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2009 Ford Focus

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2009 Ford Focus Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


With the profitability of its trucks and SUVs waning, Ford is quickly moving to reassert its presence in the car-based side of the market. To that end, its smallest and most fuel-efficient U.S. entry, the Focus, received a major revamp last year, radically changing its appearance, driving dynamics, safety and available features while helping it shed roughly 30 pounds in the process. Although basic platform engineering from the '07 model carries over, new sheetmetal and cabin appointments make a far bolder visual statement that's suitably complemented by an improved roster of standard equipment in all four trim levels; S, SE, SES and SEL. Ford hopes the Focus' combination of affordable pricing and nifty features, such as the SYNC audio system, will help lure away customers long accustomed to shopping the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

You'll Like This Car If...

A progressive look, more refined handling and additional features make the 2009 Ford Focus an even more appealing choice for drivers seeking a value-oriented American compact. However, it's the SYNC system that really sets it apart from all of its competitors, particularly for those who use their cars as mobile offices or entertainment centers.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Those seeking the versatility of a compact hatchback may be turned off by the trunk-only body style of the 2009 Focus Sedan and Coupe.

What's New for 2009

An SEL trim is added to the sedan lineup, touting leather seating, the SYNC audio system and chrome door handles. The SES trims receive a refreshed front grille, a roof-mounted rear spoiler (Coupe) and optional 17-inch wheels (Sedan). AdvanceTrac stability control is now available on all models.

Driving It Driving Impressions

Handling has always been a Focus strong suit, and the comprehensive revamp of its fully independent suspension, coupled with a stiffer body structure, adds even more poise and control in that department. A rear anti-roll bar, Euro-style chassis tuning and larger 16-inch aluminum wheels (17 on the SES Coupe) wrapped in premium Pirelli tires make the SES the standout player as the roads get twistier. Large front disc and rear drum brakes improve stopping power, and all models offer an available anti-lock system with traction and stability control. Generous sound proofing, an acoustic windshield and thicker side glass help to lower cabin noise levels. While not the quickest car in its class, the 2009 Focus does deliver decent gas mileage, which should please those who favor efficiency over exhilaration.

Favorite Features

SYNC In-Car Communications System
Developed in conjunction with Microsoft, this state-of-the-art in-car hands-free cell phone and personal media player interface is remarkably functional and amazingly affordable at under $500.

Optional Leather Upholstery
Available on SES and standard on SEL models, it adds a touch of class to the interior of either the coupe or sedan.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

Inside, the Focus gains functionality and boasts upgraded materials. The "organic" dash contouring that made the original Focus so youth-oriented gives way to a more traditional design, netting improved storage spaces, better-positioned controls and attractive ice-blue backlighting. Gauge faces are black on the S and white on SE, SEL and SES models, and a dash-top display graces the interior of all models. The large central accent panel, tan or black on S and SE, has an upscale brushed-nickel finish on the SES and SEL. Redesigned bucket seats provide more comfort and support up front, while the 60/40-split rear bench can handle two average-sized adults or three kids and adds utility to the 13.8 cubic-foot trunk.

Exterior

The latest Focus borrows design cues from the more angular Edge and Fusion, gaining crisply-chiseled character lines and a chrome bar grille that help align it more closely with other Ford vehicles. Base S models come with 15-inch steel wheels; the SE gets alloy rims of the same size. The SES and SEL variants move up to 16-inchers, while the SES Coupe rides on 17-inchers. Chrome faux side vents add a bit of bling to the front quarter panels of SE, SES and SEL models and the top-line Focus also has body-color door handles and side mirrors and gets a subtle rear decklid spoiler.

Notable Standard Equipment

Even the Focus S boasts a respectable basic roster of features, including high-efficiency air conditioning, a tilt steering column, dual 12-volt powerpoints and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. It also includes an AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary audio input. The SE, SES and SEL trims add power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote, driver information center and unique alloy wheels (15-inch on SE, 16-inch on SEL and 17-inch on SES Coupe). Moving up to the SES and SEL adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control switchgear, upgraded interior trim, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, fog lamps and the slick SYNC in-car communications system.

Notable Optional Equipment

All models can be fitted with anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, an electrochromic rearview mirror – with or without Homelink and compass – remote starting for cars with automatic transmission and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The SE offers the Driver's Group Package (cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, electrochromic rear-view mirror) and the Moon and Tune Package (power moonroof and audiophile sound system with six-disc CD/MP3 changer). Other options include factory-installed ambient interior lighting, the SYNC audio system and leather seats (optional on SES, standard on SEL).

Under the Hood

The Focus offers two variations on the existing 2.0-liter twin-cam Duratec four-cylinder engine. In Federal form, the engine makes 140 horsepower (143 in the Coupe) whether it's paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. The "California-spec" engine, mandated in five states, makes only 132 horsepower but qualifies for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) status. While both engines get similar fuel economy numbers in the city, the manual gearbox raises the official highway number from 33 to 35 mpg. Choosing to shift for yourself also results in a bit more spirited acceleration; but even with the automatic, any Focus can cope easily with in-town traffic, freeway on-ramps and highway travel.

2.0-liter in-line 4
140 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
143 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (Coupe)
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)

2.0-liter in-line 4
132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (PZEV)
133 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)

Pricing Notes

Ford's aggressive pricing schedule has the Focus S Sedan with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of less than $16,000, including destination fees. The SE Coupe starts just under $17,000. Even a fully-loaded SEL four-door will just touch the $22,000 mark. Ford's efforts at improving both the features and driving experience have helped bolster residual values across the entire Focus line. However, while it's now virtually equal to a Chevrolet Cobalt in that department, the Focus is still not on par with Japanese rivals, such as the Honda Civic, Mazda MAZDA3 or Toyota Corolla. In the long run, expect SE and SES models to do slightly better than the S when it comes time to sell or trade.

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