Ford Focus is the whole package

Ford Focus is the whole package

Ford Focus featured

Ford’s 2012 Focus is a nice-driving car, with a great-looking exterior and interior, for a modest starting price and good gas mileage.

I had the top-of-the-line Focus, the Titanium Hatchback edition, and it doesn’t get any nicer than this from an appearance and trim standpoint. The Titanium edition starts at $22,765 and adds a $725 delivery fee. This one slapped on four options, including a stunning red candy metallic paint job to hit $26,640.

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But you don’t have to go upscale to get a lot of options, plus a sleek new body style that looks best in hatchback trim.

A base S sedan starts at $16,500, and an SE sedan lists at $17,400. The SE hatchback goes for $18,200, and up we go from there. Yet they all come with a peppy 2.0-liter, direct-injection I4 that creates 160 horsepower. That’s plenty of power for a small compact and gives the Focus quick acceleration.

The Focus includes a new 6-speed automatic that is a bit hesitant and seems to hold some gears a bit too long. This can be overcome though by setting the shift lever to the S setting and tapping a button atop the lever to manually shift the car.

Still, the car handles well, with good wheel feedback that feels sportier than many compact cars. Tossing the car into tight corners didn’t stimulate much body roll and was easy to control. Steering effort is a little heavier than most compacts, adding to a more substantial and sporty feel than you might expect at this price.

Ride is sporty, too, although that may be less desirable if you’re mainly looking at this as family transportation. You’ll feel sharp pavement imperfections as the Titanium’s performance suspension is pretty tight. With a 104.3-inch wheelbase I’d expected a smoother ride and that still may be possible in less sporty models.

Performance is excellent from the front-drive car’s four-wheel disc brakes. ABS is standard.

I got 33.2 mpg in a week’s worth of driving that was evenly mixed between city and highway. The EPA rates this model at 27 mpg city and 37 highway and like other Fords, the Focus features a gas filler with no fuel cap, just the exterior door to cover the fill hole.

Inside, Focus has a modern, stylish look that gives it a more upscale feel than some compacts. The test car had a black textured dash and padded cloth in the doors to quiet its interior. Seats were black leather with gray stitching. Trim around the center stack, shifter and door pulls was a gray plastic that looked metallic – handsome.

[![Ford Focus hatchback and sedan]( "Ford Focus hatchback and sedan")]( don't have to go upscale to get a lot of options, plus a sleek new body style that looks best in hatchback trim.
Fog lights are standard, along with automatic lights, a tilt-telescope steering wheel and touch-screen radio with satellite radio. But the electronics that everyone will talk about is the MyFord and MyKey systems. MyKey allows parents to limit the car’s speed to 80 mph with no radio volume allowed until seat belts are fastened. The system also can be set to chime at 45, 55 and 65 mph to warn a driver of his or her increasing car speed.

MyFord, which was part of the Sirius radio and navigation system, adds $795. It integrates the entertainment, navigation and communication systems via the touch-screen. This will likely appeal to the younger buyer, a main target of Focus. Ford’s Sync system allows all the entertainment sources to be accessed via voice commands too.

The test car added a $1,490 package that includes a rear parking aid system, rain-sensing wipers and six-way power driver’s seat. A $470 winter package added five-speed heated front seats, a heated mirror with approach light and floor mats.

[![Ford Focus interior]( "Ford Focus interior")]('s Sync system allows all the entertainment sources to be accessed via voice commands.
Seats are more contoured than in many compacts, again emphasizing the sporty aspect of Focus.

Focus has a generous cargo area that provides 23.8 cubic feet of space behind the back seat under the hatch. Fold the rear seat down and you’ve got 44.8 cubic feet, rivaling some small sport utility vehicles and crossovers. In the standard Focus sedan, the trunk is 13.2 cubic feet, bigger than a Honda Civic, but smaller than a Hyundai Elantra or Chevy Cruze.

All told, this is a nice update of a fine U.S.-built compact, both attractive and practical.

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