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Fully redone for 2012, the Ford Focus is largely unchanged for the 2013 model year except for the availability of a 5-speed manual transmission on the top-line Titanium trim level, the departure of the semi-premium SEL version in favor of a more comprehensively-appointed SE and the arrival of the hot, new Focus ST (reviewed separately).
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.
New standard equipment for 2010 includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, remote keyless entry, power door locks, MyKey configurable key and a driver's message center. SE, SES and SEL models receive a perimeter alarm, while a new SE Sedan Appearance Package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, decklid spoiler and fog lamps. Also new this year is the available SYNC communications system with Traffic, Directions and Information, which can provide traffic updates as well as turn-by-turn directions.
An SEL trim is added to the sedan lineup, touting leather seating, the SYNC audio system and chrome door handles. The SES trims receive a refreshed front grille, a roof-mounted rear spoiler (Coupe) and optional 17-inch wheels (Sedan). AdvanceTrac stability control is now available on all models.
Comprehensive restyling and retuning give the Focus a more contemporary flair and even better handling. The hatchbacks and wagon are discontinued, but the sedan is joined by a new coupe. All now feature air conditioning, tilt steering column and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, plus SYNC (standard on SES) that adds in-car connectivity for cell phones and personal media players.
When Ford's compact Focus replaced the venerable Escort for the 2000 model year, it was America's state-of-the-art small car. Its distinctive looks, roomy packaging, lively performance and agile, fun-to-drive handling drew critics' raves and accolades ranging from Motorweek's Best Small Car to North American Car of the Year, the latter voted by a jury of 49 North American journalists. A series of quality glitches and recalls soiled its reputation for a while but were eventually overcome. For 2007, aging but still strong, it still deserves a place on small-car shopping lists.