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 ShellBell on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun car, kinda sporty, good materials, decent mpg"
Cons: "Awful transmission in low gears, no backseat room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Due to this being the first car I've bought that wasn't a 10+ year old beater car, perhaps I wasn't as thorough before purchasing as I needed to be. I wasn't originally looking at this car but ended up buying it because it handled much nicer than a car like the Chevy Cruze and felt like it was higher quality than the Hyndai Elantra, and the price was right around where I was hoping to get to while feeling like I was getting a good deal. I purchased this used & certified with about 8500k miles on it and have driven about 2500 miles since then. I'm going to go pretty in depth with all my praises and complaints. Everyone has different things that are important to them so it's only fair to address everything. Overall, I do like my car. It looks really nice and is practical for me. I drive about 50 miles a day for work and my boyfriend lives 150 miles away, so improving my gas mileage from my last car was a must. Since I bought the car I've been averaging about 30 mpg which isn't as much as I was hoping for, but that does include a lot of rush hour, stop-and-go traffic. On a straight shot roadtrip at an average of 75 mph I'm up around 34-35 mpg. The interior quality is mostly wonderful. My car came equipped with leather seats and the "appearance package" which has some fun extra features like ambient lighting (which I play with far too often). There are controls on the steering wheel to make changing radio stations and answering phone calls on Bluetooth very easy. The only piece of the interior materials that really aren't top-notch are the radio/speakers (not sure which piece affects the sound more). It sounds good when having the music at a lower volumes, but when I'm alone and want to blast my music it gets very fuzzy - makes it kinda sound like my speakers are blown out. But lower volumes work fine. I also love the storage areas. There's a sunglasses storage compartment in the ceiling (this may be part of the appearance package, I'm not sure), the glove compartment is very deep, and I love the center console. Inside the console is a USB and AUX port for playing music through the radio. At first I thought it was weird to be inside like that, but I actually love it because I can leave the cords plugged in and not have the car look messy at all. I've never had or wanted a hatchback before but it is very convenient. Putting in and taking out boxes, groceries, and suitcases is all so much easier than in a traditional trunk. There are also two 12V plug-ins...this is wonderful! There is one in the front next to the gear shift, and one behind the center console/in front of the middle backseat. Very handy when two people need to charge a phone or when I want an extra thing plugged in like my iPod or GPS. It drives wonderfully - at higher speeds. When I'm driving making the Tacoma to Portland drive at night with little traffic, I absolutely LOVE driving this car. I haven't taken it over 95mph (and I really only took it to that briefly just to test), but it handled that very smoothly, as if I was going much slower. Also, the handling is fantastic - I was originally looking at the Cruze and the Elantra and I hated the way the Cruze handled. The Elantra and the Focus handled very similar. It just feels very sharp and in control in comparison to my old cars and other cars I test drove. But as much as I love my car and no, I do not regret my purchase...I do have three complaints. 1. This one is all over these reviews - because I wasn't looking at the Focus originally, I did very little research and didn't know how bad the transmission was in the automatic. I took this car on a long test drive, but it was at night so aside from when we left the parking lot, I wasn't in low speeds very much...so I had no idea until the next day how jerky this car was. There are times that it shifts quite smoothly, but there are also a lot of times that it feels like something in the engine just went out, because you're just jerking around and putt-putting forward. This is rare, but there have also been times that barely pressing the accelerator lurches me forward, so I leave extra room now when I'm at a stop because rear-ending someone is not part of my plan for the day. My last car was a 2000 Chevy Cavalier and I miss the way that one accelerated...if that says anything ;) Side note - there is a semi-manual option in my automatic (manually choose when to shift gears but no clutch - again, I don't know if this is in all models or if it's because mine had extra options added to it) that I was hoping may help it get from 1st to 2nd to 3rd nicer but I haven't had much luck with that. I don't really understand it and have only attempted it a couple of times but it doesn't seem to make a difference. 2. Leg room in the backseat. Since I was the one driving the car and the salesman sat in the passenger seat, I didn't even realize how pathetically little legroom there is in the back. I used to own a '95 Mercury Tracer and I thought that was bad - this is worse. I am 5'10 and hope I never have to haul anyone larger than an 8-year old in the seat behind me, otherwise I'll be moving my seat up uncomfortable close to the steering wheel. I've driven my coworkers a couple times after buying the car and whoever is in the backseat MUST have the front passenger seat moved forward for them to fit at all (and my coworkers - one is about 5'10, 170lbs, the other is about 5'5, 120 lbs). 3. The middle seat back headrest. This one is just weird to me. For some reason my car didn't have any of the backseat headrests in it when I bought it so the dealership tracked some down and had me come back to get them put in a couple days later...so I had no idea how weird the middle headrest was until then. It kind of folds over the seat so that it is in the middle of your shoulders (VERY uncomfortable) when you sit there so it must be raised each time someone sits. I would just leave it raised so that it wouldn't be a hassle if someone ever used the seat, but it affects the amount of view I have out of the rear window too much. Overall, I would say this is a great car for a young commuter. Because of the transmission quirks, I would only recommend this to someone who drives at higher speeds the majority of the time. If I hold on to this while I start raising a family, I think it would work while the kids are very young although I'm not sure how easily a carseat would fit. It is a good economy car and I think it suits me and my needs for now but I may not hold on to this as long as I had originally planned."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By RW on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, fuel efficient, feature packed"
Cons: "a little tight if you are 6'4" 240"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"To be fair I do not have much experience with driving sports cars, but I have driven many economy type cars over the years. Sub-compacts, compacts, mid-sized cars. All the typical rental fleet. The Focus out classes all of them in comfort, styling, and that intangible "fun-to-drive" feeling. I get up to 40mpgs on the highway and about 28 zipping around town. This car gets up and goes to. 160hp might not sound like much but for a tiny little car I feel like I am driving a sport coupe. The only cons is that it is a little tight for a large guy like myself and it is a little more expensive than some of its closest competitors."
By Rich on Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "quick, great transmission, flat handling"
Cons: "loud road noise, would like more torque"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought this car as a commuter primarily but also to carry my family of 5 occasionally. Sport model for a nicer interior and rear disc brakes to go along with the 5spd manual for occasional autocross races. Very nice fit/finish but road noise is high and interferes with the bluetooth speakerphone. Driving dynamics are very good with a couple of exceptions - engine has very little torque at low rpm and seems to have a heavy flywheel which makes gearchanges a little weird. On the plus side high end horsepower is good and the transmission is great. In all an enjoyable car with good (34mpg) mileage that can be flexible when you need it to be."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Kiney on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, luxury as well as utility."
Cons: "Difficult for older person to enter and exit."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"One of the best vehicles I've owned, first-time Ford, loved all the added features. Great Navigation and high tech. Only problem was for me, the car was difficult to enter/exit; it would be most suited to a younger more able individual."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By mattc on Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price for a sporty well built car"
Cons: "no satellite radio on my model, and manual seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"the car is great, I just bought it new with the ruby red color upgrade, I love it. only downside is that it has manual adjusting seats and no satellite radio."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Schnellerkerl on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice car - Could have been world-class."
Cons: "Double-clutch tranny."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The automatic transmission in this car is an abomination and constantly have to be re-flashed. 3x in one year. And FORD has no recall. Shakes, shutters, hesitates, parking lot speeds truly befuddle the shifting patterns. And speed bumps - well they lend something else to the bad transmission. I've had cars with Double clutch and adaptive transmissions - And they don't shift like this. FORD folks say it drives like a manual - NOT! I would never had bought the car w'an Auto had I know this was an epic , continuing issue."
11 people out of 16 found this review helpful