Sunday, May 23, 2010

Focus, Ford

Petty annoyances in the 2010 Ford Focus (metallic blue):
  1. No coach straps or granny handles over the top of the doors. Hard to get in and out.

  2. Push the seat belt release buttons, and the buckle raps the knuckles of your off hand.

  3. With the passenger seat slid forward for short persons (or for leg room in the back), the passenger left kneecap rests against the center console hard edge.

  4. No leg room in back, or at least not for adults. With the front passenger seat pushed forward, some legroom in back, not much in front.

  5. Short drivers crack their kneecaps and elbows on driver's side hard edges and corners.


  7. Center console cup holders are too small and positioned too far back. There are three. The big one is on the rear floor at the back base of the console. The smallest one is sippy cup sized, and about as shallow, positioned just ahead of central storage box. The small one is half-way back on the console. You have to look (eyes off the road) to reach it. No mug handle slot*, no Big Gulp containers, and NO OTHER PROVISION for drinks.

  8. Center console storage is not box-shaped inside, but has deeper hideaways. You have to stop the car and dedicate yourself to the task of finding that spare change you've been throwing in the box.

  9. Floor and side bolts are recessed, but not covered or hidden.

  10. Electronics are cheap and designed to shift attention away from maintenance issues, like mileage. For example, it may be true that that I'm averaging 29.1 MPG after my first 2477 miles of ownership, but that is not per trip or per fill mileage. On my old 2000 Honda Civic, after ten years of ownership, my mileage averaged a rock solid economical 34 MPG. Also, Sirius Satellite Radio has its own button and electronics, although we will never use Sirius Radio after the "free trial" expires.

  11. The Sirius satellite antenna drops out going under bridges or into wooden garages, although it comes back in a few moments.

  12. One other thing... What was it now? Wait... it's on the tip of my fingertips... Oh, yeah. How could I forget? It's LOUD. The ROAD is LOUD. MAX AIR is LOUD. The RADIO is LOUD, or rather, it's unbalanced and you can't fiddle with Bass, Treble, Speakers Left, Right, Fore or Aft, so the effect is TINNY and LOUD. IT'S LOUD.

  13. You can't rip out the old radio and plug in a third party feature-set by say, Blaupunkt or Pioneer. Maybe you can, but the mid-dash front wall would be full of holes, as well as plug ugly. Might be an improvement, at that.

  14. The only air flow that makes a difference when outside temp hits 90° is Max Air, and did I mention it's LOUD? On the plus side, the rearview mirror automatically dims when a semi comes up behind you in the dark. That's cool enough. A dozen minuses, one plus. Scratch an item.
Attention to detail in the Ford Focus could benefit from Human Interface Guidelines. It's as though they designed a top-of-the-line car, then sliced off random features to arrive at the low cost Focus.

Honda, on the other hand, designed the entry-level Civic, and scaled up for their highend models.

In my adult life, I've owned one Renault poptop, two Fords (including the Focus) and one used Buick, and they all sucked. I've also owned one green (with oval rear window!), one white, and two red Volkswagen beetles, and they sucked too (especially windshield defrosters and January heaters), but those Bugs were so damn cool. They were the old Bugs, not the new Bugs. My wife is still driving her second VW Jetta, a money pit for odd mechanical details like an oxygen sensor that never worked right until it was replaced the third time, and $750 of front end suspension repair after 54000 miles, but it's still relatively economical and fun to drive, if not own.

My favorite car, and the one I judge all my others by, is the 2000 Honda Civic EX. I sold it with 104,000 miles on it. I took it to Jiffy Lube every 3,000 miles, and once I gave the Honda parts department about a hundred bucks for a "Honda approved" gas cap, which turned out to be necessary after all. Put a Midas muffler on it one summer not long ago, and that's it. Replaced the tires twice and had 'em check my brakes at 100,000 miles; they were pristine, no wear at all. (Stick shift has some major consequences, done right.) Total major maintenance or warranty maintenance required: Zip. Zero. None. Absolutely none.

I sold the Honda (manual transmission) and bought the Ford Focus (automatic transmission) because age is catching up with me and the stick shift wasn't practical anymore, while the Focus was frankly cheap for an old coot. As in affordable, but also You-Get-What-You-Pay-For cheap.

Ford, take notice. If maintenance becomes a problem, with or without warranty, that will be my last Ford forever.

*There's a slot between the two holes, but it's only as deep as the shallow rear hole. You can't actually use it for mug handle relief.



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