Edmunds expert review
After a very long wait, American buyers finally get a world-class small car from a Detroit label. The 2012 Ford Focus is the segment's new benchmark.
Refined and quiet ride
Stylish and well-made interior
Abundant list of upscale and high-tech options.
Of all the things for which the Ford Motor Company has become known over the years, building great small cars has not been one of them. When the Ford Focus debuted more than a decade ago, a great design was compromised by assembly issues, but once quality improved, the Blue Oval neglected the Focus, merely warming it over with midlife refreshes while other automakers rolled out successively superior models. Well, the debut of the 2012 Ford Focus finally puts Ford back in the game. And this time it's got an all-star player.
You can forget what you knew about the previous Focus -- the 2012 car is a monumental improvement. Available in four-door sedan and hatchback body styles, the new Focus benefits from eye-catching styling and a sharply designed interior dressed up with high-quality materials. It also comes with a new four-cylinder engine that's more fuel-efficient, and a suspension that delivers both above-average handling and a refined ride.
What really sets the 2012 Focus apart, however, is the wealth of new technology offered here. This includes a number of items usually found only on much more expensive models, ranging from a rearview camera to Ford's excellent Automated Parking Assist, which can neatly slip the car into a curbside spot without the driver ever touching the steering wheel. On top of this there's the latest evolution of Ford's hands-free Sync technology and the new MyFord Touch system that largely does away with buttons and knobs in favor of a large center touchscreen and voice commands.
Technology is also on display with the all-new 2012 Ford Focus Electric. Fully electric just like a Nissan Leaf, the Focus Electric uses the same underpinnings as a standard Focus, but will instead gain motivation from a 107-kilowatt (141-horsepower) electric drive motor and a 23kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Ford also says that it can be recharged in just 3-4 hours on a 240-volt charger. Through smartphone integration, owners will also be able to remotely monitor charging functions, and Ford is working with Best Buy to launch readily available home charging stations.
In what is perhaps bad news for Ford but great news for shoppers, the new Focus has arrived at a time when there are plenty of great small cars available. The upscale Chevrolet Cruze, stylish Hyundai Elantra and enjoyable Mazda 3 are all worthy of test-drives. Nevertheless, the Ford Focus impresses by being a well-balanced and highly refined small car that seems as if it should cost more than it actually does. Desirable and fun to drive, the new 2012 Ford Focus is a special car, one that offers the features and sophistication of a large car in a small, practical package.
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