2012 Ford Focus SE

I spent some quality time behind the wheel of our Focus, driving it to Northern Michigan and back over a weekend. It handles superbly on the highway, and equipped with the sport package, it handles well in corners. It's quite evident that the new Focus has European roots, as its overall feel is much more refined than its U.S.-engineered predecessor.

The exterior styling is unmistakably European and a vast departure from previous-generation, U.S.-spec Focus models. I was particularly impressed with the fuel door, which rather than an afterthought, fits nicely with the existing lines of the car near the passenger-side taillamp. Our test car came equipped with seventeen-inch wheels, which at an additional cost of only $495 are definitely worth the consideration of buyers.

Interior designers went to great lengths to make the space usable and efficient. Small pockets and cubbies are abundant. My rear passengers described the bench seat as spacious and comfortable, with the center position void of the typical raised section. Road noise is kept to a minimum. My only real complaint from the driver's seat had to do with the convex insets found on the side mirrors, which were rather distracting and always seemed to be in the way.

This was my first experience with Ford's Sync connectivity system, and like Joe I had a difficult time pairing my phone at first. The problem appears to have been that the maximum number of phones had been stored in the system, but after a quick master reset the issue was rectified. Contrary to the reports of many other testers, Sync had no trouble understanding my voice commands.

The standard 2.0-liter I-4 found in all current Focus models revs smoothly and provides adequate fuel economy, but it's far from peppy. Expecting extraordinary fuel economy figures, I was somewhat disappointed when, after an entire tank of highway driving, I did no better than 33 mpg, 3 mpg short of the EPA rating.

Steve Diehlman, Assistant Web Producer

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