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Nuts & Bolts: 2012 Ford Focus SE

Bottom line: Detroit’s car companies are beginning to give as much attention to small cars as they have always given to trucks. That is a good thing, a long-overdue change in attitude.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The new Focus gets commendable marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: Sporty bordering on adolescent, which makes sense considering that the car is aimed at a late-teen-to-30-something crowd.

Body style/layout: The new Focus is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive compact car available as a four-door hatchback or a sedan with a traditional notchback trunk.

Engines/transmissions: The Focus comes standard with a gasoline-direct-injection, 16-valve in-line 2-liter four-cylinder engine (160 horsepower, 146 foot-pounds of torque). It is linked to a standard five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic with manual operating ability is optional.

Capacities: There are seats for five people, but there is more comfort for four. Cargo capacity with rear seats up is 23.8 cubic feet. With rear seats lowered, cargo volume is 44.8 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 12.4 gallons of gasoline (regular is fine).

Mileage: The SE gets 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway. With SFE (Super Fuel Economy) technology, the numbers improve to 28 and 40.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brakes; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.

Prices: The base price for the 2012 Ford Focus SE hatchback without SFE technology is $18,200. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $17,017. Add $1,385 for the SFE package. Destination fee is $795. Consumer’s price as tested is $20,380. Dealer’s price as tested is $19,017.

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