L - 2008 Ford Focus Long-Term Road Test

2008 Ford Focus Long Term Road Test

2008 Ford Focus: L

May 14, 2009


So I figured out what the L in PRNDL does. It sucks, that's what it does.

The 'gear' (according to the manual, which I really did read) is designed for enhanced engine braking on long descents and holding a gear going up long, steep grades. I figured it might be good for sluggish freeway traffic. Wrong-o. It is, in fact, good for nothing. While the D 'gear' is too concerned with fuel economy to shift properly, the L 'gear' is too concerned with grenading the motor, shifting poorly and generally making your commute terrible to be of any use.

It holds onto each gear for an impossibly long time. Only when the motor sounds like a thousand blenders being blended by a giant, evil blender, does it slam itself into the next highest gear where it repeats the gear holding, engine blending process all over again. Downshifts are similarly no good and lack any refinement or grace. I even used it on a long downhill only to find the gears to be so far apart that there seemed to be no sweet spot where the car ever felt comfortable or smooth. The engine was either ready to puke its guts out and slowing down too much or the transmission would not relinquish the higher gear and in fact caused me to ride the brakes to hold a steady speed, completely defeating the purpose of the L 'gear'.

Was there something wrong with the PRND321 setup?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 20,134 miles

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