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

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

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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