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Blue Oval's All-New Compact Surprises With Maturity


2012 Ford Focus Titanium sedan – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ironically named little car, the Ford Focus. While you could surely argue we're drawing too literal a line between the car and its moniker, we have to chuckle a little when we recall just how far afield Ford drifted with its compact offering over the last several years. Suffice it to say that Ford lost its way somewhere after the original Focus was introduced as a so-called 'world car' back in 1999. At the time, the spunky Focus shared the same C170 platform no matter where in the world it was sold.

Sadly, such platform sharing diverged in 2005 as the United States made do with the aging C170 chassis in a reduced number of bodystyles while the rest of the world received a new model based on the brand spankin' new C1 platform. That new architecture debuted to rave reviews from the international motoring press while the aging North American Focus doddered off to live among the also-rans. A few short years later, with the global economy in the doldrums and fuel mileage sitting atop many consumers' automotive wishlists, it wasn't long before the Blue Oval found itself standing flat-footed without a class-competitive compact in its home market. Many tears were shed in the form of lost dollar signs over the ensuing years, until Ford finally promised to make the Focus a truly global car for the 2012 model year.

And we're happy to report that the 2012 Ford Focus is several orders of magnitude superior to the model it replaces. How so? Keep reading to find out.


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Photos copyright ©2011 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL

We'll start with its exterior appearance. Instead of telling you how the 2012 Focus was drawn up with smooth, flowing lines and more than a few traces of Ford's Kinetic design language, we'll instead share a little story.

After a few days of daily driving duties, our Tuxedo Black Focus sedan was sorely in need of a good washing. After finishing the deed and taking a few moments to admire the shiny metallic flecks in the bright Arizona sun, we noticed we weren't alone... three burly-looking, bearded workers and their supervisor had stopped toiling away at whatever project they had been assigned and were talking amongst themselves about our car. Eye contact was made, so they gaggle of laborers decided to come take a closer look.

What transpired could best be described as a Focus Love Fest. A traditional walk-around was performed (several times, actually), doors were opened and shut and specifications were debated. Finally, a general consensus was reached: "That there is a nice car."

2012 Ford Focus Titanium side view2012 Ford Focus Titanium front view2012 Ford Focus Titanium rear view

And so, the next logical question was asked: "How much?"

The window sticker was presented and summarily dissected. "Wow, that thing's got a six-speed automatic? My wife's Civic only has five." It continued this way for several minutes. "Voice-activated navigation, nice. Leather, heated seats, sunroof... SYNC, what's that mean?"

SYNC was then demonstrated. Push this button on the steering wheel, then say a command – "Sirius; ALT Nation." (The stereo is now magically playing ALT Nation.) Impressive.

The price for all these bells and whistles? $26,925. Seems pretty pricey for a compact car, but then again, most compact cars don't come equipped to the gills like our Focus Titanium sedan, either. We polled the workers. "Not bad... I'd have guessed more," said the supervisor.

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So, we've established that the 2012 Ford Focus is attractive enough to draw the attention of casual passers-by, its list of available equipment (in top-drawer Titanium trim, at least) is impressively thorough and that the normal sticker shock inevitably experienced when delving into the new car shopping experience isn't all that, well... shocking.

Good so far, but how's it drive?

Very well, it turns out. As our very own Zach Bowman found out during his First Drive of the car, Ford managed to bake quite a bit of handling goodness into the 2012 Focus. Our tester was equipped with the so-called Titanium Handling Package, and, aside from the clunky name, we were impressed. Turn-in was sharp, and the 2012 Focus holds its line through a curve in admirable fashion while responding shockingly well to attitude adjustments from the throttle.

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There's just one engine option for the 2012 Focus, so we're happy to report that we have no qualms with its operation. The direct-injected 2.0-liter four cylinder powerplant puts out 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 146 pound-feet of torque at 4,450 rpm. Those figures put the Focus near the the head of its class, which includes the Hyundai Elantra (148 horses and 131 lb-ft), Chevrolet Cruze (138 hp and 148 lb-ft), Honda Civic (the new 2012 model is rated at 140 horsepower, torque TBA) and Toyota Corolla (132 hp and 128 lb-ft). Among its primary rivals, the Ford is only bested by the Mazda3 s, which packs 167 hp and 168 lb-ft.

EPA fuel economy comes in at 27 miles per gallon city and 37 mpg highway when equipped with the six-speed automatic and the SelectShift option that allows the driver to manually change gears using a little rocker switch mounted on the console shifter. Nope, no paddles on the steering wheel, which is especially frustrating as this transmission is a dual-clutch unit that would seemingly lend itself rather well to the shift-for-yourself crowd. Same as the Fiesta. Why no paddle love, FoMoCo?

Fortunately, we found the automatic gearbox to be extremely well suited to this application. There's enough power on hand that the transmission doesn't hunt and peck for gears in daily driving and downshifts come right on schedule when called upon by either the driver's right foot or by a steep grade. In all other situations, the tranny just goes about its duties without thought from the driver... and that's exactly what you want from a two-pedal setup, no?

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Despite its aforementioned handling prowess, the car's ride was plenty smooth and controlled, without any undue noisiness echoing through the cabin. Speaking of which, the leather-clad interior, in two-tone Black and Tuscany Red that seemed more maroon to our eyes, is just as stylishly designed as the exterior. The hides covering the seats and door panels is soft to the touch and surprisingly grippy, meaning we didn't find ourselves sliding to and fro when throwing the car into the bends. Heated seats with five levels of adjustment meant we could fine-tune the bum warmers to our liking, a boon since the last Ford Fiesta we tested offered just two settings: off and scorch.

There isn't a ton of room in the rear seat when a six-foot driver gets comfy behind the wheel, and taller passengers in the front seat may find that their legroom is pinched a bit by the thick center stack and console. Similarly, trunk space in the sedan isn't anything to write home about, and its 13.2 cubic feet of volume isn't as easy to make use of as we'd like, mostly due to a distinct lack of depth. Taller items will need to be placed on the rear seat, which does fold in something like a 70/30 split. Frequent haulers might do better to consider the five-door hatch, which offers up to 44.8 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded.

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Considering how much electro-gadgetry the 2012 Focus offers, the center stack is rather easy to navigate. Part of that overall look of cleanliness, though, is attributable to the steering wheel, which rivals that of a Formula One's tiller for its sheer number of controls. Not counting the horn, there are six clusters of buttons that can be pressed – and no, we're not making this up – 19 different ways. With controls for cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, SYNC, the audio system and the in-dash computer (which has its own menu system directly between the speedometer and tachometer), we strongly suggest that any new drivers spend a few minutes acquainting themselves with the layout before heading out on the open road.

Note that we haven't even mentioned the big LCD screen mounted high up in the center stack. It's a touchscreen, and most anything the driver might want to do can be controlled at that location in lieu of the dedicated buttons. Plus, there's SYNC, which allows the driver to press a single button and change any number of settings (audio, telephone, etc.) using voice commands. In other words, there's almost always more than one way to make an adjustment.

That said, in practice we didn't have any problems using all the technology packed into the Focus, and we appreciate the dedicated set of dials and buttons for the climate control system mounted below the LCD and Sony audio system.



We spent just one week with the 2012 Ford Focus, but that was plenty enough for us to realize that it's a worthy contender in the hotly contested compact car segment. No other competitors offer the level of available equipment the Focus offers, but the basic goodness of the car's platform should surely shine through on lesser trims, as well.

We went ahead and made use of Ford's online configurator, and found that a very nice Focus SE sedan with the five-speed manual gearbox, 17-inch wheels, leather, sunroof and SYNC rings the register at around $22,000. Add about a grand for the six-speed automatic. Either way, you'll end up with a highly desirable ride that does an equally fine job of catering to enthusiasts and commuters alike. Or even a grizzled quartet of hard-edged construction workers, apparently.


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Photos copyright ©2011 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 172 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The best looking Focus ever to hit the U.S. Can't wait to see it in person.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Frick me, thats a sharp lookin car. Pricey, but thats a given considering it is packed to the gills with electro-gadgetry. Im in love.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Ford Focus screams cheap American baggage. Mitsubishi's Lancer GTS screams fast, furious and hot. Period. End of story. Stay with Mitsubishi for all your automotive needs. And let's all hope LAL goes down quick in this year's NBA Finals as well. Quickly. Rapidly, and decisively.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Valiant efforts to try and match Mitsubishi and their new world order Lancer, but Ford does fall short with the new Focus. Not as perky or long-lasting of a 4-cyl., and I would have to question overall tightness and taughtness of the build quality of the '12 Ford Focus. Several questions remain about the Focus. None for the '08 Lancer GTS. You stay and don't buy new would be my final answer on this one. However, the competition is good for marketplace overall.
        • 4 Years Ago
        We had a Mitsubishi once. Engine blew every 30,000 miles, like freaking clockwork.
      flyingace43
      • 4 Years Ago
      you idiots just keep buying that jap junk.......remember that crap is brought to you by the same people who bombed pearl harbor.......you should all be deported
        Kristopher Spencer
        • 4 Years Ago
        @flyingace43
        Oh, gimme a break. Technically, the people who bombed Pearl Harbor died decades ago. You can't blame the current generation for the crimes committed by a previous generation. By that standard, every white American is guilty of genocide (against Native Americans) and slavery.
        Joos
        • 3 Years Ago
        @flyingace43
        Not really, its designed in Germany and built in the US.
      Bobbyd28
      • 3 Years Ago
      My friend just bought a new Focus and it is SWEET!! 0-60 MPH in 7.6 seconds...no, Elantra , Corolla or Civic comes close. You have to drive this car to appreciate it. Ford did a great job on this car.Built in Wayne , Michigan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 2011 forte koup sx has:
      173hp 2.4
      6 speed automatic with paddle shifters
      push button start
      navigation
      leather
      24mpg/30mpg
      basically fully loaded for $24,000.

      Give me Koup please.
        • 4 Years Ago
        oh yea and led taillamps.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not bad but it ain't no 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS, the "baby EVO." Nevertheless, Ford has made a decent attempt to reach the level of a truly worthy compact here. Catch my '08 Lancer GTS if you only could. Dood.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Are you trying to be funny?

        The Lancer is a terrible vehicle and at the very bottom of the pack of C-Segment vehicles in the US, MAYBE ahead of the Caliber. Sure, your GTS might be faster but it can't touch ANYTHING else that this Focus offers.

        Baby Evo? That's a laugh...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think we need a performance all-wheel drive package for the Focus.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks OK. Nicely implemented Hyundai Sonata's rear headlights, but I'm still not a fan of the new grill.

      http://hyundaimountprospect.com/media/Models/65/2011-Hyundai-Sonata-Back-Gray.jpg
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very cramped in the driver and passenger side - no lateral leg room, felt claustrophobic and terrible rear seats, kids and passengers will hate it - especially on trips. For $1000 less - when dealer discount and rebate is factored - you can buy a 2011 Nissan Altima 2.5SL (leather, sunroof) with the Premium audio (bose, back up cam, bluetooth). Not a great move by Ford, imports will crush this car. Resale will be terrible, but if you want one, wait a year and save $10K.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In every trim level the Focus seems 2 - 3 grand over priced. The same could be said for the Fiesta, Mustang, and Taurus. The Fusion is the only Ford car that seems to NOT induce instant sticker shock.

      I miss $26,000 Mustang GTs!!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Fusion is the only car you listed that isn't near the best (or THE best) in it's class.

        Watch the price climb a bit when it gets redesigned again.
      BSG Rocks
      • 4 Years Ago
      My compact rental car this past weekend turned out to be a new 2012 Focus Titanium Sedan. Had 5 days with it and was totally blown away by the vehicle. Needless to say I was stunned by the amount of tech loaded into the thing. Was definitely not expecting a rear view camera and proximity sensors in a compact vehicle let alone an automatic parallel parking function. Had my iphone linked to the SYNC system in minutes and combined with the keyless ignition it was fun to keep my keys and phone in my pocket simply walk up to the car open the automatically unlocked driver door sit down press the ignition button and drive off while the SYNC system automatically linked to my phone and began playing playlists off my phone. The 10 speaker plus subwoofer speaker system was great for tunes and the voice activated commands for making handsfree calls and playing music was seamless. The car looked great, had ample space for passengers and luggage (2 adults + 2 kids + luggage) and with the moonroof open was fun to cruise around in.Was really good on gas too. Wasn't the fastest or peppiest car I have driven (and not even close to the same league as the Sube legacy GT wagon which is the normal family cruiser) but was good enough. Only knocks I had with the car were as follows: 1) The headrests were weird and my wife and I could not adjust them to make them perfectly comfortable. I would view this as a minor problem and by the end of 5 days didn't notice it as much. 2) The cover art for songs was for the most part missing. I suspect this was because SYNC is a microsoft product and I would assume it would work more seamless with WMA files and windows based media players. 3) As mentioned in most reviews it should have paddle shifters as those on the side of the gear handle are not convenient. I suspect the reason they are not on the wheel is that there are so many other buttons for the phone, music and menu system on the steering wheel that there may not be great room for paddle shifters. Overall 9/10. And yes I would have thought the car was worth 27000 canadian. It definitely was better than recent corollas, camrys, civics, Jettas, Vibe and prius that I have been in. If it had all wheel drive I would consider buying one now. PS Can someone explain to me why this vehicle has RCA type audio and video inputs in it? What exactly can you run to the 8 inch screen ? Can you play a portable DVD player in the back and plug it in and have it run on the front screen too? Could you run a portable media player into this jacks to get video as well as audio off it?
        willcraft
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BSG Rocks
        I just ordered a base Titanium 5dr plus navigation. After the test drive, I could not buy my first car fast enough. I'll answer some questions: Cover art: there is a separate set up steps to get that going and menu to see it. It's kind of set up weird. I don't plan to ever use it (I like local radio tbh). RCA: *Anything* can display on the screen and through the speakers using the RCA ports with the vehicle parked. Even an XBOX, let alone a simple DVD player.
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