Did Hyundai Elantra Ad Make Ford Stretch Focus Leg-Room Claim?

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2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

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We're eagerly looking forward to driving the 2012 Ford Focus.

It's won raves in reviews--including the first-drive report on TheCarConnection--and been the subject of downright fawning coverage in Detroit media.

It has many unique features and options for a compact car, from Ford's excellent self-parking system to the MyFord Touch voice-command software.

But one thing it doesn't seem to have is the most front-seat leg room in its class, as the TV commercial below from Hyundai points out.

2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

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2011 Elantra: most front leg room

Using third-party data from AutoPacific, the ad simply says that the 2011 Hyundai Elantra has "more front leg room than any compact car."

Using standard measurements for front and rear leg room defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Hyundai website shows the 2011 Elantra with 43.6 inches of front leg room (33.1 inches in the rear).

But here's where it gets complicated.

Two different measurements

On the Ford media site, a downloadable document from February 4 shows the front-seat legroom for the 2012 Focus at 41.9 inches and the rear at 33.2 inches, both presumably using the SAE standards.

Then the Ford document adds a new measurement--"Front legroom (maximum)"--which it gives at 43.7 inches, or one-tenth of an inch more than the 2011 Elantra. The footnoted explanation says: "Max leg room is measured with driver seat positioned full-rearward on seat track."

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

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Consumers get only one

But that document is meant for the media, not for car buyers. On the 2012 Focus website for consumers, "Leg Room - Front (in.)" is simply given as 43.7, while the rear legroom is still the same 33.2 inches. 

So it appears that Ford is providing consumers with only the new, non-standard "Maximum Leg Room" figure for the front, without labeling it as such or defining it. But rear leg room seems not to be measured with the front seat fully back.

Confused shoppers?

We think this could be confusing to shoppers, since the front leg-room figure isn't directly comparable to the Elantra's--or, for that matter, any other measurement using standard practices.

We asked Ford several times to be put in touch with someone who could define the measurement and help us understand the standards behind the specifications on the 2012 Focus website. Over three days, the company has told us it was unable to connect us with an "Occupant Specialist" who could do that.

Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said she was not sure why the "maximum" term had been on the specs, but that it had now been eliminated. She said leg-room specifications are consistent across Ford's entire vehicle lineup, and that the company calculated legroom "using and following SAE standards."

Frankly, we're more confused after that explanation than we were before. We have renewed our request to speak to a specialist, and we hope that Ford can provide us with more clarity in the future.

Meanwhile, we bet Hyundai is chuckling.


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Comments (15)
  1. Sounds like they should give Green Car Reports one of each vehicle see if there is any noticeable difference.

  2. Classic. First they try to trick everybody into thinking that the Fiesta's most fuel-efficient performer is standard across the board and now they try to have it both ways with leg room. What's next? They start citing the HP of the rally-car edition AND the fuel efficiency of whatever the most fuel-efficient package ends up becoming even though they're different engines? I should stop. I probably just gave their marketing department a new idea.
    Hats off to Hyundai though for taking the more transparent, honest approach and for building cars in America with American workers rather than Mexico *cough* Ford.

  3. Hey Dhelix, you need to get your facts straight. The Ford Focus is built at the Wayne MICHIGAN assembly plant. The last time I looked, Michigan was in the UNITED STATES. Yes, Ford does build cars in Mexico, because Ford has had a Ford of Mexico for many decades. They are a permanent part of the Mexico business culture and have been for decades. Ford also exports thousands of vehicles from its United States plants to Mexico every year..it's called utilizing your assembly capacity efficiently. If you want all of the profits and top salaried jobs to be in Korea, go ahead and continue to buy Hyundai and KIA. If you want to help ensure a job for your children, consider a true AMERICAN company like Ford.Don't let them fool you into thinking they are and American company. THEY ARE NOT! And EVERY worker in those tax payer subsidized plants would have a job in true American plants if we all bought true AMERICAN cars. Think about it!

  4. Gee, Korea must have made all that leg room for their long legged Korean people. This guy Delix Skeezics sounds like one of those American hating liberals that some of our famous universities produce. Those are non engineering universities. Sorry Delix Skeezix, Ford is #1 in an awful lot of J. D. Powers surveys. Maybe you should test drive a Ford before you put the hammer on them. Oh yes, I understand that would be fair and you don't want to be that. Dave is right about Mexico and Wayne Assy. I worked for Ford and bird dogged the engines until Job #1 for the Focus. The Focus was built in Wayne, MI just like Dave said. It is located about 5 miles from me. When I was there, the engines were built by Chihuahhua and Dearborn Engine Plant.

  5. Hey Dave, You need to settle down. But perhaps you have a point about Ford being a "true AMERICAN company" since it has plants in Central America and represents more than one "America". Or perhaps you mean that Ford is a "United Statesian" company. At the very least, your little rant raises some interesting questions about what constitutes a "true AMERICAN company".

  6. I worked for Ford for 35 years and was the pre production control engine analyst for Escort and Focus. Customers should get in each car's front seat and see which one they like. This is a very SILLY criticism and Delix is even sillier. When I was at Ford, the engines were built in Chihuahua and Dearborn. The Focus was built At Wayne Assy as Dave pointed out. Delix, through my career at Ford, we had to put up with criticism after criticism. Some of it was well grounded. However, the American media had two different opinions, one for American and one for foreign cars. The American was bad and the foreign was good. Even the Citroen was better than a Corvette because it was built by the state. Over the past few years, Ford has finally garnered accolades for their cars. J. D. Powers ranks them very high. The anti American industry Consumers Report even gives great kudos. When I saw that, I knew we finally arrived. Delix, take a number of Fords for a test drive. You may be surprised. We can keep the money in America. I am sorry that I do not want to do the same with the Korean car, but I am loyal to the proud blue oval founded by the man who made it possible for the people of the world to finally drive cars they could afford.

  7. Hey Dave, You need to settle down. But perhaps you have a point about Ford being a "true AMERICAN company" since it has plants in Central America and represents more than one "America". Or perhaps you mean that Ford is a "United Statesian" company. At the very least, your little rant raises some interesting questions about what constitutes a "true AMERICAN company".

  8. Interesting second post by Redtom100 but please save your snarky response about the "long legged Korean people". Research actually shows that most people outside of the U.S. are actually getting taller but people in the U.S. are getting shorter--go figure. At any rate, I'm impressed with all that Ford is doing.

  9. GM I have been half way around this world, fought in a war against a bunch of small men who don't look any taller today than they did then. In fact, Koreans fought with us (I was in II Corps) and they are a people of short legs and long bodies. It was Mi Li everyday with those boys. My comment about legs were not meant to be snarky. They were meant to show the outrageous silliness of a minimal amount of room that is used to show one thing wrong with the new Focus. Ford is a world company that is based in the United States. The money flows to the United States unlike the Japanese or Korean companies. I dealt with Japanese, Germans, English, and Mexicans while helping to coordinate the effort launching small engines. The Germans were responsible for the base ll engines. The English were responible for the intake manifold and attaching parts to the base engine. My job was herding cats some of whom still do not like one another. The money and the big buildings are in Dearborn. World Hq. is in Dearborn and all the money from around the world comes back here and not Korea, Japan, Germany etc.

  10. All of these companies are International now and traded the world over and subsequently owned the world over. And so what if I went to a good school? Anti-intellectualism in this country more than anything is probably what's tearing us apart right now. You don't have to be liberal to get a good eduction so why are we stereotyping and politicizing education as though it's a negative thing? Knowledge is power and the sooner we recognize that and encourage all kids, no matter which political background their family is, to continue their education and become leaders the better off we'll be. Back to the topic at hand; I just find all these marketing techniques and tricks to deceive incredibly frustrating. I just don't like seeing politicians, activists, car advertisers, insurance companies, anybody in power distorting the truth to get what they want and taking advantage of people who might not question or investigate things as much as they should. It's ludicrous and it should be illegal when companies lie.

  11. All that said, the new Focus interior is in a league of its own. It really does look like the interior of a futuristic luxury vehicle. Anybody involved with that design deserves a big fat raise! I'm less thrilled with the exterior. Because the Focus is now a "world car," I feel like they tried to blend European styling with American muscle and it came out looking like a mishmash of inspirations. The front end grille looks like a cross between Darth Vader's mask and some aftermarket body kit from Fast and the Furious but the side profile looks almost like a Toyota Venza or something. By trying to be both elegant looking and muscular it kind of fails at both for me. Certainly one of the best compacts on the market though and the interior is first-rate!

  12. @Redtom100, Perhaps during your time in the Vietnam War or the Korean War (whichever you are referencing) but if you've been to Korea recently they are not so small (or not how you imagine). And this Elantra is a 2011 car. I understood your point and agree about quibbling over this leg room but it was a snarky comment, especially from someone who has a lot of experience. If I were to make a comment about how fat Americans are and that leg room is supposed to accommodate them, wouldn't you find that snarky? And Dhelix has a good point about how international these companies have become...Anyway, kudos to both Hyundai and Ford for improving on their cars.

  13. @redtom100. I would rather be short and skinny then tall and fat dying of heart disease, diabetes. You Americans need to learn to respect other people around the world.

  14. Acronym for FORD(Found On Road Dead)Thats what I used to say, I am an owner of an 02 MCS, I have seen my share of Fords TRUCKS but vehicles not, so I cant comment on them, but I went to a dealer here In Puerto Rico and I sat in on a Taurus WOW is all I can say about the car BEAUTIFUL indeed and very spacious, but when I saw the key for the ignition I saw a CHEAP!!! ignition and not a push button as Koreans and others are going to WTF Ford you hv subsidaries ALL OVER the world and you stiffle you OWN HOMETOWN, shame on you, start getting your cues from FORD WORLDWIDE and maybe I may look into buying from u. Otherwise I might just buy your truck

  15. Looks like one more example of abusing asterisks as Hyundai has warned consumers about it's competitors...
    My capstone project work for an MS in Automotive Systems Engineering involved extensive work with interior dimensions; so I can offer:
    The SAE standard allows the manufacturer to set the front seat in a position other than fully back. Ford has often used that provision, which leads to larger rear seat dimensions, yet afford some additional accommodation for taller drivers, though at the expense of anyone having to sit behind them. If the rear seat measurement is based on the SAE standard and the front is not it sounds like there was an asterisk missing; perhaps to avoid adding evidence to Hyundai's claim?

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