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2012 Ford Focus Hatchback Review

MPG-o-Matic 2012 Ford Focus Review Summary:
When you compare the 2012 Ford Focus to the previous year’s model, the differences are remarkable. Remove their badges and you wouldn’t guess the two cars share the same name. The 2012 Focus looks, feels and drives like a European car that just happens to be built at a Michigan Assembly Plant … because, in fact, it is. While it falls a wee bit short of the fuel economy claims of its rivals, the new Focus is truly world class.



The 2012 Ford Focus is equipped with a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine producing 160 horsepower (HP) and 146 foot pounds of torque. The GDI DOHC ti-VCT (twin-independent variable camshaft timing) inline four can be mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.

The official fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Ford Focus are 27 city / 37 highway MPG with the automatic or 26 / 36 with the manual transmission. The Super Fuel Economy (SFE) Package raises the figures to 28 / 40.

We traveled nearly 500 miles in our automatic-equipped Titanium Red Candy Metallic review unit and inched past the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 39.2 MPG on the Interstate highway and 31.3 MPG combined in temperatures ranging from the forties through the seventies.

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the seventies. Our Titanium tester was equipped with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and Continental ContiProContact 215/50R17 tires, and was delivered with just over 3600 miles on the odometer.

18-inch alloys and 235/40R18 tires are optional on the Titanium. The base S model is equipped with 15-inch steel wheels and 195/65R15 tires, while the SE wears 16-inch wheels and 215/55R16 tires. The SE Sport and SEL are equipped with 16-inch alloy rims clad with 215/55R16 tires.

While Ford markets the Focus as a 40 MPG (highway) car, only the automatic SE sedan is rated at 40 MPG by the EPA … and only when equipped with the SFE package, which includes 16-inch steel wheels with aerodynamic wheel covers, active grille shutters, a rear spoiler, low-rolling resistance tires, and four wheel disc brakes. If you want a hatchback or manual transmission, you’re out of luck.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 39.2 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 40.3 MPG

While it’s no powerhouse the direct-injected 2.0-liter and fast shifting dual-clutch transmission delivered significantly faster zero to sixty times than the last Focus we tested (a 2008 automatic.)

The 2012 Focus hatchback has a curb weight of 2,920 lbs. for the manual and 2,984 lbs. for the automatic. The four-door sedan weighs in at 2,907 and 2,935, respectively.

The Focus is designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline. The 12.4 gallon fuel tank delivers a good amount of highway driving range.

Titanium, SEL and SE Sport Package models are equipped with a four-wheel ABS+ESC disc brake system with 278-mm (vented) front and 271-mm rear discs. Base S and non-sport SE models use 228-mm drums at the rear.

We were disappointed to find that the Focus lacks a real-time fuel-economy display to go along with its trip meters, driving range, average vehicle speed, elapsed time, and average fuel economy displays. We hope that Ford remedies this situation in the next model year, as the effective use of a Real-Time MPG display can save a significant amount of fuel.

The Focus is smooth and solid out the road, with class-leading ride and handling enabled by Ford’s electronic power steering and torque vectoring technology. The six-speed PowerShift transmission offers Sport and push-button SelectShift manual modes. Purists that pine for a manual transmission have to make do with a five-, rather than six-speed and only in SE trim. Sadly, a decked out manual 2012 Focus isn’t available. The upcoming performance-oriented Focus ST should right those wrongs.

The cabin is world class. Our Titanium tester was fitted with Charcoal Black leather seating surfaces and a six-way power drivers seat with manual lumbar control. The Winter package adds five-level seat heating for the front buckets.

The leather-wrapped steering-wheel is loaded with a dizzying array of controls. SYNC is standard in the SEL and Titanium, and includes Bluetooth audio support. A bit of time with the Microsoft SYNC cheat sheet will pay dividends and avoid frustration.

The Titanium model is fitted with a ten-speaker Sony audio system (with subwoofer). Our test unit was equipped with the MyFordTouch/HD Sirius/Navigation and Parking Technology Packages.

The Focus provides two twelve-volt outlets: one centrally located on the console and one at the back of the console. There are two USB inputs, auxiliary A/V input jacks, and a card slot inside the center console.

The second row seats provide 37.9 inches of headroom and 33.2 inches of leg room.

The five-door hatchback’s cargo area provides 23.8 cubic feet of storage behind the second row. Folding down the 60/40 rear seats allows for 44.8 cubic feet of storage.

All-in-all, the 2012 Ford Focus provides superior ride and handling, a brilliant interior and a slew of technology that befit a more expensive European car. While we really dig the five-door hatch, to hit the magic EPA-spec 40 MPG highway, you’ll need to order the SE Sedan with the SFE Package.

Parts Content Information
Final Assembly Point: Michigan Assembly Plant, Wayne, Michigan
Country of Origin:
Engine – Dearborn, Michigan
Transmission – Irapuato, Mexico

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7 comments ↓

#1 jordan on 12.28.11 at 5:10 pm

Did the focus you tested have the SFE package or not?

#2 mpg-o-editor on 12.28.11 at 5:48 pm

@Jordan – It did not. If I’m not mistaken, only the automatic SE sedan can be equipped with the SFE package.

#3 Jim on 01.07.12 at 12:45 pm

The rear seats on the hatchback do fold down flat. The bottoms of the rear seats flip forward and then you can fold the rear seatbacks down flat. The headrests do need to be removed on the rear seats first though. I have the 6 speed auto in my Focus as I did in my 2011 Fiesta. The autos do need about a 1000 mile break in before they smooth out.

#4 Jim Spellman on 11.15.13 at 11:36 am

It’s a shame Ford is not offering the wagon version in the U.S. as they do overseas in Europe and Australia. The last model year on the wagon in the U.S. was 2007 which offered more cargo area than the sedan or hatchback with minimal penalty in MPG performance.

I still drive a 2001 Focus SE Wagon purchased in 2003. It has been the best car I’ve had in 30+ years of driving. I’m now aproaching 225,000 miles on the odometer, and will only replace it with another wagon model (if Ford wises up) or perhaps the redesigned Transit Connect.

#5 Dick on 03.01.14 at 9:57 am

I agree that the 2012+ automatic transmission needs about 1000 miles to smooth it out; after that it’s great. I cannot believe the mileage! 44MPG highway at only 5 miles over the limit! The detailed finish and looks of the car are 100% improvement and certainly puts to shame any other manufacturer. The transmission is different but effective; it needs some getting used to it.

#6 mark on 05.15.14 at 1:57 pm

My 2012 focus SFE has delivered actual MPG from 28.7 in town to as high as 44.02 on the highway with just one rider aboard and no extra weight. Highway speeds are always 75 MPH or less with cruise on. One bonus with the SFE pkg is disk brakes all around but the stock tires aren’t great for snow and ice so they’re replaced over the Montana winters. Mileage remains about the same with all season tires. Sync still works well but Sirius is getting a bit expensive, pushing $12 per month. Not a lot of money over all but I’m in the car an hour a day at most except when on a road trip. Fit, finish and comfort are good. Yes I’d recommend this car and would purchase again.

#7 Donnie on 06.15.15 at 11:26 am

I work for the government and have been driving a Focus SFE and I have been getting 45 mpg. I do not remember the year though. I let the cruise control do the work

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