PhotoFord Motor Company says its 2013 Ford Focus received a top safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), earning a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

That ratings category combines vehicle performance in frontal and side-impact crash tests and a resistance to rollover evaluation. Ford said it believes the Focus was helped by improvements in its airbags and electronic stability control.

The driver's airbag uses a specially designed curve-shaped tether system that pulls in the lower section to create a "pocket" to help lessen the impact of the airbag on the driver's chest and ribs in frontal crashes.

Airbag 'venting'

New seat mounted side airbags feature shoulder vents designed to line up with the shoulder area of a larger occupant keeping the side airbag from venting. On smaller passengers, the effect is just the opposite. Because the occupant's shoulder is below the vent, the gas vents out of the airbag.

"The new Focus is another example of Ford's commitment to safety and NHTSA's NCAP program has recognized this fact," said Steve Kenner, global director of the Automotive Safety Office. "The Focus is built with technologies from bumper to bumper to help reduce occupant injury risk when a crash is unavoidable."

Ford said its AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control helps the vehicle maintain its intended path by measuring side-to-side skidding, by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle, and when wheel slip is sensed, reduces engine torque and applies selected brakes.

Reducing distractions

Ford said its SYNC voice recognition technology allows customers to bring digital media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones into their vehicles and operate the devices via voice commands or with the steering wheel's supplemental audio controls, thus reducing driver distraction.

For novice drivers, a feature called MyKey allows parents to program any key through the vehicle message center to limit the volume on the stereo, top speed, block incoming phone calls and texts and make sure a child is buckled up before using the audio system.

Ford said improvements can even reduce the number of scraps and dents collected while parallel parking. Active park assist uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) to position the vehicle for parallel parking, calculate the optimal steering angle and quickly steer the vehicle into a parking spot.

The 2013 Ford Focus starts at $16,200, according to automotive site

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