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Pardon the pun, but this vehicle category hasn’t been much of a “focus” for Ford in its long history of producing automobiles. Heavy-duty trucks, large sport utility vehicles, and the off course the Mustang, have all historically been Ford staples.

But compact cars? Not so much.


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Although around for more than a decade, the Ford Focus was one of those small vehicles that the company seemingly overlooked. It was respectable, but Ford didn’t put an emphasis on really moving the Focus out of its rather mediocre ranking.

2012 Ford Focus

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 160 horsepower (base model)
  • Mileage estimate: 26-37 mpg
  • Price: $18,300 to $22,700
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

But apparently that reluctance to push the Focus to greater heights has concluded. Ford redesigned the Focus for 2012 and has produced a fairly sporty and refined compact car that has drawn “best buy” comments from a number of prominent auto publications.

The new-look Focus has an appealing exterior styling and the interior design has a smart layout of controls and gauges. Ford has also made an effort to improve the handling and give the Focus a quieter ride. Confident in all its improvements, this is the first time that Ford has simultaneously sold the Focus in the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world.

One additional 2012 change was adding the Focus Electric to its trim models. The 107-kilowatt electric car draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack. The great news – it gets between 99-110 mpg! The bad – the Focus Electric costs $39,200, over double the price of the base model ($18,300). Note that the electric model needs charging every 76 miles.

The more standard Focus models all feature improved technology. Although not all standard equipment, available are a rearview camera, HD radio, automated parking assist for drivers who hate to parallel park, plus Ford’s hands-free Sync technology and the MyFord Touch system that utilizes a large center touchscreen and voice commands with much less dependence on buttons and knobs.

This year’s Focus also offers more comfortable and supportive seating for all occupants. Tilt-steering and height adjustable seats are two additions that drivers will enjoy. However, the backseat could still use more leg room and the trunk (13.2 cubic feet) is only average for a compact.

Ford has beefed up the performance of the front-wheel drive Focus with a new 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 146-pund-feet of torque. Gas mileage is a major plus with a range between 26-37 mpg.

Previous Focus owners will recognize the shift to a more dynamic, sporty handling vehicle that leaves the Focus more in touch with the road and capable of making sharper turns. This year’s Focus definitely allows for more fun factor than ever before.

Available as a sedan or four-door hatchback, the new-look Focus can definitely hang with rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda 3 and Hyundai Elantra.

The Focus is dramatically improved, so expect its sales to also travel down that same path.