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Old 02-05-2012, 12:12 PM   #1
LostContrails
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My Test Drives Before I Purchased My Focus

I found this post I had posted in a thread on another forum and figured it was worth sharing.

This was a quick review of what I found when test driving the Elantra, Focus, Civic, and 11' Mazda 3.

Everything in blue is some additional thoughts I have now.

2012 Honda Civic

Styling:
I actually like the styling of the new Civic over the old one. A clever update.

Interior:
The styling is the only good thing I have to say about the car. The interior is cheap and ugly. The plus sign buttons just don't work for me. The hard plastics are not even "nice" hard plastics, they are the same materials used in children's plastic wagons. The interior comes in gross colours, nothing decent.

Driving It:
Literally felt like driving a tin can. The car felt hollow and flimsy, especially around corners. The engine has absolutely NO power. All Honda wanted was that 40 mpg benchmark and nothing else.

I sat in it again and decided I do, however, like the amount of space they offer.


2011 Hyundai Elantra

Styling:
I like it. Sometimes I'm a bit unsure how much I like it though. I thought it was amazing in the press release photos, but in person something about the overly accented lines looks a bit cheap. The grill is ok, better when it's chromed to its fullest in the highest trim.

Interior:
It's ok. It's not youthful enough for me. The amount of space in the car is great, but I actually kind of don't like all the space. I like how theres enough space in the back for all my buddies, but I don't like all the space up front. It reminds me too much of my minivan. I like having that "connect wrap-around" feeling. The materials were cheap, but not as bad as the Civic. I also had to note the door handle (not sure what to call it, I don't mean the latch that opens the door) was in the way of the window controls.

Driving It:
It wasn't too bad. It was the quietest car I had test drove. The handling was alright, a bit too economy car for me. Had a better feeling then the Civic in terms of power. However, I still didn't feel the car had much sparkle. The only things that really keeps the Elantra as an option for me is the free winter tires and 5 year warranty.


2011 Mazda 3 Sedan (2nd Time Test Driving)

Styling:
I've always loved the clown face. I think it's pretty awesome. Over all the car looks like a little demon and I love that. The way the rear end boxes off on the sedan leaves me hanging though.

Interior:
Pretty bland, but fairly youthful. Full of hard plastics but they were fitted and finished very nicely. The seats are so so. My first test drive, I found them a bit too firm.

Driving It:
The Mazda had the tightest handling of them all. I loved that. The engine had lots of power. On my first test drive I found the petals to be a bit too sensitive. This time round I found them just fine.


2012 Ford Focus (I test drove an SEL Sedan and an SE Hatch)

Styling:
It's no secret that I love absolutely everything about the way the Focus looks, both the Sedan and the Hatch. The hatch I sort of like more cause it's a bit more unique, but I do really like the sedan as well. I almost like them equally. Almost. Note, the SEL is my favourite trim level. I love the chrome window lining, but I feel the titanium has too much crap I'll never use.

I ended up purchasing an SEL sedan for the lower cost, but I actually think I like it just as much as the hatch design now.

Interior:
This is by far the best interior of the bunch. I felt connected and in control. The seats were very comfortable in both (one was leather). The rear seat is quite cramped, but these days it's usually me and one passenger. I used to carry several people in my van. Best materials. The whole cabin is almost soft touch. The SEL offers even more soft touch materials the the SE. The SEL also features one-touch down on EVERY window. Pretty cool. My only big complaint is the visibility. The hatch was ok, but the middle seat headrest is in the way. Also, SEL and up have a control panel on the ceiling that blocks most of the rearview mirror. A bit frustrating.

Addition: I also liked the fact that the front seats went so far back, I actually had to move it back up to get to a comfortable position. I am 6'3. This never happens to me. In my van, I am all the way back.

I tried the back seat again on the showroom and got stuck, curse being 6'3!
Also, I don't think I adjusted the rearview mirror properly, it may not be as intrusive as I felt it was before. We'll see.

Driving:
Nice and tight steering. Not as tight as the Mazda, but close enough. The engine sound is AMAZING. What a beast. Growls like a lion. The transmission felt seamless. I couldn't even feel the car shifting gears. The Focus has the best planted-to-ground feeling. A very solid car. It was also the second quietest car I tested.

These cars are listed from least favourite to most favourite. The Focus being my favourite over all.



Anyone have similar findings?

Cheers!


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Old 02-05-2012, 12:32 PM   #2
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I test drove a 2011 Subaru Impreza hatch but passed due to old 4 speed auto transmission and terrible mileage but I do love the syling on that year. I wanted to wait on the 2012 Impreza which gets similar mileage to the Focus but AWD however was not keen on the CVT transmission and not sure about syling. I am a Subie deep down and still have a 2005 Saab 92X Aero (WRX) and love Subaru in general.
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:35 PM   #3
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In order...

2009 Civic EX with Nav
Coming from an 06 Civic, I was only really after getting a new car with a touch screen. Sure, having a touchscreen installed in my current car is much cheaper but what fun is that? This car was identical in every way to my Civic except for the nav unit which seemed like it was just thrown on as an after thought. I was disappointed that the screen itself was for the nav only and there were still physical buttons for the stereo.

2010 Mazda3 Sport Hatchback
I really liked the way this one drove. It felt like a zippy little go-cart. I tend to enjoy inane things so the really selling points for me were the shifting pattern (automatic) and the switchblade key. I noticed nothing positive or negative about the rest of the interior. I also tend to get bugged by inane things so I couldn't get over the goofy grin on the front of the car.

2010 Prius
Felt like driving a giant shoe and smelled like one too. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw but every Prius I've ever been in (coworkers and test drives) has had a really odd smell.

2012 Ford Focus Titanium
After test driving the Prius I fell in love with the push start so that's what made me skip the SEL and go for Titanium. I made the salesman demonstrate the parking assist because I'm a giant coward. He proceeded to freak me out by doing it at top speed. Visibility was better than three previous cars and I was really digging the fact that I could change the color of the interior lights.

2012 Civic EX with Nav
At this point my self-imposed budget restraints have grown from an 18K limit to 24K so I felt it would be fair to give the 12 Civic a spin. It was pretty much just like the 09 Civic with a better paint job (LOVE the Dyno Blue) and rearranged controls. I actually test drove this twice since the first salesman told me that the USB input was not compatible with my iphone and that it couldn't stream audio via bluetooth. The second salesman a day later demonstrated streaming via USB and bluetooth. He then tried to convince me that the same functionality could be done through auxiliary but he didn't have a cable to show me. It was roughly the same price as the Focus I test drove with far less functionality so that's how I ended up in the Focus.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:28 PM   #4
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I found the Mazda 3 louder than the Focus .. which is why I went with the Focus. The 3 however had a trunk release which I actually like. Hate having to use the key fob all the time. I also liked the split fold down rear seats in the 3 which the SE does not have along with the back seat arm rest in the 3 .. again, which the SE does not have.

The Elantra was nice, as noted a little more "economy" than the Focus ... however, it was the $3,000 difference in price which had me rule out what I otherwise likely would have bought.

The Mazda 3, also as noted, felt far more spartin inside

Last edited by Wheelman01940; 10-12-2012 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelman01940 View Post
The 3 however had a trunk release which I actually like. Hate having to you the key fob all the time.
The Focus has a trunk release. You should only have to use the fob to unlock the car.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TboneZX3 View Post
The Focus has a trunk release. You should only have to use the fob to unlock the car.
I think he means in regards to a dash-mounted button, which I think the 12's don't have?
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostContrails View Post
(Ford Focus 2012)

Driving:
Nice and tight steering. The engine sound is AMAZING. What a beast. Growls like a lion. The transmission felt seamless. I couldn't even feel the car shifting gears. The Focus has the best planted-to-ground feeling. A very solid car. It was also the second quietest car I tested.

Cheers!

After 500 miles, my Focus makes that blender grindy noise everyone talks about, but after 2900 miles (9 months) it's still the smoothest transmission I've ever driven, bar none. If it's just a noise and nothing mechanical happens, then I've no problems in any way shape or form. Ford's covered their cars and treated customers right in the past, so I'm not going to worry. (Well, worry beyond a certain point... worrying is one of my hobbies, like how photography is...) And worrying or not, not everyone has the sound (or knows it exists so it's a minor thingie), it's a new transmission style Ford is backing, and, TBH, everything else is so wonderfully perfect I'd still recommend the car. Passengers I've had in it think it's a marvelous car...
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:42 PM   #8
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Praise Jesus this thread is like a gift from God. Actual reviews about some other cars in the same class? Brilliant! Such a nice change from the 3 million complaint threads around here.


Anyways, glad to see you liked the focus the best! I agree with you about the civic, feels like they cheaped out in almost every way possible.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:11 PM   #9
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The only other cars I considered were the Mazda3 Skyactiv and the Mazda2. Both the Mazdas were a bit more fun to drive, but the Focus just felt like a better overall package and more of a real car. Ford also discounted more deeply from sticker than Mazda did, which I thought was odd since Ford is selling a ton of Focuses and Mazda has trouble moving their products, especially the 2. So, the price ended up being the deciding factor for me.

Time will tell if I made the right decision.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:53 AM   #10
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Correct ... I mean a release ... whether on the dash, which I think is common on Big 3 cars or, on the floor which is common on Asian cars (Toyota, Hyundia, Mazda), a lever, which would be just at the left of the seat on the floor by the door frame floor.

The absent of a similar release for the gas door I have no issue with given the way Ford designed the fill. I simply use my wallet and insert it in the Gas pump handle so that I do not have to hold it on :-)
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