The aging 2010 Ford Focus, freshened for 2008, has more sizzle and fewer models than before--unfortunately the useful wagon, practical hatchback and high-performance SVT versions have been jettisoned.
The result isn't picture perfect. Some good things remain. It rides decently, sips fuel sparingly and threads through traffic willingly. These assets cannot overcome its coarse mien.
Ford previewed its 2011 Focus at the North American International Auto Show. Until that version arrives, your Ford store offers the existing two-door coupe or four-door sedan.
The tested SE version puts on the airs. It is easily deflated. For instance, the leather seats feel like sitting on wax paper. There's a foot-lamp beacon aimed directly at your peepers. The dashboard's buttons are frenzied. Other gaffes include the trunk's unsightly stalactite paint, collage-effect interior plastics and a hair-raising, basketball-textured center armrest.
Missing: rear headrests and assist handles. Found: one skimpy rear-storage pocket. Misfires: the sunroof reduces the scant rear headroom, door handles operate like breaking chicken bones and the steering wheel no longer telescopes.
One stirs the 136-hp, four-cylinder engine via a five-speed manual transmission. The engine lacks punch but delivers 24 mpg city and 35 mpg hwy says the EPA. Observed: 25 mpg.
Ford sells lots of Focuses. At nearly $19,500, there's value. Its also spry. Nonetheless, the car highlights gadgets--the Sync cell-phone interface, plastic-chrome trim and odd instrumentation glyphs--rather than what hones a stellar compact sedan.