Reviews

2013 Ford Focus Walk Around

The Ford Focus looks like a big Fiesta, with an unmistakably Ford shape. The Hatchback looks especially aerodynamic. The Focus spent 1000 hours in the wind tunnel to get its sleek shape and low roofline. It yields a 0.295 coefficient of drag, an improvement by nearly 8 percent over the previous (pre-2012) Focus.

Active grille shutters block airflow to the radiator when it's not required, which improves aerodynamics and fuel mileage. NASCAR racers did this with cardboard and duct tape for years, but now it's fully electronic; the shutters have 15 different positions, based on engine temperature. Other cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze are doing this, as well.

Ford calls the distinctive grille split-trapezoid. Fortunately, the grille is black and not chrome and in-your-face like other Ford models. There are eight thin horizontal bars in a huge-mouthed trapezoid whose wide side is the bottom and is divided into three segments by two body-colored vertical bars like catfish chin whiskers. It looks better than it sounds, balanced by a horizontal opening above it, with one thin chrome bar and a neat blue Ford oval. The long thin trapezoidish headlamps wrap forward and downward from the cheeks of the car. They're like sweeping dragon's eyes, says Ford.

Sculpted lines at the sills and door handles flow back from neat modest flared front fenders to give the Focus a forward-moving slant: kinetic design energy, Ford calls it. The windshield is steeply raked and roofline steeply dropped to the liftgate glass, making about as much of a teardrop as a chopped hatchback can be. The side window outline is shaped like a picture of smoke traveling over a sleek car in a wind tunnel. Big vertical taillamps make the Focus look being safe and Volvo-like.

The Focus SE looks cleaner, we think, lacking chrome beltline trim. The 17-inch Titanium wheels are multi-spoke wagon wheels, better looking than the optional 18-inch wheels that are like big chrome stars with thin prongs.

The Focus chassis uses a crash structure designed for the larger Taurus. More than 55 percent is high-strength steels, including Boron B-pillars and front beam, and a decoupling powertrain cradle to keep the engine out of the cabin in a head-on crash.

Interior

The first thing we notice about the Focus is its seats. Focus models have had comfortable seats for years tne the current models come standard in sturdy fabric, with leather optional. The seats in the Focus are much better than those in the Chevrolet Cruze.

The interior of the Focus feels like a cockpit. With all its bells and whistles, we could easily imagine being a pilot with all those dials, switches, controls that feel like they wrap around to the elbows on the center stack, and LED ambient lighting in a choice of seven colors. The Focus Electric feels even more futuristic, with two screens that show information about driving efficiency, charge capacity and other do-dads related to the electric powertrain.

The gauges on the dashboard and instrument panel are easy to read: big tach and speedo with cool blue needles, fuel and engine temp between them, and easy-to-read digital info above the fuel and temp. The soft materials are clearly high quality, while the hard materials look slathered on: for example four big vertical vents that rival the giant grille in terms of in-your-faceness, and thick shiny trim that lines the edges of the center stack, console, and thick horizontal spokes of the steering wheel. However, we haven't been in a base S model, maybe it's got a more spartan interior missing the overkill trim. We have no problem with the optional piano black trim.

The MyFord Touch powered by SYNC connectivity system uses twin high-resolution screens, including an 8-inch touch screen in the center console, to communicate with your car. Ford says it's designed to be simple and completely intuitive for the driver. We're not sure they've succeeded in achieving this, but they are continuing to work on it.

There's excellent legroom in front, but the current generation Focus is shy on rear legroom at 33.2 inches, less than the amount offered in the previous generation Focus. Rear legroom is a key feature for a compact car, but Ford appears to have discounted it in the Focus. By comparison, the Volkswagen Jetta, a stylish but not flashy car, has 38.1 inches of rear legroom with the same wheelbase.

The 60/40 fold-flat rear seats increase trunk volume from its so-so 13.2 cubic feet (the Jetta has 15.5) and the hatch cargo capacity to a hefty 44.8 cubic feet.

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