The 2012 Ford Focus is the best compact Ford has ever built and easily the equal of any import. Based on the much-loved European Ford Focus, the American version carries a level of styling and sophistication previously unknown to compact-car buyers. Beyond its good looks and great gas mileage, the Focus delivers the kind of ride and handling usually associated with sportier cars, such as the VW GTI and Mazda3. Roomy, comfortable and amazingly quiet inside, the Focus offers budget-minded and first-time buyers a small car with big-car features, including SYNC infotainment and audio, Park Assist (a system that helps parallel park the car) and a number of upgraded interior trims. The Focus is offered as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, as well as an all-electric model, making the Focus one of the most diverse compact-car lines available.


What We Like

Slick styling; roomy interior; great fuel economy; electric model; lots of high-end features

What We Don't

Sluggish 6-speed automatic; modest horsepower; upper-end models can be pricey; busy dash and LCD screens


Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Focus' standard engine is a 2-liter 4-cylinder good for 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic is standard depending on trim. Environmental Protection Agency estimates for this engine are 26 miles per gallon city/36 mpg highway with the manual, 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the automatic, 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the SelectShift automatic and 28 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the SFE package that includes low-rolling resistance tires, auto-articulated grille shutters and aerodynamic wheel covers.

The Focus Electric employs a 143-hp permanent magnet motor and 23 kWh Lithium-ion battery for a projected range of about 75 miles per charge.

Standard Features & Options

The Focus comes in five trims: S, SE, SEL, Titanium and Electric. In addition, an SFE (Super Fuel Efficient) package can be added to the SE trim, raising fuel economy to 40 mpg hwy.

Standard features for the Focus S include a 5-speed manual transmission, tilt/telescoping steering column, air conditioning, power front windows, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with four speakers, power door locks, power mirrors, electronic traction and stability control and six airbags.

The Focus SE adds a 6-speed automatic transmission, power rear windows, MyKey programmable key fob, fog lights, 16-inch wheels, front-door tweeters (for a total of six speakers), automatic headlights, trip computer and compass.

The Focus SEL brings the 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with manual shift button, SYNC voice-activated information and entertainment system, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, 4-wheel disc brakes, 60/40-split folding-rear seatback and upgraded audio.

The Focus Titanium brings leather seating, heated front seats, power driver's seat with lumbar support, 17-in alloy wheels, 10-speaker Sony audio, MyFord Touch, Intelligent Access keyless entry and push-button start, upgraded suspension, sport seats and rear backup sensors.

Options vary by trim and include a power sunroof, voice-activated navigation, winter-handling package, 10-speaker Sony audio with subwoofer, Active Park Assist parallel parking, front and rear parking sensors, rear backup camera, Tuscany Red or Arctic White interior styling package (Titanium), remote start, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated side mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.

The Focus Electric mirrors the Titanium in most of its standard and optional equipment.

Pricing

A look at resale numbers show the Focus holds its value better than previous generations, but is still not as strong as the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra. This means it is possible to get a really good deal on a low-mileage Focus. To get a better idea of the Focus' price range we suggest using Kelley Blue Book's used-car value page, or check out the AutoTrader classifieds to find out what the Focus is selling for in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2012 Ford Focus:

2012 -- A recall was issued for a possible missing seal on the passenger-side wiper motor harness connector.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2012 Focus earns an overall score of four out of five stars in NHTSA's crash tests, earning four stars in the frontal and rollover tests and five stars in the side-impact test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Focus its highest ratings in the front-overlap, side-impact and roof-strength test and named the Focus a Top Safety Pick.

The Focus left the factory with a fully transferable 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Ford does offer extended warranties on its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Vehicles, which includes seven years/100,000 miles on the powertrain from the date the car entered service, and a 12-month/12,000-mile comprehensive plan for cars no longer covered by the factory basic warranty. CPO cars also undergo a rigorous 172-point inspection to repair or replace any part not up to Ford standards. The CPO plan has many additional benefits such as a free Carfax vehicle report, 24-hour roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.

Other Cars to Consider

VW Golf -- The Golf offers a diesel engine and a nicer interior, but it doesn't have nearly the features or the handling abilities of the Focus.

Honda Civic -- The Civic holds its value better than the Focus and has a longer history of reliability, but the Civic is somewhat bland and lacks many of the Focus' high-tech offerings.

Hyundai Elantra -- The Elantra matches the Focus for fuel economy, features and looks, plus it has a longer warranty and costs less. But the Elantra's interior materials are not as refined and there is no model to rival the Focus Electric.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best value resides in the 2012 Ford Focus SEL. This trim is nicely equipped, not too expensive and delivers good fuel economy.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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