Ford Focuses on World Car with Universal Appeal
In a category populated with names like Civic, Corolla, Jetta, Cruze and Elantra, the new Ford Focus has a tough fight.? The compact sedan grouping accounts for about 25 percent of the auto market worldwide and 20 percent in the U.S.? With U.S. fuel prices headed toward $5.00 a gallon, the sales of these smaller, more efficient cars will likely take an even larger share of the pie.
After spending a half a day driving the Focus over some of the most challenging roads in Southern California, it?s obvious that Ford is bringing a big gun to the fight.
In general, new car shoppers look for some combination of styling, performance, economy, quality, value and features as they make a buying decision, and Focus is impressive across the board.
Most people aren?t going to buy an ugly car and Focus gets high marks for it good looks.? Available in a sleek five-door hatchback or more traditional four-door sedan, Focus features Ford?s kinetic design form language which gives it a sporty distinctive styling that will attract attention.
Even though the interior has an upscale look, the dash seems busy with the large air outlets, multi-screen instruments, various buttons and dials plus 19 buttons on the steering wheel in addition to the horn, turn signal, dimmer and wiper controls.? But after a short time behind the wheel it all started to make sense and it works well.
It?s hard to believe an inexpensive car like the Focus is being offered with the Parking Technology Package.? This is a must for the ?park-a-phobic? driver.? Using ultra sonic sensors, the system helps find a large enough space to park and then parks itself with almost no driver input.? It?s amazing and is included in a $695 Technology Package that also includes front parking sensors and rear-view camera.
A smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, but the PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission will be the preferred choice for most shoppers.? The automatic is a sophisticated double clutch system — it?s the kind of transmission found on more premium European sport sedans not on compact American cars.? The automatic is smooth and shifts fast, but driving through the hills east of Malibu it had a tendency to want to shift up too early in an effort to save fuel.? That led to shifting down again on the longer hills in a process called ?hunting.??? The transmission can be shifted manually by pressing a two-way toggle switch on the left side of the shift handle ? press the top side up to shift up and the bottom to shift down.? Perhaps the ST performance model, due later this year, will have wheel-mounted shift paddles instead.? (Read about the 247-hp EcoBoost Focus ST online at www.iVeho.com.)
The Focus sedan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, SEL and Titanium, while the hatchback comes in the SE, SEL and Titanium trims.? The S trim Sedan starts at $16,995, including the destination charge. It is nicely outfitted with air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry and tilt and telescoping steering wheel.? The basic Hatchback SE version starts at $18,790.? The top of the line Titanium Hatchback goes for $23,490.? With all the available options it gets into a midlevel pricing at just over $30,000, but there won?t be many Focuses sold at that price.