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2012 Ford Focus SE reviews

I wanted awd, and am looking at a used Subaru Outback and a used Honda CRV, but … I’m also thinking about a 2012 Ford Focus SE hatchback manual trans. I’d like a manual trans, hard to find in a good used car, and I like the hatch. Drawbacks for me: no awd, and low ground clearance. Anyone have reviews of this new model to share? I read great stuff from many car reviewers, but consumer reviews are starting to show problems.

What sort of problems are you seeing?

As a rule, ANY vehicle you look up will have people criticizing it. That’s the beauty of the internet - complaints are FAR more rampant than raves.

I’ve seen two common reliability issues with them - one is a transmission issue that from what I’ve seen, the complaints fell off a cliff with a few updates Ford put on the software. For some reason, Ford rarely seems to get transmission programming right from “Job 1”, but once updated, they’re ok…

The other issue I see is the MyFordTouch system, which seems to have been a disaster, but I’ve seen a lot of links on tech blogs that the problems were tracked back to two issues, and the major one was a bluetooth compatibility issue that has been fixed with the updates they’re pushing out now.

Personally, I think that system is an incredible waste of money and wouldn’t buy it anyway, so I wouldn’t care what the reliability issues are with a system I wouldn’t want or buy…

BTW, as an example of the # of complaints you’ll see vs. raves on the net -

I just had 18 new windows installed in my house. The windows I chose had probably 10 times as many complaints on line about low quality as positive comments. One person after another complained about air leaks in corners, ice on the inside panes, etc… Well, we got them professionally installed, and even with 60 mph winds and sub-freezing temperatures, there were no noticeable drafts and the corners of the window sashes (where leaks are most likely to occur) were barely any cooler than the interior air temp of the home. With subfreezing temps during the night and highs in the 40s during the day, we haven’t had to run the furnace at all.

Low quality my keester. :slight_smile:

Like @eraser1998 said, only issues were initial shifting problems with the automatic, not a problem for you, regardless. I’d consider it, but only you can decide if the fwd/low ground clearance is a problem. Why did you start out considering awd?

I’ve never been a big fan of Ford vehicles, but the Focus is probably one of the better choices in this segment.

I’d go to a site like and look at owner’s reviews of the cars you’re considering, if you already haven’t. And of course test drive one. If you can find a rental company that has them, drive one for a weekend and see what you think. It’s a fairly cheap way to keep from making a mistake.

Didn’t a few people recently post re. batteries mysteriously draining on some Ford vehicles? I don’t remember if that was the Focus or Fusion model.

@oblivion - yes, there was a post recently about someone with battery problems. I haven’t seen more than the one post, though - and their problem was solved… eventually… I blame the Ford dealer in question for not doing a proper diagnosis. I could see simply swapping the battery the first time, but after that, they should have done a proper check for drains. Looks like a relatively easy fix once they got around to it.

Those sorts of problems aren’t that unusual to pop up randomly in all brands - I’ve had the exact same thing happen in our Toyotas that we’ve had…

Edit: Yes, it was the Focus that poster had a problem with.

Weren’t there a lot of ‘me too!’ comments added to that post about the Focus with the draining battery though? I don’t think the Focus is a terrible car, just sayin’…

wasn’t that linked to the MyTouch system?

Ford is the second most reliable car these days. If reliability is an issue for you, the Focus is worth a second look. If you must have AWD, you are almost always looking at a SUV. Honda is the most reliable brand, and you could look at a CR-V. The equivalent Ford would be the Escape, and GM sells the Equinox.

Thanks for all your comments! I’ve been out of town and haven’t had a chance to check back. To answer a few questions, I wanted an awd drive for a few reasons: my elderly mother lives on a rural dirt road that gets a fair amount of snow in the winter. The real problems are the mud and the very deep ruts in the spring; the rental car (Kia sedan) I’ve been driving bottomed out a couple times. Plus, I feel like I have more contro;l with a mannual and like I driving. I also used to have an old manual awd station wagon, which I loved.

I consider the manual Ford Focus SE hatchback because of gas mileage, cargo space, and it could be a fun car to drive according to reviews. I am not interested in the fancy gadgets; I don’t care about MyFordTouch, and wish the Focus didn’t have it. I think the Focus would be ok in most driving conditions, but probably not in mud and ruts; it’s a bit low for that.

Sounds like a CUV like a fwd Rav4 or CRV would be better for the dirt road, or you could wait for the new 2013 Ford Escape, looks neat.

FWIW, I use as a good source of data. I wish they’d bring back confidence intervals to their reliability statistics - they were very telling as to how similar most cars were and how little difference they could truly claim based off of sample size. But they’re still a solid source of info, IMO.

The 2012 Focus started off rough in their surveys, falling below average - which is similar to what CR has claimed. However, it has been staging a comeback… with each successive report it is improving on their scale, and from the members-only data that seems to be continuing. If repair frequency is dropping with the addition of new vehicles, that’s a sign to me that quality problems are getting solved rapidly. Similar to the 2007 Toyota Camry - which started off abysmally and then rapidly improved to the point where it comes out very well for reliability now.

megnh1 - The Focus and Mazda3 Skyactiv are my current favorites in this class. The Focus gets the edge with technology (although that sounds like it’s not a deciding factor on your list) and interior quality, while the Skyactiv nudges ahead with handling and fuel economy.

You’ll take a significant hit on fuel economy, by comparison, with any AWD vehicle. I can’t speak to reliability data, as everything I get to drive is pretty much brand new, but definitely agree with Eraser1998, TrueDelta is a solid resource.

You might enjoy my Mazda3 Skyactiv and Focus video reviews … they’re short and to the point.