Space-efficient package; fuel-efficient engine; lots of convenience features; world-class style.
Larger turning radius than before; dual-clutch transmission takes getting used to; ride quality suffers noticeably with 18-inch tires.
As the 2012 Ford Focus takes you down the road for the first time, you can feel yourself gradually picking up speed, as if the friction of daily automotive life had suddenly been overcome. You feel as if there is a gap in traffic ahead just for you, while every gas station you see is a reminder that you can sail past without a second thought.
What you sense has nothing to do with physics. Instead it is the burden of the small-car stereotype being lifted from your shoulders. You feel transformed by an automobile that is utterly modern, one that is neither large size nor small size but instead "right size."
Americans have been chasing such a car for decades, wobbling between the guilty pleasure of enormous land yachts and righteous enthusiasm for tiny fuel-sipping pods, but now the Ford Focus shows us the middle ground where most of us belong. Though it carries the same name as Ford's previous compact sedan, this new-generation Focus has been stretched a few inches into a size that's just right.
Just as important, the Ford Focus doesn't make you suffer for choosing the way of the right-size vehicle. It has an adventurous, modern look that makes nearly everything else on the road look tired and stuffy. More important, the 2012 Ford Focus is available with the same comfort and convenience features we demand in large cars, even while its pricing remains consistent with what we expect of a small car. The base model begins at $16,270, which is the same price as the 2010 model. The top-of-the-line Titanium reflects the greater feature array available in the new car, with a price that starts at $22,995.
As the price of fuel rises irresistibly toward $4 per gallon, it's necessary to make the hard choice between power and fuel economy. But the refined inline-4 engine in the new Focus makes you wonder what the fuss is about because it delivers both.
The 1,999cc inline-4 engine of the new Focus makes 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, some 20 hp more than last year's version of this engine. This is enough power to propel this top-of-the-line 2012 Ford Focus Titanium's not insubstantial 3,076 pounds to 60 mph from a standstill in 8.7 seconds, and the car goes through the quarter-mile in 16.4 seconds at 85.4 mph. This engine is also quiet while it's idling at stoplights and refined while it's humming down the freeway in the fast lane.
When the time comes to visit the gas station, you'll be surprised at the number of miles that have gone by. Edmunds testing of this 2012 Ford Focus Titanium recorded an average of 27 mpg. Ford itself promises an EPA-certified 28 mpg city/38 mpg highway, while the EPA has just certified the specially equipped Focus SFE (super fuel economy) for a highway rating of 40 mpg.
Much of the secret lies in the Focus' six-speed automated manual gearbox, a design that has made the leap from high-performance exotic cars to everyday transportation. This transmission shifts according to its own programming like an automatic, yet it still delivers the throttle response and fuel efficiency of a manual transmission. You'll notice the transmission's reluctance to creep forward smoothly from a standstill to parking lot speed, and the transitions between gears will be more abrupt than those of a conventional automatic, but the crisp throttle response combined with a surprise (in a good way) at the gas pump will overcome any reservations you might have.
The 2012 Ford Focus sits on a wheelbase that's 1.4 inches longer, while it measures 3.5 inches longer overall and 4 inches wider. An additional 2 inches in front-seat head- and legroom lets you stretch out, plus the steering wheel both tilts and telescopes, so it's easy to think that you're riding in a much larger car. If you go by the dimensions, rear-seat room has shrunk as a result, but this is largely because the front seats have more fore and aft travel.
It's actually kind of refreshing to travel in the Focus. You have a better view of the road than you get in big cars, and a feeling of safety that comes from this. At the same time, the new Focus has that Euro-style sense of structural integrity, a reflection of the high-strength steel used at key points throughout the car.
We must warn you that the laws of physics have not been entirely suspended here, because the Focus does not ride very well with the optional 18-inch 40-series high-performance tires. While these tires might deliver the quick steering response and crisp road feel that performance-oriented drivers prefer, the stiff sidewalls register every crack in the road and the car pitches noticeably back and forth over the bumps.
You can have your Focus in a plain flavor if you like, and it'll be a paragon of function. But just like the Mazda 3 and the Mini, the 2012 Ford Focus makes its strongest impression as a premium car, which is the way it really sets itself apart from the competition.
Just as in a premium car, there's a full allotment of available convenience features, like satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition with passive entry, and even an automated system that will parallel park for you.
It is also available with the MyFord Touch system, which offers touchscreen access to all the connectivity and entertainment features of Ford Sync, the Microsoft-engineered connectivity program that combines voice control, satellite navigation, Wi-Fi capability and links to portable communication and entertainment devices.
Yet the combination of lots of MyFord Touch features with a touchscreen interface doesn't work well here. Most of the features are available through a series of menus on the screen, and the process of locating and engaging them is complex and finicky. The process isn't helped by the few buttons available, nor is it ameliorated by the voice recognition system either. In some ways, this suggests to us that the number of electronic features has overwhelmed the apparent simplicity of the touchscreen interface, and that a console-mounted remote control much like what we've seen from German carmakers would be a better solution.
Design/Fit and Finish
Not so long ago, Ford labored under its reputation for uninspired middle-class design efforts. But after a couple decades of often controversial effort by assorted executives as well as hard work by design directors J Mays and Peter Horbury, Ford now is at the sharp end of the pack, making even the Germans seem tired and empty of fresh ideas. The Focus is the poster child for Ford's effort, a statement of modernity that's remarkable at any price point, let alone among compact sedans.
Who should consider this vehicle
Just as with so many other compact sedans, the 2012 Ford Focus will find ready acceptance among the growing number of people newly conscious of rising gasoline prices. Its fuel efficiency — notably the 40-mpg promise of the Focus SFE model, one of four Ford vehicles EPA rated at 40 mpg highway — will command attention. It also holds the promise of driving performance once found (and since lost) in the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
Yet the Ford Focus aspires to be far more than a commute car. This is an expression of stylish modernity that really makes you question the way in which cars like the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry have become full-size sedans, wonderful in their own way and yet a little more than we need and a little costlier than we can afford. The 2012 Ford Focus makes right size the smart size.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Is the 2012 Ford Focus a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2012 Ford Focus and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2012 Focus featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2012 Ford Focus? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2012 Ford Focus and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2012 Focus 3.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2012 Focus.
Review DO NOT BUY. The transmission is absolutely horrible and ford will do NOTHING to fix it. I have broken down 2 times, my car will not accelerate and the RPMS just go crazy. I have had it in the shop 3 times within the past 2 months and they refuse to do anything for it.
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Is the 2012 Ford Focus safe? The 2012 Ford Focus earned a 4-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 5.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
What options are available on the 2012 Ford Focus?
Available Ford Focus 2012 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hatchback, Electric, Coupe, Wagon
Available Trims: SE, Titanium, S, SEL, SES, ZX4 S, Electric, ZX4 SES, ZX4 SE, ZX3, ZTS, ZX3 S, LX, ZXW SE, ZTW, ZX5 SE, SE Comfort, ZX3 SE, ZX5, ZX5 Premium, ZX5 S, ZX5 SES, ZXW SES
Exterior Colors: Ingot Silver Metallic, Oxford White, Magnetic Metallic, Shadow Black, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Sterling Grey Metallic, Race Red, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic (Late Availability), Kona Blue Metallic, White Gold, Blue Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Blue Candy Metallic, Performance Blue Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tricoat, Ebony Clearcoat, CD Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Tectonic Metallic, Sangria Red Clearcoat Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-coat, Blue Flame Clearcoat Metallic, Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Pitch Black Clearcoat, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Ingot Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Grey Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Frosted Glass Metallic, Infra-Red Clearcoat, Blue Flame Metallic, Cloud 9 White Clearcoat, Light Ice Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Sangria Red Metallic, French Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Light Tundra Clearcoat Metallic, Lightning Blue Metallic, Liquid Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Vermillion Red Clearcoat, Atlantic Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Black Clearcoat, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Ebony, Sonic Blue Clearcoat, Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Toreador Red Clearcoat Metallic, Jackpot Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Malibu Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Natural Neutral Clearcoat Metallic, Twilight Blue Clearcoat Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Yellow Blaze Metallic Tri-Coat, Amber Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Aqua Blue Clearcoat Metallic, CD Silver Clear Coat Metallic, Cloud 9 Clear Coat, Fort Knox Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Grabber Green Clearcoat Metallic, Vapor Silver Clearcoat Metallic
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black Insert w/Warm Steel Surround cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Charcoal Black Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Warm Steel Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert cloth, Medium Light Stone cloth, Medium Dark Stone Surround w/Medium Light Stone Insert cloth, Charcoal Black w/Metal Gray Surround cloth, Medium Soft Ceramic leather, Medium Light Stone w/Medium Dark Stone Surround cloth, Tuscany Red Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Charcoal Black cloth, Medium Stone cloth, Medium Light Stone leather, Charcoal Black w/Warm Steel Surround cloth, Medium Stone leather, Metal Gray/Charcoal Black Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert premium cloth, Medium Parchment, Light Stone leather, Medium Graphite, Charcoal Black Surround w/Arctic White Insert leather, Tuscany Red w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Charcoal Upper/Charcoal Lower leather, Dark Charcoal, Dark Pebble Upper/Light Pebble Lower cloth, Dark Flint Upper/Light Flint Lower, Dark Pebble Upper/Light Pebble Lower, Arctic White w/Charcoal Black Surround leather, Charcoal Upper/Charcoal Lower cloth, Charcoal Upper/Light Flint Lower leather
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Post-collision safety system, Alarm, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Heated seats, Sunroof/Moonroof, Leather Seats, Power Driver Seat, Remote Start, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Engine, Navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Upgraded Headlights, Upgraded Stereo, Mobile Internet