2013 Ford Focus ST: Yosemite Road Trip, Part Four
June 7, 2013
On the final day in Yosemite National Park, our Focus ST got an additional passenger. It wasn't a bear or a deer or anything.
Six of us went on this trip and divided ourselves between the Focus ST and a friend's Honda Civic. But two people wanted to leave from the western side of the park before sunrise, while four of us wanted to sleep in and check out the eastern side of Yosemite. So, instead of three people in each car, we stuffed the Focus to the brim and sent the other luggage home early in the Civic.
On this day, one thing became very clear to me: I should've left our Focus ST's cargo cover at home.
If the Focus was sans-cargo cover, we could've packed a little bit more in the trunk. With two adults in the backseat, the rear window becomes pretty useless anyway. With the cargo cover on board, we played a game of luggage Tetris and forced the rear-seat passengers to ride with a few bags between them. We eventually got the hatchback closed and took a short walk to see Bridalveil Falls and Horsetail Fall before crossing Yosemite Valley and heading for Highway 395.
Back on the road, the ST was composed, despite its 800-pound passenger/cargo payload. The Yosemite Valley floor is 4,000 feet above sea level and when you exit via the Tioga Pass on the east side of the park, elevation rises to 9,945 feet. I've driven roads like this before with four-cylinder engines and they're typically exercises in excessive downshifting, but not so in the Focus ST. The cool mountain air turned out to be great for the turbocharged Ford.
As we ascended the highest highway pass in California, things got gray and cold. Snow began to line the roadways and stops for scenic views were everywhere. Really, that's why we came this way.
After exiting the National Park via Highway 120, we turned onto Highway 395 (which I drove just last month in our Subaru Impreza) and pointed the Focus toward Los Angeles. After all the mountain driving, along with several passes around big rigs on the 395, I was surprised to post a new lifetime record for range: 339.1 miles.
After consulting the owner's manual, I confirmed my suspicion that even though the Focus ST's trip computer read "1 Mile to E," I still had a gallon of fuel left. Save for one of Mark Takahashi's break-in road trip tanks last September, which yielded 30.2 mpg, this was the best mileage the ST has seen to date with 29.5 mpg. I imagine the low temperatures (38 degrees) combined with a few hundred miles of cruise-control use at highway speeds helped the mpg. But, since the Focus was fully loaded with passengers and luggage on this tank, I was definitely impressed.
We arrived back in Los Angeles well after rush-hour traffic. The Focus ST averaged 26.3 mpg over 900 miles of driving.
Before I collapsed in to a deep sleep, fully clothed and on top of my covers, I took down some thoughts on the Focus ST: It's not a road trip car, it's a fun in-town and back-roads car. I hate the front seats. They're uncomfortable on road trips. I love the front seats. They're great in the mountains. It's loud on the freeway when there's a crosswind. I checked to see if the windows were shut three times on the same stretch of road. It's fun. And, it needs a roof rack to be practical.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 11,825 miles