2012 Focus - Aftermarket Stereo possibilities.
Okay, it's still very early and the 2012 model is still brand new..
But, for those of us who have bought a Focus, or who are thinking about buying a Focus, with after market audio in mind.. Here is some research I've done explaining different possibilities.
As we know, today's car electronics and stock stereo systems are becoming increasingly complicated. Gone are the days when the radio, was just the radio, and swapping an aftermarket headunit for vastly improved sound was very easy.
These days, it takes a lot more effort, due to the way radios are integrated into the entire car.
As we also know, having an aftermarket headunit with speakers, amp(s) and a couple of subwoofers in the trunk makes for the best sound. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more of a challenge, however with some trims on the 2012+ Focus, it will be possible.
The Focus has several stock stereo options. I am not going to get into full details, but here are the generalities.
(1) Base radio, no sync.
(2) Base radio, with sync.
(3) Sony radio, with sync.
(4) Sony radio with sync & MFT.
The above four options also come with varying amounts of speakers (4, 6, or 10).
Let me just flat out say this. If you are thinking of putting in an after market stereo, there's really no reason to get option (3) or (4). Especially (4). Why spend the extra money on something you are just going to yank out?
If you get option (4), pretty much forget about it. The level of integration (climate control etc.) is so high that you would lose wayyy too much functionality.
Option (3) will be possible, but again, why buy an upgraded sound system just to yank it out. One could argue that you would like to have the 10 speaker system, and then add trunk subwoofers w/ aftermarket HU to it, but I'd argue that 6 speakers are just fine. Just my opinion.
That leaves us with Options (1) and (2), which are the most viable for aftermarket installations.
We all know to install an aftermarket HU, there needs to be a dash kit available to fit either a single or double DIN unit. It also needs to keep any functionality that may be lost when removing the stock dash area.
Looking at the radio in the focus, this appears to be a nightmare. It is weirdly shaped, with buttons that control items on the screen, in addition to a hazard light and lock light buttons. (The annoyances of modern cars... Why are these things on the radio again?)
In looking at possibilities, I stumbled upon some Ford Fiesta material. The Fiesta radio is essentially the same as the Focus radio. See below photo.
So what is available for the Fiesta? A quick search yielded some promising results.
Metra has released a single-din (NO DOUBLE DIN) dash kit for the Fiesta, that includes all buttons needed to keep the functionality of the LCD screen above the radio.
Wiring harnesses are also available.
Option (1) does not include Sync, so a good possibility would be to get an aftermarket headunit with bluetooth for phone, and an aftermarket GPS unit to stick on the windshield. It appears double DIN may not fit on our Focii unfortunately, if it turns out being the same as the Fiesta. So we'll be stuck with Single DIN. Not a big deal in my book.
Option (2) includes Sync, which is a little bit more messy, but there are aftermarket Sync "retention modules" that exist. I haven't done my research on this, but I've heard it works decent enough. I ordered my car with Option (1) to avoid these troubles.
Hope this helps for anyone thinking along the same lines as myself.
For those who are interested.. The first people on the Fiesta boards have got some install pics of the Metra dash kit.
Granted I'm not a huge fan of it.. But it seems like in due time, we will definetely have options to add an aftermarket headunit, while retaining the door lock/hazard light buttons.
This guy has the base radio (identical to the '12 Focus) and he's stated he has "no problems".. I've asked him to elaborate on whether or not the door lock, hazard, info & menu buttons work to control the little screen above.. waiting on his response. The thread is here:
Some of the guys who have installed it with the Sync package say not everything is working.. which is unfortunate, so for the time being it looks as though those of us with the base package will have the easiest go at it (not suprising).
Here is a pic of the '12 Focus base radio for reference. As you can see, very similar. I've contacted Metra and they are working on developing a kit for it.
I'd get a JBL-MS8 and keep the OEM deck.
Waiting patiently. Got the bottom of the barrel Focus S.
Same here. have an S... waiting for something, the OEM radio is pretty bad.
Why not just swap speakers and have an amp and clean sweep installed?
the way it looks, if someone would just figure a way to use the factory dash kit for a sony system with the touch screen the way it is, that would seem like it would work. can anyone tell me how big the head unti from the myford touch is? 7"?
As far as using the factory dash kit from the Sony system to use with an aftermarket headunit, I doubt it would work as standardized mounting brackets are probably not present in the stock dash kit. It would most likely have to be modded to be able to hold an aftermarket radio.
And... here's a youtube video on the Fiesta dash kit I just found.
With products like the JBL MS-8 and the new Rockford Fosgate 3SIXTY.3 (not released yet) there is no reason IMO to replace complex factory head units anymore. Personally I would go with the MFT setup or factory radio with sync if you want a lower trim model and using these devices to do all the sound processing. These are HIGHLY complex devices that not only allow you to retain a factory look (less theft!) but also drastically improves the sound overall in the vehicle. You could keep everything factory on say a Focus SE with sync and install a JBL MS-8 and you would notice a SIGNIFICANT improvement in sound since it has an onboard 8ch amp AND flattens the terrible Ford factory eq and will even auto eq the car for you (home theater technology)
I have been in the mobile electronics world now for 8 years now and most aftermarket head units are being stripped of their nicer eq settings and or crossover adjustments in lieu of connectivity. Alpine and Pioneer have seen a sharp decline in overall quality over the past 4 years. They are still good radios but not like they were in 04 or 05.
With all the new vehicles coming out and how the audio system is integrated with everything else in the vehicle you are going to start seeing OEM integration is the future. I have been preaching this for years now. Granted some of the new dash kits have gotten a lot nicer but costs have sky rocketed. Recently I installed a new double din head unit in a 2011 Camaro and the dash kit/harness combo was over 300 dollars.
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