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Gas Mileage: Ford Focus to get 40 MPG on the Highway

As auto makers continue rolling out high-mileage small cars, Ford said Wednesday that it expects the 2012 Ford Focus arriving here next year will be rated at 40 mpg in highway driving. Most other cars topping the 40 mpg highway mark are gas-electric hybrids. Like the Ford Fiesta, the Focus is one of a series of small cars adapted from models already on sale in Europe. (See Fuel Efficient American Cars Star at New York Auto Show)

The new Focus (left) will have a 160 horsepower, four-cylinder engine that has 14 percent more horsepower than the last-generation Focus and boosts highway mileage by 6 mpg over the old car. It employs direct gasoline injection into the cylinders, which controls the amount and timing of fuel used -- boosting both power and mileage. It is one of several technologies manufacturers are using to increase the mileage of gasoline engines as part of their push to meet tightening federal mileage standards. (See Gas Mileage: New Smaller Engines Save Money, Keep the Power). The Focus also boosts mileage with an improved six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering, eliminating the drag of an engine-driven belt to run a power steering pump.

"Drivers will notice improved low-end power and better fuel economy," Jamie Hanshaw, a Ford valve timing specialist said in a statement. "And there are other benefits they won't notice, too, like reduced emissions overall."

The Focus, with prices ranging from $16,270 for the base model to $22,765 for the fully loaded version, will compete with long-time top sellers Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It also will go against the Chevrolet Cruze, on sale late this year with a similar price range. The Cruze also is an adaptation of a small car already on sale in Europe, and General Motors says one version will hit that 40 mpg highway mark.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

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