Car Reviews

My Week With Ford: 2012 Ford Focus Titanium


Well, I had the privilege of driving a brand new 2012 Ford Focus (5-door hatchback) for a week. Having never driven a Ford that wasn’t out of the 1990’s, this was actually a pretty exciting experience. Now, I don’t attempt to pretend that I’m a car genius, or that I know the inner-workings of a combustion engine, or know what a prop shaft is; however, I won’t hesitate to give my opinion on things I might not understand – that’s just who I am. I’ve tried to break this up into the sections that I felt were necessary to note.

I would also like to quickly note that in the throes of my excitement over driving the car, I actually forgot to take pictures of it – which as you can tell is a bit of an issue when you’re trying to explain the what it looks. It’s the titanium edition if you’re looking into it, and the one I had was white. Here’s another review of the car – I had nothing to do with this one – but all these pictures here are the ones you can pretend that I took and posted here, Road test: 2012 Ford Focus

Exterior Design

Let’s start with the exterior design of the car. To me, this was quite impressive. I’ve known a couple of people that have owned a Ford Focus, and to be honest it never used to be much in the eye candy department. I love the front-end, you can tell Ford took some time when you notice the smaller details, like the horn-like tips on the front bumper. The car as a whole definitely has some appeal to it, smooth lines, wrap around head and tail lights – and let’s be honest, at least the grill isn’t smiling at you (just saying.)

The spoiler above the back window of the car rates an A+ in my books. I love the little design features like this because they add so much to the look of the car, but seem so minimal.

Interior Design

I have to admit, my first impression of the interior was not good. It felt like, “BAM! HERE I AM”, just completely in your face and it looked as if the only thing I was missing was a jet engine to take me into space; however, as with any out-of-the-box design, it can take a bit to grow on you. By the end of driving the car I actually loved it – it makes you feel good and you start to understand the placement of certain things as you use them. It’s definitely a space-age looking interior, but it can certainly up your “cool” factor a couple of points (that’s always a benefit when you’re a programmer – we take all we can get.)

The seats can feel a bit firm at first, but it never gets uncomfortable. For a work commute like mine (1.5 hours each away,) a good seat is definitely something I look for in a vehicle. I wasn’t a huge fan of the styling of the seats (winged bucket seats, which strip down the center,) but they do tie it in well with the rest of the interior design;. If you’re looking for sport-styled seating, this is definitely the car for you. I also like the heated seats with a 5-level adjustment – you can satisfy the Goldilocks in you. The seats are quite comfortable – and as my sister put it, “hug you in all the right places”. Take from that whatever you want.

The center console is definitely a shocking change from what you might be used to in earlier years of the Focus. It’s actually planned out quite nicely – when you’re looking for something it’s typically in the area you might expect it to be (ie. fan speed, temperature levels, etc.) The one thing I really liked about this car is that everything wasn’t electronic. I understand the new age of technology, and that a completely electronic dashboard and center console might be someone’s ‘cup of tea,’ but it’s definitely not for me. This car has it’s assortment of gadgets and touchscreen technology, but it leaves the most used features as tangible buttons and knobs. I like when I’m driving a vehicle and I can learn where the knobs and buttons that do my everyday tasks are, and I don’t need to take my eye off the road to adjust them.  When you make everything completely electronic, you’re requiring the driver to look away from the road to make adjustments, which is unnecessary. This car gives you a good balance of electronic and “old-style” knobs and buttons.

The armrest, in my honest opinion, is the perfect size. It’s not so big that it’s in the way, but it’s not so small that you’re constantly adjusting your arm as it slips off. It’s also not made of hard plastic like you’ll see in a few vehicles. In front of the armrest is two cup holders, positioned horizontally. They’re a nice size for holding even the larger of your coffee mugs; however, they have one small design flaw. The lip of the armrest comes slightly over top of the cup holders, so all you Vente (or XL double double… or is it XXL… or XXXL now? It’s hard to keep track) drinkers will have a hard time fitting your cup under there, and the armrest is not adjustable.

This model came equipped with a sunroof, which was a definite bonus for me. I do admit that a sunroof can be a bit of a splurge, and I don’t typically use it as much as I think I would, but it definitely does do something to the feeling of the car – it feels a lot more spacious and free when it’s there, regardless of whether you have it open or not. Also, Ford does an amazing job with their sunroof – I’ve seen this also in the Ford Edge – they put in a mesh wind guard, which may not seem like a big advantage, however, if you’ve seen how some other manufacturers are doing it you would understand.

One other point to make here is the detail they’ve put into road noise. This car is amazingly quite, especially when you compare it to other cars in its class. They’ve done a good job at minimizing what you’re hearing from the undercarriage of the car – which is a huge benefit to anyone that drives on the highway as much as I do.

Technology

This model came equipped with MyFord Touch System. The control that this system has is a little overwhelming at first, but you actually start to pick up on it quite quickly. It controls four major areas; Climate, Navigation, Audio, and Phone. This system is definitely interesting, and you can see they’re trying to push the envelope when it comes to what technology you can equip in a car – but it has some refining to do. The touchscreen response time can be frustrating at times. You don’t notice is so much when you’re doing simple tasks like switching between Phone and Audio, or changing between Sirius Satellite Radio (worth the money) and FM/AM – but it’s more apparent and probably the most frustrating when you’re using the Navigation system. I’m not sure if it’s that they’re trying to incorporate too many transitions (fading in and out, sliding windows, etc.,) but when you have a system that needs fast transition (ie. populating a list of roads as you type,) then you need to make sure it’s fast. There was a couple of times that I was typing the name of a street, and the keyboard screen disappeared and a listing showed up, but it registered my last keyboard stroke and selected the wrong street – then you need to go back to the beginning and start all over. It’s definitely a system with some really good potential, but something needs to be worked out on it to speed up the response time.

The dashboard is quite neat as well – it lets you customize what you see in terms of gas mileage, engine temperature, totals KMS, KMS to empty, etc. One feature that I really liked, but was completely unexpected, was the cruise control functionality; when set, the cruise control tells you in digit-form what speed you’re traveling. This was actually quite a nice change than having to guesstimate using the speedometer.

Storage

The trunk storage is what you would expect for a car this size. I’m assuming if you’re getting a car like this that you aren’t planning on hauling around tons of large cargo – but with the back seats down, you could easily make a trip to IKEA and be able to come home with whatever you purchased (within reason.)

Steering Wheel/Handling

It’s actually a nice steering wheel to grip on to – if you’re a 10 & 2 kind of person, they’re notched out the area to give you a bit more grip.  My main complaint with the steering wheel would be with the controls. Not being a 10 & 2 driver, they have packed in my normal relaxed driving area with paddle buttons. I guess this wouldn’t be such a big issue if the buttons weren’t so easy to press. Disengaging the cruise control, or entering into one of your ‘favorite action’ menus is activated by the accidental twist or flick of your hand – which is extremely frustrating when you use cruise control as much as I do (highway driving.) The one big benefit on this vehicle when it comes to highway driving is that the handling is quite tight – which may be a negative for some people, but it’s great for me. I like that you’re not constantly having to make steering adjustments while driving the highway – it’s a smooth ride and you can relax.

Conclusion

This is a really funky, sporty little car – definitely one of the tops in its class. I absolutely love what they’ve done with the exterior design in comparison to what the Focus used to look like. They read their audience well and adapted it to fit with what people expect in a modern car. The handling is great and I would definitely recommend this car for someone who does quite a bit of traveling and really needs something that it fuel-efficient. I would probably not recommend this car for someone with kids – although it does have all the proper latches for a car seat – it isn’t really designed for parental convenience – also, the trunk hood needs some adjustments as it can actually be quite heavy to open and close, which I can imagine isn’t terribly convenient with a kid in one arm.  As I mentioned before, the MyFord Touch System needs some improvements, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means.  Ford has made some real improvements for the Ford Focus – I imagine they’re trying to change its image and they’re doing quite a good job at it. If you’re looking for a really fun, sporty, fuel-efficient car then I would certainly recommend this one – it is definitely a car to watch.


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