2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback, New York, July 2011
2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback, New York, July 2011Enlarge Photo
The lithe, modern styling of the 2012 Ford Focus makes it stand out on the street, even among vastly improved competition in the vital compact hatchback and sedan segment.
We tested a top-of-the-line Focus Titanium hatchback last month over a long weekend that encompassed 692 miles, the bulk of at highway speeds. But our route also included lots of small, winding mountain roads, where the Focus shines.
Overall, it's a comfortable and very modern car, with a plethora of electronic aids, some unexpected features, and a worthy competitor to the newly restyled Hyundai Elantra, the more sedate but very quiet Chevrolet Cruze, and the all-new but disappointing Honda Civic.
Gas mileage: 28.8 mpg
If our 2012 Focus had one flaw, it was the recorded gas mileage: a disappointingly low 28.8 miles per gallon. Granted, our car was loaded with extras, and we weren't particularly careful to drive economically.
But the standard five-door 2012 Focus with the six-speed PowerShift automated manual transmission is EPA-rated at 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 31 mpg. That's good, though it's hardly at the top of the class.
With a five-speed manual gearbox, ratings fall to 26 city, 36 highway, and 30 mpg combined.
2012 Ford FocusEnlarge Photo
Our mileage was low enough, in fact--lower than most other test drivers have logged --that we plan to re-test the Focus again soon, paying more attention to the on-the-road fuel efficiency.
For even higher fuel economy, the optional SFE version is rated at the all-important 40 mpg highway mark. The Focus SFE ups the combined average fuel-efficiency rating to 33 mpg, though it logs the same 28 mpg city rating as the standard car. You can thank some aero aids, higher gearing, and low-rolling-resistance tires for the extra MPGs.
Distinctive, modern, noticeable
The 2012 Ford Focus offers personality, many optional features, and styling that makes it both distinctive and modern.
The exterior is crisp and expressive, bordering on flamboyant, though we found our five-door hatchback to be a more coherent design than the four-door sedan, with its oddly high, short trunk. The Red Candy Metallic Tinted paint of our test car truly turned heads, and lifted the car completely out of the mundane-compact class.
Inside the Focus, the complex lines of the dashboard and instrument panel almost manage to make a multitude of controls, screens, and vents comprehensible and stylish at the same time.
Not quite, though. The radio controls on the base version can only be called cluttered.