By KBB.com Editors
When Ford's compact Focus replaced the venerable Escort for the 2000 model year, it was America's state-of-the-art small car. Its distinctive looks, roomy packaging, lively performance and agile, fun-to-drive handling drew critics' raves and accolades ranging from Motorweek's Best Small Car to North American Car of the Year, the latter voted by a jury of 49 North American journalists. A series of quality glitches and recalls soiled its reputation for a while but were eventually overcome. For 2007, aging but still strong, it still deserves a place on small-car shopping lists.
If you like your small cars lively and spirited, the Focus deserves a serious look.
If your tastes run toward the state-of-the-art, most newer compact entries offer more appealing interiors and more upscale features.
Improvements for 2007 include an Interior Upgrade Package, optional leather-trimmed sport seats with contrasting inserts and an available Street Appearance Package. A single-CD player and MP3 capability are standard, while a new optional system has a six-CD changer and steering-column controls.
Driving Impressions Not a lot of fuel-efficient compact cars are much fun to drive, especially in base form. This one is, particularly with its standard five-speed manual transmission. The standard engine is...torquey and strong, the steering precise and even the base suspension is surprisingly agile. The "enhanced" SES version can be about as entertaining on curvy roads as budget front-drivers get, and the 151-horsepower ST's performance-tuned suspension seems near race-track ready. The only chassis weakness on paper is the rear drum brakes that are standard equipment, but they did a fine job hauling our test SES three-door down from speed on twisty two-lane roads.
Smoother and less harsh than the ST sedan's performance set-up, the "enhanced" suspension tune on SES models adds 16-inch wheels and a rear stabilizer bar for surprisingly good handling with European character.
The standard 2.0-liter Duratec four-cylinder engine offers excellent performance with the five-speed manual, the ST's 2.3-liter is stronger still and the 2.0-liter Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) version (for California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine) looses little of that spirit despite emissions cleaner than some gas/electric hybrids.
Somewhat dated, the Focus interior is relatively roomy but bland and nearly monochromatic in most models. The dash and door panels are hard but nicely textured plastic, and the controls are conveniently arranged. Above the radio are dual rectangular air outlets; below it are three round climate control dials and, below them, a small open storage bin. A pair of cupholders sit ahead of the shifter between the front buckets. We found our test SES three-door's swing-up storage armrest a bit in arm's way when shifting or setting the parking brake, and the single 12-volt outlet's unattached removable cap is easily misplaced.Exterior
The seven-year old Focus design remains relatively contemporary, especially the distinctive three-door hatchback with its pillar-mounted vertical taillamps. The three other body styles (four-door sedan, five-door hatchback and wagonmore than any competitor offers) are more conventional in looks, but all share the pleasant Focus face of a smiley mesh-pattern grille between clear-lens headlamps wrapping around the corners of the hood. Street Appearance Packages available on all but the base S model add a rear spoiler, fog lamps and body-color fascias, with a lower air deflector in front and a racy black "diffuser" insert and bright exhaust tip in back.
The base Focus S comes with a five-speed manual transmission, all-season tires on 15-inch steel wheels, rear-window wiper and washer and AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with speed-sensitive volume control. The mid-range SE adds air conditioning, keyless entry, variable-speed wipers, a front storage armrest and power windows, locks and mirrors. The sporty SES adds 16-inch alloy wheels (15-inchers on the wagon), fog lamps, sport suspension with rear stabilizer bar, cruise control, body-colored side moldings, tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel and a tachometer. The top-of-the-line ST sport sedan offers a 151-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, 16-inch machined-aluminum wheels, performance-tuned suspension, satin-alloy grille, power heated outside mirrors, sport bucket seats and door trim (with a choice of suede or black and red fabric inserts) and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The relatively short Focus option list includes seat-mounted side airbags, traction control, a four-speed automatic transmission, a power moonroof, leather-covered seats, a perimeter alarm and upgraded audio with a six-disc CD changer and steering column controls. Also available on all models except the wagon are Street Appearance Packages with unique rear spoilers, fog lamps, body-color front fascias and rear bumpers, black rear diffuser inserts and a bright exhaust tip.
Ford's dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) aluminum Duratec four-cylinder engines, without variable valve timing (VVT), are not state-of-the-art technology, yet provide competitive economy and performance at a reasonable price.
2.0-liter in-line 4
136 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 (manual), 27/34 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line 4 (PZEV)
130 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
129 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 (manual), 27/34 (automatic)
2.3-liter in-line 4
151 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
154 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 (manual)
By Tony The Tiger (WI) on Monday, May 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 145,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "smooth driving, big trunk, & simple cruise control"
Cons: "lots of defects on car design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"The good things about a Ford Focus is that its pretty good for fuel mileage but only if you keep up with the oil changes. I usually get a little over 25 mpg in city and about 35 or more on highway. Its a cheap priced car that gets you from point A to point B and looks somewhat sporty. The a/c is very awesome, it cools and heats right away. Some things I don't like about the car interior is that the cup holders are in a tight spot where not many size cups will fit and it gets in the way of your legs, the back seats aren't very comfortable, the storage compartment in between the seats will break where it wont close and cant fold it back or the top will open, and theres not much leg room in the front or back seats. The worst things about Ford Focus cars are that it has many defects in the car design, so be ready to put in some money. Some of the main problems I have experienced and have read from other Ford Focus owners are that the anti freeze box will break every so often due to the shaking of the car. The motor mounts keep breaking and the only way to fix it is to buy motor mounts from a Ford dealership, which can be very pricey to buy, otherwise it will keep breaking if you buy the mounts from auto zone or other auto parts stores (because they have the old defective design), and theres some other defect with 2 engine belts which you will also have to buy from a Ford dealership. These defects are for Ford Focus from 2000-2005 and this is all I know for now. But don't get me wrong, this is a pretty good compact car for the price and pretty reliable car, it just has many issues which can cost a lot and cause lots of frustration."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By SueM (CO) on Monday, May 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of power for a little car"
Cons: "Cramped when in back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car! I have never had any major issues just wear and tear maintenance such as; changing oil, brakes and the battery after many years. It was brand new when I got it, it just got off the truck and had 12 miles on it after the test drive. The only thing that is a bummer I need to get a new clutch soon after 9 years. It has never broken down or anything on me and has been super reliable."
By MechanicGirl (SC) on Sunday, May 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 141,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling, Great gas mileage, fun to drive"
Cons: "Cup holders"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own this car, i had to buy in a hurry and with not alot of money when my transmission finally went out on my 88 nissan and i got this one for 3000 bucks. best deal I ever made. I'm a single mom without a whole lot of money to spare and need something cheap and reliable. First thing I noticed was this car is amazing on gas and has very comfortable seats. It could have a little bit more power, once you hit 80 mph it really takes awhile to accelerate, however unless you just like to race everything you see it has nice power. The stock sound system isn't the best but it works fine. The handling is absolutely amazing, almost any curve at any speed and this car hugs the road like its nothing. It can also stop very easily and very quickly despite not having ABS. The engine works completely fine, no shakes and no noise. The interior also held up very well for a soon to be 13 year old car, no holes, tears, or stains. One negative for me is the cup holders, they are so pointless Ford shouldn't have bothered, another is the glove compartment is very tiny, as is the distance between the doors and the front seat, they touch. The trunk is very large however, and the backseat is larger than it appears, though its certainly not a full sized sedan. Its very economical and it can be really fun to drive, especially if you have the manual transmission, when this one goes I'll be buying another one ASAP."
By moutain man (MS) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "good economy car, cold ac, holds up well over time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I just bought a base Lx for 3000 with 88000. I havent driven but to shop to get maintenance done. It drives and handles well. I would recommend checking timing belt at 75000 miles as this one had spring broke on tensioner and timing belt was off one tooth. It should run even better when I get back. I think I got a good deal. Car is 2002 and 11 years old yet held up well and looks like new."
By BoBo (NC) on Monday, May 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 136,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cheap to keep going"
Cons: "horribly made, engine knock (all three engines)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"My Focus was made in mexico. I did not find this out until after i began driving it. It was given to me as a graduation present, so I was not going to complain. About 2,000 miles in I had a problem with the clutch, they replaced it. After that I had a problem with the transmission, they fixed it. After that i had a problem with the transmission again, they fixed it. This all happened within 2,000 miles, I was still under 4,000 miles. I wanted to trade it for another Focus, they said no it's not a lemon. So I kept it and decided i would took it to a different dealership from that point on. At just over 8,000 mile I took it in for an oil change. The timing belt was a few short miles from breaking they said. They did replace the belt for free. Many miles later I've replaced the engine 2 times now. I would not recommend a Focus that was not made in the USA."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By George (IA) on Sunday, May 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Peppy, handles well, reliable, and fun to drive."
Cons: "Wheels corroded, stiff ride, interior appearance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This car is fun to drive. It has good pep and handles well. The gas mileage is reasonably good, 31 to 34 MPG on the highway depending on how fast one drives. The manual transmission is smooth. The leather seats are great, but the rest of the interior appears a bit on the cheap side. The ride is a bit stiff. The paint has held up well. The alloy wheels less so where the coating was damaged. The car has been reliable. An adjustment did have to be made to the clutch pedal at 60,000 miles or so because the sensor indicating it was depressed would not work and the car would not start."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful