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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, from a new member (and previous lurker)! I am curious what people's thoughts are about light duty trailer towing with Focus ST – say, up to 2000 pounds?

We have a lot of yard waste that I haul to my town dump, say 10 miles round trip, about once a month using my Chevy Prizm (aka Corolla.) I also trailer our riding mower to the shop for maintenance every couple of years. Toyota is one of the few compact car makers that allows light duty towing up to 2000 pounds. But the Prizm is barely up to the task: 0-60 MPH takes 45+ seconds; rear drum brakes shimmy whenever I slow down.

I'm shopping for a daily driver that's fun, comfortable to ride in, and lets me haul everything from hunting gear to kids' junk to yard waste. Focus ST seems like it should be a better choice than my old Prizm for light duty towing but Ford prefers I buy a F-150 instead.

What do people think about limited light towing with a Focus ST? Any recommendations on a hitch/harness?
 

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The question really becomes how much will you have to change for a hitch to fit, like that center exhaust or rear fascia.
That will be the challenge

The ST is not rated for towing ( its in the owners manual ) other trim levels of the Focus are. it's not about Ford wanting people to buy a F 150. there are many Ford products rated for towing. the ST isn't one of them.
 

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On my 2001 Ford Focus I have a class 1 trailer hitch that I use to haul up to 4 bicycles. It is very easy to get the bikes on and off, and nothing ever touches the car. When I am not hauling bikes, the bike carrier disconnects with a single pin pull and is stored in the garage. I would love to have the same thing on the ST, but I believe the center exhaust is going to seriously complicate the ability to install a hitch. I think it will be a long time, if ever, before we see a commercially available hitch for the ST, as it may require exhaust modifications.
 

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Yep, the Draw-Tite is what I have now, but that same model will obviously not work with the center exhaust on the ST.
 

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I did not catch it the first time, but that second entry on etrailer has this explicit statement:

Tech Tip: Hitch will not fit Hatchback ST models with center exhaust.
 

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The exhaust will be an issue yes, but I think all the mounting gear will exist on the focus for the tow bar to mount to. I have a mate that has the XR5 (5 cylinder ST in Australia) and it has been fitted with a genuine ford tow bar even though the car has no tow rating, much like us he had to get an aftermarket exhaust before the towbar kit would work.

I have been considering this myself for some time as I am planing to track the ST a bit and would like to tow a service trailer, my thoughts have been to have a different rear muffler fitted when towing (one that dumps before the rear bumper).
 

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If you get a dual pipe exhaust fitted (probably with some modification to that rear plastic panel) it should have about the same towing capacity as an Escape with the same engine. I'm interested in hearing from people who go through with this. Love the center exhaust, but trailer hitches are useful for a lot of things.
 

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An inventive metal shop could no doubt create a bracket to straddle the exhaust and get you a trailer hitch. There's a place local to me that advertises they'll happily come up with a solution to any problem you want to bring them, car, boat, or other.

But would you want it that badly?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks to everyone for the great discussion.

But would you want it that badly?
It's a dilemma. There's much to like about Focus ST, but I must have a way to tow stuff. We own two homes and I move things back and forth all the time. It's not a problem as long as I have the Prizm but that car is nearing its end. I'm not interested in buying another vehicle just for towing. So, yes, I need to find a way to tow with the ST, or whatever I buy.

I tested an Elantra GT hatchback this week. Despite being underpowered, having a compromised V-beam rear suspension (vs. Hyundai i30 independent suspension), and poor rear window visibility, the GT is a lot of hatchback for the price. The GT's panoramic sunroof is almost as gorgeous as Volkswagen TDI Sportswagon's. Rear passenger legroom is wonderful compared to Ford's or Mazda3. It comes with a 14 gallon gas tank, vs. the puny 12.2 gallon tank on Focus ST.

According to the spec sheet at Cars.com, Elantra GT can tow up to 750 pounds. (Hyundai's web page doesn't mention Elantra GT towing.) So, strange as the comparison of an Elantra with Focus ST might seem, if it lets me haul my trailer.... Maybe I should wait for Hyundai to come out with the rumored upscale Elantra GT-RS.

But, I'm not as impressed with Hyundai's reputation on warranty coverage as Ford's. So I read, and I listen, and I think. I can live with a lower-powered hatchback, but I must have towing.

Decisions, decisions.
 

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Well to tow with the ST your probably looking at new exhaust, new rear bumper, possibly stiffer springs depending on how much you want to tow. I'd also be worried about the transmission having problems towing a load. Also, since you mentioned the warranty, since the ST isn't rated for towing and I believe the manual says specifically not to tow anything with it, you might void the warranty by using the vehicle to tow anything. If I needed to tow anything on a regular basis I'd probably just buy an old F150 for cheap. Or let my wife buy an Escape or some other midsize SUV and use her vehicle for towing :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My plan is to keep the 2000 Prizm running as long as possible as a trailer puller and leave the ST or Elantra unmodified. Eventually, after the warranty is expired and the "new" car is looking like a typical Wisconsin rust-bucket, I'll throw a hitch on it. I may do some fine tuning of the rear bumper with a Sawzall. No use spoiling a brand new car with said modifications.
 

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Looking at the hitch on etrailers, I'm sure somebody with welding skills could cut it up and resection it to accommodate the center exhaust.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Here is Ford's complete list of towing-capable vehicles:

Ford Towing Guides | The Official Site of Ford Vehicles | Ford.com

The only two cars on the list are Mustang and Taurus. We're a bunch of scurrilous warranty violators to be discussing the subject. (One of the good points in favor of 3 year warranties, IMO, is you feel like you truly own the vehicle that much sooner.)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've been playing with Ford's vehicle comparison tool. Ford is quietly adding towing capacity to the 2013 Fusion line, excluding hybrid models. Specifically the 2013 Fusion S and Fusion SE with 2.5L I4 (168 HP at 6000 RPM) are rated for 1000 pound towing capacity. The 2013 Fusion Titanium FWD and Titanium AWD with 2.0L turbo (237 HP at 5500 RPM) are rated for 2000 pound towing capacity.

Now if I'm not mistaken the engine on the 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium is the same 2.0L turbo as in Focus ST and Escape, but without the ST's overboost. I'm not sure about Fusion Titanium and Focus ST rear chassis differences: both are multilink with stabilizer bars. Curb weights aren't much different between the two vehicles.

From this web based comparison, my confidence level is rising about eventually hooking a trailer to a Focus ST... provided the center exhaust issue is solvable.

One remaining question is how much ground clearance would a trailer hitch have hanging off a Focus ST? I'd hate to hit the road with it on every minor bump. My dealer is unable to tell me how many inches of ground clearance the ST has without crawling underneath. Ford doesn't seem to publish ground clearance numbers for the ST even in the dealer database.
 

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It would have like a half inch less than a regular Focus. They're not that much lower. At any rate, it looks like the ST is not the best choice for towing, but I applaud you for looking into towing with a car rather than following the normal thought process of "gotta get me a giant truck since I tow a couple hundred lbs. every few months!"
 

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I can't imagine the center exhaust issue would be that hard to solve. It depends on if there is room to split the exhaust tubes to both sides or go single exhaust out the side but this is a pretty common thing on other cars (changing the exhaust location).

Or you could be a little crazy and do an exhaust cutout to the side of the car ;).
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Or you could be a little crazy and do an exhaust cutout to the side of the car ;).
I had Ford Racing Team's Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang exhaust system in mind:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Fails To Soar at Auction
THE MOST FAMOUS CAR IN THE WORLD

Quote from above said:
This is the car, nay, character, that has sparked the imaginations of countless children from the 1968 classic film based on James Bond author Ian Fleming’s novel. It was built by the Ford Racing Team and designed by Ken Adam to be as real and accurate as any other car out there. No detail was spared in her creation. Built on a custom ladder frame chassis, many old world forms of car building were employed, and modern technology stepped in to created a vehicle which was both accurate enough to fool veteran and classic car experts, when held under the scrutiny of 70mm cinema cameras, and durable enough to withstand everything from driving in sand, cobbled streets and down staircases. The bonnet is crafted of polished aluminum; the boat deck is hand-crafted of red and white cedar built by boat builders in Buckinghamshire, and the array of brass fittings were obtained from Edwardian cars. Even the alloy dashboard plate is from a British World War I fighter plane! While not one of the mock-ups that seemed to fly or boat across the sea, this is the genuine fully-functional road car purpose built for principal shooting and is officially registered with the “GEN 11” plates as seen in the film. Chitty remains, to this day, in excellent operational condition.
Now if only we could get that ST to fly to Vulgaria with a 30-something Sally Ann Howes in the next seat!
 
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