2012 Ford Focus Review

Front 3/4 view of red 2012 Ford Focus driving on city street

At last, Ford lets us have the good stuff! For a decade or so, we've been hearing how the American Ford Focus compared unfavorably if at all to the European model...and with each update, we've been hoping to get what they've had for so long.

Well, the 2012 Focus is here and now we can see what the shouting was all about. Not only is it a night-and-day difference from the previous U.S. Focus, it's also a completely different approach to small cars from its chief rival, the new Chevrolet Cruze (review coming soon here).

Rear 3/4 view of red 2012 Ford Focus driving on city street

The Focus rides, drives and handles like a German car that just happens to have the blue Ford oval attached to the front and back. The combination of the 2-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission gives it strong acceleration and very good fuel economy (28 city/38 highway is the EPA estimate and our weeklong experience of mixed city street and freeway driving suggests that's realistic).

Interior view of 2012 Ford Focus

Ford has done some of its best work with the Focus interior...contemporary and techno without being overwrought like the Honda Civic (another direct competitor). The seats are comfortable for hours at a time, controls are well-placed an fall easily to hand. And, unlike the Fiesta, the back seat has adequate room for people just a shade under six feet tall.

The SEL 5-Door Hatchback is well equipped, with 16-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, an AM/FM/CD/mp3 audio system, ambient lighting, power windows and locks, a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, climate control, illuminated entry, AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, SYNC, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a rear wiper/washer, power locks, keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring system standard at $21,065. As with the Fiesta, it's pricey for the class size historically, but both Ford and Chevy appear to be moving into the premium compact segment that the VW Jetta has abandoned this year (review coming soon on that, too).

Our tester added Rapid Spec package 301A (MyFord Touch audio/nav system with an upgraded Sony stereo, HD radio, Sirius and 10 speakers)for $995 and Red Candy Metallic Tinted paint for $395. Total price with destination charges: $23,180. Again, more than you'd pay for a Civic or Corolla, but reasonable Jetta money when Jettas were premium German compacts.  And, based on precision and driving pleasure, I'm willing to say the Focus is what the Jetta was...and maybe even more.

My only concern is quality control. While everything seems top-notch, our tester had a trim piece above the passenger front door window that kept coming loose and hanging down and once, the MyFord Touch system froze up completely and would do absolutely nothing...not even pushing the "off" button made a difference...until it decided it was time to re-boot itself...a total of 9 minutes. Could just be the one we had. But if Ford's going to convince Americans to pay $23K (and more...there's a "Titanium" level above the SEL) for a compact car, quality had better be job one.

No comments: