Curbside Curmudgeon: 2014 Ford Focus SE – Mr. Nice Called in Sick This Morning


(Author’s Note:  These are responses given to the rental company after they sent me a customer satisfaction survey. In retrospect, I’m concerned I have may aimed my constructive criticism the wrong direction.  Oh well.)

What lead you to rent from us?

My Buick was down with an engine computer that had retired.  My F-150 pickup had what turned out to be a freak vacuum leak that was affecting the four-wheel drive system.

I had an appointment in St. Louis for personal business (255 miles round trip).  My options were to drive my wife’s damnable Ford E-150 van or my 1963 Ford Galaxie.  I opted to drive neither due to chronic dislike and road salt, respectively, and to rent from you instead.

Your outlet being within eyeshot of where I work definitely oiled the gears of my decision.


What prompted your decision on the size of rental you chose?

I have been quite curious about the current generation of Focus.  Having last driven one, another rental, in 2004, the changes over a decade should be considerable.  I distinctly remember the ’04 being revved up like a chain saw when driving down the interstate and was curious if Ford had gotten their shit together in how to better gear a compact car.  They most certainly have.

Captain Hook

I must disclose I am not a fan of four-cylinder engines.  The vast majority of the ones I have experienced made me as happy as Captain Hook if he had jock itch.  Frankly, I would rather pay a slight mileage penalty and know there is power afoot than experience the opposite.  Yet as I am trying to appear kinder and gentler these days by giving some lip service to the environment, I thought I’d give this novel little puddle jumper a try.

Were there any sounds or sensations about your rental car that you found troublesome?

Yes, there were a few that flummoxed my brain, although I think all was well for a car having only 4,600 miles on the odometer.  When I picked it up late in the afternoon, I took it home to leave early the next morning.  My mailbox is at the end of a long driveway and I left it idling as I crossed the road to get my mail.  The exhaust made a weird “poo, poo, poo” with distinctly wet, flatulent intonations.  You need to know, since you own several thousand of these puppies.

To its credit, the Focus could quickly extinguish my disdain for four-bangers; please note my saying this is as uncharacteristic of me as is Kaiser Wilhelm referring to Queen Victoria as “Granny.”   The Focus, with 160 horsepower, was at no shortage for power anywhere in its power band; yes, there was still a bit of the inherent four-cylinder buzziness, but it has been much improved.

How was the overall comfort of your rental Ford Focus? 


Had I experienced the misfortune of losing my right leg at some point in the past two to three decades, this Focus would be nearly ideal; the tilt and telescopic steering wheel is certainly a nice touch.  Please note I had to seriously contort myself to take this picture showing the steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and that lovely and attractive console.


Alas, I have been so fortunate as to keep my right leg.  And that $&*#ing console interferes with my leg.  To make the experience even more joyous, the lip of the console would worm its way underneath my kneecap.

It’s quite fortunate that the weather was cool and I never wear shorts; upon the return of warm weather I envision your employees finding hair sticking from this console after ultra-casually dressed men rent one of these little chariots.  Just saying.

Lest you think I am one of those overly cornfed, red meat eating Americans whose blood cholesterol rivals that of a stick of butter, I am 5’11” tall, weigh 180 lbs, and have a 32″ inseam.  The average American male is 178.2 cm tall (5’10.2″) and about 195 pounds.  So in other words, I am in the fat portion of the bell-curve–that’s the only fat thing about me.

For comparison, the average male in the United Kingdom is 176.8 cm; the average Australian male is 178.4 cm tall; and the average New Zealand male is 177.0 cm tall.  France and Canada?  Still in this same close neighborhood.  Regardless of how you slice it, I’m still well within the standard deviation should I stay here or move to Oxford, Victoria, or Wellington.  I can only imagine how this car would fit taller, longer legged men.  As my wife did not ride in it, I cannot comment how women of 5’8″ manage in this interior.

In any of these locations, there will be people of the same height as me driving a Focus.  And that damned console will likely still be in the way regardless of which side of the cabin the steering wheel is located.


There is an Abe Lincoln in my hand for this kid to deliver his product to whomever designed this console.  Part of the reason I rented a Focus was for an extended test drive as I had been considering a purchase of one.  Due to the console, the odds of my purchasing a Focus ranks right up there with hogs producing beef.

Did you enjoy the features of your rental Ford Focus, such as the available bluetooth?


The bluetooth worked finer than frog’s hair.  It was also quite easy to access as it was stuck inside that damned, idiotically invasive console.  Admittedly, the door lock control being beneath the radio knob was quite handy and the radio controls had the same delightful, tactile feedback as found in a Hewlett-Packard calculator.  All the niceties still don’t make the console in which they are warehoused any less obscene; asking this question is like asking if the police officer who just tazered you had pleasant breath and called you “sir.”

I suppose this car being presented as “efficient” applies only to its fuel mileage; this console is not an efficient use of interior real estate.


Would you rent from us again?

Yes, and I’m sure it will be quite soon.  First, renting from you cost me $37.50 after taxes plus another $22.05 for fuel; that is within $2 of what fuel alone would have cost me had I driven my pickup or that insipid van.  Second, you gave me coupons for a free size upgrade the next time I rent.  You can rest assured I will be using them.  Do you still have any Panthers left in your fleet?

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Ford sells this car all over the world, but with spiffier sounding trim names, like Studio, Trend, and Ambiente.  Many of them are right hand drive.  Have you thought about sending some of your right hand drive units over here for resale?  Rural letter carriers are clambering for fuel efficient right hand drive vehicles; hopefully that god-awful console isn’t as repellent to them.  Despite my insinuations of displeasure stemming from the console, I was actually pretty happy to rent from you as you are handily located and give great discounts.  Plus, apart from that wretched console, the car was a true pleasure.

Lastly, here is a picture of a happy leg in a compact car.  Please forward this to Ford so their ergonomists can begin to alleviate their plastic, sales stifling, femur shattering ode to inefficiency.