Small, fuel efficient cars are proliferating like never before. Venerable oldies like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic are now facing stiff competition from the likes of the 2011 Chevy Cruze, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, and the just released 2012 Ford Focus. In fact, the competition for small car crown is so hot right now, that Toyota and Honda—once considered kings—are struggling to catch up. Both automakers have a stiff task on their hands to deliver vehicle updates that even get them close to the quality, value and performance that the new trifecta offer.
And I can tell, you, having driven all of them recently, it’s great to see so much high quality competition in this market segment. Of the three new entrants, the 2012 Ford Focus stands out as the shining star to beat—especially when you consider the whole package of performance, fuel economy, and value. The 2011 Elantra is certainly a better deal, but it doesn’t offer the driving pleasure that the Focus does. The 2011 Cruze, while it’s solid a contender, is a bit staid… as a good friend said when looking at the interior of my test car for the first time, “It looks like a rental car.”
The Focus, on the other hand, is a great looking, fun to drive and economical car loaded with so much technology that the upper end price can get pretty carried away at about $28K. But if you stick to your guns and don’t load it up too much, it can cost you as little as $17K (full review of the Focus).
In fact, I like the Focus so much that I jumped at the chance to do a short episode on it with my good friend MotoMan, in what he calls a “MotoMan Minute.” You can see the results of that Fun vs. Fuel Economy segment below.