January 31, 2012

2012 Ford Focus Titanium


Base Price: $22,700
As Driven: $26,640
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder, 160 hp
Transmission: 6 speed Automated Manual
Curb Weight: 2,948 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
MPG Rating: 27 city/37 highway

The Ford Focus was redesigned for the 2012 model year.  Our past experiences with the Focus are mainly through a friend who managed a local office of a major rental car company.  The company shall remain nameless, but Captain Kirk should have been in charge.  The branch manager referred to the Ford Focus quite frequently as the Ford F@#% Us. This was five years ago and a lot has changed for the Focus.
Ford provided a Focus Titanium that had MyFordTouch, 18 inch wheels, leather, and heated seats.  This particular Focus came with 17,000 miles on it.  Media fleet cars are known for getting thrashed, but this car was in great shape.  Some minor scratches around the interior, but otherwise it ran flawlessly.

The interior is quiet and feels solid.  Competitor models have more road noise and ride like a Humvee rolling over IED’s, but those same models can be had for substantially less money.  We just rated a list of cars for a friend and had to drop the Focus from the list because the other vehicles cost thousands less.  The road noise was noticeable, but it didn’t restrict conversation.
The backseat’s legroom is listed at 33.2 inches and as long as you’re not an adult it won’t matter.  We had two child seats in the back; one forward facing and one rear facing.  The rear facing one takes up more room and we were still able to position the driver’s seat comfortably.  Both kids had plenty of room and loved the Focus.
The backseat has molded plastic pockets on the door and two snack/candy traps lower next to the seat.  Places in other brands where the orange fish and gummy candy ruins carpet; Ford has installed easy to clean plastic.  Making it easier to vacuum out and wipe down; putting that seed of doubt in your single friends’ minds that you might have been lying about having kids the whole time.
Check out the cracker traps!
One of the features we really enjoyed was the cruise control.  We love this option when it displays the exact speed when set.  It’s convenient to be able to adjust the speed by one mph with just the touch of a button.  The controls themselves were easy to use, but we wished the car would remember if we had turned the cruise on the last time we were in. 
The ergonomics of the upper steering wheel controls weren’t quite bothersome, but didn’t stand out in a good way.  We’re used to a more flat plane for the controls on the wheel and the ones in the Focus are curved.  The shape of the wheel causes the top half of the controls to be farther away than the bottom half.  Again, not changing the overall experience of the car, but something that stood out like that gnat at Grandma’s annual Awkward Conversations with All the Relatives We Don’t Really Talk To Picnic.  We love our grandmas and that’s why we go; period. 
The Titanium came with MyFordTouch.  Being able to browse our iPod is a feature that we all enjoy.  It’s one thing to use the voice commands to request a band, but sometimes we can’t remember all of the individual artists contained in 8GB of content.  Between the voice recognition and the touch screen, pretending to be Ensign Wesley Crusher is simple and fun.  “Computer, play something fast!”  When the touch screen would respond sluggishly, it was even easier to imagine Capt. Picard screaming at us.  No matter how we changed the sensitivity of the touch screen, we couldn’t get it right.

That's not an alien spacechip; it's a Ford!

While the Focus has loads of technology on the inside, there is no back up camera.  It’s not a very big car, but we kind of expected it to have a backup cam; if for no other reason than for Ford to be able to charge accordingly.
The LED dome lights will outlast all of the other components in the car.  The interior lighting is so brilliantly white that the 3.5 year old kept asking us to turn it off.  Without going through the manual, we’re still not sure how to set the dome lights to not turn on when the car doors open. 
The cargo volume is very impressive for the Focus’ class.  Measuring in at 23.8 cubic feet, the Focus has the most readily accessible cargo volume.  The Hyundai Accent was the closest competitor at 21.2 cubic feet.  The back hatch is easy to open, but you have to use the specific hatch handles to close it, otherwise the ergonomics get all wibbly-wobbly.

The Kinetic design of the exterior is much better to look at than past models.  The front end is especially great.  The lines of the front end are aggressive and sinister.  With the five spoke sport wheels, the Focus rivals the rest of its class.  It doesn’t have the gapping smile of the Mazda3 or the awkwardness of the Elantra. 
Most Fords come without a fuel cap now!
The gas door blends in perfectly along the side.  The door is not a sugar cookie shape of other models.  It’s a parallelogram that matches the rest of the lines perfectly.  In fact it took most of us a substantial amount of time to find it. 
We’re not fans of the Titanium wheels.  There are approximately 93 spokes and we prefer the more aggressive five spoke wheels. 
While we had the Focus, a number of admirers came up while we were at the park & running errands.  This is the 1st car we’ve had in a while where people wanted to know what it is and who makes it.  Hands down the front grill is the best part; too bad we can’t see it while driving.
When it comes to the final judgment of the exterior, we’ll let you decide.  If you don’t like it better than the old models, we’re not talking to you anymore…
Everything is covered in plastic! Half the battery is hidden and hard to reach for jump starts!
The performance of the Focus is acceptable, but the thought of taking the Focus around a track is anxiety inducing.  The 2.0L four cylinder engine turns out 160 horsepower.  If you really want to feel the Focus pull you around with the front wheel drive, you have to keep the revs up around 4,500 rpms.  The 6 speed automated manual means you can put the Focus in S mode on the gearshift and control the gear changes with a + or – button.  We found ourselves putting the car in S mode, but then still letting the car decide on the appropriate time for gear changes.  S mode means the transmission holds the gears longer and wraps the revs higher.  Once you reach cruising speed you need to pull the gearshift back to D, otherwise the higher revs will worm their way into your psyche and you’ll find yourself in a Costco buying a product in a quantity that makes 3rd world countries blush.
The back end isn't as aggressive, but it stills looks great!
The sticker for the Focus lists the miles per gallon at 27 city and 37 highway.  The average for our time with it was 30.8mpg. This number is just under Ford’s published 31 mpg combined.  On our highway specific trip the mpg meter was reading 38.7.  Given a longer trip on the interstate we feel like we could have edged that closer to 40, but Ford wants us to let you know this number is a non-typical result, that only us car immortals will be able to achieve (We achieved 27mpg in an Ecoboost F-150, again non-typical blah, blah, blah). 
We noticed that the 2.0L engine sounded vaguely diesel-esque on the winter nights.  This might be due to the low idle/gas saving measures taken by Ford to cut back on emissions and raise mpgs.  Even when the engine is warm, the sound is not sporty.  If you’re looking for a better sound out of the Focus, we suggest the Focus ST which isn’t due out till later this year (We’re already plotting to get to the head of the media fleet line for that car!). 
The steering was light and nimble.  The forgiving nature of Truck/SUV steering that we are accustom to means that the Electric Power Assist rack and pinion Steering felt twitchy to us.  Driving with your knee is always frowned upon, but in the Focus it could quickly lead to a situation involving light bars.

Being that most of us who drove the Focus are well over six feet tall and had to have child safety seats behind us; we were not looking forward to this test.  After the Fiat 500 from earlier this year, we expected the Focus to be a slightly larger less fun version.  Turns out we were wrong.  Each of us was sad to see the Focus go.  The power couldn’t run the LHC at CERN, but it adequately moves the Focus swiftly through traffic.  The Focus was roomy, felt solid, and was short enough for the 3.5 year old to climb right in.  The fuel efficiency does not lead the class, but will save you money.  If you buy the Focus Electric, then you will save enough money to buy your own island off the coast of Somalia.  We hear it’s lovely there, ARRRRRRR! 

Think about it.

Thank you.

If you are starting a car search and want help narrowing it down, send Chris an email at everymansauto@gmail.com.

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