Yeah, I was talking out of emotion and the anticipation of desperation. However my dealership got the OK from Dearborn today to replace the entire steering rack... but it's backordered. They're not sure when it will be in, but I can have my car back until then. However, I told them to hang on to it because they're also looking into the strange creaking noise when going over small bumps. I should be able to get it back tomorrow.
Funny thing is my perception isn't too marred, since the car feels rock-solid... at least as solid as the Fusion I just traded. Plus the dealership is being really helpful, and they're all nice, which goes WAY farther than most give it credit.
So, we'll see what happens when the steering rack is replaced. If it's not tip-top at that point then I'll just drive the crappy PT Cruiser (our other car) into the ground and get a nice trade on the Focus as soon as it makes financial sense... though if it comes to that I'll likely go back to Hyundai. That little 2003 Elantra GT was what I was hoping to get out of this Focus.