By on June 14, 2013

2013focus

It would appear that your humble author has become quite the compact-car reviewer lately, with drives of the 2012 Sentra, 2013 Sentra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3s (not reviewed at TTAC), Hyundai Elantra, and Chevy Cruze under my Allen-Edmonds belt. I’ve also driven the current Focus, proclaiming it as the best compact car available, but that was more than two years ago. Time to renew my acquaintance with the Focus, then.

The Focus SE I drove last time was a base-equipment, manual-transmission model, but the car I chose from the Alamo line up at the Orlando airport was an optioned-up double-clutcher. As we’ll see, that makes more than a little difference.

With just 8600 miles showing on the odometer, my white Focus SE (replicated through Ford’s build-your-own system in the above photo because my Droid4 didn’t survive the trip to Malaysia I took just prior to arriving in Orlando) still looked and smelled new. The PowerShift transmission, on the other hand, already felt tired. The spectacle of an overturned Ford Explorer and its four astoundingly overweight previous occupants created an hour-long traffic jam between MCO and DisneyWorld, giving the Focus plenty of chances to demonstrate the shuddering stutter with which it moved forward a few feet at a time. The ninety-four degree heat was just within the capability of the Ford’s A/C system to handle, but it did seem to be a bit too much for the PowerShift.

It’s a habit of mine while sitting in a jam to use both feet to advance the car through traffic. My Town Car works very well with that, as do most torque-converter automatics. The Focus, on the other hand, reacts to pressure on both pedals, however mild, with a variety of odd stalling-esque behaviors. The car only really works if you operate the brake and accelerator separately and deliberately. It’s easier than driving a true stick-shift car in stop-and-go conditions, but the Focus will grind on any mechanically sympathetic nerve you possess as it clutches in and out. Once past the Explorer and the gawkers, it took a few shifts before the Focus smoothed back out.

There are paddles mounted to the Ford’s four-spoke wheel, but they don’t operate the PowerShift’s manual function. Instead, they control the cruise control and radio. If you want to shift the Focus yourself, you’ll need to operate a rocker button on the console shifter. Keep in mind, however, that you’re simply making a request by doing so, one that the car might or might not honor. This isn’t a GT-R, banging instant shifts that rock the cabin and jump the tach; it’s a computer simulation of a slushbox, stretching the shift out over the better part of a second.

What this Focus really needs is the six-speed manual from the Focus ST; it’s a decent shift and there’s something a little unnecessarily cheap about putting a five-speed in a compact car that sells at the Ford’s stout MSRP. In theory, the payoff of the PowerShift is increased economy, but the Focus never self-reported anything above a 33.5mpg average, even during a hundred-mile freeway cruise. A little bopping around Clearwater Beach saw that average drop to 29mpg. The competition produces better fuel-economy numbers with six-speed torque-converter automatics. Hell, the old Corolla did better during my time with the car, using a four-speed automatic.

So. The Focus SE doesn’t have a great transmission and it doesn’t get class-competitive fuel economy in my real-world use. What does it have going for it? Quite a bit, actually. It’s quiet on the road, and it both steers and rides well. The control interfaces all look and feel high-quality. Steering feel is extremely light but it’s precise. The seats are good and there’s little evidence of cost-cutting. Which is good, because there’s little evidence of cost-cutting on the window sticker, either.

The SE model of the Focus comes with a small screen SYNC system that probably doesn’t cost much less to make than the MyFordTouch screen fitted to the Titanium but certainly offers less functionality and aesthetic appeal. The equipment package fitted to my rental SE closes more than half of the price gap to the Titanium. You’d be best served by going the rest of the way, because the $22,995 Titanium sedan feels like it’s worth the money and this $21,730 SE sedan doesn’t. This is particularly true if you really want the PowerShift, because it’s a cost option on the SE and a free one on the Titanium.

The matter of the diabolical double-clutcher aside, I continue to prefer the Focus to the competitors in the segment. Inside and out, it looks and feels more expensive than the competition. It’s the most “Euro” of the available choices, even when those choices include the Mexican-built VW Jetta. Although I got my seat time in the Focus through a rental agency, it’s the least rental-feeling car you can buy for this kind of money. It really only falls down on fuel economy and sticker price.

The problem is that fuel economy and sticker price are pretty much the main drivers in this segment. If you don’t care about either, you can buy a Camry SE for a couple thousand bucks more and, ironically, enjoy very similar real-world economy along with more power and space. I’d suspect the market is creating a gap in real-world transaction prices, and sure enough TrueCar thinks that the discount on the Camry should be 12.79% compared to the 17.55% on the Focus. The Honda Civic is only being discounted nine percent according to the same site, which is a further data point to consider.

If you can get a Focus SE at a price with which you can live, it’s worth considering, but I’d prefer it with a stick shift. Not for the usual purist/enthusiast reasons, but just because the PowerShift continues to strike me as being a trifle delicate in real-world use. Great car, not-so-great automatic transmission. Hey, it’s a formula that worked for Acura, right?

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88 Comments on “Review: 2013 Focus SE...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    It’s a habit of mine while sitting in a jam to use both feet to advance the car through traffic.

    Huh?

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      AKA the “Fred Flintstone” methodology. How Baruth can return his rental cars with a sawzalled hole in the floor speaks volumes about how everyone else treats rental cars.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        This made me laugh.

        I don’t get the idea of left foot braking in traffic either. Pressure on both pedals simultaneously while creeping along in stop and go traffic?

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Yabba-dabba-doo?

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I think my sister and Jack should get together. Two drivers who use both feet. My sister uses them all the time though. Lots of brake jobs over her almost 50 years of driving.

      • 0 avatar
        chas404

        Yikes! ride the brakes! Shame Jack you didnt drop by as you were in my neck of the woods. Could have left that econo box for the meter maids and tool around in my mustang GT convertible with 5 speed manual. I must be getting old bec i dont like turbos and i dont like wierd transmissions. give me a manual or in the case of a econo box a nice slushbox 5 or 6 spd auto.

  • avatar

    Interesting that you could tolerate the HVAC system in your rental…as much as I like many things about my ’12 hatch, I can not for the life of me fathom how to make that stupid HVAC system work…it’s either OFF completely with no whisper of cold/warm air, or on and blowing in all sorts of directions I don’t want it to (90 degree day, I want some cold air on my face, the steering wheel or stupid vent positioners wouldn’t let it). Fogged up windows? Best of luck trying to survive the interior temps while the windows slowly get unfogged. Surely one of Fords Better Ideas…

  • avatar
    niky

    The Powershift should die in fire. I’ve driven over half-a-dozen Powershifts over the past few years, and none of them are free if the Powershift hesitation and indecision in traffic, no matter how you drive them.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Had numerous Focus rentals and never noticed any sort of problem.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The longer you sit in traffic, the worse it gets. As Jack says, they don’t like hot traffic.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Again, had one for many weeks last summer and drove in traffic and still can’t say I noticed a problem.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          While perusing the owner’s manual for my Focus (yeah, I’m that guy), I noticed that there is a warning light on the dashboard for “transmission overheat” and that upon receiving such warning, you are to pull over and let the transmission cool down.

          I have not seen it come on in real life yet but you’re right that they don’t like hot traffic. You can just feel the difference.

      • 0 avatar
        ehaase

        I rented a Focus hatchback with 30,000 miles from Enterprise when I traveled to Fort Lauderdale in April. I had absolutely no problems with the transmission. However, I would only purchase a Focus if Ford would offer the wagon in the U.S.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The Focus wagon is the C-Max. I’ve driven it. It was a nice Focus wagon.

          It’s only offered as a hybrid, and it drives like a muscly Prius – and you probably won’t get the window sticker MPG.

          I thought it was a very nice car.

          • 0 avatar
            ehaase

            I dislike the styling of the C-Max. I prefer the real Focus wagon.

            http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-11q3/419445/2013-ford-focus-st-wagon-photo-419594

  • avatar
    Dan R

    It always seemed perfectly logical to use both feet in an automatic.
    But I am from Ireland.
    Some Euro thing?

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with two-footed driving is that it becomes a habit and you end up with people driving at speed with their foot touching the brake pedal enough to light the taillights.

      Not only does this confuse the heck out of the driver behind you (who now has no idea when you are actually decelerating), it also causes premature wear to your brakes, and heats them up which reduces their ability to stop you.

      Further, driving with one foot for both gas and brake means that learning to drive a manual is a lot easier. You just add one pedal, and you use the previously unused foot to control it. You brake and accelerate more or less just as you always did.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    I’ll wait to see what the reliability stats look like before I make a conclusion about the Powershift’s “fragility.” My feeling about the interior ambiance is about the same. That being said, I think the Cruze is still the best value I. This segment, given the much lower MSRP and nearly as nice interior.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Jack, I hope you have the shoes to match your Allen-Edmonds belt! After all, for a guy who has everything, what’s another $250.00+?

    I get confused by the Ford Focus – I guess it’s a good-enough car, but they look like a Fiesta and an Escape!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Ford Focus and Ford Escape (known as the Kuga in Europe) both utilize the Global-C platform. I suppose it’s not a bad thing that they look alike, since they’re both attractive and feature upscale interiors.

      Still, I found that I liked the Chevrolet Cruze better, even if it does have a busy transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        After driving both, I prefer the Focus to the Cruze. I noticed similar problems with the Focus’ transmission, but overall, it seemed better than the Cruze’s. Overall, I thought the Focus was a great car with terrible user interfaces, but the Cruze felt like it was supposed to be a rental.

        • 0 avatar

          i’ve driven both, and they have their ups and downs.

          The Cruze has more interior room, the seats are more comfortable, it’s less noisy on the highway, and real-world fuel economy is quite a bit better. Cruze Eco manuals on Fuelly are typically reporting about/above 40mpg average.

          The 1.4T in the Cruze is interesting. It makes better low-end punch than the 2.0L in the Focus, but does not like high RPM’s at all. The 6-speed auto in the Cruze strikes me as much more polished than the powershift dual-clutch, which is funny, but it too suffers from the “maybe i’ll shift” syndrome in manual – at least it has a separate up/down gate. The Focus 2.0L likes higher rpms and moves the car down the road with greater authority. Shift feel on the manuals of both is similar (the Cruze’s shifter does a great VW impression) but the 6 speed in the Cruze lets you make better use of the narrow torque band.

          HOWEVER with a basic Trifecta stage 1 tune (couple hundred bucks, won’t blow things up, undetectable by GM computers) it’s a whole ‘nother story – the Cruze powertrain wins hands down.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            On the track, the DCT is superior. Faster shifts. More decisive. Shorter shift times. (You can wait for up to a second for the Cruze 6AT to shift on corner exits).

            In traffic, give me the Cruze box anytime. It shifts slow, but you don’t have to put up with the clunking and jerking as the DCT disengages.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Seats have to be one of the most critical elements of a car that often doesn’t get enough attention when people test drive. Too many things competing for attention, and any discomfort with the seat is typically dismissed with “well I didn’t spend enough time adjusting them, I’m sure they are fine” if the driver otherwise likes the car.

            After writing all that, I’ll say it only took me five minutes to realize the seats in the Cruze were an awful match for me. Meanwhile the Focus I drove actually had some of the best seats I’ve sat in. Seat comfort varies hugely by person.

            It’s too bad, because I otherwise liked the Cruze better, at least as a highway car.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The main reason for the behviour you experienced when two-footing the brake and throttle is Ford programmed in a BOT (Brake Over Throttle) strategy that cuts power when both pedals are applied in motion. I understand this was a response to the Toyota uncommanded acceleration fiasco, but it definitely generates some consumer complaints under normal use.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      And I would tell that consumer who complains that they are using their feet wrong. The left foot is not used for braking. Its only used for a clutch, a dimmer switch (old cars) or a parking brake pedal (old cars).

      For those of you who didn’t know that, consider yourself educated.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Many current vehicles continue to employ foot-operated parking brakes. Just rented a brand new Avalon last week with this set-up. I prefer the hand-operated and electronic varieties, but I suppose the former eats up center console space that could otherwise be used to store iPads or something.

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    I drive a Focus SE with PowerShift for work and I can concur with Jack. I’ve put about 6000 miles on the thing so far. I really like everything about the way the Focus drives – except that damn DCT.

    It’s programmed to upshift as far as possible as early as possible. So if you need to push the pedal down to get moving, it’s wait…wait…while the thing figures out what gear it wants to be in and gets there. Not a satisfying driving experience and especially not when you need (right now!) Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration to save your butt.

    The DCT’s behavior in stop-and-go traffic is annoying as well. It’s programmed to slip the clutch a little to offer “creep” functionality to make it feel more like a conventional automatic but as Jack noted, sometimes its behavior can be stuttery or even near-stall-ish. It’s hard to drive it smoothly in slow traffic. I’ve noticed this to be more of an issue when the A/C is on. My company car is a 2012 SE so there’s no gear selector switch on the shifter – I’m stuck with whatever gear the DCT decides to put itself in.

    One of the more annoying behaviors I’ve consistently observed is that if you ease off the throttle, even just a tiny little bit, the DCT will upshift. So as an example, you are moderately accelerating up to highway speed, perhaps you need to ease off the throttle just a hair because someone changes lanes in front of you but it’s not a big deal enough for brake to be required. As soon as you ease off, the DCT has upshifted a gear or two and then a second later when you’re ready to reapply power, it’s wait…wait… all over again. I hate that.

    I’ve found the A/C to be adequate for NYC summers but just barely. It cools when when you’re moving but if you wind up sitting in traffic the vent temp goes up quite noticeably – it’s almost as if the condenser (or perhaps the fan pulling air through the condenser) is not adequately specified to work as well as it should in stop-and-go traffic.

    I like the Focus a lot, meaning well enough to consider buying it or to recommend it to someone who’s looking for a car in that segment, but for me that DCT is a dealbreaker. I could recommend the Focus with a manual but I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it (to somebody I like, anyway) with the DCT.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “It’s programmed to upshift as far as possible as early as possible. So if you need to push the pedal down to get moving, it’s wait…wait…while the thing figures out what gear it wants to be in and gets there. Not a satisfying driving experience”

      As Jack said, people buy these cars for price point or fuel economy. Either way, your issue is not an issue for them, and thus I can’t fault Ford for the programming.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        That’s true, and that’s what it’s programmed for. But I still don’t like it so I’m gonna go ahead and continue to fault them. :-)

        I like the DCT as a technical concept. I hope the technology of the electro-mechanical part of the DCT will continue to improve to the point where these issues aren’t issues anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope you test drove the car before buying and if you did, why did you buy it after all?
      It took me 15 min of a test drive to figure out I can’t stand it, simply annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Oh, I didn’t buy it. As I said, it’s a company car. As in the company bought it and said “you will drive this.” I didn’t have any say in the matter. :-)

        I like the car overall. I just like the DCT less and less the more miles I put on it.

    • 0 avatar
      tuckerdawg

      I also drive one of these for work and I agree 100% with the comments about the transmission, it really dogs it from a standstill. Super frustrating and sometimes scary when you need to pull out in traffic. Handling, brakes, and steering are fantastic though, only the crappy stock tires let it down.

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    As a road warrior, I have also dabbled in every type of compact rental car. My latest rental was a 2013 Focus SE Hatchback with the Sport package (4 wheel disc brakes, manumatic shifting, 17″ tires). I agree with the transmission studder during stop-and-go traffic being bothersome, but under normal acceleration, I almost forgot all about it. The powershift really came into its own on the highway though. Once you coerce a downshift (easier when in sport mode), the engine loved to rev, and the trans provided snappy upshifts. I was able to get 29 around town (A/C on 30% of the time), and pulled 36-39 mpg on my 300 mile drive to/from home, A/C on. Over the course of 4 weeks and 3000 miles, my fuel econ was 33 MPG. Blame it on the sport package, but I thought the steering was super heavy – to the point that the steering in my MS6 (which was notorious for heavy steering) felt too light when I got home.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    So let me get this, you get the auto manual, double clutch thingy for a premium price to avoid heavy traffic and the thing treats you like crap? I’ll take the regular automatic, thanks much

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      If only that was an option! On the Focus, if you want an automatic it’s a DCT and a DCT only.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        I don’t see why anyone ever buys a car other than a Toyota or a Honda. They have their faults, but they don’t do this crap.

        If I saw a Focus SE for 22K on the sticker, I would be gone from that dealership in less than 60 seconds.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          22k is Accord Sport and Mazda 6 money. I do believe I’d take either over the Focus.

          But I would be willing to spend more for the ST.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          The best and brightest tend toward reactionary (and hypercritical often with no personal experience) luddism. So, based on my experience, I’d take their complaints with a a grain of salt.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “The same accord sport that’s automatic is a CVT?”

            That model does exist but I’d take the 6mt.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @Firestorm 500

          Some people like cars that are not dull.

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            Exactly, krhodes1, exactly.

          • 0 avatar
            Firestorm 500

            If your idea of excitement is paying $5K or more too much for a herky-jerky poorly engineered car with crappy resale value, more power to you.

            My Accord will idle all day long in 110* weather and freeze your buns off with the A/C.

            The temperature gauge never moves.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            http://perryfordofnationalcity.com/?gclid=CP3hw6-S57cCFS9dQgodLHsA-w

            You can get a new Focus for less than $12K in San Diego, which goes a long way towards making up for its shoddiness. Heck, $16,977 for a new Fusion doesn’t seem like such a bad price either. An $11,977 Focus S is an alternative for base Versa buyers. The cramped interior relative to the good compacts isn’t such a big deal at that point.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Hum, thinking back the only time I noticed a problem was once when pulling out of a parking lot. I hit the gas(somewhat aggressively) to pull out at the same time the car in front of me slammed its brakes so I went (in a fraction of a second) from 3/4 throttle to brake (without having really accelerated) and the transmission shuddered for a fraction of a second.

    But, bumper to bumper in summer traffic and never once noticed a problem other than that.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I noticed problems in situations where novices typically stall a MT, especially creeping up a hill. I didn’t drive bumper-to-bumper traffic, so I can’t comment on that.

  • avatar
    Preludacris

    Haven’t been in the Focus yet but I’ve been a backseat passenger in two different Fiestas with the DCT. Obvious discomfort for my 6’1″ height aside, the transmission was what bugged me. In stop and go traffic, it was like being in a manual car – one whose driver doesn’t quite “get” exactly how the clutch works.

  • avatar
    CompWizrd

    The gas mileage surprises me. My wife has a ’11 Focus SE, and her overall commuting mpg is around 32-33.. mostly highway with some stop/go and a border crossing where you’ll sit for 15+ minutes idling. If you sit at 70 mph for a good trip, you’ll get around 41-42 with the AC off. Her ’01 Malibu got around 22 on the same commute.

    My shoebox ’10 Fit Sport get around 43-44 on the same highway. Turn on the AC and I’m in the 37-38 range. I average around 27-28 in the city, but mine’s stop/go. If i can avoid all the stop lights, I average around 55-60 once it’s warmed up.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Good point about the unavailability in any of the lesser models of the 6-speed furnished in the ST. Interestingly, the 5-speed is now available in the titanium, not just the SE. I’ve never driven the 6-speed, but I thought the 5-speed was a nice tranny and clutch combination. The engine develops a lot less torque at low rpms than the 3 liter 6 in my BMW, so one has to spin the engine up a bit more before engaging the clutch, especially with the a/c on.

    The deal-killer for me was the rather cramped front cockpit (I’m 6’3″) and a general lack of room inside the car (hatch) considering its overall size. A nice drive, however.

    Neither my wife nor I could stand the DCT. Some of our objections could be cured by reprogramming the shift logic to eliminate the slurred shifts . . . but all automated clutch cars (whether DCT or CVT) feel awkward when trying to creep.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The scary thing is that I have been told that the DCT in the Dart turbo is even worse than the Powershift.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    My biggest issue is that Ford/Getrag is still having this problem with the DCT after four years of customer use. My Focus is two and a half year old. I’ve had the transmission reprogrammed twice, and the clutch packs replaced as well. Since the replacement of the clutch packs over a year ago, I haven’t had an issue.

    There are too many intelligent people working in Dearborn and Cologne for this to still be a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      I’m confused by what the OEM’s are thinking when going the pre-selector clutch route as opposed to refining the torque converter autos. The drawings and cutaway pics I’ve seen show very small bands of friction material. How can these small surface area clutches possibly absorb engine torque and power and have any kind of longevity? My only personal experience has been with V8 rear drivers – I have never replaced the clutch in a front drive car, so maybe I am just not versed in 4 cylinder power applications. However, since 100k miles is now baseline expectation, I cannot picture a 2″ band of clutch face going the distance. Who has gone 100,000 in a DCT vehicle? Anyone out there?

  • avatar
    mktimes5

    I agree with you – ford pricing seems really messed up.
    If you take an se with the “appearance package” it adds almost 2700 to the price! – and you must take the package unless you want to putz around with rear drums.
    The extra money easily puts you in territory for the better trims.

    But there is no way for a se camry to get anywhere close to 29 mpg city in the real world

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Its like that with quite a few Ford models. The Esacpe and Focus seems to be the worst. A Lot of it has to do with the elimination of the SEL trim and the removal of the SE sport package in the Focus.

      If you want to get an Escape with the 2.0T, just get the Titanium. After you throw on a roof rack, tow package, and ambient lighting, the SE without leather is more expensive than the base Titanium with leather.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I don’t get the whole trim level specific thing either. It seems to be the norm ever since options stopped being options and became packages.

      I also don’t get how people can complain about an optioned out car being more money. Nobody says you have to drive a fully loaded car.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    While both my cars are automatics, when in stop and go traffic I prefer to downshift to either 1 or 2 and use engine braking to maintain space. Is this even possible with DCT?

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      I think it depends on trim level. The low-end ’12 SE I drive does not have a manual gear selector rocker switch like some of the other trims do. You only have P R N D L on the shifter. According to the manual, L will get you the lowest gear available based on your speed. If you put it in L for stop & go traffic, it will hold first gear way past the time when it should – like up to redline.

  • avatar
    stottpie

    I have a 2012 Focus SE Sport w/ Manual tranny. I got the manual because I kind of prefer them, but especially because of how bad the auto is. The car handles phenomenally, to the point where I could probably spank a V6 Mustang on a canyon road being piloted by an average driver.

    The handling is very crisp, that’s by far my favorite part. A bit of understeer, and unfortunately very little down-low torque. A/C on max with 4 people in the car, you better be slipping that clutch to get into first unless you want to stall or lurch.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      They don’t even have the SE Sport anymore. It was the best bang for your buck when it came to the Focus too. I saw a number of them around here selling for 17K-19K depending on options.

      • 0 avatar
        droman1972

        Was the SE Sport its own model before or just an appearance pakage? I just bought a 2013 SE with the Appearance Package 2 months ago, which seems like the Sport Package just under a different name. With the cash back I got it for just under 19K. I got it with the manual trans, and winter package for the heated seats. I can’t complain, the Appearance Package gave me the sport rims, leather interior, rear disk brakes, alarm system and fog lamps. I know people are comparing this to the Accord Sport, but I couldn’t get Honda to go for much under 23k and that was only if they “someday” got a manual on the lot. So I pulled the trigger on the Focus when the color I liked showed up on my nearby lot. And the mileage has been great so far. I just drove from Virginia to New Jersey on half a tank (Which is only a 12.1 gal tank in this car) and was getting nearly 42mpg on the highway.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          It was an option package that didn’t cost nearly as much as the Appearance Package. Hopefully one of the Focus drivers here can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was only wheels and rear disk brakes, possibly a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Definitely not leather interior.

          It’s bizarre that Ford discontinued it. Too much of a good deal for actual hardware and not enough profit for Ford?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Rear disk brakes, leather wrapped steering wheel, spoiler, piano black grille, metallic trim accents, sport suspension, and sport seats. It also made the yellow blaze color available.

            It was an awesome deal at $695. Just like the handling package is for the Focus Titanium.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “because of how bad the auto is”

      What specifically was your issue?

      I probably had a focus for 6 weeks this year and (in all kinds of traffic) only had one very slight problem that lasted for 1.5 seconds at the absolute most.

  • avatar
    Slave2anMG

    I had one of these this week in Nashville…an Enterprise car with 15K on the clock and a nasty clunk in the left front suspension someplace. I wasn’t sure if it was a DCT but I now know it was. And the DCT behaved just like yours did, which I assumed was because whoever flogged the left suspension also did neutral drops or whatever. I wasn’t impressed by that; otherwise I rather liked the car…pretty decent for a rental.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    You would think these double clutches could detect heavy traffic and adjust it’s action. As much as I like the idea I will just change the cogs myself thanks.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I just got back from Orlando where for 25 days I drove a 2012, white Ford Focus SEL. Everything was ok, but the auto transmission was horrendous. The car was from Budget and it must have been a 2012. It had 32K on I got it. I put about 2000 miles on it. I have no complaints about the car, but I would never buy one because of the terrible transmission. At low speeds, I thought the car was going to stall…very jerky. If kept in sport mode, things improved a bit, but not much. I would like to believe that Ford had some sort of a recall for this but the Budget guys didn’t give a crap to update their cars.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    I have a ’12 hatch with sport package with 5 speed manual and usually average 36-38 with measurement at fillups not the computer read out granted my commute is 95% hwy

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Power shift is not a very good tranny. They should just buy a German ZF transmission instead. That’s what Dodge does. Likely the nice DSG (the german version of the DCT) is very inexpensive. But the 9 speed transaxle that they have available would be a nice upgrade to this transmission.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    I own a ’13 SE with the Appearance package. I kinda have Love/Hate relationship with the car:

    Loves:
    Great styling, awesome ride,really solid over bumps, Good A/c (but this is MN). decent power

    Hates:

    Powershift at low speeds reminds me of my learning to drive my ’75 Rabbit. Jerks and almost stalling. Ford Sync could be way more user friendly, mileage is a bit disappointing and awful (wide tires) in snow.

    Was really hoping the ’14 Corolla would have been better as not sure how long I want to keep this car.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    I had a 2012 ‘Euro-cool’ Focus for all of 6 months. Hated the DCT and the driver seat was like a bed of nails. I got a ‘boring’ 2013 Honda Civic and will never look back.

    I’ll take smooth over all that banging. I don’t see these herky-jerky DCT’s going past 100K without high rebuild jobs. All those parts moving will surely wear out sooner than later.

    [And dont call me ‘surely’]

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    We were seriously considering the Focus, but I wasn’t thrilled with the Powershift, and then we got to the sticker prices.

    For a few grand more we ended up buying a V6 Mustang. Found it to be such a nicer car in every single way outside of a few gadgets (which we didn’t care for anyways). It looks like I average almost the same MPG too.

    I don’t know why one would go for the Focus when such a nicer car is sitting next to it at the lot at almost the same price. I don’t think the sedan even offers really any more room outside of having 2 extra doors.

  • avatar
    SkiDad

    Anyone notice any odd behavior with Ford’s electric power steering?

    The Focus I rented had a very “sticky” feel on-center. I am thinking this was some attempt by Ford to take some of the fatigue out of highway driving, but I thought all it did was make fine steering adjustments more difficult. It also totally numbed any on-center feedback from the steering.

    I’ll note that my DD is a VW GTI, which shares EPS and DCT technology with the Focus, but implements them in a far better fashion.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      It’s “stiction”. It’s where the EPS lowers assist when it thinks you’re steering straight ahead, to make the steering stick on-center. Kia does it, too, but in a more clumsy manner.

      It’s a poor substitute for actual geometry-based self-centering, and in some Kia models, it leads to the steering sticking slightly off-center.

      Or, if you’re going fast enough down a long, steady sweeper, sticking waaaaaay off-center.

  • avatar

    Back in 2011, I was looking for a new car to replace my Mazda 3 hatch.
    Since my dealer of choice have both Mazda and Ford, I decided to test drive the Focus, it was brand new, the first cars to arrive at the dealership, I took a SE hatch with the AT and I really liked it but that AT was a disaster for me, I spend a lot of time driving in Manhattan and this car, as good as it is, got some serious problem with the AT, defiantly not suitable for stop and go or use of the manual mode.
    So,,,,,I got myself another Mazda3, 2.5 S hatch, still, a joy to drive and one that will not shift for you in manual mode, you can stay in 2nd gear up to 65 mph and it will not shift up, the way it should be, driving with your foot off the accelerator while moving the lever to manual automatically shift one gear up, step on the accelerator hard in auto mode and it will hold the gear even if you take your foot off, it will wait with the revs up for at least 15 seconds before going to the next gear, simply brilliant.

  • avatar
    dwight

    I just spent a week with a rented hatchback SE model. The car was awesome, easy to toss around (especially along Highway 1 in California). The mirrors are great for visibility on each side.

    My only gripe is the automatic transmission. This particular car did not have the manual mode but it did have an overdrive lockout option for hills, of which got a lot of use. Even so, the transmission really didn’t know what gear it wanted to be in…I suppose it was always trying to be in the highest, most efficient gear even when it was in overdrive lockout mode. Try again on the transmission, Ford, go to your local VW or Honda store and see how they do it.

  • avatar
    nice2cu

    I rented with National at MCO and my Focus was awesome with no transmission issues whatsoever. Of course, I only used my right foot because there wasn’t a clutch pedal but all I know is what I was taught in driver’s ed. How can one expect to be taken seriously as an automobile journalist when you use both feet to drive an automatic in one of the flattest places on earth?

    A comparable review would be the time I had gas in an Avenger I rented in NY and didn’t much care for the smell. Therefore, in my experience, Avengers are prone to funky smells.

    TTARC (The Truth About Rental Cars) is that they have any number of drivers using them in whatever manner they choose and aren’t a fair indicator of what your experience would be if you bought new or a used one owner that was taken care of. Its no coincidence that CarFax and AutoCheck both flag rental cars.

    I guess your write-up is one way to expense the ground transportation part of a vacation.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Having driven several Fiestas and Focii (Focuses, Foci, Focs, whatever), I can safely say it’s not due to left-foot braking. The transmissions do feel smooth when new, but they use adaptive logic, and after a few months of being driven in traffic, even if you’re not a herky-jerky driver, the transmission learns some bad habits.

      Reflash here, reflash there, warranty clutch pack replacements because the learning ECU hasn’t learnt not to burn the clutches… they’re all common problems for this drivetrain, and they’re not limited rental units.

  • avatar
    otaku

    I remember my father telling me a story from back in the day about how he took his little sister to the Registry of Motor Vehicles when she turned eighteen in order to take her driver’s license exam. He let her borrow his brand new Mercury convertible (automatic on the column) to take the test.

    As soon as the guy from the Registry saw her place a foot on each of the pedals, he immediately told her to shut off the engine and flunked her right on the spot. I think this was sometime back in the early sixties, when people still took pride in their driving skills and had standards about such things. Never have I been so proud of a civil service worker.

    Is there a moral to the story? I don’t know; maybe it’s that a Ford Focus, or indeed any other vehicle, shouldn’t be driven in the same manner as a Lincoln Town Car (where, let’s face it, the pedals are meant to be used as footrests)?

    Or perhaps it’s simply that Baruth should stick to the race tracks and let the rest of us mere mortals commute on the roads in the real world where unfortunately, brake jobs are not performed free of charge.

    Just kidding, JB. Keep fighting the good fight and hopefully Ford will get the message that they need to do a better job of idiotproofing their DCT’s, as well as beefing up their braking systems.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    Not sure if there is an issue or not with tranny… However, by looking at the car, I wouldn’t consider it based on its boring looks… even for a compact, looking at it makes me want to seriously yawn !

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      What’s better looking in this segment? Maybe the Kia Forte, but I don’t hear many recommending that one based on its merits as a car – just looks. I would make an argument for the Cruze, but I doubt many would agree. The next Mazda3 has potential, but until its available, I think the Focus is easily in the top three for exterior looks.

  • avatar
    william442

    For the remaining Luddites out there, try “Hill holder”. It works.


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