By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
The 2012 Ford Focus gets a clean-sheet recasting that brings a new look, enhanced quality, more features, and upgraded options in a slightly larger but far more dynamic package. Based on Ford's global C-platform, this compact front-driver features an international design pedigree and introduces numerous class-exclusive technologies, including a host of premium-level creature comforts. Available as a 4-door sedan and a new 5-door hatchback, the 2012 Focus is also offered as a pure battery-electric vehicle with a 76-mile range and an impressive 110 miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) city rating. While the new Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic are its key rivals, formidable challenges will also come from the Mazda3, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla as well as newly redesigned and very impressive Hyundai Elantra and its Kia Forte cousin.
Buyers seeking a compact vehicle with class-leading character and technology – from MyFord Touch infotainment and Active Park Assist to corner-taming torque-vectoring control and a PowerShift dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission – will find plenty to admire in the 2012 Ford Focus line.
Some more conservative buyers may deem its new looks a bit too radical, but the biggest hurdle the 2012 Focus could face is one of cost. Those willing to forgo a few of the latest tech touches for a lower price point are apt to see better perceived value in alternatives like the new Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte.
A comprehensive makeover raises an already popular player in its segment to a position of prominence and possible dominance thanks to the addition of a new hatchback body style, greatly-expanded/upgraded feature set and a range-topping Titanium trim level. And while the 2012 Ford Focus Electric marks the Blue Oval's first crack at a mainstream electric car, they succeeded in producing a relatively affordable gas-free vehicle that drives, feels and looks like a conventional car.
Driving Impressions Built around a stiffer, stronger unit body structure underpinned by a comprehensively retuned and Euro-flavored suspension that brings better damping and roll control plus quick, well-weighted electrically assisted power steering...the 2012 Ford Focus feels comfortable, confident and impressively responsive to driver inputs under virtually all conditions. Although stepping up in trim level and the accompanying wheel/tire enhancements does impact ride compliance – particularly with the 18-inch rims and 40-series tires available on Titanium models – Ford has done an excellent job of bringing out the best in this component set regardless of configuration. When the going gets twisty, the new Focus bolsters its standard AdvanceTrak stability control with a new torque vectoring control system that acts like a limited-slip differential and helps the car accelerate out of corners more adroitly. Despite a soft-ish pedal, the well-modulated anti-lock brakes (disc/drum in S/SE, disc/disc in SLE/Titanium) deliver solid, drama-free stops.
Optional on Focus SEL models and standard on Titanium trim levels, Ford's top-line infotainment/telematics package is based on an even more advanced and expansive application of the automaker's acclaimed SYNC voice-command system and includes a premium 10-speaker Sony sound system, with HD Radio, media hub, in-car Wi-Fi access and more.
SUPER FUEL ECONOMY (SFE) PACKAGE
Available on autoshifted SE models, the SFE Package includes auto-articulated, aero-optimizing grille shutters – an unseen mileage-enhancing element also found on most other Focus models fitted with the PowerShift transmission – as well as low-rolling resistance tires, wind-cheating wheel covers and a tasteful rear spoiler that collectively bring the car's projected EPA highway figure up to 40 mpg.
Slightly roomier but with a far more upscale look and feel than its predecessor, the 2012 Focus cabin sets off a decidedly premium flavor with loads of soft-touch surfaces and an abundance of effectively integrated sound-attenuation materials. Legible instrumentation and well positioned controls in all versions are complemented by an 8.0-inch full-color touch screen that replaces the normal multifunction display on SEL/Titanium models fitted with the primo MyFord Touch infotainment/navigation system. The rear seat is scaled for 2 mid-sized adults but decently padded for three kids. Folding the standard/optional 60/40 rear seatbacks to a semi-flat position adds utility to the Sedan's 13.2 cubic feet conventional trunk and raises capacity of the Hatchback's rear bay from 23.8 to 44.8 cubic feet.Exterior
Both the Focus Sedan and Hatchback display the latest evolution of Ford's "kinetic design" language that is both more aggressive and more aerodynamic. While their overall footprints remains similar to the 2011 Sedan, a slightly lower roofline, longer wheelbase and substantially wider front/rear track dimensions give the 2012 Focus lineup a more planted appearance. Effectively accenting the new look are stylized headlight/taillight treatments, with the Focus EV sharing most styling cues with its gasoline-dependent counterpart, apart from the charge port prominently mounted on the driver's side front fender. Wheel selections range from 15-inch steel wheels on the Focus S Sedan to 17-inch aluminum rims on Titanium and Electric variants – and the availability of an 18-inch upgrade that also brings 235/40 performance tires and a sport-tuned suspension.
Even the base Focus S Sedan gets an impressive complement of power assists, air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless remote entry, 4-speaker radio, AdvanceTrac stability control, front disc/rear drum brakes and six airbags. Key SE-level gains include power rear windows, a trip computer, programmable MyKey, foglamps and 16-inch wheel/tires while the SEL adds the 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, dual-zone climate control, SYNC, upgraded audio, cruise control, LED ambient lighting, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, 4-wheel disc brakes and 16-inch alloy wheels. The range-topping Titanium also nets push-button starting, MyFord Touch with 10-speaker Sony HD sound system, Sirius Satellite Radio (with six months free), sport seats, sport suspension, 17-inch wheel/tire package and more.
The new Focus offers a wide selection of upgrades linked to the model hierarchy. At S level, the 6-speed dual-clutch autoshifter and remote starting dominate an intentionally modest list, but the SE Sedan offers that plus a power moonroof, voice-activated navigation, Super Fuel Economy/Interior/Winter/Sport Packages – all but the SFE also available on SE hatches – a MyFord Driver Connect technology/SYNC Package, leather upholstery and more. Extras for the SEL and Titanium versions include leather as well as voice-activated navigation and the Technology Package (Active Park Assist, front/rear sensors, rearview camera), plus the premium MyFord Touch telematics/infotainment system – a Titanium standard. Going Titanium also permits a dedicated sport suspension with 18-inch wheels with performance tires. To help simplify the ordering process, leather seating is the sole option on the Focus Electric's menu.
All 2012 Focus models are fitted with a new, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter in-line four that features gasoline direct fuel-injection and Ford's twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). This smooth free-revver makes 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque – 20 more horsepower and 10 additional torque than its 2011 predecessor – and can be paired with a 5-speed manual or a new 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. On SE with Sport Package/SEL/Titanium models, the automated-manual cog changer adds SelectShift capability via a rocker switch on the shift lever. Formal EPA figures are pending, but Ford anticipates about 10 percent better overall fuel economy and autoshifted SE Sedans fitted with the mileage-maxing SFE Package are projected to net 40 mpg on the highway. Motivating the Focus Electric is a 143-horsepower permanent magnet motor powered by a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which returns a remarkable 105 mpg equivalency combined rating from the EPA.
160 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 4,450 rpm
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 26/36 mpg (manual), 28/38 mpg (automatic), 27/37 mpg (SelectShift automatic), 28/40 (SFE trim, automatic)
Synchronous electric motor/generator
24kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack
184 lb-ft of torque
Projected per-charge range: 76 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 110/99 MPGe
By Elizabeth on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage, comfy to drive"
Cons: "not reliable, in and out of the shop"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car used two years ago as a lease return at 20,000 miles. It had a great price and a warranty and I was thrilled. I had some minor electrical issues with interior lights almost immediately, but these were covered under the warranty. The transmission shudders, as do all new focus transmissions. The dealership reset the transmission and it seemed a little better, but still not great. In the sport setting, the shudder is worse and it shifts erratically. At about 54,000 miles, the Ford dealership told me I had a rear main seal leak. As I understand it, that's not normal in a two year old car. They fixed the problem, again under warranty. At just under 60,000 miles, almost the end of my powertrain warranty, the dealership said I had another oil leak. They took my car apart to find it was a transmission fluid leak and that had to replace my dead clutch and do an "overhaul" of the transmission. Again, it was covered. That same week, my coworker with a 2012 focus also needed a new clutch and transmission repair. Her car has 40,000 miles. My warranty is now done, and I've had the engine and gearbox out twice in six months. I bought a nearly new car hoping for reliability, but that hasn't been the case..."
By nonvolatile on Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 188overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great gas milage"
Cons: "Half second hesitation on fast acceleration"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I'm a single guy so backseats with little room doesn't bother me. From the drivers seat my experience is that this is a fun car to drive. It doesn't have a bad transmission, it has a unique transmission. If you go to gun it it WILL have a half second delay, so you have to "call" your two lane highway passes. It has stiff (wanna-be) sporty shocks so some people don't like that. Some people don't like that the transmission isn't like every other car on the road. I love it! It's a good car, I have reliability a 7 because I've heard that the transmission fails very fast, and that's the only thing that worries me. Also the reason for the 8 on quality. It's not like driving a cloud because of the "sporty" shocks. Other than that I don't regret my purchase."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mark on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,400overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great and comfortable, great fuel mileage"
Cons: "bad transmission,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Car looks great, best I can say about it. Transmission is horrible and most likely will eventually put you in the dealership for a few days for repairs. Started seeing small issues with the way it shifted when giving car the gas and told one dealership. They said it was the design of them. 2 years and 23,000 miles later car at another dealership who knows the cars have issues and was willing to work on it. Great car if you like having tranny issues worked on. Was going to buy another Ford, but now going Honda, Toyota, something like that."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By william on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT gas mileage. Lot`s of gadgets. Super radio."
Cons: "Rides a little rough, due to larger wheels."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I`ve owned my Ford Focus Titanium hatchback for a year and a half now and I really love it. It has a sharp sporty look and it`s the first car I`ve owned, which several strangers have approached me and asked me how I liked it and told me how impressive it looks. The car started and performed well during our last seige of below zero weather, here in Michigan and it is very comfortable and elaborately outfitted in the cabin and really fun to drive and very easy to park."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By work car on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great mpg -"
Cons: "Tire wear - Transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I drive this 2012 Focus almost 500 miles a day - Mostly interstate - Small amount of stop & go in town traffic - I average over 35 mpg. at 70-75 mph. Rain and wind does reduce average mpg though - Only real problem is the transmission in stop & go traffic - constant engage and dis-engaging in traffic - Also stays dis-engaged if you are too quick moving from brake to accelerator. Other than getting use to the way the transmission works, this has been a great little car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By DM on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage is good, constant 30mpg"
Cons: "Dependability may be a problem if i keep this car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Many auto trans problems. Dual clutch assembly replaced at 17,000 miles. It is now shuttering bad again at 31,500 miles. Carpet mat hold downs pulling out of carpet. Dealer says not covered??"
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful