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.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like your small cars lively and spirited, the Focus deserves a serious look.You May Not Like This Car If...
If your tastes run toward the state-of-the-art, most newer compact entries offer more appealing interiors and more upscale features.What's Significant About This Car?
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
The base 2007 Focus S has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $14,130 and a Fair Purchase Price about $200 less. That compares to NCBB Values of approximately $13,500 for the base 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, $14,300 for the Toyota Corolla and $15,200 for the Honda Civic. On the resale side, predicted five-year residual values are just 29 percent for the Focus versus 28 percent for the Cobalt, 44 percent for the Corolla and 46 percent for the Civic. The well-equipped SE models are roughly $1,300 higher, which may be offset by an incentive of $1,000 to $1,500. Be sure to check Fair Purchase Prices to see what customers are actually paying in your area.