Among the Big Three domestic automakers, Ford emerged as a beacon of hope in 2009 and certainly as the one we think is most likely to survive these trying times and thrive going forward. Not only was it able to avoid taking government money, but the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker released some well-received and thoughtful products over the past 12 months, including much improved versions of the Fusion and Mustang.

In January at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford showed that this year it plans to deliver more strong products, such as an all-new Focus that should stand up to any compact car on the market, and an even more powerful Mustang.

The current Focus has one design in the U.S. and another in Europe. The European car even rides on a different, more modern platform, while the U.S. car soldiers on with 12-year old architecture and a frumpy appearance.

That's about to change for the 2012 model year. Designed and engineered in Europe, the 2012 Focus will be the first car on the company's new global C-segment platform, which will be used in 122 markets around the world and will host several vehicles in the coming years.

The 2012 Focus will be offered as a 4-door sedan or 4-door hatchback. Both body styles will feature Ford's Kinetic Design styling language, which the company says communicates energy, vitality and a dynamic spirit. On the Focus, that translates to an attractive car with highly sculpted flanks.

Ford also promises interior appointments that buyers might expect in larger, higher-priced cars, including dashboard stitching and titanium-look trim. The Focus will also be available with the new MyFord Touch driver and device connection technology.

Compared with the current model, Ford says the new Focus will have improved comfort, agility, stability and steering precision thanks to electric power steering. It will sit 1 inch lower and offer torque-vectoring dynamic cornering control, which employs the electronic stability control system to counteract slip on the inner wheel when cornering.

Motivation will come from a direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making more than 150 horsepower and providing better fuel economy than the outgoing model. Ford's new PowerShift 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission will be offered, and a 5- or 6-speed manual should be available as well. Look for the new Focus to hit showrooms in late 2010.

For all its success and sporty flair, both of the Ford Mustang's engines have been low on power for several years. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in December 2009, Ford announced that the V6 would get an upgrade for 2011. In Detroit, it was the V8's turn. For 2011, the Mustang V8 will switch from a 315-horsepower 4.6-liter to a 412-horsepower 5.0-liter. The new 32-valve dual-overhead-cam V8 will also deliver 25 mpg highway — not bad for such a powerful engine.

In addition to the new engine, 2011 Mustangs will get electric power steering and suspension enhancements. Mustang GTs will also be offered with Brembo brakes, while V6 models will be available with a Performance Package to include a 3:31 rear end, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, improved brakes and the suspension from the V8-powered Mustang GT.

Five liters translates to 302 cubic inches. Ford took advantage of the new engine size by bringing back a name from the past: the 2010 Boss 302R, a purpose-built race car that will be offered in a limited run of 50. Two versions will be offered. The SCCA racing model will run $79,000 at any Ford parts counter, and the Grand Am-spec model will cost $129,000. Both versions will come complete with a roll cage, Brembo brakes and the new 5.0-liter engine, but the Grand Am model will be stitch-welded for greater rigidity and come with such features as a fuel cell and an adjustable suspension.