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2012 Ford Focus: TheCarConnection's Best Car To Buy 2012

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After driving thousands of miles in more than 200 new vehicles in the past year, and rating each one independently, High Gear Media's editors have chosen a winner.

TheCarConnection's Best Car To Buy 2012 is the 2012 Ford Focus.

Each year, our team rates each new vehicle we review based on styling, performance, utility, safety, and features. As the year progresses, we begin to see some winners emerge from the usual pack of 50 to 70 brand-new or significantly updated vehicles we drive each year--at home, or around the world.

To pick our Best Car To Buy winner, we sift through the numeric ratings to find the highest-scoring new car from the current model year. We also set a base-price limit of $50,000, since most car shoppers who come to TheCarConnection already know how we feel about the Astons, Maseratis and Ferraris of the world. It means some excellent cars don't stand a chance--but keeps us well aware of value, a critical piece of the puzzle for shoppers.

The Focus' win over vehicles like the Range Rover Evoque, Hyundai Veloster, Mercedes M-Class and Chevy Sonic, comes down to personality. Even in a day where dull, droning econoboxes are the exception rather than the rule, the 2012 Focus grabs attention, both for the way it looks and for the way it handles. That's held true for each of the more than half-dozen differently-equipped Focuses our editors have sampled.

The Focus' winning styling earned a 9 from our editors, as much for its aero-crisp exterior as for its flamboyant interior--and though we prefer the sleek five-door, the four-door sedan's rendered about as well as anything in the class. The Focus also earned a score of 8 for performance, a high rating for a compact car with just 160 horsepower on tap. Even before a turbo ST edition arrives, the Focus feels alive, with sweet steering and a sporty ride overcoming its lackluster optional automatic transmission.

It's compact in the European sense, which makes the back seat more snug than some vehicles in its class, but the Focus gets great front seats and class-leading safety features, like an available rearview camera. And when it comes to luxury and entertainment features, the 2012 Focus goes well beyond the state of the art, with an array of options that include Sony sound systems, active parking assist for tight parallel parking spots, and MyFord Touch and its voice- or touch-controlled interface.

In the balance, the 2012 Ford Focus is an engaging, premium-feeling compact car that nudges into sport-sedan territory--and we can't wait to drive the 240-hp ST.

Congratulations to the Focus, TheCarConnection's Best Car To Buy 2012--and also to our other winners. MotorAuthority, our performance and luxury-car destination, has chosen the 2012 Porsche 911 as its Best Car To Buy this year, while Green Car Reports has named the 2012 Toyota Prius family as its Best Car To Buy.

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Comments (25)
  1. Except it will break down constantly due in part to a poorly implemented dual clutch gearbox

  2. The Focus's transmission is not unreliable. It may be clunky, odd and even unrefined, but it functions as intended and doesn't fail. Poor execution doesn't always equal poor reliability.

  3. Good win for Ford. The new Focus is light years ahead of the older model and puts the new Civic to shame. Drives sharp, great ride, and I'm sure the programming on the transmission will be addressed as time passes.
    Congrats to Ford.

  4. Wow, talk about ironic timing; your Best Car To Buy 2012 comes just as sales of the Focus are sinking quickly due to the aforementioned DCT issues and problems with Ford's communications systems. I love the look of the Focus, but is a car with quality so bad that it cannot even be recommended by Consumer Reports really be a best car? Anywhere?
    Sorry, I'm with Bryant here. Ford did 95% of a great job and will eventually get this right. The "don't worry about it, Ford will eventually fix this" attitude of ElSanchex302 is baffling.
    Wow, after weeks of reading every day about the major problems with this vehicle and watching the sales plummet, are you kidding me?

  5. The CR ratings (like who gives a flying s&*t) are based on some folks inability to operate the My Ford Touch/Sync systems. These are the same people who still use flip phones with button dials and who are scared to death of a "smart phone". As for the DCT, while some folks don't like it as much as a pure auto (which is less efficient), I've yet to read of any failures and I follow this stuff daily. The new Focus is a great little car and it makes me wonder why I'm still driving my '07 Cayman S which while wonderful is, on the whole, a complete waste of money.

  6. Ah, yes, extremely arrognt, supercilious Jim... sales are dropping like crazy and anyone who disagrees with you must be an idiot. Wonderful to be so much in love with your own biased opinion?

    Yet to read of any failures...?!?! Are you kidding, that's mostly what's being written about and is a MAJOR reason for the recent poor reviews elsewhere. Do you know how to use Google, all-knowing one?

    How do I know??? I work for Nidec, one of the major suppliers to the DCT, and luckily, not one affected by the quality issues. It's a software issue, at least primarily and Ford has acknowledged the problem more than once if you actually followed these things. But homers aren't interested in facts, are they?

  7. Seriously, Ford has had so many problems with this DCT that Chrysler announced about two weeks ago that it would be delaying releases of DCTs. Again, try Google, oh, all-knowing technology master who apparently is unable to read the automotive news.

    But I must be imagining the slumping sales, the poor press, the quality meetings and Ford's public acknowledgement of the problems, as well as Chrysler's response to this as well. And it's not just CR, you twit, again, feel free to actually research something next time or do technical geniuses such as yourself need to have several links sent to you publicly? I'd be happy to help you with an actual search for the truth instead of blind, delusional fanboy protection.

  8. The Focus is posting sales records. You're ignorant and ill-informed.

  9. I have a 2012 Focus sel and love it. Thanks for the WIN!!!

  10. I own a 2012 Focus, and found the clutch was irritating at low speeds for the first 500 miles. Then, a miracle: I've adjusted to driving a DCT as opposed to a conventional automatic, and the car has adapted to my driving style.

    As for the MyTouch, like any computer, sometimes it crashes. You might need to un-plug and re-plug your phone to restore a lost connection, or wait 2 seconds before pushing another button, etc. If you read the manual and are willing to learn new technology, it is wonderful. Hint: Turn off the Wi-Fi to keep your music from skipping each time you encounter a new unprotected network.

    And as everyone has said, the looks and handling are phenomenal. People look, and then do a double-take when they realize it is a Ford.

  11. Mine is crashing every day now. I have read the manual and am only using basic functions. I get into my car and the radio is already on (as I left it)...then, after not doing anything, the MyTouch freezes. How do I know this? The time hasn't changed in 20 minutes of driving. So I press a button and voila...nothing responds.

    Crashing sometimes would be ok...not every day!

  12. It amazes me that someone like John Glass automatically assumes that the Mytouch and DTC problems can only be blamed on the driver.

    I have a new focus that is only 5 days old, and for the last three days, the Mytouch has been crashing. It won't even turn off after the car has been shut off and the key removed. I called my salesman and he immediately pointed me to service. No "gee, I'm really sorry about that"...just a response that sounded like he knew this would happen.

    I hope they can fix it when I bring it in for its first service visit, in its first week.

  13. there's an update available, I'm sure they installed it for you. no?

    newsflash when someone sells you a computer with Windows 7 or Apple OS-X if it didn't come pre-loaded with the latest service pack (new minor features, plus fixes for flaws and known issues) you can still download it for free. don't expect the salesman to apologize.

  14. Are you seriously comparing computer operating system like Windows that is connected to Internet and runs thousands of applications to car device software? That's ridiculous!
    This is car we're talking about. If such simple software hasn't been tested properly what else wasn't ... breaks, safety features... maybe ford will tell you to upgrade you software next time your airbag doesn't open...

  15. have a 2001, been great reliable transportation

  16. There is no problem with the transmission ! The complain was about that people did not like it ! And I got one and it was weard a time but after 1000 km it run super and I do think that the focus is the top for the ride and handling ! Sorry but people are not well inform and repeat things that they do not know about ! Consumers Report do not make difference between a serious problem and a question of taste! And my ford touch work very well ! But again people who knows nothing about electronic critic it !

  17. I drove this (4-door) for a week last November and it was by far the best rental car I'd driven, possibly ever. I'd buy one in a heartbeat. and I'm coming from a midsized crossover SUV I'm VERY happy with. there are a few things to get used to on the inside, since there are about a million buttons and even the way the Ecoboost drives (accelerates/idles) is a little different than people are used to. but all in all, a near-perfect ride. good power and outstanding gas mileage for it's class. build quality and design were both excellent.

  18. hi everyone i come from china,and please excuse my english, New Focus has just listed in China,and i envy you can have this car at first time ,I sincerely hope that we can communicate with each other

  19. Quan, welcome to the site and we welcome your comments. Good luck with your English, but just do your best. We all make mistakes...

  20. is NOT an automatic transmission. It is a computer controlled manual with dual clutches. They are even dry clutches at that!
    I have a 2012. I admit it felt odd at someone was driving a stick and letting the clutch out when taking off from a stop...or the way the engine idles when slowing down at parking lot speeds. But if Ford did a better job telling people it is not a conventional auto...customers might not complain as much.
    And for that it has been shifts smoother than ANY automatic I've ever owned. And it gets amazing mileage!
    I love my 2012 Focus.

  21. is NOT an automatic transmission. It is a computer controlled manual with dual clutches. They are even dry clutches at that!
    I have a 2012. I admit it felt odd at someone was driving a stick and letting the clutch out when taking off from a stop...or the way the engine idles when slowing down at parking lot speeds. But if Ford did a better job telling people it is not a conventional auto...customers might not complain as much.
    And for that it has been shifts smoother than ANY automatic I've ever owned. And it gets amazing mileage!
    I love my 2012 Focus.

  22. I have had my 2012 SE h'back with the 203A and Sport pkg. for a week or two and it is the cat's butt. Sure, the CVT is a bit offputting at first but I've even dabbled with the 'sport' mode on the tranny and it's a blast. MPG is 30 in the city and a solid 35+ on the highway. Power exceeds needs and the comfort is phenomenal. Is it a Grand Marquis inside? Nope, but it is a solid 4-seater with super driver ergonomics.
    Honda had a problem with head gaskets in the late 70's and their response to the problem made them a quality leader. Trust Ford to do the same with MySync, MyFord. I've not had a problem but, if I do, I'll get it fixed at Ford's expense.
    I've owned dozens of Hondas and this is my 3rd Ford. Never will I look back.

  23. Question I live in Malta that is notorious for horrendous roads,narrow streets and limited parking.At this moment I am driving a 2009 Ford Fiesta and because of other reasons thinking of moving to a Ford Focus.Can someone give me a good idea on the ride of the Focus? Thanks.

  24. I live in puerto rico, your roads cant be this bad, but it handles pot holes great!. It is a true independent rear suspension.Not the cheaper torsion solid rear axle found on the other cars of this sort. Keep in mind its got a fairly low front end. And the speed bumps they forgot to paint yellow? we got them too!LOL test one out, You might be suprised. I would recommend it.

  25. After the tsb update its a good runnng car. The tranny will get tweaked as time goes. Its great on mountain roads. Personally its a little low on ground clearance. I dont think I would like a conventional auto anymore. Since I have one in my other car. The powershift simply blows away a hydraulic tranny.

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