Future CC Drive Report: 2010 Ford Focus SE – Providing Clarity

An opportunity presented itself the other morning:  leaving for a work related day trip at 5 am on a cold morning, I could either use my assigned 2007 Chevrolet Silverado that has vinyl seats and had sat outside all night or I could take a 2010 Ford Focus from the pool that had been parked in a heated garage.

Being considerate, I let a coworker use the pickup.

Knowing it’s best to try every flavor of ice cream at the store, this Focus helped satisfy the urge of curiosity.  While I had driven this very Focus a time or two previously, this particular trip allowed me to better immerse myself in it as I drove some curvy, hilly roads – not just boring four-lanes as had previously been the case.

Settling into the Focus was quite easy though perhaps atypical.  The seat was adjusted as far back as it would go, barely allowing my average length arms to reach the steering wheel.  With the standard back-and-forth and height adjustments, I was able to find my favored seating position of closer than typical for others my size with the top of the steering wheel just below shoulder level.

The drivers seat itself is quite comfortable but does grow rather firm after an hour or so.

The first thing I noticed was the MyKey system had been activated, limiting the Focus to a maximum speed of 80 mph.  Since it’s a fleet vehicle, I suppose this isn’t unreasonable despite the MyKey system being presented as a tool to curb the enthusiasm of overzealous teens.

On second thought, it was a really good idea to have the MyKey system activated given the sheer number of people who drive this car.  At 75 mph, the “do-dee-do” Ford chime sings once with a pop-up on the dashboard giving the cryptic “Vehicle Near Top Speed” message.

It makes one feel so rebellious.

Being solo for this trip, I was able to take the curves and hills on US 63 at Jason Speed, which is whatever speed I find most comfortable.  Frankly, at 5 am in the rural area I was traversing, there are no members of any constabulary on duty; deer are the prime concern at that time of day.

Curves are where the Focus really shines – it rips into curves with little fanfare and keeps blazing a trail all the way through.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve driven the same hills and curves in much better handling cars (such as this 2014 Corvette), but for a compact sedan, this Focus was a hoot.  It’s quite toss-able and it seems to enjoy getting such a cardiovascular workout.

There is temptation to refer to the Focus as go-cart like given its remarkable nimbleness, but that descriptor might create the impression of condescension.

Oh, what’s the harm?  In comparison to other vehicles I’ve driven on this same road, it is a go-cart.  My typical steed, the aforementioned Silverado, greatly outguns the Focus when it comes to accelerating up hills, but the Focus is simply more viscerally pleasing on such roads.

Outward visibility is mediocre, but isn’t that true with most contemporary cars?  This particular Focus has one odd trait that I’m still trying to figure out.  The windows are tinted, which in and of itself is no big deal.  While the door windows are fine, the tint on the rear glass is a little disconcerting; it yields some mild distortion of objects behind you.  Sure, you can see things, but everything out of the Focus is out of focus.  I suspect the tinting may be aftermarket, but that is only speculation.

The 2.0 liter engine is rated at 140 to 143 horsepower, depending upon source.  Torque is in the upper 130 ft-lb range.  As alluded to, this little four-pot isn’t a powerhouse and needs to downshift on most hills.  In comparison to various other four-cylinder engines I’ve driven throughout my life, it’s above average in terms of livability.  The only real demerit I can toss at this engine is it does get a little buzzy at times, particularly when idling in drive, a trait that has contributed to my historically mixed emotions about four-cylinder engines.

However, this particular Focus has provided nearly 132,000 miles of service to a multitude of drivers.  Given I’ve seen some really exotic things crop up in light-duty fleet vehicles during my career, I’m not going to overly ridicule the Focus for being a little on the buzzy side as it has had zero issues in its entire service life.

Since my employer is fastidious about keeping records on the entire fleet, I can confidently tell you this very Focus has averaged 31.2 mpg for its service life.  That beats the EPA rating of 28 mpg in combined city/highway driving, which is the type of conditions this Focus has experienced.  For highway driving, the automatic transmission Focus is rated at 34 mpg.

Retrieving the keys to the Focus the previous afternoon, I struck up a conversation with the service attendant and caretaker of the pool vehicles.  As is usual for him, he hit upon a thought both compelling and profane.

“Jason, people gripe about those three Focus’s we’ve got.  I don’t why, they’re not bad little cars.  I would much rather drive one of them than those damn Fusions we got two years ago; the console in that Fusion doesn’t play well with full-sized people, which is why we got rid of them.  The console in that Fusion acted like it wanted to crawl up my…” well, you know.

On that note, may I introduce you to one of the best consoles Ford has made in this millennium?

Maybe that picture isn’t demonstrative enough; here, let me put a bottle of water between my leg and the console to illustrate the wonderfully copious amount of space between my leg and the console.  Isn’t that delightful?  If I had to knock this Focus for anything, it would be for the door panel being a smidgeon too close, but it wasn’t that bad.

Would I drive this Focus again?  Absolutely!  Maybe its design was getting a little long in the tooth by 2010, but I really don’t care about that.  It drives great, it makes reasonable power, and it is quite comfortable for being a petite car.  It has demonstrated a distinct durability in a vocation that will either make or break a car; apart from one little intermittent squeak in the rear suspension that was barely audible, this Focus is as solid and tight as the day it was built.

For what it is, what more could anybody want?