2012 Ford Focus
Starting MSRP $16,500–$22,700
It's the crème de la crème of Foci — the best in the bunch: The 2012 Ford Focus Titanium five-door.
It's the fully loaded, high tech, ultimate compact car on the road. There may be other compact cars that are cheaper with similar features, but even higher-end luxury compact cars don't match a fully loaded Focus Titanium.
If you're a check-all-of-the-boxes kind of customer, the Focus provides the most boxes:
Rear view camera
Multi-color ambient lighting
Push button start
Active park assist
MyFord Touch with Sync
HD Radio with iTunes tagging
Torque vectoring controls
All of the technology serves a purpose for the driver. Whether making the driving experience safer — such as operating the stereo, heat and air conditioning and phone by voice, so your hands never have to leave the wheel or making it easier and faster to park your car in a tight street space — the Focus Titanium has about everything.
The Active Park Assist, a feature brought to America by Lexus, is much better than the Lexus system and will amaze friends every time you use it.
MyFord Touch, the next-generation telematics system that integrates Sync and other features, still amazes me and is a solid half-step ahead of every other system offered. (In fairness to the competition, other carmakers are quickly catching up.)
Even the high mileage numbers put the Focus near the top of the list of fuel-sipping vehicles on the road. One can quibble over 2 or 3 miles per gallon, but when a car approaches 40 mpg (the base Titanium gets 28 mpg city and 38 highway) there's only a few dollars difference after 10,000 miles. (Actually, it's a difference of 13 gallons of gas over 10,000 miles, or about $50.)
The difference is worth it.
Plenty of zip
During a recent week of testing the Focus Titanium, I was reminded again how much I like this car.
The 2-liter inline four-cylinder engine provides 160 horsepower, which is more than enough for this 3,000-pound car. The six-speed automatic transmission tended to race to sixth gear a little too fast for my liking, often finding itself in the wrong gear at the wrong time, but that is mostly because it wants to maintain good gas mileage. There is a sport mode available for the transmission which will keep gears longer, but then I might complain that it keeps the gears too long.
Really, the Focus will let you toss it around pretty well. The balanced and nicely weighted electric power steering allows for easy swerving through semi-trucks along Fort Street and the suspension holds the body well through curvy country roads outside of Dexter. Ford has a sort of torque vectoring available on the Focus, but it's more of a super advance stability control, using the brakes to limit different wheels from spinning to help control the car through a corner. It's fine as a stability control system.
More important than stability control is the car's independent suspension, which holds relatively flat through fast turns and gives the Focus a lot of zip in the city.
Lots of nice touches
But the Titanium package is less about performance than it is about luxuries.
Very little road noise seeps into the cabin and hardly any wind noise finds its way inside, either.
More importantly, the Focus Titanium just feels a step above all of the other Foci available. It should, because it comes with a high price tag, which can top $27,000 — or the same price as a 2011 Ford Fusion Sport with 3.5-liter V-6, which has an MSRP of $27,150.
That Fusion comes with a lot more space and a lot more power, so there has to be a reason to pick the Titanium over the Fusion. It's the amenities. The nicely bolstered leather seats, the well-put-together dash and all of those high-tech features are certainly a start.
Plus, the Focus Titanium just looks nicer. The five-door and sedan share similar looks, but the hatch just has that convenience of being able to carry bikes and other big objects by just putting the second row seats down.
Additionally, even though the five-door model is seven inches shorter than the sedan, both offer the same interior space for passengers.
The driver and front passenger will feel like they're in a spacious midsize car with more than 41 inches of legroom (the passengers in the second row will not feel as lucky with just 33.2 inches of leg space).
Really, the Titanium feels like a great two-person car and could manage well with two adults plus a child, but bigger families may have problems cramming everyone into it.
And the Titanium was never built for everyone. There are much less expensive versions of the Focus that offer nearly as many features, just without the additional panache.
Which is exactly the point of the high-end Focus. It's not for everybody, but for the people who buy it, it is just what they wanted, the very best compact money can buy.
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