13' Ford Focus: 1 1/2 years and 31k mile review

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I haven't done one of these for a while, so I might be a little rusty. Excuse me for a second, I need to restart this song. Why more people don't listen to AKB48 I don't know, but whatever. Anyway, so this marks near as makes no difference a year and a half of ownership of my focus, and 31,286 miles. Let's get the bad out of the way first. During my most recent oil change, I noticed a slight oil leak between the transmission bellhousing and the engine block. From what I've read, some of these suffer from transmission input-shaft seal leaks. I've yet to take it to the dealer, but will be doing so soon. There was even a TSB on some 2012s for this problem. I don't think that applies to the 2013, but if it does, it should involve replacement of the seal as well as the clutch pack, as it may have been compromised by the oil ingress. That's really the only problem I've experienced. The SYNC system works far better than it ever did on my '11. It doesn't randomly crash when cold and require shutting off the car and opening the door to reset, as that one did. I primarily use bluetooth audio, and stream music from my phone, either music on the phone, or via iheartradio app, or similar. The audio quality from the stock system is acceptable, though in the future I may consider upgrading the speakers and adding an amp. It's not a high priority, as it sounds fine. Not as good as my ATH-M50Xs, but that's not surprising. No HD radio capability, but that's fine by me, as whenever I hear HD radio in the traverse, I'm struck by the metallic sound of the treble, I don't like it at all. Regular FM Radio, and Sirius XM (when I occasionally have a free month) sounds tolerable, though you definitely notice the low 128kbps bitrate. I've only used the USB input once since I've owned it, and navigating the system wasn't all that great, some of the menus are as clear as mud. (This is the base system, not the Myford touch) Moving on to the meat, this powertrain is excellent, overall. The N/A 2.0 has plenty of power, and is extremely smooth at all RPMs, all the way from idle to it's 7,000RPM Fuel cutoff (6500 redline) It's got decent low end torque for a N/A two-point-oh, much better than the previous focus I had, with it's Ti-VCT, and Direct Injection. Though I can definitely feel a difference between it and my dad's cruze, with the 1.4T. This N/A 2.0 has smoother power delivery than the 1.4T does, but the 1.4T has much greater low end grunt, particularly under 3krpm. But above 5k, the 2.0 pulls much harder than the 1.4T does, who is out of it's torque band over 5k. This is reflected in the 0-60 times, with over 9 seconds for the cruze, and official times in the low 8s for the focus, though I've measured average in the mid 7s for mine (And at least one sub 7s run with a good launch). The engine provides a nice growl under acceleration, but booms a bit under highway acceleration. There is a mild thrum at highway speeds, particularly over 80mph, when the engine is turning 3k or higher. It's not particularly intrusive, but noticeable if you have the radio low. The transmission in mine is the Dual-Clutch 6 speed joint venture by Ford and Getrag. I've seen a lot of people complain about this transmissions in rentals. What I think it comes down to is experience with it. You can't get in it, and drive it like a traditional automatic, and expect it to perform similarly. I've learned to drive it in such a way that it is very smooth overall. I've learned to feather the throttle a bit on takeoff, like you would with a real manual. It will still act out a bit at low speeds, but I've learned to manage it, and most of the time it's a sweetheart. Under regular acceleration, and hard acceleration, shifts are quick and smooth, as you'd expect from a DCT. Gears are well spaced and with a good ratio spread. If I had one complaint, it's that same-shaft downshifts (it has two shafts, one for 1-3-5 and one for 2-4-6) take a little bit longer than I'd like, which means you have to be a bit more careful in situations where you'd need to floor it and it would perform one. It's learned behavior though, as I said I've learned it's behavior, and so can anticipate how it will perform. That's one nice thing, is the programming is at least consistent, which is more than I can say for how my cruze performed. That to my knowledge has been improved since the 2011 MY. My grandmothers 2013 Cruze does seem to have vastly improved programming over my and my dads 2011s. Overall, once you know how the transmission behaves, and learn to drive to it's most effectiveness, it's an above average automatic. The best thing about this- oh, hi kitty. While I'm sitting here typing this I heard one of our cats meowing, I look down and she's just sitting there staring at me, wanting attention. She's so cute. Now she is laying down on my wrists. Right, typing the rest of this should be interesting. I don't want to disturb her though D: As I was saying, one of the best things about this powertrain is that it's surprisingly efficient. Mine is rated for 26/30/36. In normal mixed driving, I easily meet/exceed the average rating. My average during most of the time I've had it is about 31mpg. On long highway trips, from Albany to ohio, ohio to New Jersey etc, I've averaged over 40mpg. Recently, I drove 500 miles from ohio to Northern NJ, and at an average speed of 75mph with either windows down or A/C on, I averaged 39.6 according to the trip computer, but when I hand calculated it, I in fact was getting a hair over 42mpg. I'm extremely pleased with the fuel economy I get from this car. Pure city driving of course is a bit worse- I've gotten about 24-25mpg in pure city driving, which of course is probably due to my slightly heavier foot than most people. Oh, the cat left, guess she got tired of me clicking away. Oh well, at least it's easier to type now. The driving dynamics of my focus are something I'm REALLY happy with. Ever since I replaced the stock Continental Contiprocontacts with Primacy MXV4s, I'm even happier than I was before. The highway ride is a hair on the firm side, more so than say, our Traverse. But it's very compliant, and very smooth. It feels composed and stable over all but the most washboard of roads. The handling is extremely good, very European. As you might expect, considering most of the chassis and suspension tuning was done by Ford of Europe. It's very fun to put it through twisties, it has fantastic grip, and even at the limit there isn't a whole lot of tendency to understeer. There is great feedback and road feel when driving hard, despite the electric power steering. Steering effort is about perfect, might be a little light for some people used to hydraulic power steering. Despite being a great highway cruiser, it's an extremely fun car to drive hard, and very rewarding. The ESC is there, not super noticeable unless you are driving in snow. You can feel it sometimes brake corner wheels during hard driving to keep the chassis in line. It's not invisible, but it's mostly transparent compared to some more intrusive ones. Brakes are great, with solid pedal feel, and an easily modulated, very linear effort. Stopping distance is good, despite the front disc/rear drum on my particular trim (the SE sport appearance pack and SEL/Titanium all get rear discs) As I mentioned after I got the car, the interior is nice. I have a middle of the road SE trim model, with 3 knob HVAC. The materials aren't great, but the top of the dash is soft touch, and the materials are average or above average for the class. Not quite as good as the Cruze overall, but far above the new Jetta and Corolla in terms of materials. Switchgear is mixed. Buttons on the radio have good effort, but can feel a bit mushy. The HVAC controls feel decent, but not even close to the fantastic switchgear on the Cruze and even the traverse. GM has really nailed HVAC knobs imo, and Ford just isn't quite there. The window switches are a little pet peeve of mine. The ones on the driver door have great actuation feel, decent travel, and all around great feel. The ones on all other doors are the same shape, but travel is extremely short, and actuation is a solid CLICK, much cheaper feeling on actuation from the drivers. A small, minor complaint, as they don't feel like they will break, and they work perfectly fine. This seems to be a common cost saving measure these days. The cloth quality on the seats is average, though the lighter color obviously tends to show stains better, I need to get the front seats cleaned professionally soon, they are starting to look a bit grimy. The front seat comfort is above average. The driver seat is 6 way manual control. It's easy to find a comfortable position, especially with seat elevation options. The steering wheel is telescoping and tilt, and pulls out far enough for most drivers. The seats are comfortable for long trips for a larger guy like me. Front seat passengers say the same thing, though leg room isn't quite as good as on some other cars in the segment. The story is the same in the back. I can fairly comfortably sit in the backseat at just shy of 5'11" Legroom is tolerable, though would be tight for taller passengers. Headroom is similarly ok for someone of my height, but someone a bit taller would have to sit down further in the seat to avoid hitting their head on the roof. This is with the sedan, I doubt the hatch version would have backseat headroom issues, though I can't really say. Backseat comfort is also good, seats are decently supportive and have adjustable headrests. The trunk is big and usable, though I prefer scissor hinges, instead of the gooseneck ones, which impede on the space when you close them. One thing I do miss, is that mine doesn't have 60/40 split folding rear seats, the whole thing has to fold down, which can sometimes be a bit of a pain, and it's never really been an issue, but it's something to take note of. Let's see, what else. Gauges are clear and readable, it tells you what speed you have the cruise set to, which is something I always liked, A/C works decently, like a lot of cars it's not super cold at idle when not on recirc. Heat works well. Oh, changing the cabin air filter is a right pain in the butt. It's located in the passenger footwell, on the center console. Getting the old filter out/new filter in requires a bit of acrobatics. It's not much fun. Regular oil changes though are easy. You need to remove the under body cover, which uses some torx screws, which I can't remember the size of. T-30 I think, but don't quote me. The oil filter is right there, easy to get to, as is the drain plug on the oil pan. It specs 5W-20, I've used 0W-20 up till now, but with the next change I might switch back to 5W-20 with the next change, haven't decided yet. I think that pretty much covers everything. Other than the leak, I haven't had any problems to speak of. I'll keep posted in the future smile
 
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Originally Posted By: silverrat
Good review but the cat stuff was kinda odd and creepy. It's weird when people post like they talk.
+1 Also, from what I have read these transmissions are problematic. If you have to change how you drive to make it work properly there is an issue. But if you like it, hey, its your car. I am not confident in the long term reliability department though.
 
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2 1/2 years and 25k on mine. The transmission TSB you refer to does apply to 2013 models, so get yours in to the dealer. Your clutches likely contaminated with tranmssion fluid which means they should be replaced. The dealer may want to clean your clutch, but try to hold out for a new one, which should be revision "D". I agree with your comments. The Focus is a high-quality, good-handling, economical, adequately powerful and great cruising "C" class car. Mine has a new clutch but still requires a gentle launch to avoid aberrant behavior. And without a torque converter to dampen engine oscillations, there is quite a bit of surging and stumbling at lower revs. So the dual-clutch transmission is still a trouble spot. It's curious: there's not another "C" class car I'd prefer, but still can't quite come to really like mine.
 
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I had a 2014 as a loaner while they waited on parts for my F150. I actually liked it. The DCT wasn't bad but "odd" at times. So is the DSG in a co-worker's Passat so I think it's the nature of the beast. What I didn't like was the driving position - my right leg rested right on the E-brake at the end and was annoying after 20 mins. Also, I had the sedan, and am 6'2". With the seat comfortable there was basically 0 leg room behind me. Even co-workers that I took out to lunch remarked how tiny it was. But it was a nice driving car.
 
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I'll never by another Ford after what I've been through with my 2009 Focus. Only a year and a half and you've got an oil leak? Just wait until you've gotten to the three year ownership point. I realize that your car and mine have little in common. But I trust Ford's "quality" about as much as I trust that it won't rain here in Seattle.
 
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Nick - does yours have a rear swaybar? My 2011 always felt like it wanted to plow, badly. Once I added a swaybar from a 2003/2004 wagon, it's a completely different car - in a good way. I like the idea of the DCT. I think, ultimately, what most of the problems are is people don't know it's a manual transmission and don't understand that the engine is going to be directly connected to the wheels. I kind of liked the one I drove. Not sure how well they held up , though. Kinda wish they had put the 6F35 in it. Did you notice that your 2013 wears its rear tires? I just got my 2011 aligned. Hopefully it's good for many more miles.
Originally Posted By: andrewg
I'll never by another Ford after what I've been through with my 2009 Focus. Only a year and a half and you've got an oil leak? Just wait until you've gotten to the three year ownership point. I realize that your car and mine have little in common. But I trust Ford's "quality" about as much as I trust that it won't rain here in Seattle.
I'm at 3.5 years and 45K miles of ownership of my 2011. Only issue I have is a broken motormount. I ... uh ... may or may not have caused that one myself. More information to come when powertrane warranty is up wink The notchy second gear I had from 15-35K miles is gone. Makes no sense but 2nd gear now acts like brand new.
 

Nick R

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Originally Posted By: andrewg
I'll never by another Ford after what I've been through with my 2009 Focus. Only a year and a half and you've got an oil leak? Just wait until you've gotten to the three year ownership point. I realize that your car and mine have little in common. But I trust Ford's "quality" about as much as I trust that it won't rain here in Seattle.
As I said (and was confirmed) there is a TSB for the input shaft seal on the transmission, and I will be taking it to the dealer in the next week or so to have them fix it.
 

Nick R

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Originally Posted By: Miller88
Nick - does yours have a rear swaybar? My 2011 always felt like it wanted to plow, badly. Once I added a swaybar from a 2003/2004 wagon, it's a completely different car - in a good way. I like the idea of the DCT. I think, ultimately, what most of the problems are is people don't know it's a manual transmission and don't understand that the engine is going to be directly connected to the wheels. I kind of liked the one I drove. Not sure how well they held up , though. Kinda wish they had put the 6F35 in it. Did you notice that your 2013 wears its rear tires? I just got my 2011 aligned. Hopefully it's good for many more miles.
Originally Posted By: andrewg
I'll never by another Ford after what I've been through with my 2009 Focus. Only a year and a half and you've got an oil leak? Just wait until you've gotten to the three year ownership point. I realize that your car and mine have little in common. But I trust Ford's "quality" about as much as I trust that it won't rain here in Seattle.
I'm at 3.5 years and 45K miles of ownership of my 2011. Only issue I have is a broken motormount. I ... uh ... may or may not have caused that one myself. More information to come when powertrane warranty is up wink The notchy second gear I had from 15-35K miles is gone. Makes no sense but 2nd gear now acts like brand new.
I haven't looked, but I'm fairly sure all 2012+ come with a rear swaybar installed. IIRC I think the Titanium gets a thicker one than the other versions, but I may be remembering the wrong car.
 
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It's good the warranty will cover the oil leak. I had replaced three wheel bearings (warranty luckily). But both sway bar end links were shot right after warranty expired....my cost. The car has a rough idle....when hooked up at the repair shop, no trouble codes were shown....but of course that doesn't explain my rough idle. Rear brakes make an awful sound when wet....no fix for that. Dealer claims it "didn't do it" when test driven. Funny thing though....does it for me every time it rains. Constant rattle under right front end. Repair shop could not locate source. Defroster is as bad as an old Volkswagen Bug.....no difference between settings 2 or 3 and takes ten minutes to defrost the window on a cold day. Plastic door jamb piece on passenger side has broken off my my minuscule girlfriends foot bumping into it a few times. Carpet is coming undone from underneath the plastic interior pieces. The tires wore out early with highly uneven wear...had to have a four wheel alignment. I could go on by why bother. Almost 70k on it now but it seems more like 170k. And I have always babied it and maintained it very well. Never again for me....I expect more than a throw away car. Even it it was just an economy sedan.
 
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You must have one made on a Friday or a Monday. Mine is the complete opposite. I bet your rough idle is a bad motor mount. They are a 30K mile item on the Focii. Strange about the front wheel bearings. I'm not looking forward to having to replace mine if/when the time comes.
 
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Originally Posted By: Miller88
You must have one made on a Friday or a Monday. Mine is the complete opposite. I bet your rough idle is a bad motor mount. They are a 30K mile item on the Focii. Strange about the front wheel bearings. I'm not looking forward to having to replace mine if/when the time comes.
Maybe you are right....but then that doesn't say much about quality control at Ford, does it? I've had Ford vehicles most of my adult life, but all it takes is one really bad lemon and I'm done.
 
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Nick, Have you looked at Focus ST, especially 2015 model? Isn't it time to get in to it? It has been too long since you bought a new car and we all miss the experience of you owning a new shiny car. With the leak in the transmission and all the stuff that is going on with your current car, I think you are perfectly justified in dumping it and getting something better. So, how about it my man? If the past experience is of any indication, you must be ready for a shiny read Focus ST!
 

Nick R

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Originally Posted By: Vikas
Nick, Have you looked at Focus ST, especially 2015 model? Isn't it time to get in to it? It has been too long since you bought a new car and we all miss the experience of you owning a new shiny car. With the leak in the transmission and all the stuff that is going on with your current car, I think you are perfectly justified in dumping it and getting something better. So, how about it my man? If the past experience is of any indication, you must be ready for a shiny read Focus ST!
You must be trying to earn yourself a spot on my ignore list. IF that is your goal, you are doing a pretty good job.
 
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Nick R

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Originally Posted By: Vikas
sorry, did not realize that you have lost your sense of humor about your car buying history
I can have a sense of humor about it, but there wasn't much funny in there, it sounded more like a lot of snark and criticism which I don't appreciate. Sorry if I overreacted. There is a lot going on with is right now and I'm more than a little stressed, so don't take it too personally
 
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