2012 Ford Focus Sedan SE review:

2012 Ford Focus Sedan SE

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However, it gets so much better with the addition of our vehicle's $1,385 Rapid Spec 203A package. (Ford really needs to get more clever with its package naming system.) This option rolls the Convenience package and the MyFord and Sync package into one big line item on the pricing sheet. The Convenience package adds cruise control and a perimeter alarm system to the feature list.

The basic Sync system's small screen is unassuming, but its true power lies in voice command. Josh Miller/CNET

The MyFord and Sync package is where things start getting interesting. This package adds the oft-praised Ford Sync system to the mix, bringing with it Bluetooth hands-free calling with voice recognition and address book sync, wireless Bluetooth audio streaming with support for displaying metadata form-supported devices, and USB/iPod connectivity for digital media playback with voice control for artist, album, and genre selection.

I was looking forward to spending more time with Ford Sync AppLink. Unfortunately, this system is not the version of Sync that supports such a function. With at least four different versions of Sync floating around all called Ford Sync something or other, even we here at Car Tech get a bit confused from time to time.

Just about all of Sync's functions can be voice-commanded, but the small color screen on which the infotainment information is displayed can also be commanded with the small MyFord directional pad on the right spoke of the steering wheel. There's also a corresponding MyFord D-pad on the left spoke that gives the driver control over the LCD located in the information cluster where vehicle options can be adjusted and fuel economy and trip computer function can be monitored. There's even a simple green-driving gauge that scores your driving based on factors like shifting efficiency, prediction of upcoming stops, and throttle application.

Steering-wheel controls are available for both of the LCDs, allowing drivers to focus on keeping their hands on the wheel. Josh Miller/CNET

This package also bumps the audio system up to six speakers total. The result is only "pretty good" audio quality that doesn't stand out as particularly offensive in any way, but doesn't exactly excite the ears either.

Our Focus Sedan SE was equipped with an optional SE Sport Package that adds a trunk lid spoiler to the exterior and leather trim to the steering wheel and shift knob for $895. Finally, the stock 16-inch steel wheels and hubcaps were replaced with optional two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels with black paint and machined spoke surfaces, adding $495 to the bottom line.

The top-of-the-line tech packages add a Sony-branded premium audio system, a larger 8-inch touch-sensitive LCD with built-in navigation, and a number of other creature comforts such as automatic climate controls, but our vehicle was not thusly equipped.

In sum
Our 2012 Ford Focus SE Sedan starts at $17,995 when you include the $725 destination fee. That money gets you a good car for efficient transportation from point A to B, but no frills and not very much in the way of tech (unless you consider an auxiliary input to be the apogee of cabin technology). However, with the addition of just a few options and a bump of the bottom line up to $20,580, you get a good amount of tech including an excellent Sync voice command system and the MyFord steering-wheel controls -- both of which are focused (pun intended) on helping you keep your hands firmly on the wheel while driving.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Ford Focus Sedan
Trim SE
Power train 2.0-liter GDI 4-cylinder
EPA fuel economy 26 city, 36 highway, 30 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 33.6 mpg
Navigation Optional (not equipped)
Bluetooth phone support Sync voice-activated, hands-free calling
Disc player Single-slot CD/MP3 support
MP3 player support Analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 6-speaker
Driver aids n/a
Base price $17,270
Price as tested $20,580 (with discount)

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