By Frank S. Washington
Los Angeles, CA -- Whooooooooo. It’s been a while since I said that about a Ford.
Don’t get it twisted; the company has been on a design roll of late – the Taurus, the Edge, the Explorer and the Fiesta. But the 2012 Ford Focus’ look was a bold design statement – a goodun!
First, the compact car will come as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. The hatchback looked good but the sedan, for my money, was outstanding. The three-bar grille was shrunk to one bar and the car had three deep air vents covering the front fascia.
The windshield was raked and the Focus sported cats-eye headlamps and tail lamps. There was a rising belt line, a sensible roof line that provided rear seat headroom and side sills that gave the Focus a sporty profile.
Ford designers carried over the look into the Focus’ interior. It was spacious, ergonomically friendly and the cockpit wrapped around the driver. My driving partner marveled at how the fat steering wheel fit in her hand. In other words, the car felt good.
The controls fell into one of three categories: they were either on the steering wheel or they could be accessed through the touch screen or they responded to voice commands. The 2012 Ford focus could even be turned into a Wi-Fi hot spot. What’s more, some of the controls were redundant.
A 2.0-liter, direct injection four cylinder engine that generated 160 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque moved the new Focus It could be mated to a six speed automatic transmission or a five speed manual gear box. We had the six-speed automatic and I was impressed.
We had no trouble getting up and over the hills. The car gobbled up two lane twisting streets like Old Topanga Road and Mulholland Highway that cut through the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Focus hugged the terrain, the engine never strained and gear shifts were precise. What’s more, the car was comfortable, the view was unobstructed and our Focus ran quiet, real quiet. There were basically no dips or yaws as we took really tight turns. And braking was sure; a couple of times we had to slow the car abruptly coming into or out of tight turns and it presented no problem.
I got so caught up in the look of the new Focus, its driving dynamics and its equipment that I forgot about the car’s economical attributes. The most important is the low operating cost. The 2012 Ford Focus had a projected EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway. That’s outstanding.
Also outstanding was the 2012 Focus’ equipment. What caught my eye in particular was active park assist. Yes, the new Focus will select an appropriate parallel parking space and park itself.
Our drive route didn’t allow us to check out this feature. But park itself technology up ‘til now has been the exclusive domain of only a few vehicles and those have been luxury nameplates.
Other creature comforts included a rear view camera, push button lock and unlock as well as push button start and stop. Easy Fuel (no gas cap), heated front seats, adaptive headlights and rain sensing windshield wipers and Rear Park assist were other conveniences.
It was less than five years ago that consumers could only get this sort of stuff in luxury cars. But as the market shifts to smaller fuel efficient cars manufacturers are providing the sort of equipment that makes these vehicles very alluring. Arguably the 2012 Ford Focus is one of the trend setters.
Prices start at $16,995 and the car goes on sale this spring.
Frank S. Washington is managing partner/editor of AboutThatCar.com.
This article was printed in the March 13, 2011 - March 26, 2011 edition.