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 Shomare on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quick, fun to drive"
Cons: "Huge turning radius"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you are looking for a dependable hot hatch, this is it. Approaching three years of ownership and the ST has never needed service beyond a couple of TSBs that were done to address a bang that occurred when shifting between first and second gear. TSB addressed the issue. Fun to drive daily and comfortable on long trips. Great power and handling. Only down side is a HUGE turning radius, so if you have to maneuver in tight parking lots, do be aware it's the one downside of ownership."
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By pbguy on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun and comfy to drive; great price; simple"
Cons: "poor sync feats; poor turning radius; poor resale"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought brand new and have been loving it since. Of course I have not had any mechanical issues with it because it is still only a year old, so I yet have to see how it treats me when it's time to take it to the doctor for repairs. However I am enjoying its smooth ride and gas-friendliness. All my passengers think it's quite roomy, comfortable and nice on the inside as well as cool looking on the outside. The one thing that does not let me rate this car a 10 is its Sync system and its poor turning radius compared. I find Sync poor and whacky to use and wish I was able to update its system/software somehow."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By ford_owner on Friday, January 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very good build quality and very good handling."
Cons: "Not great for long trips with people in back seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very good build quality and very good handling. 2 L engine gives good acceleration in traffic. It looks good too. For longer road trips with more than 2 people, the car is probably too small."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Joe on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,600overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good size, great fuel mileage, good looks/design"
Cons: "Automatic transmission- would be perfect w/manual"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Overall the Focus is a great little car, I just wish I bought the manual transmission. I ended up buying an automatic because that's the only thing the dealers in my area had in stock, and I couldn't get any discounts/incentives if I special ordered one. After driving it for a couple years I really regret that - I should have held out for a manual transmission as the automatic is the only major negative. Like most everyone else, my Focus SE with the automatic also suffers from shudders and quirky/noisy shifting particularly at low speeds. However during more "spirited" acceleration it cleans up a lot and the shifting is much crisper. But still, the automatic's shifting pattern is clearly tuned for fuel mileage and it keeps the RPM's pretty low all the time. The push-button sequential shifting feature is also completely useless - it is awkward to use, and there is a long delay (1 second or more) between pushing the button and the actual shift. That being said, although the transmission is annoying, it has been reliable for me. Haven't had any mechanical issues since buying it new (~2.5 years, 30k miles, averaging 35.5 mpg)."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tom on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, really a poor man's Porsche"
Cons: "not a great all weather car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'm about 155 lbs and 5'9", but any bigger and it would be a tough fit. I enjoy the ST version. Plenty of power, fun to drive and reasonable gas mileage. I can haul my three kids easily. The manual transmission is forgiving and lots of fun. The only complaints are that the performance tires are not really all-weather tires so beware when it rains or snows (even a little). Also, the rear seat belt connector is not working. Small issues, really. I've owned a BMW, and a Miata, in my day and this is a nice, comfortable and practical alternative. This would be a fun car if they had a convertible version! I do agree with another writer, though, the console cup holders are inconveniently placed and a center interior light would be helpful."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By John on Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, fun to drive, and great on fuel"
Cons: "Cramped back seat, short-lived OEM tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the 2012 Focus S sedan, with the 5-speed manual, in very early 2012 and have owned it for almost 3 years now. It was the first new car I've ever bought, and I do not regret waiting for this car for a minute. I love everything about this car, and it's a blast to drive. I do have the lowest trim level, and I prefer that actually: it has all the bells and whistles I care to have in a car. The seats are comfortable, though the back seat has tight legroom, which is a problem for taller people on longer drives. The trunk is plenty big, and I've managed to pack way more into the car using the back seat and passenger seat than I ever would have imagined possible. I really love the exterior styling, and the interior is nice as well. Having the manual transmission for this car is the way to go. It's got plenty of giddy-up when needed, and can be pretty smoothly driven otherwise. Handling is really good, as I've hugged a lot of tight mountain turns in it at decent speeds. It's smooth in highway driving, and it's also surprisingly good in the snow, though super deep stuff is tricky, as it is for almost anything that isn't 4WD/AWD and higher off the ground. I exceed all of the mileage ratings by a solid margin. I routinely see 40-41 MPG in highway driving, 32-34 in mixed, and 28-30 in heavy city driving. I have noticed the car runs a little smoother on ethanol-free fuel, so I buy that when I can find it, and use higher-quality E10 gas otherwise (I avoid the super discount chains). Basically, in highway driving 500 miles on a tank is feasible, though I tend to fuel back up after 450 in highway-only, and around 350 in mixed to avoid running it too low. The only knock I have on this car was the OEM tires. The Continental tires that came on it were horrible on treadlife. Rated for 60k, but they were pretty well worn down by 30k. I replaced them at 43k after stretching them. And no, the car was not out of alignment...the tires were just that bad, and I've seen that mentioned by many owners of this car. In summary, I've always preferred the smaller vehicles anyway, be it compact trucks and SUVs or cars, and the Focus has been my favorite so far. I've had experience with Acura, Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, and Subaru, and the Focus has surprisingly been the best of that bunch in my experience. It's a real pleasure to drive, and economical on gas to boot."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful