I will put this in 'Off topic' since it's not actually dealing with E85.
I’d mentioned in an earlier post about keeping quiet on the new Ford Focus FFV as the wife was shopping for a new car. Her Honda Insight has been wonderful, virtually trouble free and only routine maintenance over 165,000 miles, easily raking in 50+ mpg on average, numerous trips at 65 and ‘ideal’ trips at nearly 90. But after 12 years, it’s starting to show some age.
Well, leave it to me to have the computer open at the wrong time and allow her to catch sight of the Focus! So the this suddenly became a possibility Santa might deliver.
After some early research, the Focus started showing even more potential. Most reviews seem very positive indicating this is ‘a lot of car for the money’, ‘well thought out and well equipped’, etc. Add to this Ford is one car maker not on the government dole and they seem to be following my design philosophy of starting with very small displacement engines and using a turbocharger to scavenge some of the lost exhaust energy and boost overall power / efficiency. Overall, this is leading to decent levels of power, but still fairly efficient on fuel. The FFV status is always a plus! (Strangely, one of the first adopters of this small engine philosophy, Honda, actually seems to be moving away from it as some of the newer Civics get a 2.4L behemoth to replace a highly efficient 2.0L powerplant...but that is a story for another day, I guess!)
So a trip to the Ford dealer was in order. I’m 6’4” and the wife is about 6’1 – so the first step is simply to see if we fit in the car. Sure enough, the driver’s position is not bad in the Focus. A power drivers seat helps with all the tilt/height/forward and back adjustments, and the tilt/telescopic steering wheel is icing on the cake. I could see it actually being downright ‘comfortable’ after a little cutting and welding on the seat brackets and steering column. Nothing like hacking into a brand new car!
As I would spend a fair amount of time in the passenger seat, I then moved over there. Oh no!! I barely fit in the car….and I mean 'fit' as in ‘physically fit’ not just ‘comfortable fit’ With the passenger seat all the way back, my knees are barely ½ inch from the dash…a recipe for broken or amputated legs in any sort of crash. Further, the ‘center stack’ widens toward the top and appears to have an extra ‘trim’ bolster detail on the passenger side making it even more bulky. This means I can’t even set straight in the seat, but have to do sort of a ‘side saddle shuffle’ and keep my knees pointed toward the door! Sadly, this knocks the Focus right out of the top spot!
I next turned my attention to the venerable Honda Civic – after all, it’s what I’m most familiar with. Obviously giving up quite a few things and going back to a ‘run of the mill’ sedan – but sometimes there is nothing wrong with that. It has a decent list of standard specs. So I began to search local dealers.
Out of the blue, a business associate happens to stop by with his Hyundai Elantra rental car. We drive out to lunch and the chatter turns to my car search. He tosses me the keys for the trip back and says ‘see what you think of this one’. Surprisingly, both passenger and drivers side have a decent amount of room, ride is comfy and the styling is acceptable both interior and exterior.
I hit the interwebs to do some more searching and read up on some reviews. The little Hyundai was rated Car of the Year for 2012. It also beats the Civic in most every category… more standard features, 10 more HP, 2mpg better, 100+ lbs lighter, 1 inch more legroom, several cubic feet more passenger/cargo space, better resale, almost $1000 cheaper, etc.
So after some more searching, test driving, wheeling and dealing, everything is set up for Santa to make the big delivery on a ’13 Elantra Limited. Sadly, I had to give up on the Focus FFV to get critical leg room, additional features and an affordable price. It really came down to silly design decisions by Ford. But maybe next time! Till then, I’m sure the Elantra will see it’s share of ethanol with possibly a turbo in the future!
Sadly, the ford Focus is a bit down on legroom, and a goofy design of the front dash cramps knee / leg room even further for tall passengers.
The Elantra – and many other cars – have a smarter design which allows for a similar ‘center stack’ but doesn’t cut into legroom – or even accentuates it a bit. So, the Elantra came out the winner this time: