Focus on Change
by Jim Corbran
The 2011 Ford Focus
Well, it’s finally here. For the past few years, the automotive press has been singing the blues over the Ford Focus. They loved the first generation, introduced for the 2000 model year to replace the Ford Escort. But it was completely restyled for the 2008 model year, much to the chagrin of North American car enthusiasts, as our version of the Focus no longer had anything in common with the hot, European Focus but was another rather bland American compact car.
Ford has decided to “globalize” the Focus. They’ve been down this road before, but with the financial situation the automotive industry has found itself in, it makes sense to have fewer products. The new 2012 Focus is now pretty much the same car you’ll see in the rest of the world. Lucky for us.
The new Focus went on sale a short time ago, and is doing well in the marketplace. I happened to find a really sharp Blue Candy Metallic SE four-door sedan on the lot at Steve Baldo Ford in Niagara Falls the other day, and salesman Jerry Gormley was nice enough to plate it for a test drive. (I’m sure Jerry could do this in his sleep; he told me he’s been working there for 50 years.) The SE is second in the Focus hierarchy, just above the base S, and below the SEL and Titanium models. The S is available only as a four-door sedan, while the others also come as a very attractive five-door hatchback. And even though the four-door has a roomy trunk and fold-down rear seat, the opening isn’t really all that big. If you carry a lot of large items, or just think the hatch is a better-looking car (it is!), my suggestion is to go for the five-door. There’s plenty of interior room in the sedan, however. The driver’s position will accommodate all but NBA players, with plenty of leg- and head-room. Same for the back seat, where that sloping roofline still makes for a deceptively roomy seating area.
It was somewhat of a novelty to get into a new car and not have a large display screen staring at me from the center of the dashboard. It’s available, but in this SE model there was an am/fm radio with a single-CD/MP3 player occupying that spot. I can’t say I’m crazy about the design of the audio controls (also seen recently in the new Fiesta), as they seem to me to be over-designed and not all that intuitive to use without taking your eye off the road. Beneath the radio were the HVAC controls which are much better, followed down the center console by the shifter, in this case a six-speed automatic (a five-speed manual is standard), which was connected to a 2.0-liter direct-injection DOHC engine (the same engine in every new Focus)—EPA-rated 28/38 miles per gallon city/highway. This combo provides ample power for the freeway on-ramps and passing situations that many small car owners dread. Handling is crisp, and is promised to be even crisper on the Titanium models with the sport-tuned suspension.
Regular readers know I’m easily impressed with the smallest things, and the Focus didn’t disappoint. One of my favorite features? The small, built-in convex mirrors attached to the outside rear-view mirrors. They cover those blind spots alongside the car—they’re great for parking and backing out of the garage—and look much better than those round stick-ons that I’ve been buying for the past 20 years. Pricing for the 2012 Focus starts at $16,500 for the base S sedan. My test car listed for $19,880 with shipping; base price was $17,270. (I’ll be posting the actual window sticker online starting Thursday at AV Daily on Artvoice.com. That price included the Blue Candy paint job; cool, but a bit pricey at $395. I’m not sure it’s that cool. The top-line Titanium five-door starts at $22,700. Available now.
Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.blog comments powered by Disqus
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