A trip to the West Coast gave us the opportunity to put the 2012 Ford Focus to the test, evaluating its handling dynamics, class-leading technology, and briefly enjoying some California sun. Ford has redesigned their Focus compact car for the 2012 model year with the hopes that it will be a class leader, and we found no reason for it to be anything else.
The Focus gave car buyers, since its introduction in 1999, the option to buy a fuel-efficient, easy-to-park, and much more affordable car over Ford's best-selling vehicle at the time, the Explorer.
Fast forward to 2011, and the Focus has been "reborn."
The redesigned Focus returns in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback iterations. Ford's fans and non-fans alike have been raving about the revised model, "It comes with so much style, technology, and innovation that you would never believe this was a Ford," said Corey Mack, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology.
The 2012 Focus brings safety, efficiency, and sustainability, technology, and a gorgeous design together into a class-leading vehicle.
The current Focus doesn't fare very well when it comes to fuel efficiency; the new 2012, however, is estimated to achieve 40 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway.
The 2012 Focus incorporates innovative applications developed by Ford to slice through air at high speeds, including front grille louvers which automatically close to decrease drag and enhance aerodynamics.
Ford then developed a direct injection engine for the Focus. A direct injected engine is optional on the more expensive models of the Chevrolet Cruze, a direct competitor of the Focus, but Ford decided to make this feature standard at every trim level.
Direct injection sprays a precisely measured fine mist of fuel directly into each of the engine's cylinders, instead of into an air mixture to be subsequently drawn into the cylinder. This translates to more powerful combustion, putting more power to the wheels, while using less fuel.
I found driving up ascending roads to be more of an issue with the logic of the new 6-speed, dual-clutch automatic, rather than a horsepower problem. WhenI got my hands on the five-speed manual version, the 2012 Focus was begging to be driven hard, fast, and definitely planted a larger grin on my face. Mountain roads are no problems when you can row your own gears, and that's why we hope Ford will add paddle shifters or better manual controls for the automatic.
Ford refers to the exterior design of the 2012 Focus as "kinetic" but I like to think of it as sexy, sculpted, and modern-looking. The hatchback iteration is the best looking, with it's broad shoulders sweeping from headlight to taillight, its front-end mimicking a delicious piece of fish ready for rolling into sushi, and a back end that fits the rest of the vehicle so well.
I especially enjoyed the integrated pop-out fuel door. If not for the dimple on the right side of the Focus hatchback, in front of the rear taillight, I would have thought the car never needed filling up!
The 2012 Focus will even offer Microsoft-based SYNC media connectivity, MyFord Touch with an 8'' touch-screen, HD radio, intelligent access with push-button start, MyKey, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The 2012 Focus comes with more integrated and well-designed technology than any car in the compact segment, and to top that, will be the first car in North American automobile history under $30,000 to be able to park itself with the Parking Technology Package.
While I spent more time driving and less time trying to figure out the MyFord Touch system, I will say that it's very in-depth. It will take some time to learn all of the commands, screens, and its capabilities. I was able to get to the Bluetooth phone setup screen relatively quickly though, and pairing was simple. Entering an address for navigation is also very easy, and was told it could be done by voice too!
The small color LCD between the gauges was great as well, with very crisp and easy-to-read text, plenty of menus, and interface controls on the steering-wheel that were easy to use.
Ford showed us a demo of a self-parking Focus, and it's quite impressive. I sampled the system a few months ago on the Flex and found it to work very well, but again, it will take time to learn exactly how to approach a parking space, when to press the button, when to take your hands off the wheel, and how to modulate the gas/brake pedals.
Overall, I'm glad to see Ford bring this level of technology and innovation to a vehicle in the compact segment. Like a new smartphone, computer, or anything else technology related, time and practice will make any 2012 Focus owner an expert on its technology.
Ford made it clear with its introduction of the 2012 Focus that there is no safer C-segment vehicle currently available than their newest Focus. The vehicle features an exceptionally strong and stiff structure designed to exceed global safety standards, using more high-strength boron steel than any other product in Ford's history.
"These advanced materials help us cut fuel consumption by reducing weight, while still improving the strength and stiffness required for vehicle safety and dynamics," said Jim Hughes, chief nameplate engineer.
The 2012 Focus features next-generation front and side airbags which customize deployment depending on size, weight, and position of the occupant combined with the location and force of the impact. The module calculating and making use of this data is one of the most advanced in the world.
The stability control system rarely intervened on the tight-handling Focus, even when we drove it FAST around some tight bends. This shows us that Ford's engineers definitely spent a good deal of time developing this chassis and the overall handing dynamics of this amazing car.
With confidence-inspiring handling, a tight chassis, great fuel economy, and as much technology as a vehicle costing twice as much, Ford built the perfect compact car. Add in a price that shows more value than anything from Honda or Toyota, and the competition game is over.
Spring 2012 will officially mark the renaissance of the reinvented Ford Focus, when it premieres at dealerships nationwide.
- Supreme chassis and handling
- Fuel economy
- Sweet manual transmission
- Available hatchback body
- Needs better manual control of automatic tranny
- Needs an extra gear on the manual tranny
- Move the e-brake handle further back on automatic models