In 2009, critics and audiences alike were delighted when Star Trek premiered in theaters. The movie critically and commercially revived a franchise that had been on life support for quite some time. With a fresh new take on familiar characters, it seemed the possibilities for a series of fun and engaging movies were endless. Unfortunately, the series went from bold and energetic to tired and mediocre in just a few short years. Unnecessary call backs to older films and a constant rehashing of Kirk’s daddy issues contributed to a sentiment that Paramount Studios ultimately failed to reboot the franchise beyond one great movie.
The 2012 Ford Focus also seemed promising at first, but like Paramount, Ford made some decisions that would greatly diminish the good will that customers and enthusiasts had built towards the car.
Before the recession altered the buying habits of the American car shopper, small cars tended to lack the options found in the mid or full size sedan segments. Automakers put issues like wind and road noise, high quality interiors, and overall driving refinement low on their priority lists. Economy was the name of the game. And the thinking at the time was that the average candidate for a small car valued a low price above anything else.
There were some exceptions to this rule. The first generation Ford Focus set the standard for ride and handling in the small car segment for years. And the 2006 Honda Civic proved that the segment could tolerate a boundary-pushing exterior design. But for every dynamic and innovative compact car available in the mid 2000s, an equal and opposite entry existed as well. The Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, and Chevrolet Cobalt fulfilled the roles expected of them without advancing the segment in any meaningful way. Not that they had to. No frills transportation always had its place. And there really wasn’t much of a market for premium compact cars before the financial markets collapsed.
The need for smaller, cheaper cars equipped with the amenities normally reserved for more expensive vehicles arose when shoppers started downsizing around 2008 or so. Gas prices also pushed buyers to ditch their utility vehicles for more fuel efficient transportation. The CARS rebate program encouraged Ford Explorer and Toyota Previa owners to trade in their respective vehicles for smaller ones like the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla.
America’s second generation Focus attempted to bridge the gap between value conscious transportation and technologically sophisticated people hauler. According to some critics, it failed at both. Automotive publications and bloggers, of course, knew that Ford’s dysfunction deprived America of the “authentic” second generation Focus that plied the highways of London and Berlin, so naturally their instinct was to condemn the reheated 2008 model. In retrospect, their wails of injustice seem laughably quaint, given the steadily increasing base prices of the compact segment and the decline of sedans in general.
If anything, the 2008 Ford Focus represented a return to form for the Blue Oval. Since about 1980, Ford’s American small cars emulated their European or Japanese counterparts, to a point. The Tempo and Escort were two such vehicles. In the ’90s that philosophy reached its apotheosis with the second and third generation Escort, which used Mazda’s B platform and were generally considered decent vehicles. Sure, they weren’t the most sophisticated sedans in the segment, nor did they boast the highest quality interiors, but they were more affordable and a bit more dynamic than their competitors.
Ten years after the Escort made way for its successor, the second generation Focus rekindled the “cheap and cheerful” flame. The cabin lacked sturdy materials and buttons but boasted an attractive aesthetic augmented by ice blue lighting and faux-aluminum trim that could plausibly fool customers into thinking it was upscale. Ford’s Mazda-derived Duratec 2.0 liter four cylinder was more powerful than its rivals, although not as refined. The C170 platform soldiered on, and while it was ten years old, it still exhibited solid driving dynamics.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Focus centered around its infotainment system. Yes, infotainment. If we’re talking about a system that at its most basic displays information and entertainment, then the first iteration of Ford Sync qualified. Sync essentially pioneered the connected car revolution. Just like its modern counterpart, the system allows cell phones and audio players to seamlessly integrate into the car’s audio system. Pretty standard stuff today, but back in 2007, very few automakers offered anything like it. Sync stood apart from the others with its highly advanced voice recognition system, which enabled drivers to select anything in their iPod Classic or Zune simply by stating the artist, genre, album, song title or playlist. That type of functionality was still relatively uncommon five years after Sync’s introduction, and some voice recognition systems still don’t have the capability.
If Ford mixed in several tasty ingredients like decent driving dynamics, attractive tech, and decent pricing into the small car mix while leaving out things like a fancy interior and overall refinement, what was it going to do for the next generation? Basically, address all those areas. Ford’s Global C platform accomplished several goals. It improved on the formula set by the C1 platform by offering an architecture focused on responsive driving dynamics. And true to its name, the platform was designed for products in all regions. “One Ford” did actually work for some vehicles. Alan Mulally instilled at least some corporate discipline into Ford, firing executives who weren’t on board with his changes and advocating for a more unified approach to product development. That was more than Bill Ford Jr. accomplished. Ford Jr. never pushed back when offered the explanation of “the product cycles don’t match up” as the reasoning behind America not getting Europe’s second generation Focus. That’s probably why America’s second gen only had a short four year run.
In any event, the Focus was overdue for a redesign in every region in which it was sold. The third generation needed to appeal to a global audience both visually and dynamically. In that regard, Ford greatly succeeded. Following the 2008 Fiesta, the Focus took Ford’s “Kinetic Design” and adopted it for the compact segment, with its large trapezoidal grille and swept-back headlights, it was an update of the overall design Ford sprinkled on its European sedans throughout the mid 2000s. Unlike its smaller sibling however, the Focus retained some sharp lines along with its curves. While the hatchback model is the most distinctive of the duo, the sedan also looks good, although it’s clear Ford borrowed some rear end styling from the Mazda 3. It’s not much of a mystery as to why that’s the case. Moray Callum worked at Mazda from 2001-2006 before joining Ford. It’s likely he and J Mays worked on the Focus, but Callum’s fingerprints are all over the Focus and the Mazda 3.
The interior also got a significant makeover. Instead of materials you’d find at the dollar store, Ford outfitted the Focus with stuff you’d encounter on a trip to…Target. At least for the lower trimmed models. Titanium trimmed models received more premium soft touch plastic on the doors. The 2012’s spread covered a lot of ground. Mulally era Ford vehicles took the complete opposite approach to Henry Ford’s old saying about the Model T. Basically, you could have any color you wanted, including black, plus any option you wanted on any trim level.
That’s not entirely accurate, but consider this: For 2012 there were eight different wheel choices, with three of them being plastic wheel covers. Cruise control and rear power windows were unavailable on the base S trim. You could get leather as part of the SEL Premium Package, but cloth was still standard on the Titanium, the highest tier trim. Head here to check out more specific information about what Ford offered on the 2012 model. The Blue Oval presumably created extremely basic trim levels in order to appeal to thrifty shoppers, fleet buyers, or both. Overall, any trim of the third generation represented a huge upgrade from its predecessor and propelled Ford to top of the class, depending on what trim level and option package you selected. At the very least, Ford created a cabin that was at least competitive with rivals.
What every Focus did get was a well sorted chassis with a couple of features that augmented its basic capabilities. In addition to electric power steering, the Focus debuted Ford’s Torque Vectoring Control. The Focus will apply braking power to the inside wheel in a sharp turn, essentially emulating a limited slip differential. Ford was one of the first mainstream brands to implement such a system. All of this supplemented the front MacPherson struts and “Control Blade” rear trailing arm independent suspension. Every Focus also offered a single engine choice in the first year of production. Ford’s 2.0 Duratec, itself an evolution of Mazda’s four cylinder and a carryover from the previous model, could be had with either a five speed manual or six speed dual-clutch “Powershift” automatic. The 160 horsepower unit boasted a good output figure for its time, as most entries in the class measured in at around 130 or so.
Combined with an eight percent more aerodynamic body surface, a modern chassis, and a sophisticated suspension setup, the Focus garnered near unanimous praise for its balanced ride and handling. Reviews found the 2012 far more refined than its predecessor and on par with the contemporary Mazda 3. Auto critics differed in their opinions of the interior. Some thought the lower trim levels could have used more pizazz while others celebrated all of the available cabin configurations. Customers flocked to the 2012 Focus, which gained nearly 90,000 additional sales compared to 2011’s figure, for a total of just under 270,000. That kind of shift is almost unheard of today, and Ford really had a chance to make further inroads in the segment, especially with the Focus receiving its own halo car, the 2013 ST.
Consumer Report’s reliability summary for the Ford Focus.
There is no happy ending to this story. Ford knew the Powershift dual-clutch transmission was problematic years before the Focus arrived at dealerships nationwide. A significant amount of owners have experienced problems with their cars, and a major lawsuit is currently ongoing, with a decision likely at the end of the year. The 2015 refresh did not produce a more reliable unit, although it did introduce the 1.0 liter three cylinder EcoBoost engine into the lineup one year later, complete with its own unique variant of the six speed automatic offered in other Ford vehicles. Ford apparently didn’t see the point in adapting any of the powertrains found in Europe to America. Pushing fundamentally defective vehicles down the road in hopes of a future fix is nothing new for American automakers, but the Focus, and by extension Mulally era Ford, initially promised something different.
That’s not to say the third generation Focus wasn’t impactful in a positive way. Its feature content and overall presentation forced Honda to initiate an emergency refresh for the Civic only one year after the ninth generation’s debut. That and all the negatives reviews it received. Anyway, the Focus still looks modern because competitors emulated the design. Dynamically speaking, it may not have been class leading, but it forced rivals to step up their game. In March 2017 Motor Trend tested the redesigned 2017 Subaru Impreza and found its ride and handling to be inferior to the Focus, a car Ford introduced in 2011.
Be it lower gas prices, high cost of manufacturing, or the widely publicized transmission issues, Ford decided against selling the fourth generation Focus in North America. The ongoing tariff situation is also to blame, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Ford saw an opportunity to conveniently exit the segment and took it. And given the subsequent cancellation of the Fusion, a reliable Focus might not have mattered in the long run. In any event, Ford completely fumbled their small car strategy and ceded the market to rivals who adopted the best aspects of the Focus into their own small cars without any of the baggage. To paraphrase The Clash, phony Euro-mania has bitten the dust.
Paramount really had something with 2009’s Star Trek. They modernized a moribund franchise and earned tons of goodwill in the process. Unfortunately, by 2013 it was clear something was amiss. Corporate mismanagement squandered a once promising return to form and now Star Trek’s future on the big screen is uncertain. That being said, the movies clearly influenced Viacom’s decision to green light a new era of Star Trek television shows, so something positive came out of it. Still, it’s hard not to think about what would have happened if Paramount followed up the first movie with two more successful sequels. Star Trek’s cinematic universe was never going to be as popular as the Marvel movies or the new Star Wars films, but they offered a compelling alternative for audiences who craved something different.
Likewise, Ford squandered their post-recession renaissance, at least as it relates to their small cars. Mulally may have united Ford, but his tenure simultaneously embodied the best and worst of late 20th and early 21st century Ford: Moon shot car programs buoyed by incrementally improved trucks and utilities, all beset by extremely inconsistent quality. Ford’s current strategy of investing in niche vehicles may pay off, but the company will be forced to rely on those products even more now that their cars have vanished.
“You were the chosen one!!”
“Bring balance to the Fordce!”
Our family had at one time 4 focus an 06 hatch my oldest daughter an 07 ses 4door that’s loaded with every option my wife’s 08 ses and my 09 se
I can speak on dependability , no major problems .A clockspring on the 07 engine mounts on the 08 the 06 hatch got wrecked when the other driver blew a stop sign
When the time comes to replace my car i will have to look elsewhere or buy one with a stick
I read somewhere that the reason for that duel clutch transmission and the one in the dodge dart was the only way to meet fuel economy standards of the Obama administration
They should have switched to the European automatic
then problem solved
Not to downplay the tranny issues, but isn’t that really the only significant issue with these cars? Over here in Denmark this generation Focus is viewed as a rock solid used car buy – of course most are with the 1.6 diesel and 6-speed manual.
I do agree that there’s an underlying issue in selling cars you know to be flawed and that it says a lot about FoMoCo, but as a car, it seems that if you get the manual, you’re golden, i.e. it’s not the car, but a specific trim of the car.
The 2012 model did have some expected “new vehicle” teething issues, but once they were addressed, the only major mechanical problem was that automatic transmission. (North American buyers also complained that the back seat was too tight, but that’s not a mechanical problem.)
That’s true. Nevertheless, the headlines feed the long-standing narrative that Asian brands are more reliable than Fords.
The irony of engineering innovation is that it can give an automaker lots of initially positive press with the buff magazines but can backfire later on if the shiny new thing has some type of problem. Over the years some of Detroit’s biggest failures were initially lauded for their technical advances.
For example, torsion-bar suspension allowed Chrysler to make its 1957 models exceptionally low, but Virgil Exner’s biographer Peter Grist noted that a “new noise was frequently heard on the streets of America – the sharp crack of a snapping torsion bar!”
That proved to be only one of the problems with the 1957 Chryslers. It took years for the automaker to win back its reputation.
Chrysler had weather seals on torsion bars. Plymouth did not. It was the Plymouth torsion bars that broke.
The 1.6 6 speed is the powertrain shared between Ford/PSA, I see them selling with ptroblems but usually just needing clutch replacements.
Loved the writeup!
I think it’s a bit misplaced to use an image of the XD generation Elantra as a “compact cars were tinny and cheap” example in the beginning. When they came out they were a big step for Hyundai: one of the roomiest cars in the class, strong base motor, built well, and you could option it up in “GT” guise with leather seats which was kind of novel. Saab aping dash design and optional 5 door liftback body to boot.
I disagree. A girl I knew in college had one, and while you’re right that it was a big step up for Hyundai, the car was loud and the interior was terrible. It was exactly what you’d expect from a Hyundai of that era.
We still own a 2001 Elantra GT and its been a really reliable and well built car, I dont find the interior terrible at all, but I will say the “leather” seats are more like vinyl in how they felt/feel!
Some so-called “leather” seats ARE vinyl, unless a way has been found to back up a thin layer of leather with the white fabric that is revealed when vinyl upholstery cracks.
So much for truth in advertising.
I remember test driving a used Elantra GT with a leather interior with my friend back in 2012 ish when it would have been a 7 year old car or so, yes the leather is real but of quite a low grade. Leather wrapped shifter worn to an unrecognizable state by that point. Then again one of the other cars we test drove, a B5 Audi A4 Quattro 1.8T, also had an incredibly worn interior for the age and mileage, and some kind of issue with a lack of boost. That era of VAG interior was incredible in how nice it was but also in how it aged like old milk.
An XD Elantra would be a step UP in interior design and quality from something like a 1st gen Focus.
I have been as big of an American car homer as there has been. It has been decades since I have bought an American vehicle that has been anywhere close to new.
I agonized at our last purchase. I could have bought a Dodge Grand Caravan. But Chrysler’s record on new engine designs had not been good. How bad is it when you take a chance on a relatively unknown quantity from Korea before you will buy from Chrysler? And you know what? I have had zero second thoughts about my choice.
Ford has a long history of selling stuff that is really appealing in the showroom but that doesn’t age well. Which is a shame.
Good summary of the Focus. It’s a car that could’ve been great, but was only so-so.
Corporate restructurings are another story. Alan Mulally started out in the right direction, but the entrenched FoMoCo bureaucracy was intent on waiting him out. Restructurings usually take five years to grow roots, but in Alan’s case, five years was about the time he left so the veteran Ford people resumed some of their old ways. We’re seeing the results today. The future of all electric cars will either be a great success, or a great failure.
Got a ’12 Focus.
Fantastic handling, quality and ride.
Ford dealer said they will fix any tranny problem at no cost – if it happens, and if that means replacing the entire unit – again, no cost.
It is the second Focus in the family. Had a 2002 ZX5 for a decade. Fantastic car, but the 2012 is better in every way.
I’m still slowly looking around for the right used one – with a manual transmission. But despite a higher-than-expected take rate for them, they’re especially hard to find for sale. There’s nothing like a resale value tanked by a notoriously troublesome major component to convince someone to hold onto their car it seems.
It took us a while to find our 2013 used with the manual. But it is an enjoyable vehicle, not as much as our 2001 Focus was, but when the kids start needing a car for university work terms we may look at finding another and becoming a bifocal family again.
Interesting take, and as Mads alluded to above it seems to be the US automatic transmission that is the root of the problem, i.e. the manual don’t have the problems, neither do the automatics offered in other markets. A shame.
Re C4C, when I read that I doubted many Toyota Previa owners rushed to trade in their minivans for Corollas. I looked it up and as far as I can tell perhaps 5,000 Previas were traded in, which puts it extremely far down the list of vehicles traded by volume and I think lower than almost any other van, is that correct? The top ten trade-ins were ALL US branded vehicles, five of them Fords. The top ten cars purchased, with the exception of the Focus and Escape, were ALL non-US branded vehicles. I’m guessing the fact that the Ford has the dubious honor of having five of the top 10 trade-ins is the main reason that Focus and Escape are on the replacement list, i.e. trader/buyer convenience/comfort factor.
As regards the Impreza, the Motor Trend review linked to here seems to rate it extremely high in virtually all respects – they do point out that in regard to handling, compared to Focus and Mazda3 it “falls slightly short” and point out that it does better than Corolla and Sentra, hardly damning the car. Not every car’s mission is to outhandle everything designed prior to it and I wonder how it would have fared in inclement weather compared to the Focus, one of the prime considerations for Impreza buyers. There are likely aspects to the Ford, besides the transmission, in which it itself was considered inferior at the time of its own introduction.
It does suck for the owners to be stuck with a car that already suffered generally poor resale value compared to many of the import competition and now to be tarred with the transmission issue as well. I’ll be surprised to see how many go back to Ford yet again for their next one but have no doubt that many will. Resale is no biggie if the car is kept forever but if it’s unreliable to boot, well, that makes it hard to keep and rely on.
Yeah I thought singling out the Previa of all things was weird. Kind of a rare vehicle.
In total numbers the Previa is certainly down there but in percentage of vehicles in operation killed it is probably fairly high on the list because it was such a low volume vehicle.
I hate to be the rare exception in the comments, but I loathe the Foci series. Dad had a 2013 SE sedan that had all the characteristics of the busted powershift transmission. That car was gone within two years. My brand new 2001 ZX3 made his look like a Toyota; I was constantly at the dealer fixing shit under warranty. Constantly, as in every three weeks. I will never consider another Ford because of this, and also the horrible dealer treatment I kept receiving as the the problems kept progressing. Yeah, my 01 was top of its class in ride and handling by a good margin, but only when it ran. Ford got out of the passenger car line here for a reason, and in my opinion, it isn’t just “sedan sales”.
The first 2-3 years of the first-generation Focus were problematic in North America. Ford had corrected the problems by 2004, but by then, some damage had been done to the car’s image.
My wife was looking for a new car in late 2004. Her 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier gave up the ghost at 113,000 miles.
After the Honda dealer refused to deal with her on a new Civic, she tried the Ford dealer. I knew that Ford had worked to correct the problems with the Focus.
The Ford dealer was willing to make a good deal on a brand-new 2005 SE four-door sedan. We kept it until July 2016, and traded it with 235,000 miles on the odometer. It turned out to be a reasonably reliable car, with only two major problems during our ownership – a new alternator and a passenger-side rear-wheel bearing, both needed at around 190,000 miles.
When we traded the car, it was going to need something addressed with an engine mount and the air conditioning (which was one reason why we traded it, along with our children outgrowing the back seat).
I really liked the new-generation Focus, but by then, word of the problematic automatic transmission was already all over the internet. She ended up with a 2014 Escape that was coming off-lease.
“Ford’s current strategy of investing in niche vehicles may pay off, but the company will be forced to rely on those products even more now that their cars have vanished.”
I’d say Ford has done just the opposite, dropping niche vehicles, in shrinking segments, like the Fiesta and focusing on vehicles in large and growing segments.
This stood out to me as well. I don’t like crossovers or SUVs at all, but sedans are clearly becoming the niche players in this market. The tired old trope of “harrumph, when gas prices go up you’ll regret these guzzling SUVs!” really doesn’t work the way it did ten years ago, technology has moved on, there are numerous crossovers that equal or best the mileage of the 2009 Focuses people traded their SUVs in on during C4C
The reference to “niche vehicles” may mean Ford’s plan to offer more varieties of crossovers to appeal to different types of customers.
I’m not sure that’s a bad thing if that’s the case either. Ford, Chevy et al will always play second fiddle to Toyota by matching their lineup model by model, no matter how good the products were. The market has obviously changed since the 1960s and favors the appliance car approach, but there was a method to the madness of the American tradition of carving out new niches and creating fads to attract customers, and despite our percieved collective enlightenment as a society since then, it still works for with numerous non-automotive tech products.
The new Escape and the rumored “Baby Bronco” could be seen as moving to a new niche or splitting the segment to appeal to different subsets of buyers. It someways it could be like a renaissance of the PLC and the Sporty Coupes that preceded it and the large profits those generated.
You’ve got your basic Escape, filling in the role of the Falcon or Fairmont and the Baby Bronco will be today’s version of the Mustang or (aero)Thunderbird.
There are still a lot of people who want something stylish and unique – but also affordable. Even some of the people who say that they only want an appliance vehicle.
If the renderings are accurate, I believe that the new “Baby Bronco” could be a big hit for Ford.
Yup and many of those people are willing to pay more for a vehicle they deem more stylish/fashionable/unique.
I could maybe see that definition, however the increasing segmentation of the utility market is an industry wide trend.
They certainly haven’t dropped their focus on the F-Series, the #1 seller in the largest segment, and they have invested a lot in the new Escape and Explorer their #2 and #3 sellers, both in large, stable or growing segments.
It appears as though Ford is keeping the mainstream vehicles – F-series, Explorer and Escape – fresh, while using mainstream platforms as the basis for vehicles targeted at specific niches. That strikes me as a good strategy.
Having owned a 2012 hatchback these were good cars with a 6 speed manual for the money. The chassis could and did handle much more power. They drove well and to my eye, looked good going down the road.
“which enabled drivers to select anything in their iPod Classic or Zune.”
Props to you- A subtle call out to those in the audience who actually remember the Zune.
The Powershift automatic transmission is a dud…no doubt about that. But it is a joint venture among three companies, one American (Ford) and two German (Getrag and Luk). Nobody will ever ‘fess up,” I know; and one cannot trust the automotive mass media to tell the truth…but which among them is responsible for the problems?
It was first introduced in Europe, too.
Enjoyed the feature and agree Ford could have done better with the Focus. I have driven two different generations of European Focus; 07 and a 2010 both rentals.
I had two new Focus company cars; a 2008 SE which I turned in at around 80,000 kms. The only major mechanical fault was a half-shaft replaced under warranty. Wonderful little car replaced by an early 2012 Focus SE sedan. No issues with the 2012 model. As company cars did they a lot of highway time and made runs up and down Obed Mountain west of Edmonton to the coal mine every two weeks. The road could be punishing.
Later, I bought and enjoyed an 05 Focus 5-door hatch with a manual transmission, Again, reliable and a good highway car. With all the early Focus models still on the road, clearly they are reliable even through harsh Canadian winters.
Nice writeup and analysis Ed. I was all smitten with the outgoing Focus when it arrived in 2011. Here was a nimble driver’s car with a nice interior and peppy engine on the cheap end of the automotive spectrum right at the time VW was removing everything that made the Jetta special. Great, I thought, someone carrying the VW torch forward with an affordable compact sedan you purchase out of want rather than necessity. Turns out they carried the VW customer-searing reliability torch forward as well.
I remember the disdain for appliance cars like the Corolla, Civic, and Elantra back then. Why buy that boring soul-sucking thing when you can have this sleek Euro jewel? I almost bought into it. That would’ve been dumb.
Unfortunate about the Star Trek movie reboot franchise. The first one was good, promising, cast well, and Nimoy’s role made a good bridge from old to new. Then the second movie hit, a terrible and uninventive rehash of the Khan saga, and it became quickly apparent that Abram’s creativity extended only to camera work. You can get away with that in the Star Wars series, those have always been very fun but shallow.
The original Star Trek movies still inspire me to watch them. The Jar-Jar Abrams ones? Meh. No desire to re-watch them at all. Benedict Cumberbatch was wasted as Khan (and terrific as Sherlock, Turing and Smaug), but why did we need yet another rehash of that story? I would have preferred a movie without too many explosions and the Beastie Boys soundtrack, but the last Trek movie with actual science and well, human exploration and not too many explosions, was the first one.
Ford axed the Focus, there were none on the lot when I was shopping last month, and the only Fiestas (also with a noose around it’s neck with the trap door opening) there all had the dreaded 6-speed auto, the only standard nearby was an S model and it was over 200 miles away. So not an upscale interior and not many options would have been my only choice. The sales people weren’t very enthusiastic about bringing it here. I test drove one of their auto ones and yes, it was fun when I hooned it, but I had no desire to become part of a class action lawsuit in the future.
The comment by the sales manager that ‘it’s a cheap car and we make no money off of them, I only make $110.’ during the hand-off from the sales person to the manager when I balked at their latest trade and payment counter-offer turned me off. If the sales people have that attitude, what’s it like in the service department??
This is a good write up, thank you for the information. I predict that in about a decade or less junk yards are going to be full of these Focuses.
Original owner of a 6 year old ’14 ST, with 98K on the clock it’s been flawless. Rear brakes at 48K seemed a little excessive, but no complaints. The car may become a COAL.
I know Ford likes to claim that the reason for killing the Focus due poor sales is because the market has moved on from sedans or compact cars or some other blah blah blah
But the truth is that Ford took an attractive car like the Focus and ruined it with its automatic transmission. The galling thing is that Ford know from the start that trans was junk.
Had they put a conventional automatic transmission in then the Focus might have been a bigger seller. Instead folks heard all the bad things about the Focus and avoided it. Once folks hear about issues in a car, they avoid them. Plus the overall Focus design is now 7 years old so it is getting a bit long in the tooth
Looking at the numbers, despite the auto trans issue, up until 2018, the Focus sold in respectable numbers. From 2012-2015 sales were over 200K from 2016-2017, sales backslided to 168K (2016) and 158k (2017) which may or may not reflect the transmission issues or the fact that in 2019 the overall Focus design is getting long in the tooth. Perhaps coming out with a new Focus in 2016 or 2017 might have helped. I think all this talk in the news throughout 2018 about Ford wanting to kill off the Focus caused the sales to drop to 113k in 2018. After all few buyers that are going to dropping lots of money on a car (which is the second biggest purchase a person will make in their life time) want to find out that with in 2 weeks of buying their new car, that the model is to be discontinued and no more under that name plate will be made.
I mean if you look at the numbers, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota seem to be selling large amounts of compact cars. After all in 2018 Hyundai sold over 200k Elantras, Honda sold over 300k Civics and Toyota sold over 280k Corollas. That shows there is still a good market for these cars.
That being said, I think Hyundai is going to have to have a hard thought about the Sonata. It does not seem to sell well anymore. It could be that the design is old also(dates to 2011) or that the Elantra is stealing sales (due to the Elantra having somewhat similar interior dimensions)
I rented a Powershift Focus once and wondered how Avis could even let it out to a customer as is bucked and shuddered so badly in traffic. Once in the twisty mountain roads of Hawaii island and in manual mode, the car drove very well. But, most cars spend their life in city traffic. Ford automatic transmissions, post-C4/C6 have all been bad in my experience, like the E4OD was in my F-150.
I do remember how much of an improvement this Focus was when it came out and the auto magazines highlighting this when it came out. Ford did a solid job with it, but unfortunately didn’t find it profitable to significantly refresh it over the years.
My only first-hand experience with these is sadly negative, however. One of my good friends has a 2012 he bought new… it’s been through three transmissions. The reliability of transmissions is generally what I hear about these cars from people who own them, so it’s refreshing to hear in the comment thread here that others have had more positive experiences.
I don’t understand how Ford can screw up so bad. In Europe the fiesta and focus are top sellers, highly regarded for their driving dynamics, economy and reliability. The 1.0 Ecoboost is so good it’s not remotely a cheap car. They had to make them, and the Mondeo, as good As they could, because the sort of person who traditionally bought a Ford was now looking at entry level Audis, BMWs etc and they largely succeeded.
We’ve just bought a 2017 Focus Titanium X, powershift, 2 litre diesel, estate (a version I don’t think was ever offered in America). The dual clutch autobox problems have all been sorted out now and it operates like a dream. It has active self parking (it finds the space and operates the steering, you press the pedals and change from forward to reverse) which is worth its weight in gold if you live in a narrow terraced street. All the groovy Synch 3 electronics work and hook up to your phone no problem. Good touch screen controls and sat nav. Voice control that doesn’t need training. Automatic lights, wipers, folding mirrors, zenons, heated screens front and rear, dual climate control etc etc. It’s fast and averages 50mpg (imperial). We got it because out German Shepherd was finding the jump up into the back of the SUV too much. It’s an amazing car, comfortable and capable with features you usually only get on more premium cars.
Amazing, all in a small Ford. It’s only snobbery that’d stop you getting one. Best bang per buck in the second hand market.