Ford relies on a bit of aerodynamic magic – and an option package – to allow the 2012 Focus to hit the magic 40 mile per gallon (MPG) highway mark. Unfortunately, the Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package is only available on Focus SE sedans equipped with the six-speed PowerShift dual dry-clutch automatic transmission. If you prefer the five-door hatchback or a manual transmission, you’ll have to settle for a slightly less fuel efficient vehicle.
The PowerShift automatic Focus SE is EPA rated at 27 city / 37 highway. The SFE package raises the numbers to 28 city / 40 highway. That the percentage of highway change (8.1%) is greater than the city change (3.7%) is to be expected. Highway gains can be most easily found by cheating the wind and reducing rolling resistance.
The SFE Package consists of
- 16-inch steel wheels with aerodynamic wheel covers
- active grille shutters
- low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires
- four-wheel disc brakes, and a
- rear spoiler
The Focus SE sedan is fitted with 215/55R16 Continental ContiProContact grand touring all-season tires. We have yet to see a SFE-equipped sedan first-hand to ascertain which low-rolling-resistance tires Ford has selected for the package.
TireRack lists a total of ten different 215/55-16 LRR tires that should fit the Focus SE sedan’s standard rims. The Bridgestone Ecopia EP422, Michelin Primacy MXM4, Pirelli P6 Four Seasons Plus, Continental ContiProContact, and Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max are all season tires. The Goodyear Eagle NCT5 is a grand touring summer tire. The Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 is a performance winter/snow tire. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is an aggressive studless ice and snow tire. There are two versions of the Pirelli P6 Four Seasons Plus and Continental ContiProContact.
The Focus SFE’s active grille shutters use electronically controlled motorized horizontal vanes that rotate within a 90 degree range to one of fifteen different positions to accommodate cooling and aerodynamics. The vanes are closed during cold starts to allow the engine to come up to temperature and stay closed until needed.
Ford claims that “when fully closed, the reduction in drag means the active grille shutters can reduce CO2 emissions by 2 percent.”
While the Chevrolet Cruze ECO bests the Focus SFE for MPGs on the open road – with a rating of 28 city / 42 highway – it only achieves those numbers when equipped with a manual transmission. The 2012 automatic-equipped Cruze ECO is rated at 26 city / 39 highway (up from 26 city / 37 highway in 2011). The Cruze ECO is fitted with larger 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, rather than 16-inch steel wheels and wheel covers, and a lower front grille shutter as opposed to the full active grille in the 2012 Focus.
Configuring the 2012 Focus with the ($495) SFE option package may limit your option choices beyond the just the automatic Sedan. We were not able to select leather seating surfaces. Choosing the Tuscan Red Interior Style Package drops the SFE package for the SE Sport package.
– by Daniel Gray