2013 Ford Focus ST: Yosemite National Park, Part Three
June 4, 2013
I didn't like it at first, but after a week in our 2013 Ford Focus ST, I began to change my mind.
On the first stretch of the road trip (300 miles of highway monotony), I'd shifted around in the seat a dozen times trying to get comfortable. The Recaro sport seats aren't unbearably uncomfortable, but on a flat stretch of road, the aggressive bolstering becomes intrusive and bothersome. On tight mountain roads in Yosemite, however, the lateral support was perfect.
In stop-and-go traffic, the ST's clutch is not easy to depress and after a few days of hiking, my left leg was beginning to feel the burn just driving around Yosemite. Luckily, the Focus ST has all sorts of power on tap, so on the open road, not much shifting is required.
On our third day in the national park, we woke up early to beat the forecasted early-afternoon thunderstorms. We planned to hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls, via the Mist Trail. The day before we had all made it to the top of Yosemite Falls, and the hike had taken its toll on my knees. Even with a steady flow of ibuprofen and fish oil, my joints just couldn't handle another 8 hours of hiking. I did make it to the top of Vernal Falls which is the half-way point.
A drier and more accessible spot on the map was Glacier Point. This gave me the opportunity to put the Focus ST's canyon prowess to good use.
The route from the valley floor to the top of Glacier Point is epic. My inner John Muir was shouting at me to look out the windows, slow down and enjoy the forest for the trees, but I couldn't stop myself from pushing Focus ST around the winding turns. Shifting wasn't a problem, either: Staying in third gear provided plenty of fun for public roads.
From 7,200 feet, almost the entire valley was visible and cool 40-degree air was flowing into the Focus ST's intercooler. I'm not in love with the ST as a commuter car, but every time I hit a few hairpins on a mountain road, it comes alive.
The "tuned sound symposer" pipes a bit of engine growl through the cabin when you accelerate, and the car feels extremely competent around the bends. Body roll is minimal, and although the ride is firm, it's not overly harsh. I don't recall the Focus being so forgiving on crumbling Los Angeles roads. Then again, the roads at the top of the mountain are extremely well-maintained.
After meeting back up with the rest of the group, we hit up the gift shops for our last full day in the park and headed out of the tunnel towards Yosemite West. With no other cars nearby, I dropped the windows and went for a little tunnel-blast in the Focus ST...Nothing...Shift...Nothing. There really wasn't an audible exhaust note. I could still hear the intake air being piped through the cabin but if you're looking to be a hooligan in the ST, an aftermarket exhaust might be required.
The peppy little Ford had done well so far, but the next day a challenge arose. We had to take a fourth person home with us. You'll see how the game of luggage-tetris went in the next installment. Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 11,486 miles