New cars: What the critics say

Ford Focus Price: $14,695

Road & Track

Will the new Focus “Sync or swim?” Microsoft’s new Sync software provides a hands-free, voice-activated system that lets drivers operate Bluetooth cell phones and MP3 players, such as Apple’s iPod. The Sync system can also understand other voice commands, and even read text messages aloud. Caution: Replies to text messages can be made only “when the Focus is stationary.”

Edmonton Journal (Alberta)

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The Focus is one “real smart car.” Not only are the voice-activated controls the “pinnacle” of automotive sophistication, they also improve auto safety by removing “at least two sources of distraction.” The 140-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is standard on all models.

Car & Driver

Pardon the bad sports analogy, but the new Focus is “less a touchdown than a badly needed first down.” The 2008 model is only a stopgap restyling; an all-new model will arrive in 2011. The wagon and hatchback have already been euthanized, with only the sedan and coupe surviving. The Sync system is neat, but isn’t it unnecessarily complex? “Well, yeah.”

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