During the introduction of the 2012 Focus at the North American International Auto Show last January, Ford hinted that highway fuel economy could be in the 40 mpg range. Now, Ford has confirmed—sort of—that, indeed, the Focus would deliver 40 mpg highway mileage.
Actually, the press release said that it “will deliver a projected 40 mpg highway.” Car companies use words like “projected” and “estimated” when they are certain that fuel economy number(s) will be confirmed by the EPA. In other words, 40 mpg highway will be on the new Focus window sticker.
The other news is, the 2.0-liter in-line four engine can also swallow E85 fuel, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. While the 40 mpg will be reduced 10 to 20 percent when burning the mixture of gasoline and the corn-based ethanol, the price of E85 can make an attractive alternative. The national average price for E85 according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report is $2.40 per gallon for E85 versus $2.81 for regular gasoline, a 17 percent difference. If you live in Iowa, however, E85 can cost as low as $1.99 per gallon; Texas, $1.68. (Of course, E85 has less energy content than pure dino-juice.)
Fuel Injection. Less Weight.
How does a compact car laden with high-tech electronics achieve 40 mpg with an automatic transmission—yes, an automatic?
Most of the credit goes to the engine. Rated at 160 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque, up from 140 and 136 respectively in the 2011 Focus, the new dual overhead camshaft four uses direct injection (DI) that delivers the precise amount of fuel directly into each cylinder’s combustion chamber. The fuel injection system works in concert with twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). Ti-VCT adjusts both the intake and exhaust camshafts for optimum performance and efficiency.
Powertrain engineers also employed “lightweighting” techniques to reduce engine weight. The engine block, cylinder head and oil pan—traditionally the heaviest engine components—are aluminum castings. Pistons are cast aluminum as well, and composite material is employed to keep intake manifold weight to an absolute minimum.
When it arrives early next year, the new Focus will compete with the top-selling Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The sedan version will have a base price of $16,720, plus $750 destination charges, while the 5-door hatch will start at $18,065. For pre-orders placed before February 28, 2011, Ford offers a $500 Focus Technology Rebate.