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
Even more than it did with the launch of its subcompact Fiesta, Ford intends to aggressively position the 2012 Focus as a premium offering within today's compact ranks based on its impressive roster of advanced design elements and available upgrades. Although the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the new Focus S and high-volume SE Sedan models remains at virtual 2011 levels – under $17,000 and $18,000 respectively – the SEL Sedan starts near $21,000 while the Titanium 4-door and hatch variants open in a loftier $23,000-$23,500 window and can be optioned to near $27,000 – a figure that will definitely put Ford's pricing/packaging philosophy to the ultimate real-world test. The 2012 Focus Electric carries a rather lofty sticker price of just under $40,000, but qualifies for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. While kbb.com has yet to rate projected resale percentages on the 2012 Focus, this new and comprehensively improved package is almost certain to close the residual value gap with the Honda Civic and Mazda Mazda3, which currently lead this extremely price-sensitive segment in that critical arena.
By guido (OR) on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fit/finish of interior. Sporty looks."
Cons: "None as of yet.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Interior fit/finish is excellent. In the first 5 K miles I did have my Dual clutch transmission /computer re-flashed due to some shifting issues. Those were solved. Car is fun to drive with the DCT transmission. I am averaging 32.4 MPG. Sync/my touch work fine, no issues. Sporty fun little car."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By DriverDriver (NC) on Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"0 out of 10 is how I rate this car. It accelerates poorly and erratically...makes loud grinding and rattling noises. At first I was only having these issues during certain driving maneuvers(making left turns or going over railroad tracks or speed bumps) now they occur at all times. The dealership recommended that the clutch be replaced but Ford Motor Company will not pay for the fix. I do not feel safe driving this car. The resale value is so low I can even trade it in without paying thousands of dollars."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tim (NJ) on Monday, November 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great fuel economy, good cargo space"
Cons: "cramped back seat, Microsoft Sync is finicky"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I got the Ford Focus SE Hatchback last January and have loved every minute of driving it. The car is small but there's enough room in the front seats to be comfortable. The back seat is less than ideal but that's to be expected. The car has an impressive amount of cargo space and once after putting the seat down I was able to fit 2 15' poles in it once. The car has great pickup which is great for highway driving. The integrated blind spot mirrors are a great feature because frankly the back window doesn't have the best viability. I average around 32 MPG with my driving split about half city and half highway. The one downside to the car is the Ford Sync system. It will either work perfectly on the first try or fight me for 10 minutes while I try to get it to play a song. I once had to reset the system manually by pulling a fuse which was very difficult to reach. Voice commands are hit or miss as well. Sound quality is great from speakers and even phone calls can be heard clearly while driving. Overall a great car."
By Ruben (TX) on Saturday, November 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power handling looks"
Cons: "lots of plastic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the 2014 Ford Focus ST. This car handles great and has the power to pass on the highway. Handling is awesome, takes corners with ease. When merging onto traffic on the highway, all you have to do is down shift and it takes off really fast. The only reason I don't give it a 10 in reliability is because the rear hatch plastic feels cheap."
By Denny (NC) on Friday, November 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good fuel mileage."
Cons: "Stutters on acceleration and grinding sound"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car has had many issues in the 8 months that I have owned it. The constant problem is the little stutter it does when you accelerate forward. To accompany that is the grinding in the transmission area. It feels and sounds like the transmission is going out but the Ford service department keeps telling me it is normal. Whatever! I don't know how they can keep telling themselves that lie. Who would design and build a vehicle that acts like its going to break every time you move forward. It gets decent Fuel mileage, which is the only thing I like about the vehicle."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Colt (TN) on Thursday, November 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price, High MPG's, Fun driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is an absolute amazing car. The only reason everything is not a 10/10 is the size. Yes I know it is a sub-compact, but that's my only thing. It is amazing to drive especially if you have Shift-tronic in it. Sync is the most amazing thing for a car. I recommend this car to anyone. I live in the foothills of the mountains in Tennessee, and even though its pretty hilly, i still get about 42 mpg Highway around here. it has technology AND good gas mileage."