By on August 1, 2011

As recounted in an earlier review, the new Focus in Titanium trim is good enough to justify a price tag over $27,000 for a compact Ford. But what if you don’t want to spend that much, or want a manual transmission, which is not available with the SEL or Titanium trim levels? How much do you give up with the SE? I requested a $21,380 Focus SE hatchback with the Sport Package to find out.

With small cars, hatchbacks are often more attractive than their related sedans. To my eye, the Focus is an exception. With the hatch, the rear quarters appear scrunched and drawn out, with a bit too much going on. The oversized tail lamps don’t help. I also found myself wondering about a cutline below the tail lamp, before realizing that was someone’s overly clever way of locating the fuel filler door. The smaller Fiesta hatch is a cleaner, more attractive design. All of this said, current competitors are either less attractive, less stylish, or both. The Focus at least lacks the sort of deal-killing aesthetic flourishes found on the Mazda3. A possible exception: black wheels that attend the $495 17-inch tire upgrade. Easily fixed: don’t tick that box and go aftermarket (more on this later). Wheels make a big difference on either bodystyle: both sedan and hatch look much better with the Titanium’s optional five-spoke 18s than with the other, smaller rims on the menu.

Inside the SE loses the padded upper door panels and trades some of the Titanium’s titanium and “piano black” trim bits for more prosaic silver ones. I thought I’d miss these, and find the SE interior dreadfully cheap in comparison. But during the week I had the car I didn’t. Not one bit. Everything looks and feels solid and precise. The SE’s rugged black cloth with gray accents looks and feels both sporty and upscale. This is the way BMW used to do cloth back in the 1980s, before leather (or something that resembled it closely enough to fool the masses) became de rigeur in ultimate driving machines. Need more color inside the car? For $795 Ford will substitute red and black leather. With the sun out and outside temps in the mid-90s, I was happy the tested car lacked this option.

As noted in the earlier review, the instrument panel is quite large, its height and depth pushing the limits of what I consider a sufficiently open forward view. I once again cranked the seat up a few clicks to get a good view over it. You can’t get MyFord Touch on the SE. Instead, as in the Fiesta there’s a confusing, unconventional array of buttons to contend with for the audio and communications systems. I figured out the basics after a few days, but full use of the system requires either extensive, often frustrating trial and error or (horrors) a trip through the owner’s manual.

The Sport Package includes a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and aggressively bolstered sport bucket seats. These are both comfortable and supportive. The headrests don’t jut too far forward to be obtrusive. The non-adjustable lumbar support fit my back well, but others will no doubt wish for a larger and/or higher bulge. At 5-9 and 160 pounds, I’m not a big guy, and had plenty of room in the front seat. Larger drivers might find the instrument panel and center console overly constricting. Perhaps the seat’s side bolsters as well–they were about perfect for me.

Ditto the back seat. I could very comfortably sit behind myself with an inch of air ahead of my knees, an inch over my head, and a high well-shaped cushion supporting my thighs. A six-footer would be more of a squeeze.

Cargo volume is typical of a compact hatch. The 60/40 second row seats fold to form a perfectly flat floor, but not easily. Instead:

1. Unless the front seat is already pretty far forward or upright, move it out of the way.

2. Tip the rear seat bottom forward.

3. Remove the rear seat headrest.

4. Fold the rear seatback.

5. Return the front seat at least part of the way to its original position. (The seat can no longer slide all the way back, but enough for drivers up to about six feet.)

I’m guessing that there was a choice between ease of use on one hand and a flat floor and full-sized rear seat on the other, and the latter priorities won out. It would help if the rear headrests folded like those on the Explorer, but this was likely ruled out for cost reasons.

Get the car moving, and the Focus SE instantly impresses as much as the Titanium did. This $20,000 Ford has the thoroughly refined slickness, solidity, quietness, and composure you used to have to buy a hyper-expensive German machine to get. This is evident during the first fifty feet, and remains impressive after a week in the car. Even over Michigan’s pockmarked streets the Focus rides well, with tightly controlled body motions. Some cars absorb bumps a little better, but they have the advantages of a longer wheelbase and wider track. A Chevrolet Cruze isn’t far off in overall refinement. But the Hyundai Elantra trails considerably, and the new-for-2012 Honda Civic is hopelessly far behind.

The usual downside of this level of refinement: curb weight. At 2,920 pounds the new Focus has plenty of it (though still about 200 pounds less than a Cruze). One impact: even a strong, smooth 2.0-liter engine like the direct-injected, 160-horsepower, 146-foot-pounds unit employed here isn’t going to generate gut-wrenching acceleration. Don’t slip the clutch a bit off the line, and the first few seconds turning onto a busy road can seem to take forever. Especially if the AC is on. At other times performance is easily adequate, but well short of thrilling.

A sixth cog would help. The five-speed manual is geared to provide grunt off the line and economy on the highway, so the ratios are spread a little too widely for an engine with a 4,450 rpm torque peak. On the other hand, operating the shifter and clutch couldn’t be easier. Throw length and effort are both moderate, and their feel is as thoroughly refined as the rest of the car. One contributor: a fairly heavy flywheel that blunts some of the potential of the engine.

An upcoming Focus ST with a 247-horsepower turbocharged four and a six-speed manual should cure these performance ills, and then some, at the cost of, well, a higher cost. For those who want more than 160 horsepower, but who don’t need or want to pay for license-threatening looks and speed, Ford should consider offering a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four with roughly 200 horsepower. This would hit a sweet spot.

The 2.0-liter engine is economical, especially considering the weight of the car. The EPA estimates 26 city / 36 highway. The trip computer reported low 30s in suburban driving with the AC on high.

The Sport Package does not alter the suspension tuning, which is currently “sport tuned” for all trim levels (per Q&A with Ford). Handling is very good, but again short of thrilling. The steering, while well-weighted and generally better than most buyers will be used to, could feel sharper, more precise, and more nuanced. The Mazda3 retains a clear edge in this area, and even the previous Ford Focus felt more direct. Partly this is the cost of refinement, but also that of an economy-maximizing full electric system instead of the electro-hydraulic hybrid employed by Mazda. The Focus SE’s chassis will do just about everything you ask of it well (except feel light on its feet), with sharp turn-in, minimal understeer (partly due to electronic wizardry involving the brakes), good communication, and excellent composure—until you approach the outside front tire’s limits. Then things get a bit mushy, if very safe.

Step up to the Titanium, and an extra $595 for the Handling Package gets you moderately firmer struts and 235/WR18 Michelin Pilot Sport3s that grip harder and feel sharper in aggressive driving. Or just do as suggested earlier: don’t spend $495 on the factory’s 17-inch Contis, and go aftermarket.

As mentioned in the intro, the tested car lists for $21,380, while the equivalent sedan lists for $20,780. You can save $495 by doing without the 17-inch wheels and tires, but in this case you’ll definitely want to spend considerably more on an aftermarket set. You could also save $800 by doing without the SYNC system’s USB and Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio, but you won’t unless you’re still living in the twentieth century.

Similarly equip a 2011 Mazda3s hatchback, and it’s a $110 less. Adjusting for remaining feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool finds the two are nearly even. So the decision between these two isn’t going to be based on price. Rather, on refinement and fuel economy (the Mazda is rated only 21/29) vs. acceleration and steering feel. For most people the Ford will easily win this match-up.

A Kia Forte5 SX is the budget buy in the segment, with a list price of $19,090. With a larger engine, it’s quicker than the Focus, and has a longer warranty, but is less economical (22/32) and far less refined in just about every way (materials, powertrain, ride, handling). Features are about even here as well. Is it worth saving $2,000 to get a car that looks and feels $5,000 less expensive?

To get the premium look and feel of the Focus in a semi-affordable car, it’s necessary to go with a Volkswagen Golf—and even the not-yet-decontented VW hatchback isn’t at the same level as the Ford. You also cannot get the sporty look and feel of the Focus SE Sport without stepping up to the much more expensive (and much quicker) GTI. Compare a base 2011 Golf with Bluetooth to a Focus SE with SYNC but without the Sport Package and 17s, and the VW is about $400 more. So close to both the Focus and the Mazda3, but without their sportiness.

The 2012 Ford Focus isn’t a hooner’s delight right out of the box, but I’m nevertheless amazed by just how good it is. Even in SE trim it has the look, feel, and refinement of a much more expensive car. And it drives better than 90 percent of the population will ever expect it to. So, if you simply want a really good, nicely trimmed compact car, but don’t want to spend $27,000+ for it, $21,000 or so (before dealer discounts and taxes) will do the trick.

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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

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160 Comments on “Review: 2012 Ford Focus SE Take Two (With Sport Package)...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    The oversized tail lamps don’t help.

    THANK YOU. Oversized is frankly an understatement. They’d look oversized on a RR Phantom, which is renowned for its comparatively puny yet elegant taillamps.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      I won’t buy a foreign car. So, am down to either Ford or GM. I won’t buy a car from a bankrupted company. So, that takes me down to Ford. So I bought a 2012 Ford Focus without considering anything else.

      Got it home and within a couple of hours, I had both my neighbors came over to see it. That was a month ago. Yesterday, one of them came home with a new 2012 Ford Focus.

      The other neighbor has a 2011 Civic. While I would not buy a foreign car, I have to admit that the Civic is a good car. Dave actually drove up in the Civic and parked right next to my new Focus. The Focus was a far superior car.

      I thought it was as good – but the Focus is better in many significant ways. It sounds, looks and feels like it is worth much more than window sticker, while the Civic sounds, looks and feels like it is not worth what was paid.

      Dave, who has had many Hondas, had to admit that the Focus was better than his new Civic. He had to fall back on the old “resale value is better with the Honda”, and “the Honda has better reliability” – etc, and I let him do so because that is true. But what made me pleasantly surprised is how obviously the Focus was better than the Civic. It wasn’t much of a showdown, actually.

      And since I would never buy a foreign car, that made me happy. It is good to see Ford beat some honest competition at their own game.

      • 0 avatar
        laphoneuser

        But let me ask you something…would you buy a foreign car?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Glad to see you’re deciding the reliability and resale fate of a car that has barely been on the market for what, 8 months?

      • 0 avatar
        LauraTitanium

        LOL, funny) After I bought mine, two of my neighbors had new Focuses on their driveways within three weeks) All pretty much the same level as me – small business owners, second car for the household… Trades: Chev 2007 (mine) to Titanium sedan, Civic 2008 (neighbor to my left)to SEL and Subaru 2008 (neighbor to my right)to Titanium hatch. go figure) LOL… I love this little car)

    • 0 avatar
      Frank n Ford

      Went against your advice, and I am glad I did. I had to order my 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatch with a manual shifter. I opted not to get the SYNC, but did order the 17″ black wheels. They look awesome with my Sterling Gray Mettalic car. Much better than in the picture in which you show them on a red car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Maybe a weird question, but how does it compare to the higher powered “sporty” stuff like the Juke, tC, and Lancer GTS?

    I’m sure the Ford wins on refinement, but how does the driving experience compare?

    • 0 avatar

      The tC and Lancer GTS don’t have more power, but they do have more torque.

      The tC behaves well, but is the least fun to drive of the bunch.

      The Juke easily feels the quickest of the bunch, and has a very satisfying eagerness to its responses, but has trouble putting its power down without AWD. The Juke also feels the least balanced when pushed, you sit higher, and it’s tighter inside. It’s a different sort of vehicle.

      The Lancer is also more fun-to-drive than the Focus thanks not only to more torque but less filtered feedback through the steering wheel and seat of the pants. It’s the easiest of the bunch to form a tight connection with. On the other hand, it’s the least refined and has the cheapest interior.

      The Ford probably has the best chassis from a purely technical standpoint, but for enthusiasts it needs to be taken up a notch. The ST might well take it up two or three–it should be an outstanding car. Steering is the big question mark–can they get more feedback using this system? As noted in the review, I think there’s room for a powertrain and chassis that splits the difference.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I saw a Focus just like the one in the photos. I first saw it from behind and it looked so awful that I thought it was a Juke. If you must buy a Focus, please get the sedan! I’m sure these will be gone from the roads at least as quickly as any other generation of Ford small cars, but the hatch is hideous enough to do plenty of aesthetic harm in a brief period. As for the front end, maybe now would be a good time for automotive bras to make a comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      The styling isn’t for everyone. But I think that you should at least give Ford a little credit for creating a car that pushes the envelope in the looks department, something that has been missing from this segment for a really long time.
      As for your comment on the longevity of Ford small cars, millions of surviving first-gen Focuses, Escorts, Contours, and even Pintos contradict your statement. On the other hand, I have long been told of mythical beasts known as CRX’s or EK9 Civics, but the only evidence seems to be some vaguely car-shaped orange stains in the dirt. Not very convincing evidence, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “But the Hyundai Elantra trails considerably, and the new-for-2012 Honda Civic is hopelessly far behind.”

      How did I know this would provoke an outburst from our local Honda fanboy?

      While I’m personally more of an Elantra fan as far as styling goes, the power of the 2.0 liter engine (especially when paired with a real manual gearbox) in the Focus seems inviting.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Sorry but I don’t sacrifice real utility to spare you or anyone elses aesthetic sensibilities. Although not perfect, I don’t have any problems with the styling. Looking at what the competition has going, especially Honda, this is clearly better looking that most if not all of the other compacts. The fact that Honda or Toyota no longer offer a real hatch makes it one of the only real choices.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Would the styling be more agreeable to you, CJ, if they strapped an over-sized exhaust on the back and festooned the doors with stickers?

      I’m going to have to disagree with Michael, the Focus hatch > sedan in appearance, even with the kooky C-pillar. I, for one, am enjoying the hatch renaissance. It is refreshing that all evolved car companies are embracing practicality.

    • 0 avatar
      jerseydevil

      I think the back looks cool, as does the front. The rear window looks small tho, i’d have to drive it to see if there’s a sight problem.

      The sedan looks ok, not great, and small sedand usually come with a nearly useless mail slot trunk hood.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I like hatchbacks and I’m liking this Ford the more I hear about it. Definately sounds like the manual trans is the way to go and skip that silly dual clutch 6 speed thing Ford has saddled the upper trim levels with. The Powershift has wet dreams about being either a real manual or a real automatic – (BTW I feel that way about all the various manumatic transmissions.)

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Overpriced and under-delivers. Must be a Ford.

    And aside from the Hyundai hybrids…this is one of the worst looking vehicles on the road. It really is staggering how, model after model, after model, Ford continues to release horrid looking vehicles.

    Actually, that is the only thing Ford does consistently….release the industry’s worst looking vehicles. I’m surprised they haven’t released a press release on that yet……

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Hands up if you anticipated this comment as soon as you saw the word “Ford” in the title of the article.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      May not be that attractive, but styling is subjective. As far as real world performance, Ford has a winner and it decisively spanked the Civic. That is a testament to how good the Focus is and to how disappointing the highly anticipated Civic turned out to be. Even the CR toaster testers panned it. While I am happy for Ford, I am not jumping for joy about the Civic. Is Honda simply a canary in the coal mine for the future of all autos? Have we entered a period where bodywork changes but the mechanicals get baby steps of “improvement?”

    • 0 avatar
      I_Like_Pie

      Why is this guy still here? A year ago it was the same thing. Not really good to actually promote trolls on any site, but TTAC seems A-OK with this guy.

      • 0 avatar

        +1000. I fail to see what Simple_Silvy contributes to TTAC. He doesn’t even offer anything to back up his views — he Simply spouts (rather lame) anti-Ford rhetoric, nothing more. Unless it’s agreed TTAC should be an open forum for morons, it’s time to boot this clown.

        What about the “b” word, fellas?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Technically you could ask that of anyone on here. There are some posters on this board who consistently try an absurd-ish sense of humor in their posts, many times it’s not understood. In fact, I’m never sure if they’re serious or not. However, I don’t see many people calling to ban them.

        And depending upon your personal bias, any other persons posts could be considered spam. One man’s trash and all that… Or a rose by any other name, etc…

        You’re free to ignore their posts. That’s what I do.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not that easy, geo. Last I checked, TTAC isn’t a democracy. We should not need to entertain the ignorant blatherings of the lesser masses.

        We’ve had our share of disagreements, as have mikey and I. And while I don’t agree with your views, I do respect what brought you to them. Simple_Silvy doesn’t bring anything like that to the table. He’s done nothing to suggest he’s anything but a pimply-faced little runt in his parent’s basement, with a massive chip on his shoulder for the Blue Oval and a minuscule hard-on for Daddy’s K1500.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Granted, TTAC is not a democracy, but Silvy appears to be playing by the rules that the Editors of TTAC have displayed repeatedly. We all post at their discretion.

        If he hadn’t been doing so, I would have assumed that he would be banned by now.

      • 0 avatar

        As long as Silvy is civil to other commenters and TTAC staff, I’m not going to censor him just because he obviously has a vendetta… that line is to vague for me to enforce consistently. On the other hand, when he (or anyone else) crosses the civility/flaming line, the comment disappears… so don’t assume he (or anyone else) has carte blanche.

        All the same, I would ask all of our commenters to heed Silvy’s example, and strive to bring even-handed, intellectually honest contributions to these comment threads. I try to constantly challenge my own assumptions about cars and the industry… and in a perfect world, so would all of our commenters.After all, fixed assumptions make for stale discussion…

      • 0 avatar

        “All the same, I would ask all of our commenters to heed Silvy’s example, and strive to bring even-handed, intellectually honest contributions to these comment threads…”

        I see what you did there.

        Ed, civility is important and should be expected… but also expecting to elevate the level of discourse by allowing the lowest common denominator free access to your forum is a contradictory goal, in my respectful opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Rob, if they banned everyone here who ever engaged in a little trolling, they’d have to ban all the commenters and most of the editors.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I think it looks pretty good, but how did those tail lamps make it to production? Those wheels aren’t doing it any favors either. And why the heck is Kia the only company that’s figured out that bluetooth and USB should be standard in every car sold in this decade?

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Kia isn’t the only ones offering Bluetooth and USB as standard in every model, Fiat now does it too, and that’s a running change from before when only the base Pop didn’t have either except as an extra cost option.

      I’m sure they aren’t the only two to do this.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The wheels are an option and I personally like them. They cannot please everyone. Other manufacturers have similar blacked out wheels (Kia Soul is an example).

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      The most controversial styling element of the new Focus for me is the gaping maw in the front of the car. It looks like the mouth of one of those weird deep sea fish that one finds 1000 feet or more in the ocean.

      That said, if you go to Ford’s site and “make your own,” choosing black for the body color minimizes the obtrusiveness of the grill . . . and also looks pretty sharp with the black wheels. I agree with Mr. Karesh, the black wheels on any other body color just don’t make sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I still think that face is better than the one of the 1996 Ford Taurus. That was a fish face (like some sort of mud sucker), IMHO the new Focus at least looks purposeful and determined, and it actually looks like an evolution of the old face.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        I think I like the Evo-style maw a lot better than the Fusion’s Mach 3 razor grill.

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        The tail lamps add some much needed styling for this class. But those black wheels scream “17 year old boy,” in my eyes.

        Some have mentioned the intrusive dash, especially for the driver’s right knee. Test drove one of these this weekend and I actually noticed the LEFT knee console protruding out quite a bit. There’s a bit of a feeling of being buried. Good if you like a cockpit setup.

        The most remarkable thing about seeing one of these in person was the fit and finish of the Titanium’s interior. Each little detail is perfect. I noticed the tasteful use of chrome, and some of the most supportive leather seats I’ve ever sat in. Too bad the dealer is quoting 6-8 week lead times. Apparently a big hail storm in Flat Rock damaged a bunch of paint jobs. Now’s not the time to buy unless you enjoy paying MSRP!

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The center stack looks really wide and I’m sure I will bump my right knee against it. Contrast the Focus’s stack with the one in the Elantra. I think Hyundai did a brilliant job shaping the Elantra’s center stack. It is narrow at the same level as the driver’s right knee, and then it flares out further down to no consequence.
    http://c1.gas2.org/files/2010/11/2011elantra3.jpg

    (Nice detailed review as always, Michael. You include useful parameters such as your height and weight!)

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      FWIW, I’m 6’3″ 220 lbs. and recently drove a Focus SE rental for several hours on trips in Southern Arizona . . . and was completely comfortable in the car. I did not notice the console as annoying to my right leg.

      Except for the DSG transmission (which did not seem to have a middle ground between leisurely acceleration (upshifting at under 2000 rpm) and flogging the car) I thought it was a nice drive.

      It would kind of suck if you were forced to buy that tranny in order to get the sport suspension set up, although the stock setup in my car was not bad. It wouldn’t be the end of world to be stuck with the stock suspension, some lower profile wheels and tires in order to have the 5 speed manual. With this engine, the car is never going to be a stoplight demon.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        Well, I hate to disappoint you, but the auto is, alas, the only way you can get a sport suspension on the Focus, as it’s only available on the Titanium model.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s always the parts dept., though the price of the Handling Package’s struts is probably prohibitive. Beyond that, the aftermarket is no doubt busy at work on suspension packages for this car. The trick will be to improve the handling without harming the ride.

  • avatar
    changsta

    I recently rented a 2012 Ford Focus Titanium Sedan for a week to drive from Toronto to NYC and back. While initially very impressed, I can’t say that I felt the same by the end of the trip. The Focus is incredibly refined, but that is part of the problem. On the highway, the steering feels very numb, and I found that it needed constant correction to maintain a straight line. In comparison, the Acura CSX I’m driving now needs far less correction, and the Mazda5 that i was driving before that felt like it was on rails by comparison. This grew tiresome on the 8 hour drive. It is true though, that the ride is hands down best in class. It does feel like a much more expensive vehicle.

    The transmission definitely takes some getting use to. I found it very erratic, and on more than one occasion, it shuddered and shifted very roughly. I felt like there might have been something wrong with it, but then I remembered the post about Ford needing to “educate” customers about how the Powershift transmission worked. Even is this was normal behavior, it would not give me confidence in the transmission’s long term durability. Also, I found the shifts to be a little slow. The manual shifting button is not well placed or easily accessed. There should be a cog in the shift gate or paddles behind the steering wheel. In its current position, I doubt many people will use it.

    I also found the front seats to be lacking in lumbar over the long haul and a little too firm. Almost the exact same problem I had in my old 2004 Ford Focus, although this was less severe. I also found it odd that the front headrest cannot be removed. For me, it was tilted a little too far forward to be comfortable,forcing me to tilt my head forward for the entire drive.

    Lastly, MyFord Touch was infuriating. The processor is far too slow, with lots of lag. The system would completely freeze up, and not allow any use of controls. This is especially frustrating because there is no easy way to reboot it. Because it had the pushbutton start, turning the car on and off did not reset the screen since the radio stayed on when the key was in the car! Also, on the way home, the screen went black and a message popped up that “SYNC is performing scheduled maintenance”. This “maintenence” took about 5 minutes to complete, which made the navigation system useless. Good thing I had Google Maps on my iPhone…

    Overall, it is a decent car, but the issues with the transmission and MyFord touch would prevent me from buying one. These aspects of the car seem under developed to me, and I would like some increased heft to the steering at highway speeds. As it stands, I find my car much more enjoyable to drive. Let’s see what the refresh in a few years brings!

    • 0 avatar

      They put a Titanium in the rental fleets?

      Getting an SE manual like the car reviewed avoids the MFT and transmission issues.

      I’m going to be paying especially close attention to Car Reliability Survey responses for the 2012 Focus. TrueDelta will have some stats for the car in November, with a preview for Participants in October.

      To help with the survey, with just about any car:

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

    • 0 avatar
      moots13181

      Great review – one comment though. The headrests are removable. There is a button on one side but the other side you will have to use a key to press to take the Headrest out. This ensures that only people determined to take their life in their own hands will do so, as there is nothing accidental about the process.
      The headrest is less intrusive at more laid-back back angles. It might require some new habit forming but most people should be able to get comfortable by using the height adjust, telescoping steering wheel and fore-aft adjustment. If you’re 5’2″ with long legs I don’t recommend this vehicle… then again there really aren’t any other vehicles that ARE made for you. (Mazda Miata maybe?)

  • avatar

    I learn to drive on a sick, drove many cars with a stick, I know what it is and I’m sorry to say, it’s over, who want’s to drive a stick in every day car?
    It’s not our fault that Ford decided to screw up the A/T on the new Focus and as long as people buy it, they will continue making it.
    Even on the Taurus or the Fusion I saw pedal shift on the steering wheel, why in the world they will put such an inferior A/T in their newest car that suppose to appeal to younger buyers and top it with a stupid switch on the gear lever, I drove it and I can say it was the number 1 reason I refuse to buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      “I know what it is and I’m sorry to say, it’s over, who want’s to drive a stick in every day car?”

      Me. Is it really that big of a deal to row your own? I enjoy the simplicity and some involvement with my car. Of course My Miata has roll up windows and no power steering too. On the flip side of that however at 190k miles my windows still roll down and my steering doesn’t leak. If only I could figure out how to get a stick in my FZJ80 Land Cruiser I would be truly happy.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        +1 mkirk – roll up windows seldom break and manual convertible tops are pretty easy to maintain.

      • 0 avatar

        I live in NYC, driving a lot in Manhattan, with a stick I would probably loose my mind every time I get stuck in traffic, I can see the joy of a stick if you live in a rural area and have a Miata, what can I do, I’m driving in traffic with a Mazda 3.
        I used to own a motorcycle and it was the only time I thought it make sense to shift by myself, it gave me great control on a vehicle that I felt so vulnerable riding on in the streets of Manhattan.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        My MX5 has power windows, but the top is manual. Easy up, easier down! Yeah, it sure is fun to row your own, but the only thing I don’t like is the hitch you feel when the A/C is on. Yes, I use the A/C with the top down when it’s real hot, as the ventilation is just hot, uncomfortable air. Automakers haven’t figured out, or forgotten how to properly ventilate a cab without resorting to A/C and I don’t enjoy driving in a convection oven.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Me. Driving a stick is great, I love rowing my own gears.

      However, a DSG is nearly as fun when executed well – not like Ford has done in the Focus. It needs paddle shifters or a manual shift gate.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Speaking as somebody who is in the process of learning, and has a commute that is against traffic with a wide-open flow and very little actual stop and go, I enjoy it. Also, the idea that if something breaks or wears out (with the tranny anyway) it’s generally easier to repair if you can think logically about it and have a bit of mechanical skill. This, I’m still working on as well, but my friend has been working on his own cars forever.

      I also have manual windows and locks.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I chose a DSG for my GTI because I wanted the best of both worlds. Sometimes I miss having a real stick, but then again, our other car is a 5-speed so I can always drive that instead. Most of the time I love the DSG. I havent driven the Focus, but it seems that Ford really screwed up the auto tranny, which is too bad. But the biggest complaint I have is that they simply dont offer buyers the choice!! I dont care if you prefer auto, manual, or dual clutch auto, whatever you like, go with it. But by not offering buyers the option, they invite complaints and lose potential sales.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Any idea what the ratio of hatchback vs. sedan sales is fot the Focus? I see a lot of the hatches on the road. Wish Chevy would bring the Cruze hatch here.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Here in Gallup we’ve got a Ford dealer (and 75,000 people living in the county) and all I’ve seen on the road is the sedans. Honestly I think that’s a travesty cause IMHO the hatch is 10 times better looking than the sedan. I will say, however, that this is one of the poorest counties in the United States and likely many are buying S model sedans – the cheapest one they can get their hands on.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        From data I saw (sorry don`t have a link) I thought it was roughly 50:50 Hatch:Sedan sales. I agree with Michael that the sedan is good looking – usually the hatch looks better than the sedan but this, in my opinion, is an exception.

  • avatar
    jmo

    First, I think the hatch looks much better than the sedan. That said, the color and rim combination on the test car is horrible.

    Second, I can’t stress enough how impressive the ride quality and NVH are in this car.

    • 0 avatar

      I did my best to stress the ride quality and NVH :)

      My Mazda Protege5 is a similar shade of red, but it really doesn’t suit the Focus hatchback’s more rounded shape. The wheels might appeal more to a younger demographic. My favorite’s are the five-spoke 18s optional on the Titanium.

  • avatar
    pg123456789

    What do they say, buy a car post mid-cycle refresh. Hopefully, Ford will:
    1. make available a 6-speed manual on all their models not just the base model;
    2. fix the terrible auto gearbox;
    3. fix MyTouch, although they’re making it available for base models soon;
    3. tone down the rear end;
    4. get rid of the black rims … why are car makers going to black rims, I haven’t seen a car with black or dark rims that looks any good, Porsche, Ferrari etc. included. It just looks so unfinished and cheap.
    I think Ford’s got a great product, just unfinished.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Black rims A. are trendy, and B. hide brake dust better.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      Re: “Black rims.”
      There is one application where black wheels work well. On base level trims, I prefer painted black steel wheels (like on the Camaro) rather than plastic wheel covers.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I agree with most of you list, but I like black rims. They are trendy, no doubt, but I like the look. But I respect your opinion to NOT like the look, I wouldnt force my preference on everyone. If you dont like the black rims, dont order them.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I would really like to have old-style black steel wheels, then be able to buy a set of baby moons and maybe trim rings, but I’m old-school. These fancy expensive black wheels? If you can’t see them, what’s the point?

  • avatar
    slance66

    Love the car, hate the tailamps. Just snipping the extraneous bit that wandered onto the rear quarter would do the trick. Then it would be a pretty darned good looking vehicle. I agree though, that a nice 190-200 HP normally aspirated 4 would be a great engine choice. It would be hard for me to choose this over a TSX.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Compared to Sentra SE-R Spec V the Focus has the available hatch and 60/40 split. I drove an SE-R with CVT and found lower RPM’s than the Focus dual-clutch @70. Also the Sport ride in the Focus seemed more busy.
    I may be mistaken but I think the Spec V comes with an extra cog?

  • avatar

    I have this exact same tester right now. Same colour, wheel package and everything. I rather like the colour: it looks better in person.

    I’ll echo Michael in the following way (call it a mini Take-3): the Focus handles nicely, feels the tiniest bit slow starting off, has a RTFM interface, a nice interior and a bit busy exterior. Great little car: not flawless but excellent.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    How did anything below the front facing Ford logo make it to production?

    What “designer” (term used loosely) thought that the best look for that particular automotive appliance was to put MASSIVE triangles on either side of an upside down trapezoid?

    It’s, indisputably, hideous.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      The easiest way to get someone to dispute you on an internet forum is to declare something indisputable. That being said, the new Focus is not what I’d call “pretty,” but it is adventurous. I would rather drive a car that some people consider to be ugly than one that can’t be seen because it blends into the background so much.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I almost hate to say it, but Silvy does have a point… the triangles in the grill are the worst design element of the car. Not as bad as Mazda’s grin, but they dont blend well with the rest of the design. I happen to like the tailights and headlights though.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The front end is an evolution of other Fords from Europe. After all, the car was designed in Germany. The grille is based on the mouth of a shark. It’s split into the three segments because the ‘fangs’ (as I call them) are continuations of the hood creases.

        The grille is quite bold, and I think it works. The Mazda3, however, is also bold, but it doesn’t work. The same applies to the tailights–they’re too long, but they’re not offensive. I would have liked to have seen the headlights have more amber on the side to create a balance of color front/back with the extended tails, though.

        All-in-all, I am very impressed with this Focus, but there are a few quirks I just can’t live with. I’ll wait for next year’s model & compare it to the new SkyActiv Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        Well, I’ll take those triangles over the 3′s exaggerated Joker grin any day of the week and twice on Sundays…

  • avatar
    SV

    My impressions were pretty similar when I drove a near-identical Focus (16″ wheels, automatic being the differences). Really really refined and nice to drive. I thought the handling was comparable to my 2005 Mazda3; the steering had a bit less feel but it more than made up for it by feeling bank-vault solid in comparison.

    As for the styling, I think Ford definitely did a better job on the Fiesta, but this is still a very attractive car. I actually like the taillights – they’re rather Citroen-ish – even if, objectively, I can agree that they’re probably too big. I also think the front end could have been a bit more cleanly executed, but I still think it looks really good.

    Overall, if I had around $20k to spend on a car, this is almost exactly what I’d get. In fact that test car’s color and option combo is just about my ideal at the moment, though I’d probably opt for the 16″ wheels with painted pockets, which are a touch less shouty. Kona Blue was originally my favorite color on this car but since it’s been discontinued the Race Red seen here would be my choice; I’m interested to see how Sonic Blue, Kona’s replacement, looks on this car.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      On Canadian website Kona Blue is still being offered on SE hatch, along with Sonic Blue and Blue Candy. Total twelve exterior colors.

      Also our choice of optional rims are 16″ with painted pockets for $300 extra or 17″ for $600. And total price of SE hatch with Sport package and mandatory 201A (+$450) or 203A (+1,150) is $23,090 or $23,790. And that’s with Canadian $ being almost 5 cents above parity.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Normaly I really like shades of blue and red but I’m really liking the one they’re calling “Frosted Glass.” (That is I’m loving it if it looks as green in person as it does on the website.)

        In fact, make mine a Focus SE in Frosted Glass with the winter package and keyless entry pad, forget the sport package – I’ll buy my own wheels and keep the cheap steelies/hubcaps for winter tires.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        I think Frosted Glass is actually more of an ice blue – I’ve seen a few ice blue 2012s and I think that was Frosted Glass. Still a nice color though.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I would call Frosted Glass more blue myself, but I’ve had customers point it out to me and call it green. It’s right on the edge between the two. Here’s a photo in more natural light:

        http://i56.tinypic.com/dpcuq9.jpg

        Personally, I like the Yellow Blaze. It doesn’t look great on the website, but in real life there’s a nice pearly orange tint to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      @ Dan

      No such color is offered on Canadian model.

    • 0 avatar

      I might be joining you guys. Saw a bright blue (Kona?) Focus Titanium hatch on the road this morning. With the Handling Package’s five-spoke 18s, it looked MUCH better than the car I reviewed.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Kona Blue is a dark blue with a purplish tint depending on the light. The bright blue is Blue Candy, which is another color I really like on that car. It’s an extra-cost option, though.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Did you remove the engine cover or did Ford?

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    great review.

    query: why does everyone think that a properly designed product should not require reading the owners’ manual? I try to look through them for pretty much everything, even if it’s intuitive enought to operate without doing so. You almost always learn something useful about the gizmo, including tricks and tips on getting the most from your appliance. i find people often complain that their products don’t do something they wish it did when, in fact, it does. They just never read the manual to figure out how to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      jet_silver

      Oh, yes. Manuals are a real gift. My gf has a Jaguar and she makes very, very limited use of the things it will do for her because she will not sit down and leaf through the manual for half an hour. Very often she will ask me how to do something and all I do is turn through the six-hundred-odd page manual, which lives in the glove box, to figure it out. My gf is objectively smarter than I am so why this blind spot exists is a mystery.

      What’s worse is pathetic manuals. Buy an Apple computer and you will get maybe a sixty-page manual the size of a CD jewel case. For a computer. Apple aims to make features of their machines “discoverable” but how you discover that propeller-shift-4 brings up the screenshot utility is utterly beyond me.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      When faced with a car owners manual I’m always reminded of PJ O’Rourke’s quote about car manuals: “As a writer, I can understand how it takes time to craft that special style of car-manual prose and then send it to Mumbai and have it translated into Hindi by one class of sixth graders and translated back into English by another.”

      Having said that, this doesn’t stop me from reading the manual when I really need something.

    • 0 avatar
      cardeveloper

      Owners manual on my Fiesta, SUCKS. Doesn’t match how the sync actually works. Light came on, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the owners manual. Rotated the tires one day and the nut torque is not to be found. Too much blah blah blah that goes on without providing any useful information. God forbid you ever try and do a sync update, process doesn’t even come close to match the instructions on the web site.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “why does everyone think that a properly designed product should not require reading the owners’ manual?”

      Well, just look at the obvious and focus on the word “require.”
      If you can use something without the manual, then it isn’t required. If you can’t use it without the manual, then it is required. If I can’t figure something out right away without instructions, it must be a Japanese box puzzle or similar, which is great if it is a puzzle, but not so great if it’s a radio.

      Manuals are great, and I do read them. But should they be *required* to use the device? Let’s put it this way: What if you need to change your headlight bulb and:
      (A) can’t figure out how to do it without reading instructions, or
      (B) can easily figure out how to do it just by looking at it.
      Which is the better design? Is it desirable that any fit into the other category?

  • avatar

    This may be a good car for someone that only has one vehicle for transportation and still wants to have some fun, but from an economic standpoint, the Focus SE is far from cost effective. I would argue that an Elantra starts at $US15K, gets 40mpg on the highway (Ford and Mazda have the worst gas mileage in class), and has more features. The Hyundai does not handle or ride as nice but for a price difference approaching $7000, the Elantra provides more bang for the buck in the economy car class.

    • 0 avatar

      Apples and oranges. That $15k was for the 2011 before $750 destination. They’ve bumped the price by $200 for 2012. You also need the $1250 Popular Equipment Package to equip the Hyundai like a base Focus SE. Now we’re at $17,200. A Focus SE sedan is $18,200.

      So the difference is very close to $1,000, not $7,000. Now which car provides the most bang for the buck?

      I developed TrueDelta’s price comparison tool to make apples-to-apples comparisons quick and easy. It really does work, I promise!

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

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Where did you get the idea that the Focus has the worst gas mileage in the class? In manual form it’s not great but still pretty good, and with the PowerShift EPA numbers are 28/38, behind only the Civic and Elantra. In the real world, the Focus got a respectable 28mpg combined in Consumer Reports testing, behind the Elantra, Civic and Corolla (by 1 and 2mpg in the case of the first two and 4mpg behind the inexplicably efficient Toyota), tied with the 3 and Forte, and ahead of the Cruze, Sentra, and Jetta.

      And, of course, someone looking at a stripper Elantra is unlikely to cross-shop it with a fairly tarted up Focus.

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    “All of this said, current competitors are either less attractive, less stylish, or both.”

    Sorry, but the Focus is a sorry mash-up of Peugeot, Toyota and Hyundai style elements. The only car that rivals the Focus for sheer garishness is the Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I haven’t seen one of these in person yet but from the pictures it looks like the Edge’s little brother – more CUV than hatchback.

    That being said aside from the odd tail lights it is not terrible looking – functional if a bit boring which is fine for what it is. I’d certainly take the Focus over the Forte with it’s odd swoopy windows.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Overpriced and under-delivers.

    You know how I know you didn’t read the article?

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    If anyone interested in interior shots of upcoming Focus ST (subject to change from European model), check it out on Canadian website: http://www.ford.ca/app/fo/en/future_vehicles.do#

  • avatar
    Ion

    do we know if this model has a different handbrake from the previously reviewed one because its a stick or because it’s a lower trim level?

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I think that the handbrake lever for auto tranny (i.e., the “upper trim” models), is in that “pocket” area on the upper-left of the console of the SE… sadly, right next to the driver’s knee. Why? No clue.

    • 0 avatar
      bizzarodave

      I have a 2012 SE Hatch very much like this, but with the 6AT trans (wife’s insistence when we went down to 1 car, sadly). My handbrake lever is in the same place. There are two different center tunnel trim peices, and the higher end SELs and Titaniums have the arrangement you saw in the first review.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The parking brake is based on the trim level, not the transmission.

  • avatar
    detlump

    I do see a bit of Peugeot 206 there, I think Ford is going for the rally car look with the front fascia. It looks different, better than the Mazda 3, aggressive but purposeful (looks like it lets more air in).

    I like the black wheels because they do hide the dust. I hope these are not as popular as the Fusion wheels that were stolen from a number cars in the area. I actually would like a nice set of black steelies, cheaper to maintain and replace. The Fusion steel wheel looks pretty nice from the ones I have seen.

  • avatar
    Jason

    I went with the Forte5 SX hatch, myself, as I personally prized the warranty over the supposed refinement (I’ve not actually driven this Focus yet). I think the external design is sharper and more cohesive, and from looks alone I prefer the Kia’s interior as well.

    I’m happy with my choice. That said, if I was forced to swap right now I’d not complain*, I like this Focus very much.

    *unless the rear seats do not fold 100% flat, which I consider an absolute must in a hatchback.

  • avatar
    jj99

    An unusually large number of 2012 focus rentals are on the streets of Boston. You can tell them with the rental bar code sticker. Must be Ford trying to flood the streets of the northeast with the new Focus.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    So what you are saying that sans the doodas that make no bloody difference in real life, I can get a really nice driving Ford for $19K, about $1K less than Golf? Cool!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That’s what he’s saying and that’s why I listen so carefully to Mr. Karesh. He always has something different to say than a standard car reviewer.

  • avatar
    JKC

    Two observations:

    1) Mike’s test car with the addition of the winter package would make a fine replacement for the Trusty Steed when the time comes.

    2) I like the hatch’s looks, but will go on record that the wagon looks much nicer.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      +1 on wagon looks. I hope Ford will bring it here, but I wont hold my breath.

    • 0 avatar

      One error in the review: the tested car has the $570 Winter Package. But going back and including this info would have complicated the price analysis

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I love that you can get the winter package (with heated seats) and not have to pay for leather as well.

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        Agreed, Dan. Ford has well above average option choices. I similarly love the fact that one can select MyFord Touch on the Focus but save $795 by not including navigation. For those who know the cities they live in, or can get by with a $100 Garmin unit.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        Another thing about the Focus…you can actually get a car without a sunroof, unlike most of the Japanese brands, which almost require you to have a sunroof if the car you want is anything above a pure base model. Ford should be applauded for having a sunroof as a stand-alone option rather than just shoving one down your throat with an option package.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Not a fan of the hatch’s looks and those black wheels look god awful.
    The automatic transmission in these leaves a lot to be desired on examples I have driven, rear seat legroom is virtually non-existent with someone over 5’9″, the trunk is rather small on the sedan and the prices get way out of control on SEL/Titanium models. As stated this car’s biggest claim to fame is it’s ride/handling and feel. The interior on some models feels premium, even if the dull as dirt gray is selected, and this car offers loads of features and rather good fuel mileage. It’s just too small for me.

  • avatar

    As far as looks are concerned, if the Focus looked more like the Fiesta, I would be driving it today.

    Back in May, I drove both a Focus SE and a Mazda 3 Hatch. Between the two, I found the Mazda 3 to be more exciting on the road with better handling…not to mention a more fun car to drive in general.

    I left with the Mazda 3 and haven’t regretted it a bit. I look forward to driving to and from work every day.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Nice review Michael, much of it lines up with my own assessments of the vehicle.

    The tail lights look better on vehicles in colors that contrast more with the red lens plastic. The tail lights and headlights are big, but one of the reasons for that design is driver safety. The wraparound design makes it easy to see turn signals and/or brake lights from the side without having to result to including side marker lights.

    I’m not a huge fan of the black wheels on the red car, but on a white, black, or silver car they look sharp. I’d still probably stick with the stock alloys that come with the sport package though, they look fine in the Focus’ wheel wells.

    Regarding the manual vs. the auto – the stick options in both the Focus and the Fiesta are nice, easy to use set ups. At the same time, there hasn’t been any reliability issues with the Powershift on the Focus, and the predominant issue on the Fiesta was due to a ground wire in the installation of the unit into the car, not the transmission itself. Some of the buff books have decided to complain about the shift quality in the Focus auto, but while it feels different from a traditional automatic, I have yet to have a customer actually complain about it or call it bad. A sportier set of pre-programmed shift points and a set of paddle shifters would be nice, but I wonder how many non-enthusiasts would care.

    The paddle shifters on the Taurus are a constant source of confusion for most buyers, who don’t know why they are there, or why someone would want to shift the car themselves if it’s an automatic. Similarly, several FoMoCo vehicles did used to come with a offset rocker gate setup to allow manual shifting, but 90% of the time the response I would get from people was ‘why would I want to do that?’ or ‘what if I hit the shifter with my knee and knock it into manual mode?’. At the end of the day, if you want to shift yourself, but the manual. If you don’t, but the automatic. A lot of people want to think they’re the type to buy a manual car, but are willing to settle of the automatic if it has a manual mode, when in reality they really want the automatic, and they’ll use the manual shift feature a few times the first week playing around and to show off for friends, and then leave it in auto mode the rest of the time they own the car.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Nullo:

      At the end of the day, if you want to shift yourself, but the manual

      That’s good advice, but a lot of cars don’t offer manuals or only offer it on the base trim.
      _____________________
      The paddle shifters on the Taurus are a constant source of confusion for most buyers…

      Yes, the paddle shifters in the Taurus probably don’t make any sense because the car is fairly dull, sells to older folks, and the Duratec 35 makes enough torque and power in most situations.

      In something with a small engine, like the Focus, Fusion I4, or Fiesta, a manual mode is nice to have. Or, at least provide a sport mode that holds the gears longer (I’ve read on various forums that driving Fords often in “L” is not a good idea). Many of these new automatics are tuned to upshift very early, and resist downshifts until you are near WOT.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I just don’t get it, I really don’t. How is this car so “great,” Michael, when you state that the performance is merely adequate, the manual we all want needs an extra gear, the handling is “short of thrilling,” and its full of little gripes like a dumb fold down seat design, convoluted stereo layout (and as a Ford owner for the past year, SYNC is NOT worth the extra money when it refuses to cooperate with my iPhone) and an unattractive rear (that is somehow still subjectively more attractive than everything else)?

    Don’t get me wrong. I was really excited about this car. But now that its hear, it just leaves me really cold. It probably doesn’t help that my Mustang, after all the buzz about Ford, has a defective transmission, half-baked SYNC integration, mediocre assembly quality (blotchy paint, misaligned dash trim, door rattles), seriously disappointing interior materials (everything but the stupid squishy dash is made from rock hard plastic, sharp edges on the steering wheel trim, lots of Naugas were slaughtered to upholster the “leather” seats), and an absolutely infuriating tick emanating from the lauded 5.0 at idle, which my Ford service manager insists is “normal.” That alone makes me hesitant to give Ford another chance at my business, ever.

    Toss in the early reports of Powershift problems, lots of gee-whiz tech like direct injection that will probably cost me more long term, along with a generally unremarkable value-for-money, and I’m avoiding this car like the plague.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Sync works well with my iPhone (a 3GS, but I have coworkers with iPhone 4s and those seem to work fine as well). If you are having consistent issues, maybe it’s a problem with your particular phone, or the particular car you are trying to pair it with. The iPhone doesn’t support text over Bluetooth, but that’s an Apple issue, not Ford’s. Just googling around it looks like there were some issues with a certain version of the iOS 4 software and Sync, but again, it was Apple’s update that broke the compatibility. If you update your phone to the most current version of the software and do a fresh pairing (which will take all of two minutes – just delete all devices from Sync, delete the old Sync bluetooth profile from your iPhone, and do it again) your problems should go away assuming there isn’t a hardware problem on either your phone or your particular Sync module (and issues with the regular, non MyFord Touch, Sync systems are very rare).

      Similarly, what’s wrong with the sync integration on the Mustang? It doesn’t have the new MyFord Touch system, but it does support all of the phone call, turn by turn direction stuff, USB and bluetooth audio streaming, plus Sync Applink. On any of the cars with Sync if you want to connect an Apple device via USB, make sure you are using the official Apple USB cable. Some of the aftermarket cables for whatever reason just don’t seem to work with Sync.

      As far as your other issues with the Mustang go, yes, there is some hard plastic in the interior, just like there is in any other similar car in this price range. The interior is a huge improvement over the past version, but a Mustang still isn’t a luxury car. There is a TSB related to a engine rattle on some 5.0s. Your car could require an engine control software update to take care of the noise, especially if you hear it happening more often when the engine isn’t fully warmed up or more often on colder days. Otherwise, the 5.0 has the twin independent variable cam timing which could require a some tension adjustments if the noise is related to that.

      If the noise is enough that it’s causing you that much stress, it probably isn’t normal, and if your local dealer’s service department doesn’t want to help, contact your salesperson and get them involved. They can run your concerns up the flagpole to the dealer GM and/or customer service manager, or, if you prefer, just take it to another dealer and have them take a look – your warranty is valid at any Ford dealer in the nation.

      It sounds like you have a laundry list of concerns. Some of them are likely valid – bad paint is bad paint, and a rattle is a rattle, neither of which you should have to put up with and both of which can be fixed easily under warranty. They Sync related stuff could be the car, it could be your phone, or it could be user error. Ford is having dealers start offering monthly technology and Sync seminars for owners who would like to have questions addressed or who weren’t shown properly how to use the systems at delivery to have the chance to come in and get a proper education on the features – I’d ask about when your dealer is going to have the next one and stop by, iPhone sync issues in general aren’t common. Some of the issues aren’t problems with the car, they’re just how the car is – you knew what the interior materials were and the type of leather installed when you bought the car.

      I’m not trying to be an apologist here, you do likely have some concerns that need to be addressed and it sounds like at least some of them haven’t been handled well thus far. That being said, there are solutions to your problems, and using your energy to push the issue with the service department of your choice would be more productive for you than writing off the entire brand based on your experience with a single car.

      • 0 avatar
        tallnikita

        “If you are having consistent issues, maybe it’s a problem with your particular phone, or the particular car you are trying to pair it with.”

        This sounds like your typical Microsoft product development apologist. To a more ordinary consumer this equals to “the software is crap.”

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Bluetooth, once you get beyond “serial port”, “monoaural audio” and “object exchange”, is a colossal clusterf*ck. It reeks of traditional top-down intrasingent Big-IT/Telco technology. Between the quirks of various implementations, half-implementations in many handsets, bugs, revisions and so forth it’s a miracle it works at all.

        I blame Ford’s ICE design for a lot—the system in the Edge and Explorer is a UI disaster and the answer to the question “How not to do it”—but in this case they did the best they could with the technology at hand.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        +1 mnm4ever

        Most of them don’t, and you can tell.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      So the squishy material is “stupid” and going by the context of your post you don’t like hard plastic either, so in that case, what materials would you like your Mustang dash and door panels to be trimmed in? Leather? Rich mahogany? There’s not really a lot of variation in types interior materials, at least in the sub-$50k range; it’s usually just hard plastic or soft plastic. (quality of finish is another matter though)
      Those other concerns sound valid and frustrating though.

      • 0 avatar
        jerseydevil

        a friend of mine just got a mustang. I love them, really, they pull on my heartstrings. However, I was shocked at how awlful the interior appointments were. from the outside it looks gorgeous. from the inside, crappy.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        -jerseydevil
        You think the Mustang is crappy? Try sitting in a Camaro.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Sometimes I read these types of comments and I wonder, do people test drive cars before they buy them?? Its a MUSTANG, they have never been known for luxury interior fitments, or high tech ICE systems. Its a big engine, in a cool looking retro-styled car. Did the door panel plastic get harder a few months after you bought it? Did the steering wheel develop sharp edges only after the first winter it went through? Did you not inspect the paint quality before you brought it home? If you didnt like those things about the car, then why buy it in the first place?

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        Well, seeing as the Feds have launched an investigation into Mustang transmissions, he may have a valid beef about that issue. The other stuff, not so much.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Overall, it looks like a good review of the new focus, true, it’s not perfect but no car is to be honest.

    I find this car looks great in either red, the 2 blues and perhaps the yellow.

    Even in the Fiesta, I don’t like the busy dash stack layout and the radio interface, too many buttons to deal with and as long as the voice commands for the My touch work well, then that should help there, but still, it’s the visual business of the overall stack design that is at issue here.

    Overall, the car looks good and at first, I found it (and the Fiesta for that matter) too aggressive in its outward appearance, but I think it’s growing on me and I have to agree, the hatch is MUCH better looking than the sedan.

  • avatar
    McDuck

    In Europe the Focus (essentially the exact same car) is available with the 1.6l ecoboost (150 and 182hp versions) that has a lot more torque and better economy. Currently it’s only offered with a 6-speed manual transmission.

    This fills the gap beautifully. I guess for the US market they just couldn’t justify the added cost and complexity.

  • avatar
    bizzarodave

    This is a 90% match for the model I bought in April, though we have the 6AT powershift transmission (which I find frankly amazing). I love the Race Red/Black Wheels combo, I’m surprised there’s so much ‘meh’ factor amongst the commentariat. I think the photos Michael took don’t do the car justice, perhaps just because of lighting, but I’ve received only positive feedback (and plenty of it) on the aesthetics of my Focus. In fact the dealer where I picked my order up from had it out front the day I took delivery, and the staff all were very impressed, including the sales manager who placed an order for a hatch and 4 door in the same color combo that afternoon.

    That said, I’m generally in agreement with the review here, though I might see my car with slightly rose color glasses (because its my car!), and there’s simply no comparison between the 07 4 door that I traded in on this and what we have now. Also as I’ve said before, the powershift transmission is excellent, with quick smooth shifts that I’ve not seen before in any car outside a full luxury.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m guessing that there was a choice between ease of use and a flat floor, and the latter won out.

    Actually, it’s a three-way fight between rear seat cushion height, cargo space and ease of use.

    Most new hatches and wagons (like the Matrix, but not the Versa, Fit, or this Focus) and just about every crossover raise the load floor of the trunk to meet the edge of the rear seat. This murders cargo room—especially vertically—with the seats up, but makes it very easy. I hate this design: it looks nifty in the showroom, but those extra cubes of space are sorely missed.

    At least what the Matrix and it’s ilk don’t do is hinge the rear seatbacks low so at least you get decent seat height. Older compact hatches did this, and the result was a flat load floor, but with ass-on-the-floor accomodations for rear passengers. Awful. I’m sure people who never carry passengers are okay with this.

    The Versa (and it’s spawn, the Cube) as well as the Fiesta get around this by not having a flat load floor. They do have a good cargo well (better than the Matrix!) with the seats up, and a flat load floor is really overrated. In the case of the Versa and Cube they’ll even sell you a little shelf that eats up a bunch of your cargo space if you really can’t deal with the load floor being uneven.

    The Focus, as well as the Aveo, MkIV VW Golf, Mazda Protege5 and my old Saab 9-3 and a few other early-aught hatches required the seat cushion to fold up. It’s a reasonable compromise because it gets you all you want in terms of comfort without sacrificing space. But it is a bit of a pain to do.

    Finally, you could do what the Fit or PT Cruiser did, which is radically modify the floorplan and allow the seats to fold flat and down (the Fit does this by relocating the fuel tank, and the cost is a tiny 40L tank and a very short range) or be removed entirely (like the PT). It’s also expensive to do, I suspect.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Because I haul more cargo than passengers with my wagon/hatches, I will never again buy a car that requires the ridiculous multi-step process to flip and fold the rear seats like my old Passat did. With my Legacy all I have to do is flip a switch and drop the seats, 2 steps, no fuss. It was literally a 9 or 10 step process to fold the seats on my B5 Passat…MAJOR PITA.

      The funny thing is my Legacy has almost the same cargo capacity (slightly less because of the sloping tailgate glass) and just as comfortable rear seat accommodations even with AWD. Some companies just don’t engineer this feature the correct way and others do. Of course that was just one minor example of what was poorly engineered on my Passat.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct, Psar. I noted this while driving the car this morning. A key reason for the complicated process is that the rear seatback is full height with headrests that don’t retract into it. In many people-haulers these days, including Fords, the rear seatbacks are very low and undersized headrests retract into them. This trades off rear seat comfort in favor of ease of folding the seat. With the Focus, a high priority appears to have been given to rear seat comfort (but not rear seat room!), probably because the European market expects this in a C-segment car.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I never thought the Focus’ seat bottom folding up would improve cargo space compared to a setup where only the setback folds, but it makes sense. That must be why the Focus hatch has more cargo capacity than the 6-inch-longer Mazda3.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      You should check out what the Ford Flex did with its 3rd row. Kind of hard to describe, but it had a lower area below the floor in the cabin for the trunk. But, you could fold the seats in ways that were a bit complicated, but would cover that area making it flat, and the rear of the vehicle flat. It was a pretty cool design.

      But the Flex was too ugly for me and my wife to consider.

  • avatar

    I really love the looks of these cars but it is a big disappointment that they don’t offer a bigger engine. I wouldn’t mind driving one of these if it had a bigger engine and was 4 wheel drive.

  • avatar
    V16

    When can we expect the 2012 VW Jetta GLI to appear on dealer lots?
    Then the competition should heat up..

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    I got a 2012 SE h/b sport package 203a about 2 months ago and am really enjoying this car. Two things I really agree with this article is one, the fly wheel must be 100lbs… It is very noticeable too. The other thing is that this car does sometimes bog off the line like it has turbo lag when the a/c is on and it is 100 degrees here in Texas.

    I however think this engine has a ton of power, you just have to wind it up over 4k. Once you do it is quite a quick car. I am wondering how many miles your tester had on it, because on my car it did not feel like it was making full power over 4k RPMs until I had about 1000k miles on it. The ECU must have some break-in parameters built in b/c the car feels A LOT quicker now than when I first got it.

    As for an engine in between the current 2.0 and the future 2.0T, I don’t think they need it. Once of the reasons I went with this over the Maz3 or the Lancer is that with those cars you have to choose between the slow 2.0 or the larger 4 with far less gas mileage. With Ford’s 2.0 you get the better gas mileage w/ 160 h/p…

    • 0 avatar

      Power definitely picks up over 4000 rpm. There’s almost none below 2500 though. And with the wide spread between gears, even if you rev the engine the next shift puts you back out of the power band. The Fiesta and Mazda2 have the same problem.

      I don’t recall the odometer precisely, but it’s a few thousand miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Maybe it doesn’t need an engine in between the 2.0 and 2.0T, but have 160hp that you can’t use much over till you hit 4k isn’t a good solution. Dyno charts shouldn’t look like the Eiffel Tower.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The 2.0 sounds like a decent motor and 0-60 numbers consistently seem to be at least a little better than my 2005 Mazda3s (which has the bigger engine and, while not blazingly fast, picks up when it has to), so it’s probably fast enough. The 1.6 Ecoboost as an option to go up against Mazda’s 2.5 would be nice though.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Thanks for the excellent review.

    I am glad that this segment is heating up. WHen I was last looking for a car, the VW Golf was about the only serious entry, so I bought it. Its nice to have other credable entrants finally! It was a little sad and exciting vacationing in europe to see all the choices there, to come back here and see almost nothing.

    I prefer cloth seating. Also, I am drifting towards a good DSG, cause i am in city traffic so often, i would like it to shift for itself, then allow me to shift when i choose. As far as i can tell, the VW DSG is the winner here. I have not driven the DSG yet, wonder if it will satisfy me? I love shifting for myself.

    I would avoid the sync entirely. Another strike against this car. I really dont want to spend alot of time figuring it out.

    Other than these issurs, i like this car. Certainly hot lookin, esp with the blacked out wheels.

    I am glad this segment is finally heating up. Choice is good!

    • 0 avatar
      ZekeToronto

      I have the VW DSG in my A3 and am very happy with it. I’ve always driven manuals, but bought this transmission for two reasons: we needed a second vehicle that my wife could drive and this car spends most of its time in city traffic. In manual mode it’s very satisfying and in automatic mode shifts are crisp and well-timed, every time.

  • avatar

    I just bought this car in Titanium trim, with all the options except the sat nav and the auto-parking. Obviously I like the looks of the car more than some of the commenters here. But mostly, I was looking for small premium along the lines of an Audi A3, and found the Focus to be 90% as refined and enjoyable to drive as an A3, but for only 60% of the price.

    Now we went without a car (following an accident) through the winter here in Vancouver, and subsisted on zipcars and rentals, so I have had a chance to drive more or less all the segment competitors, and none of them except the Golf is in the same ballpark for comfort, quiet, and refinement. Had a new Elantra in California for a week, and it has a thrashy engine and feels wallowy on the highway. I’ve driven a Civic dozens of times along with Mazda3′s (local zipcars). The Mazda handles very nicely, but both it and the Civic are festivals of cheap hard plastic inside, and in neither does the seat go back far enough if you’re tall. Really, I think the only direct competition for the Focus right now is the Golf TDI. I found the focus to be more fun to drive, albeit with less in-town torque, and has more features. And right now, at least in Canada, the Focus Titanium is $5k less with the employee discount. I never would have seen myself buying a Ford, but right now you can color me happy.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Thank you for the review — I really enjoyed reading it.

    > Ford should consider offering a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter
    > four with roughly 200 horsepower.

    The 2.5l four is rough and loud and would make this car feel far less “premium”. The 2.5l in Mazda3 does that. Also, I have driven Mazda3 and I don’t see why people praise its steering. The Mazda3 hatch I drove was very, very mediocre in that department. Much inferior to Mazda5 I drove the same day.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point. Larger fours are certainly less smooth. I don’t find the mill in the Mazda too bad, though.

      The Mazda5 has unusually good steering, among the best in any vehicle. I recalled that in the Mazda3 feeling similar, but haven’t driven them both in the same day.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      My Subaru 2.5 is not very smooth even with it being a boxer. It sounds like you are murdering it when you really thrash it, not rewarding at all to rev. In the winter before it is warmed up it can sound like a diesel. At idle it often causes a noticeable vibration in the cabin, unrefined would be the one word I would use to describe this engine. Not to mention I don’t get the boxer burble in my version because they switched to equal length headers.

  • avatar
    SP

    The car looks like a pretty good package. I don’t like the sound of the numb steering, the look of the gimmicky interior screens, and the potential lack of visibility. But otherwise, it seems buyable.

  • avatar
    red stick

    Agree about reading the manual–why spend the outlay and then not see how it all is supposed to work? My biggest complaint about the manual for my last purchase, a Hyundai, was not the technical writers, who did a good job of explaining the car’s functions without resorting to the “Autos for Dummies” style it could have been, but the fact that there were evidently nine different possible radios to cover. Not only did this make for a manual that was half car, half entertainment systems, but trying to figure out, even with the helpful drawings, which set of instructions went with my radio was considerably more time-consuming than should have been necessary. :)

  • avatar
    VolvoLuvr.

    Just got the same car—in red. Have almost 3000 miles on it. Was a little pained about getting a new car but the S80 blew the trans and with a 3 to 4 grand repair bill, the old twin turbo is going on the auction block. However the SE almost pays half the new car bill just in fuel savings. It’s gettin 33.4 MPG where the S80 Was getting 19.5. That’s 14MPG savings. The new car handles great and the steering is starting to loosen up a bit. The hydraulic clutch is smooth and the shifter is crisp. It feels a lot like the 850GLT that I drove for over 150K miles. The 850 was heavier and the steering was lighter but the Focus chassis seems stiffer. Once the car is rolling it takes the back roads of upstate NY excepionally well and on the highway it cruises nicely at 75 to 80 while getting 36 MPG. I did have it getting 41.5 MPG on a 20 mile stretch of Route 301 on the way back from Myrtle Beach. I was considering the Elantra and even had a downpayment on one but the day I was supposed to pick it up I test drove the Focus and bought it on the spot. The Elantra does not hold a candle to the Focus in handling. Screw the bells and wistles. For me it’s all about the driving experience. I’m falling in love with this car. As for the Elantra and it’s styling—-Well, it reminds me of an elongated bicycle helmate on wheels. I’m happy. Just wish for a longer warranty. Well I have a lease anyway. When it’s up, I just may buy the car.

  • avatar
    tower22

    Great article. I wish I would have found it before I placed my order because I did up adding the 17″ wheels to my SE. Did you not like them purely because of aesthetics? Or did you feel like it was too much unsprung weight compared the wheels that come with the sport package?

    • 0 avatar

      Mostly aesthetics, but the ContiProContact tires also aren’t the best for grip or crisp handling. I go back and forth on how these wheels look on the car, while the Titanium’s optional 18s unequivocally look great. Aftermarket wheels like them would suit the car very well.

  • avatar
    D

    So I’m about to purchase a new 5 speed, Focus SE sedan. I was looking for a hatch, but I feel the sedan does looks better and I got a good deal on one. I’m looking for a nice balance of fun to drive and comfort. I was all set on the Focus until I started reading about the 2012 Subaru Impreza. Any chance you will drive one soon? If you haven’t done so already. Unfortunately, the dealers around me don’t have any yet. I would love to get your take on it before I make my decision. Thanks!

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Titaniums can be had with sticks now, how about a test of it?

  • avatar
    grshppr710

    The good, the bad and the Horrible.
    History, Previous car, 09 G6, GXP, 270 hp, b4 that, 01, Audi A6, b4 that, 01, GTI, 1.8, chipped and fast, b4 that, 2000 Eclipse…..
    I have had the 2012 Focus SE for 6 months now,and have driven 6600 painful miles.
    First the good, I like the look and style of the car.
    Now for the bad…It took 6k moles to get even close to the claimed milage. For the first 5500 miles I averaged low 20′s combined. Now I get highway average in the upper 30′s to 40, with combined being around 35.
    This car is very choppy riding, uncomfortable seats, painful on trips over 30 minutes. The base of the front seat, inside the bolstering is like 14 inches, and my back side, well, lets say i am just too big for this car and I am only 5’5″….but slightly over weight. The bolstering on the seat cushion cuts across my left thigh and requires frequent chiro visits. Also at 5’5, I need to move the seat back to within an inch of the rear seat, making the rear seat not usable. Even with short legs, seat moved back, the telescoping wheel does not extend far enough out to allow for a comfortable driving position.
    The transmission is outright strange. Feels like driving a standard with a bad clutch, like it cant find the right gear, no matter how you feather the throttle.
    The ‘tech’, sync, is horribly over complicated and not convienient at all. The stock radio just does not sound good at all.
    My wife calls this car the hamster ball, an although I am too proud to admit it, I actually agree wih her one just this one thing. I would kill for a Kia Rio 5 right about now….yes I drove that too, but if you are familier with financing rules you will understand why the dealer said I needed a more expensive car to cover my previous negative equity….I just needed better fuel economy because the G6 was a gas hog and fuel prices are REDICULOUS NOW. As soon as I get credit in order I will be dropping this car like a hot coal…..and I really want to love it but it is litteraly a P.I.T.A Peace to all. (there is a little TECHNOVIKING in all of us.)

  • avatar
    ALunaSea93

    Hey Micheal, (or anybody else who has bought the car)

    How did it perform in the rain? And how were the wipers? I don’t know why, but wipers have always been super important to me. Lol


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