EPA: Specially-equipped Ford Focus to top out at 40 mpg

Opt for the Super Fuel Economy package and your 2012 Ford Focus will be rated at 40 mpg on the highway.

Specially-equipped versions of the 2011 Ford Focus will be rated at 40 mpg on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today's announcement confirms Ford's predictions made prior to official testing. Only Focuses equipped with the Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package and a six-speed automatic transmission will be rated at 40 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city. Ford has not released fuel economy figures for non-SFE Focuses.

That figure makes the Focus equal to the 2011 Hyundai Elantra on the highway. However, Elantras are rated at a higher 29 mpg in the city and Hyundai offers the same fuel economy across the Elantra range regardless of transmission.

Pricing structure
The 2012 Focus starts at $16,270 for buyers in the United States (or $16,995 with a mandatory $775 destination charge).

That's a small decrease compared to the outgoing car, which lists from $16,640 for a no-option 2011 Focus S sedan.

The Focus' price is spot on with the competitive Chevrolet Cruze ($16,275) but $820 more than a Mazda Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla ($15,450) and $465 more than a Honda Civic ($15,805).

At first glance, the price premium might seem a bit surprising, but Ford is intent on taking its Focus a little more upmarket than the competition.

Trim level breakdown
Ford will offer four trim levels (S, SE, SEL, Titanium) on the sedan and three trim levels on the hatchback (SE, SEL, Titanium).

S Sedans will offer only one option, an automatic transmission.

At $17,270 (sedans) or $18,065 (hatchbacks) SE models add 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, body-colored mirrors and door handles, fog lamps, automatic headlamps, MyKey, floor mats, steering wheel audio controls and power rear windows (power front windows only are standard on S sedans).

SEs offer a handful of options: An SE Convenience Package adds cruise control, map lights and an alarm for $345. Sync/MyFord and a six-speaker stereo add $735. Sync/MyFord, Sirius Satellite Radio and the SE Convenience Package can be grouped for $1,235. An automatic transmission, power moonroof, heated cloth seats and a few styling packages are also optional.

SEL models add an automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, alloy wheels, door mirrors with integrated turn signals, six speakers, MyFord, Sync, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, split-folding rear seats, one-touch windows, Homelink and an alarm for $20,270 (sedan) or $21,065 (hatchback).

Options include a $995 Sony audio system and a $1,395 Premium Package (leather seats, power driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers, 17-inch wheels, reverse sensing, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear armrest). A moonroof, heated seats, navigation and some appearance packages are also available.

The range-topping Focus Titanium ($22,270 sedan, $22,765 hatchback) adds to the SEL 17-inch wheels, a styling kit, a sport suspension, push-button start and keyless access, a center touch screen, Sony audio and sports seats. Options include a $1,295 Premium package identical to that on the SEL (minus the alloy wheels), a moonroof, heated seats, navigation, a performance-oriented handling package and some appearance packages.

A manual transmission is not available on SEL or Titanium models.

Going global - again
The next Ford Focus will go on sale starting in early 2011 - a few months later than many had expected - but will begin production in North America and Europe in late 2010. The design language used on the next Focus is a blend of the European Ford Focus and the Ford Fiesta's kinetic design language. Many common design cues can be found between the next Focus and the Fiesta including the general front flow and headlamp shape, the side profile and sheet metal styling, fog lamps and especially the window trim and shapes.

Ford says that the design of the next Focus was intended to appeal to customers from markets around the world without causing conflict due to differing tastes - a tall order given the fairly drastic difference in design language and consumer preference from market to market. Given the global design, Ford says it managed to achieve 80 percent parts commonality in design across markets - a full 20 percent higher than the global Fiesta.

Ford says that the vehicle was developed by a global team led by Ford's European small and medium vehicle center in Merkenich, Germany. Powertrain development was led by a team in Dunton, England, and Ford says that its Dearborn, Michigan, engineers were involved from day one.

Driving characteristics
Ford plans to raise the benchmark for the c-segment with its next Focus by delivering what it believes to be class-leading driving quality which is intended to blend steering precision and road feedback with refinement and control. The first Ford Focus, launched in 1998, received acclaim at the time for its road handling characteristics and Ford hopes to continue the tradition of driver-friendly small cars with its next debut. While North American consumers got a warmed-over first-generation Focus, world customers received an all-new second generation model. The third-generation Focus is based heavily on the second generation's platform, which was co-developed with then-Ford subsidiaries Volvo and Mazda.

Ford has updated the multi-link control blade rear suspension and isolated the front and rear subframes in an effort to improve handling and ride quality. Ford says its European driving dynamics specialists paid special attention to enhancing the vehicle's stability and agility with the introduction of an advanced Dynamic Cornering Control system - designed to use torque vectoring techniques to distribute power in a way that can reduce understeer, improve traction and provide better turn-in.

Ford has also added the Electric Power Assist Steering system,. The EPAS system helps to reduce the effort required during low-speed maneuvers such as parking, but tightens up to provide a more precise and natural feel at higher speeds.

Updated powertrains
As previously outlined, Ford plans to launch the next Focus in the U.S. using a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that features features a combination of Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) and direct injection. Ford says these changes increase power over the previous 2.0-liter Duratec by as much as 20 horsepower while providing more than a 10 percent gain in fuel economy.

Total estimated power is expected to be 155 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque.

PowerShift makes its second appearance
Ford of Europe's PowerShift dual-clutch six-speed dry transmission that debuted here in the Fiesta will be on most 2012 Focus models bound for North America. This transmission can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 9 percent when compared to the existing North American Focus' four-speed automatic transmission, Ford says.

Ford also markets the transmission as being more sporty due to its dual-clutch design that allows for faster shifting compared to a traditional automatic transmission.

Like its Fiesta stablemate, the next Focus will make extensive use of high-strength, ultra high-strength and Boron steel for added rigidity and crash performance. Ford says that the torsional rigidity is increased by 25 percent over the existing model thanks to the stronger steel.

Ford says that 55 percent of the body shell, and over 26 percent of the Focus' structure is formed with ultra-high strength and Boron steel. Ford points to this use of high-strength steel to reduce weight and provide more safety over traditional steel.

Inside the Focus, Ford has updated the materials and design language to provide a much more upscale feel and layout. Materials, although not all soft-touch, are certainly more finger-friendly than the outgoing model. Design language also appears to follow the trend of upcoming Ford products for the North American market - especially true in the dash with the future fleet-wide integration of MyFord.

Official Images