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 outof on Monday, November 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "flat dry surface handling"
Cons: "no storage,control & cupholder placement"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"So that I can turn back the clock and not buy this car. Poor placement of controls behind steering wheel so they're not visible without doing contortions requiring taking your eyes off the road. Console designed so that you have to reach over them to use the climate controls, shift, or set the ebrake. No storage, folding the back seats down flat takes 10 minutes. The hard cover for the cargo area is stored in my barn, it just gets in the way, should be a retractable. Traction control causes car to hesitate when accelerating from a stop, feels like it stalls, on the slightest wet road so I have to disable it whenever it rains or snows. Kind of defeats the purpose. On the plus side on flat dry roads the car handles well. Unfortunately this is Oregon, neither of those are in abundance here. I'll trade this as soon as the $6K loss, paid $22k six weeks ago - KBB now $16k, is covered."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By marky mark on Friday, November 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "stylish fun to drive fuel efficient"
Cons: "transmission awful"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Fun and stylish car if you can look past transmission. It's horrible to say the least. Feels like car wants to stall when you move from stoplights."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By No more Ford on Friday, November 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Tight handling, good 4 cyl power, great gas miles"
Cons: "Transmission noises, jerky under 20 mph"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car would have been a 9 out of 10 for the money but the transmission ruins the car for local driving. The automatic transmission is actually a semi automatic transmission so it sometimes shifts unsmoothly but only if you going under 20 mph. I have had this car for 1 year and 3 months and bought it brand new. The transmission makes rattle noises from the day I got it which Ford says is normal. I learned to accept that. The jerky shifting happens once in a while which is the most annoying. Once you are past 20 mph though it shifts really smooth. On the highway it's a fun car smooth ride. As annoying as the transmission feels part of me thinks it won't break. That is just the design they did to make it more gas efficient it seems. It handles really well and has nice power for a 4 cylinder. I give it a 10 for that. If I bought it used it wouldn't annoy me but a new car that makes noise and shifts awkward made me feel ripped off. I tell everyone I know to NEVER buy a Ford. If they are irresponsible on making a quiet smooth shifting transmission then there is plenty more they probably are screwing up on. Only buy this if you get a really good deal and am OK with the transmission sometimes shifting jerky under 20 mph speeds. If you do a lot of highway driving it won't annoy you as much. Note all my ratings would have been 9 or 10 but the transmission made me rate them lower."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Siba on Thursday, November 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great mileage close to 37 on highways."
Cons: "less power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought Focus titanium car last year for my wife and both my wife and I absolutely love this car. The only thing I miss while drive this car is the power which is to be expected from any car of this segment. It really saves a tons of money on gas. I used to fill 13 gallon earlier at once and now I fill only 10 gallon every week for travelling the same distance. This is a big difference. Absolutely love the sound system with woofer and the navigation with voice control with a big screen. The inside of the car gives a rich n luxurious feel."
By Pocket Aces on Monday, November 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "SYNC, fold-able rear seat, sleek design"
Cons: "Lack of power to quickly accelerate"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"While purchasing any car early in its production i.e. 2012 model purchased 4/2011 is inadvisable, this vehicle has had no surprises and fits my needs after 3+ years. New tires are affordable and the only part I have needed to replace thus far. Soon will need replacement break-pads but otherwise functions with original equipment. SYNC and other conveniences give the feel that this vehicle was made by average working Americans for average working Americans. Currently appreciating the 35+ mpg and ease of maintenance. Although the amount of horse power leaves something to be desired in certain traffic conditions, the inclusion of hill assist in the gear shift and resulting fuel economy are a fair trade-off. As a custom seeking techie, this car makes me feel at home on the road and offers all of the convenience I would innately include in a vehicle of my own personal design."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By surfdog on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive great mileage"
Cons: "not alot of storage room rear seats dont fold flat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I had to downsize from full size truck to gas saver as I do alot of commuting daily so this car is fast and lots of torque for a 4 cylinder great gas mileage average is 30 + MPG great looking and ruby red color is eyecatching."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful