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Engine: 2.0L Ti-VCT GDI I-4
Fuel Economy:
40mpg avg. (est.),
Price as Tested
(Focus Titanium): $23,490

Maybe it was the impending doomsday, but when the Ford Focus first hit US streets in 2000, nobody got all that excited. Available in sedan and hatch versions, there wasn’t anything wrong with the compact, whip-antenna-sporting ride. It had just been done before; we're not mentioning names, but we’re sure you can figure it out.

Fast forward a year and a decade, and you might as well throw the car’s bland history out the window. All new for the 2012 model year, the third generation Focus drives, handles, and looks worlds better than it ever has. Using a 2.0L direct-injection I-4 with twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT), the car manages to be fuel-efficient (projected 40 mpg), yet still fun to drive. Though available with a stick, the Focus’ dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, clean shifts and won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out.

Inside its modern, stylish cabin, the new Focus is more than eye-catching and comfortable; it’s beyond functional. Returning with their game-changing SYNC technology suite, the Focus is also available with MyFord Touch—a combination of voice recognition and an eight-inch touch screen that allows the driver to do everything from adjust the climate control to find a decent lunch spot and navigate there. There’s even available wi-fi internet connectivity when parked. Top all that off with a liftgate mounted rear-view camera, optional heated front seats and a 10-speaker Sony sound system, you’d be hard pressed to find all these features in a car twice the price.

Then, of course, there’s the exterior styling. Finally, Ford has delivered a Focus that won’t make you squint; not even a little. Low-slung with bold design lines, the third-gen incarnation gets attention. Handsome in sedan form, the five-door is an amazingly chiseled and etched offering, which will have European hot-hatch designers running back to their sketchpads to keep up. Oh yeah, and all that design has significantly reduced the Focus’ aerodynamic drag, adding to its fuel efficiency while cutting CO2 emissions. That translates to more money in your pocket for, well, whatever your thing is.

Starting at $16,995 for no-frills, the fully loaded Titanium version is still a bargain at $23,490. Both versions (and a few in between) will hit your local Ford dealership this Spring. Still not quite convinced? Perhaps the sport-inspired ST model will move you when it drops in 2012—either way, there’s nothing blurry this time around.