Introduced for 2001, the European-designed Focus quickly displaced the Escort as Ford’s top-selling passenger car. It quickly ranked second in company sales behind the midsize Taurus. The front-wheel-drive compact comes as a four-door sedan, a two-door ZX3 or a four-door ZX5 hatchback, and a four-door wagon. A high-performance SVT Focus debuted for 2002.
A new 145-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine was introduced in 2003 for selected states, and it’s now available nationwide. For 2004, the ZX3 edition is offered with leather seats.
Standard models use a 110-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The sportier Focus editions carry either a 130-hp, 2.0-liter Zetec four-cylinder or the new 145-hp engine.
(Skip to details on the: Focus Wagon | SVT Focus)
At 168.1 inches long overall, Focus sedans and hatchbacks are 6.5 inches shorter than the Honda Civic and a foot shorter than the Toyota Corolla. At 56.3 inches to its rooftop, the Focus is almost as tall as the four-door Civic.
Ford calls the Focus’ distinctive styling “new edge.” Its design is marked by prominent creases and dramatically designed headlamps that sweep back into the hood and fenders.
The seats are relatively high - part of a long, tall interior that’s designed to accommodate taller and older people, despite the car’s emphasis on a youth-oriented crowd. The large doorways make entry and exit easier. Big, clearly labeled controls are convenient to reach and easy to see.
Ford claims that the Focus is not only capable of comfortably seating five people, but it is also roomier than key rivals. The backseat folds down to expand cargo capacity. Focus sedans have a 14-cubic-foot trunk, and the hatchback models promise 19 cubic feet of space when the seats are up and 28 cubic feet with the seats down. The wagon offers a maximum cargo capacity of 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
A silver-colored instrument cluster and color-keyed trim go on premium models. A CD/MP3 player is standard in upper-end models.
Under the Hood
The base LX engine is a 110-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The SE, ZX3 and ZX5 are equipped with a 130-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A 145-hp four-cylinder goes into the ZTS and is optional in other models. The SVT Focus uses a 170-hp engine. All engines team with a standard five-speed-manual or optional four-speed-automatic transmission except the SVT Focus, which uses a six-speed-manual transmission.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are optional.
The European heritage of the Focus reveals itself mainly in the car’s crisp cornering ability and its roomy, upright, ergonomically oriented interior. The hatchback models look sharper than the sedans and are practical for carrying cargo. The ZX3 equipped with the manual shift is frisky on the road. It accelerates eagerly from a standstill and is quite spirited for passing and merging. The hatchbacks are highly maneuverable and fun to drive. Smooth clutch action and a gearbox that works fairly easily contribute to driving enjoyment. Ride comfort is firm but above par, and the suspension deals competently with urban bumps. Despite the vehicle’s thick pillars, long side glass helps visibility in the hatchback. Front-seat headroom is huge. A ZTS sedan equipped with the automatic transmission comes across as uninspiring. All Focus models represent good value when compared to such rivals as the Civic and Volkswagen’s Golf and Jetta.
Related Model: Focus Wagon
At 178.2 inches long overall, the Focus Wagon is a foot longer than the other Focus body styles. The wagon has 73 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the seats are folded down and 35 cubic feet with rear seats up. The 130-hp four-cylinder engine is standard. Back to top
Related Model: SVT Focus
Developed by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team, the high-performance SVT Focus uses a 170-hp engine and a Getrag six-speed-manual gearbox. An entrant into the “hot hatch segment,” the SVT Focus is supposed to attract nontraditional buyers who may otherwise gravitate toward imports. Its main rival is the Honda Civic Si.
Two- and four-door hatchbacks are available in the SVT Focus lineup. Both body styles have unique front and rear fascias with honeycomb grilles, special rocker panel moldings and a small spoiler atop the hatch. Cobra R-inspired five-spoke wheels hold 17-inch tires. A handling package includes revised spring rates and larger anti-roll bars to improve stability.
The seats are trimmed in black leather with cloth inserts and offer extra bolster padding for increased lateral support. Many interior components, including the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift lever, are upgraded. Auxiliary radio controls sit in a pod to the left of the steering wheel, which follows the European style. The instrument panel features an electroluminescent gauge cluster. An optional Audiophile stereo system includes an 8-inch subwoofer and an in-dash six-CD changer. A power sunroof is also optional. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard. Back to top