 price, lacked some expected features, such as backup alarm, and forced upon the buyer ugly steel wheels with tacky plastic hubcaps supposed to resemble alloy wheels.

    Not in this lifetime.

    And the $28,000 hatchback — while furnished with gadgets galore, including front and rear “you’re getting too close” alerts as well as an excellent backup camera and leather in a breathtaking, black-and-cream — still imposed the size and noise penalties.

    Also not in this lifetime.

    •Drivetrain. Too coarse. The powerful, eager GDI unfortunately sounds like a tractor and shakes at idle. The manumatic transmission, though mostly laudable, shudders and stumbles on low-speed downshifts, a common flaw for the type.In the end, Focus is a heartbreaker. Because it looks great and drives the same, it’s one you’d love to recommend enthusiastically. Alas, no can do.

    Overpriced, noisy and small:
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2011-05-12-ford-focus_n.htm

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Hate to tell ya..

      I don’t base my opinion’s about what I WANT by a guy who is my father in law’s age!

      Hes not interested in driving the car.

      This is the first Ford vehicle to come out of EUROPE, to be designed and driven the way it should be.

      Buy the car at the price they ask and figure out.. that THIS.. is the new class leader. Its not Civic, its not Corolla. Its a aggressive hatch from FORD.

      CASE CLOSED.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>CASE CLOSED.<<

        Mind closed.

        Irrational response to the fact that the more people learn about the Focus, the worse it looks.

        Looks like Mondeo/Contour/Mystake redux.

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        Mind CLOSED?
        You are basing what you want in a car, from a guy who thinks his Continental is sporty.

        It looks like MONDEO.. because ITS SUPPOSED TO. Its called Corporate design FASCIA. This is the first Ford vehicle (out of Europe) that has a design theory.

        Ya cant compare Mondeo/Mistque/Contour/Stype/. That was 10+yrs ago. Jack the Knife Nasser (The CEO at the time) isnt even around. The segments of Ford that HE set up are no longer present (P.A.G = L.R / Jag / Volvo). The company actually has a line of competitive vehicles, and you cant comprehend that this.. could actually be a credible car.

        GET OVER YOURSELF.
        Figure out where Ford sits in the market and which cars have PULL, then go drive the damn car.

        Ignore Civic and Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      The only thing that Healey’s right about is the price. It (and the Chevy Cruze) are about $2000-$3000 too high. At that price range, it’s competing with a Mini Cooper. And any buyer that would look seriously at a Cooper wouldn’t even sniff at a Focus – European pedigree or not. It’s American, which automatically knocks it out of contention with that crowd. If he thinks the Focus is too noisy, obviously he hasn’t driven the latest Corolla – terrible car, and I NEVER in my lifetime thought I’d be saying that about a Toyota. Darty steering, barely OK ride, and slow as a boat anchor. The only thing that would scare me away from the Focus is the tranny. If they’ve cleared that up from the fiasco that was the Fiesta, it’s almost a home run. The only thing lacking is rear seat room, which they should be ashamed of. Other than that, the Focus and the Mazda 3 are the best small cars to drive, and the Ford is far better looking than the Mazda. Methinks that Mr. Healey should go back to drivng 2000 Caddy Devilles…he’d be happy then.

  • avatar
    gmd

    I really enjoyed this review–it’s very helpful.

    I’m replacing a Mazda Protege5, and I like the Focus 5-door, Lexus CT, & the 2012 Mazda3 5-door (with SkyActiv).

    Since the new Mazda isn’t out, it’s a mystery, but I’m a fan of how Mazdas drive and how they’re put together. The 2012 should be comparable to the 2011, except the engine & transmission. (There’s also the demon-clown-face issue.)

    The Lexus is cramped and the hatch is too small. I doubt it’s worth $30k+. (And the only trim available in my area is the premium, which I don’t want.)

    I’ve driven the Focus, and I like it a lot. It looks great, drives well, has enough power, is quiet, and has good features (blind-spot mirrors, 4-post steering wheel, fold-flat seats). The base infotainment system is atrocious (the salesman couldn’t even manually tune the radio). The Touch seems better. So, that puts me into an SEL with Touch, which I think is reasonable for a bit over $20k.

    But, I’m wary of the new tech. I don’t like menus (Touch & info display). I don’t know what could go wrong with the DI & dual clutch. I don’t have faith in a cap-less gas tank. I know Ford’s quality has gotten a lot better, so I’m confident it will be reliable, but my Mazda has been virtually bomb-proof. Does anyone have input on this stuff?

    Another issue is I’m known by my “little yellow car.” It became part of my persona, and yellow isn’t available on the SEL. That bumps me to the Ti & an extra $1500. I don’t know if it’s worth that much. I don’t know what’s driving the price between the SEL & Ti. Supposedly the Ti has a ‘sport’ tuned suspension to go with 17″ wheels, but I’m not a fan & would swap them out for 16s. Do the Ti & SEL use the same brakes? Would the Ti suspension be mismatched with the 16″ wheels? What else is different between the SEL & Ti?

    How would the Focus compare to the new Mazda? Both have new engines & transmissions. They’re comparable in power & efficiency. I doubt the Mazda will have half the bells & whistles, but it’ll have less stuff to break. Does anyone know the target price for the SkyActive? How will it compare to the Focus SEL/Ti? Does anyone know of a paint kit to put teeth in the Mazda’s grin?

  • avatar
    youngh00n

    Hey Michael,

    Great review! I’m in search of a compact car and have narrowed my options to two cars: The 2012 Focus SE and 2011 Elantra GLS.

    Which would you prefer??

    I’m not too much of a car-guy, so I was impressed with both of their performances on the road. In my opinion, Focus wins on style, but the Elantra’s 10 year warranty is hard to pass up. Focus SE is about $19,000 while the Elantra GLS was around 18,500. But – as of now – you seem to think that the Focus is the class leader.

    Would appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks!

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I wonder what the chances are that the ST version will be offered with the dual clutch automatic transmission like it is in Europe?

  • avatar
    vwil

    After reading all the replies, I can honestly say how the price would make some people walk away. But trust me when I say that it is truly a luxury car for the price. Ford has really stepped up it game. I am sure that the prices that you are quoting for the other models are base prices from the sites. I guess it all depends on what you are looking for in a car. The price that you see reflect all the options that come with it. If you get the lower grade one you will not be as happy. I can say that I am a owner of a 2012 Ford Focus Titanium and I love it. I have got many complements on the car and I can say that all are really impressed. If you are considering it at least look at it in person and judge for yourself. I do undersand those compairing the price to other cars, trust me they do not have all the options that this one does and if I am purchasing a car for that amount I want all the options and luxury i can get. The only thing that i did not get was the parallel park option ( do not do a lot of that anyway). Mine was under that amount with discounts. Plus a few little cute fun extras that I thought was cool.

  • avatar
    stephengray

    Ford better start stocking more base models. They are mistaken if they think they can sell $27,000 cars with the name Focus on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      stephengray:

      You obviously dont get the concept.. in what is going on currently.
      It doesn’t matter about the vehicle’s past U.S issues. — Different car entirely.
      It doesnt matter what you THINK you want.. Ford isnt selling that.
      It doesnt matter..

      What matters.. is this.
      Ford is selling a C segment vehicle… more competitive than Civic OR Corolla (previous leaders in segment) with a hatch in a aggressive body style that neither have.

      You can buy the car.. at the price you want.
      If you want leather, rear backup system, navigation, high mpg along with a whole host of features that make the car class leading.

      You can also buy.. the stripper for 22, get the hatch, with the orange color, in a manual and be just fine.. without going nuts.

      The vehicle is there as a CONCEPT. The CONCEPT IS.. you dont have to buy the Fusion and settle for only getting the options you want in the larger size. Now if Fusion had a hatch.. and if there were more available.. it would he more competitive — like Ford is on the SUV / CUV market front.

      Its a perfectly fine car to spend.. any kind of money on it.

      Figure out what you are talking about first.. before you go knocking a car based on a name.. for which the previous car / frame only shares.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Finally got to drive one of these today. Have been to two Ford dealers over the past few months, and found NOWHERE to park among the solid looming phalanxes of F150s. I am emphatically not a truck person. No place to park, no good reason for me to haul myself out of my car and wander into the showroom to meet someone who undoubtedly would know less about the car itself than I do. Which is the main reason I wouldn’t buy a Focus, because I just can’t imagine the frustration of bringing it in for service and dealing with some bland unknowing service empire. Same with Chev Cruze.

    However, the Focus is very nice indeed for the price. Very well finished. It is quiet, and even with the big wheels rides reasonably well over our bumpy, beaten up roads. Not in the same class as a TDI Sportwagen with high sidewalls, but not bad. And solid. No rattles, feels all of a piece. The new Elantra is awful by comparison, and since I don’t ride in the back seat, heating them is not a feature I need.

    The Focus’ driver’s seat is very comfortable, but the darn steering wheel is too high. No doubt spending a bunch of time fiddling with all the adjustments might help.

    Weird automatic. The engine idles at about 1300rpm until you come to a complete stop, and the tranny is easily confused otherwise, just heading up through the gears for fuel economy. Tootling along, it’s fine. Not bad blast through the lower three gears, quite a quiet engine and nice sound. The idle quality is very good, but just off idle, it sounds like a typical four cylinder.

    I don’t like the steering at all. Zero feedback when storming a corner, and far too light off-center. Can’t imagine it would be much fun in the snow with so little idea of where the front wheels are. The car doesn’t lean much on cornering and has very little tire scrabble.

    For the money though, a well made car, and as different from an old Focus as night and day, let alone a cobby Cobalt, my personal idea of automotive hell. Well that or an old Saturn.

    Haven’t had a chance to take it on the highway yet, so don’t know about the twitchy steering at 75mph.

    Haven’t seen one Focus sedan round these parts, just the hatchback, but then Canadians like hatchbacks.

    No reason to cash in the ’08 Legacy GT just yet. It has better steering, a much better behaved automatic, gobs of real torque and a better driving position. Just wanted to see what a really new design of compact car was like, and whether I could live with it if I had to. Yes, I could. It’s not a penalty box, far from it and it’s not a VW with their attendant service problems.


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