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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 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.


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