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2012 Ford Focus sedan and hatchback

2012 Ford Focus interior
Ford creates special trim level to play with the big boys in the compact sector

It appears that 40-mpg is the "must have" fuel economy threshold for today's compact cars in the North American market. Ford is joining the fray with its 2012 Focus now that the official EPA numbers are available. 

Ford is going the Chevrolet and Honda route by making a special, hyper-optimized trim level that gets higher fuel economy instead of going the Hyundai route by making every single trim level achieve the same high fuel economy ratings. In this case, the Focus SFE (Super Fuel Economy) achieves 28 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. 

The Focus SFE makes use of a 2.0-liter direct injection inline-four engine that produces an impressive 160hp. In order to get the best fuel economy from the vehicle, Ford uses a dual-clutch PowerShift transmission, special 16" steel wheels with aero covers, and active grille shutters (to improve aerodynamic efficiency). 

"Our customers tell us that fuel economy is the top reason for purchasing a Focus," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "The all-new Focus meets that demand with great fuel economy, class-leading technologies and features, exceptional standards of craftsmanship and driving dynamics typically reserved for larger, more expensive vehicles."

As for the competition, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze can achieve 42 mpg on the highway with the Eco trim level, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra gets 40 mpg highway in all trim levels (with automatic and manual transmissions), and the 2012 Honda Civic HF gets 41 mpg on the highway (39 mpg in other trim levels, with the exception of the hybrid). 

Regardless of how each auto manufacturer reaches the “magic” 40-mpg mark, it’s good to see them going for more fuel efficient gasoline engines than having to resort to more expensive hybrid powertrains.



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By czarchazm on 2/27/2011 11:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Why are you skeptical of the reliability of the new dual clutch transmission? This technology has been around for years and years, back when Porsche invented the wet-type dual clutch transmission in the 1980s. When Audi and VW developed theirs, they had reliability issues because they designed the cooling-oil delivery systems poorly.

This clutch is a dry clutch system, much like the types of clutches that have been used since the dawn of the automobile transmission systems. And then on top of all of that, you have a finely tuned computer that is perfect in its timing every shift and every launch. These dual clutch transmissions are lighter and more reliable than normal automatics too by virtue of the many fewer moving parts.

Do you have an interesting article that you might link that talks about the reliability or durability of the new Ford dual dry clutch transmission or the dual wet clutch transmission systems? I would be interested to read it.


By Samus on 2/27/2011 11:28:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that DCT's can outlast manual transmissions, but the jumpy feel of initial acceleration in every Audi A4 2.0T I've ridden in (3) has really turned me off. It just feels sloppy; I could do it smoother in my old Mazda Protege and sold it with the original clutch intact at 160,000 miles. It wasn't automatic, but it was smooth and dependable.

DCT's are simply not as smooth as automatic 'vacuum-based' transmissions (GM 4T40E, Ford AOD-E, 4R75, etc) and although automatic transmissions get a bad rap for reliability, it is 99% of the time the fault of the owner. People do not get it, change your transmission fluid at LEAST every 30,000 miles, more often if you do city driving or towing. I've changed the fluid in my Mercury Mountaineer (which has an AOD-E, a transmission with a terrible history of reliability) about 7 times since owning the vehicle from new. It has 226,000 miles on it, is 13 years old, and the ORIGINAL transmission still shifts sharp.

I've never had an automatic transmission fail on me because like all components of my vehicles, I take care of them.


By FITCamaro on 2/27/2011 11:44:11 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Most of the problems people have with vehicles are because of their lack of maintenance. I just bought a 2002 Saturn Vue 5-speed with 140,000 miles on it and it still has original struts and shocks. So definitely replacing those. Also had a bad wheel bearing that the dealership selling it didn't mention, but got them to cover that and fixed it before I drove it home. Gonna flush the transmission and clutch fluids as well.


By Dr of crap on 2/28/2011 10:38:36 AM , Rating: 1
I've NEVER changed tranny fluid in any car of any mileage and have NEVER had any tranny trouble.

And until you say I don't drive much, I drive all my cars to over 175,000 before I'm done with them, and they run like new when that time comes.


By FITCamaro on 2/28/2011 1:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
You were lucky then. Any transmission should be serviced at least once every 50,000 miles or so. Even manuals. And especially clutch fluid. It's proper color is not black.


By Dr of crap on 2/28/2011 1:10:45 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry I stick by my, leave the tranny fluid alone posting.
I have a 1998 with 168,000 miles no tranny problems, and no fluid changes, and it runs like new.
Not too many can say that.


By Samus on 2/28/2011 4:48:51 PM , Rating: 1
You're right, not too many can say that, because most un-maintained transmissions fail around 90,000 miles because the original filter clogs of metal fragments (wear of bands and clutches in the throttle body) which inevitably causes the pump or torque convertor to fail; transmission pump failure is the most common transmission failure I've seen and it goes quickly and without warning, because it has to work against unneccessary restriction caused by a clogged filter.

Some transmissions will last longer than others without fluid exchange and maintenance (particularely filter changes) factors being more fluid capacity, deeper sumps, larger filters and/or larger transmission coolers. Some vehicles, like the Chevy Cavalier, have no transmission cooler and almost all of those 4T40E transmissions fail around 100,000 miles if not flushed. The fluid breaks down from tremendous heat and eventually the bands burn up and it starts whining. The first band to go is always the overdrive band, which is a pathetic 20mm thick. Most OD bands in Japanese and European slushboxes are 36-50mm depending on vehicle power/weight. Even a Ford Explorer as a 2" overdrive band in its AOD-based slushbox.

The age-old myth "If you've never changed your transmission fluid, don't , because the fluid in there is all that is holding it together" reaks of redneck idiology. That's not how mechanical vacuum driven machines work. Change the fluid as OFTEN as you can afford and you WILL get one million miles out of a well-engineered slushbox.

I would guess you have a Toyota with a transmission built by Aisin-Warner. One of Aisin's engineering design goals when building the first A-series transmission in the 1970's for Toyota was minimal maintenance. It came at a cost of weight and performance, which is why Toyota's are typically underpowered, have underwhelming automatic-equiped fuel economy (when compared to Honda's, for example) and cost more to manufacture. These trade-off's are unacceptable, as all people have to do is spend $100 every 30,000-50,000 miles to change the fluid and filter. The saved fuel economy over this mileage timeframe with a well built, light weight, low fluid capacity transmission virtually cancel this expense out.

But Toyota's are made for idiots who have no passion for driving and treat their vehicles like shit, so it makes sense to make them as reliable and boring as possible at the cost of everything else, such as safety, performance, fuel economy, etc.

I'd bet almost every Toyota on the road with beyond 250,000 miles has a manual transmission since by this point most of the automatics have failed, whereas every Volkswagen, Mercedes, or Ford with beyond 250,000 miles has an automatic because these people probably maintain their vehicles.


By FITCamaro on 3/1/2011 8:01:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"If you've never changed your transmission fluid, don't , because the fluid in there is all that is holding it together" reaks of redneck idiology.


Most shops won't change the fluid on a transmission with extremely high miles that has never had the fluid changed. Because it can come apart once the gunk that is the original fluid is removed. And the shop doesn't want to risk the transmission no longer working once they change the fluid and then they're blamed for it.

I know my buddy who runs a Firestone wouldn't change the fluid on one.


By Andrwken on 3/1/2011 1:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with changing transmission fluid on transmissions that haven't regularly is the high level of detergents used. They will break up debris and lodge it in your valve body (blocked passages where the check balls are located is common), causing failure. The old oil lost those additives years ago.

I still don't change my trans fluid. (father runs a transmission shop on top of it) I have 3 vehicles with 125k, 175k, and 200k right now. Christ, I need to buy a new vehicle!


By Dr of crap on 3/1/2011 12:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry - I've only owned US brand cars.
So your theory doesn't work, does it.
Yes I see how it might be that fluid changes could be good.
I'd also say over 70% of the cars on the road have not had the fluid change done.
Since I don't drive like an ass maybe my trannys last.
All I'm saying is I make sure it's full and that's all.


By Dr of crap on 3/2/2011 8:41:17 AM , Rating: 2
"I'd bet almost every Toyota on the road with beyond 250,000 miles has a manual transmission since by this point most of the automatics have failed, whereas every Volkswagen, Mercedes, or Ford with beyond 250,000 miles has an automatic because these people probably maintain their vehicles."

Man, you must have the wool pulled over your eyes to think that all these VW, Mercedes, and Ford owners service their cars on schedule.

And every 30,000 - are you on crack? Every 30,000? That will by far make the $$ investment not worth the extra cost of a Toyota.


By robertisaar on 2/28/2011 11:49:13 AM , Rating: 2
vacuum-based?

the real difference is a torque converter compared to a computer applying a PWM operated clutch.

that's the difference you're feeling.


RE: I really like the look of the 2012 Focus Hatchback
By Hulk on 2/28/2011 12:44:44 AM , Rating: 1
I'll tell you why I'm skeptical of dsg's?

First of all while the technology has been around for a while the number of units in production is very small and only goes back about 10 years. Do a search for VW or Audi DSG issues and you'll be skeptical too. Or look at this article: http://www.myturbodiesel.com/1000q/DSG-faq-VW-Audi... Or visit a VW of Audi forum and look at owner stories.

The current torque converter based automatic transmission first developed by GM 60 years ago took a good 30 or 40 years to reach the nearly bulletproof units we see today. As a Mechanical Engineer myself I have some experience with the mechanics of the dual clutch automated transmission and it is one complicated piece of engineering. I'll be convinced of the reliability of the technology when we see a plethora of cars with these driving around with 100,000 plus miles on them without issues.

The act of pushing in the clutch letting of the gas, shifting, shifting, and releasing the clutch depends on speed, load, how fast you're trying to accelerate, whether you're going straight line or on a curve, uphill/downhill, and on and on. I've driven a variety of DSG's and they are pretty darn good but you get a lot more "clunky" shifts than a normal auto. And this clunking, to my reasoning, is not a good thing when it comes to reliability and longevity.

In addition the Mechtronics units in the VW's and Audi's are not serviceable and cost $5000 I have read to replace. Scary if you ask me.

Porsche and Ferrari owners don't care about reliability or service costs as much as someone buying a 20k car. They don't put on the miles and can afford the repairs. Or won't own the car beyond the warranty.

Is that enough to warrant skepticism? I'm not saying they're bad, or will never prove themselves but I'm skeptical at this point in time. Is that a crazy statement?

No manufacturer will warranty them for more than 60k miles either. Why's that? Why won't they stand behind them for 100k or more miles?

Eventually I think we'll see them mainstreamed but not before a lot of people get burned with expensive repairs and having their cars having long stays in the garage, and/or getting stuck on the road because the damn thing won't go into gear, or out of gear or whatever.

I don't want to beta test one.


By FITCamaro on 2/28/2011 7:03:47 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah I definitely will wait for that to mature before I ever think about owning a car with one. But ultimately I enjoy having a man pedal in my cars. If I have my way, I'll never own another automatic.


By darkhawk1980 on 2/28/2011 7:29:13 AM , Rating: 2
You should probably do more research before commenting...

Yes, Audi/VW has had problems with them, but what you completely fail to mention is that they actually take care of their customers and replace OR refund them the money spent on the Mechatronics unit. Do a search, you'll find the recalls. I have first hand experience with this, having a 2008 R32 with a DSG. Honestly, I came from a long line of manual cars, the DSG in my R32 is great. While I may not have as much fun shifting the car, it's more reliable than my manual's were, and can handle quite a bit more power than the manual's can. The DSG in my R32 is documented as handling more than double the power the car can provide in stock form. And when I say handle, I mean it can do that as a daily driver with occasional track launches.

It's great you don't like DSG's, just don't feed so much mis-information to support your side of the story without providing the other side. Just shows you only wanted to research enough to support your claim.


By bah12 on 2/28/2011 9:23:23 AM , Rating: 2
You should probably do some basic logic research, and realize that what you have posted is not a rebuttle, but a confirmation of his concerns.
quote:
Do a search, you'll find the recalls.

No crap, that is exactly what he is concerned about. We aren't talking about HOW the company responds to the failures, rather that there ARE failures. Now you can debate whether those failures are abnormally high, but you cannot discount his concerns by providing further proof that the technology is not bulletproof.

Also if you've read this thread at all you'd see that most of the posters concerned are expecting 100K+ hassle free miles. Are you saying Audi/VW are going to honor their issues past the warranty? Believe it or not a good portion of people keep their car past the warranty.

So quit spreading your misinformation that there is nothing to be concerned about, and go troll elsewhere.


By Hulk on 2/28/2011 10:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
You have me in the wrong category sir.

I like the DSG a lot. I test drove a GTI and loved it. And I know all about that one recall. But if you search around you'll find lots of people with problems that had to pay for replacement units.

As far as "what it can handle power-wise." In case you didn't know every part in a car is designed to handle the loads it will receive plus some safety/wear factor. A transmission's capacity is based on torque, not power or hp. The R32's unit is simply selected off the shelf by VW as a unit to handle that car's torque. Or designed for that car if no unit is available in the VW inventory.

How many miles do you have on your R32? It's a great car. A friend of mine had one and I drove it. Really nice. I think the Golf R is going to be a show stopper too.

Anyway to boil it down. I'm saying that a DSG transmission on average will be less reliable than a normal auto or standard. I don't think that's a wild claim. There are lots of manuals out there with 200+ miles on them with the original clutch. Same for conventional autos. Let's see how many DSG's make the 200k mark. Or even 150k. Or even 100k.

You want anecdotal evidence? One dealer told me the DSG for them has been totally reliable. Another told me that if you plan on keeping the car past 50k miles don't buy the DSG. Now I realize that the one dealer may be wanting to move the DSG's and the other needed to move the manuals, but saying things like that surely doesn't help the DSG's case!


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