2012 Ford Focus vs. 2011 Chevy Cruze vs. 2011 Volkswagen Jetta: Affordability Index

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The newest entrants in the field, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and 2012 Ford Focus, sure seem expensive, but when you compare them to the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic standard bearers, they’re not as expensive as you might think.

To compete on our affordability index, each applicant has to come with the following equipment: an automatic transmission; air conditioning; power locks, windows and side mirrors; keyless entry; cruise control; Bluetooth connectivity; a USB port; and electronic stability control.

These are the new “creature comforts” that buyers supposedly want, and they don’t come at starting prices. We’ve driven all these cars except the 2012 Focus; you can read reviews via links below. Shoppers research and build cars on sites like ours before they ever take a test drive. With our Affordability Index, we’re doing the price comparisons for you.

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The new Focus comes standard with 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; integrated blind spot mirrors; air conditioning; electronic stability control; keyless entry; and power windows, locks and side mirrors. To get cruise control, a USB port and Bluetooth, we had to upgrade to the SE-trimmed Focus sedan and opt for the Convenience and MyFord and Sync packages. An automatic transmission is $1,095 option, as well. With these additions, the Focus cost $19,600, excluding a $725 destination charge.

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Volkswagen confirmed that it expects the SE trim to be its volume seller when equipped with an automatic transmission. You have to opt for the Convenience Package ($525) to get Bluetooth and an iPod connector on the Jetta.

Overall, the model comes in at $20,660, excluding the $770 destination fee. We found VW’s pricing a little ironic considering the new Jetta is supposed to be more of a value-oriented proposition compared with the outgoing 2010 Jetta, however to get the same features on the 2010 will cost $19,594 and you get the more beloved but cramped interior.

The 2011 Jetta includes a three-year/36,000-mile free maintenance program that covers four scheduled service checks and saves owners a few hundred dollars.

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All Cruzes come standard with electronic stability control, 10 airbags (the most in this segment), air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, satellite radio and an OnStar communication system, which offers its own hands-free calling. To get Bluetooth connectivity, the USB port and cruise control, you have to get the Connectivity Plus Cruise Package. Overall, you’re looking at $19,420 for the Cruze, excluding the $720 destination fee. That’s cheaper than both the Jetta and Focus.

Now how do the new applicants stack up against the old guard: the Corolla and Civic?

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When you look at the final prices, it’s amazing how closely priced all of these vehicles are (barring the Civic) once you get down to real-world trim levels and options.

The Cruze and Focus are competitively priced against the Corolla, while the Jetta’s 7.7% premium over the Corolla might dissuade some value shoppers.

Check out the final numbers below, and let us know in the comment section below who you think the winner is.

  • Toyota Corolla: $19,138 (2.9% more affordable than the mean) 
  • Chevrolet Cruze: $19,420 (1.4% more affordable than the mean) 
  • Ford Focus: $19,600 (0.5% more affordable than the mean) 
  • Mean price*: $19,704  
  • Volkswagen Jetta: $20,660 (4.8% less affordable than the mean) 
  • Honda Civic: $23,955 (21.6% less affordable than the mean) 

*Mean price excludes the Honda Civic, which is considered an outlier due to its intricate packaging format.

2010|Toyota|Corolla

2011|Honda|Civic

2011|Chevrolet|Cruze

2011|Volkswagen|Jetta

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