Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rental Review: Ford Focus

Some crack string theory scientists subscribe to the theory of infinite universes or "multiverse". Somewhere on that infinite, flat timeline I'm actually an auto journalist for Jalopnik. But I live in this universe where I toil away as a middle-management public servant. In keeping the dream alive it's time to introduce our newest segment: Rental Car Review.

In this series we take advantage of the numerous times my job takes me across the empire state. Generally speaking this travel requires the use of a rental car from a company that shall remain unnamed. This series is less about the rental company and more about the ride. Also, I'm making an assumption that these are the types of cars most drivers rely on daily - a small or midsize vehicle, typically sedan-ish and modestly equipped. So, maybe this will be fun or maybe it will simply feed my car obsession.

This past week I took a road trip to Oswego, NY. If I were a travel writer in a parallel universe I'd wax poetic about the romantic welcome offered by the big nuclear power plant right on Main. Instead, we're going to discuss the 2015 Ford Focus that got me there and back.

Nicely equipped with heat, a/c, power windows, and a radio, the Focus got the job done. Overall, more good than bad.

Don't buy this car: First, the EcoBoost engine shudders, shimmies, and shakes at 0-20 mph. It's fine after that but it's disconcerting off the line. Second, it's small. I'm no giant but I felt like I barely fit (confession: I happily leased an early Focus 15 years and 15 lbs ago so it might not be the car). Third, this model didn't have the one-touch window up feature. That's critical when dealing with toll roads. Finally, sound system isn't great and the car rides a little loud; both of which impact music quality.

Buy this car: First, it's a lot of fun to drive. After you pass 20 mph it's easy to see why younger drivers are attracted to the Focus. It's small, lightweight, and you can zip around. Could easily upgrade to the ST and really spin some wheels. Second, Sync gets a lot of heat for poor functionality but I hooked up my iPhone to play music in about 10 seconds. Kids today need more than music so maybe it's a problem but it did right by me. Third, can't argue MPG. A full tank of gas took me round trip from Buffalo to Oswego. That's never a bad thing. Finally, made in America. The 2015s are but Ford is negotiating with the United Auto Workers and it's expected that smaller cars like the Focus will soon be made in Mexico. So, if earth friendly made in America is your thing - get 'em while you can.

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