Focus comes in three-door hatchback, five-door hatchback, sedan, and wagon body styles. That makes it appeal to different types of people and meet their individual needs.
The sedans are comfortable and move people efficiently. The three-door hatchback is economical and practical, yet sporty and fun at the same time. The five-door hatchback makes it easier for rear-seat passengers to join in the merriment. The wagons can carry a ton of cargo and are good for dogs.
For 2007, the Focus enjoys optional new leather-trimmed sport seats, two new exterior colors and upgrades to the sound systems. In addition, a new interior upgrade package offers exclusive styling treatments inside the Focus' comfy cabin. The Focus is expected to get styling revisions and other upgrades for 2008, so expect deals on the 2007 models.
The ZX4 ST is particularly sporting with strong acceleration from its 151-hp engine and sharp handling and precise steering from its sports suspension. We found it fun to drive, though a bit noisy.
Ford Focus ZX3 S ($14,310); ZX4 S ($14,14,635); ZX5 S ($15,310); ZX3 SE ($15,600); ZX4 SE ($15,900); ZX5 SE ($16,605); ZXW SE ($17,385); ZX3 SES ($16,095); ZX4 SES ($16,700); ZX5 SES ($17,410); ZXW SES ($18,420); ZX4 ST ($17,925)
For 2007, new sport seats with leather seating surfaces and contrasting leather inserts are available on the ST sedan as well as the SE and SES models (except wagon). This seat treatment is part of the new Interior Upgrade Package ($495), which also includes two-tone, leather-wrapped steering wheel with Charcoal upper and Flint lower to match the seating surfaces; a satin finish on the center stack surround and instrument-panel cluster gauge surround; and black sill plates with exposed Focus in body color.
Street Appearance packages are offered for the ST sedan and the ZX3, ZX4 and ZX5 SE and SES models to give the Focus a more sporty, tuner look. The Sport Appearance packages feature spoilers as the focal point, along with unique front fascia and rear bumper treatments and bright exhaust tips.
On two-tone models, the lower portions of the instrument panel and door trim panels are finished in a lighter shade for a more open feeling. Cloth and leather upholstery are offered. The ZX4 ST has unique woven fabrics or suede seating surfaces surrounded with leather trim.
A standard floor console houses the shifter, two cupholders, the parking brake, and controls for options such as traction control. An overhead console includes a sunglasses holder and a space for a garage door opener. Storage is also provided in the front doors, which feature molded-in bottle holders.
A CD player with MP3 capability is standard on all models. Models with the optional six-disc CD changer feature audio controls on the steering wheel.
The 136-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is the base engine for most of the country. In California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, the Focus comes standard with a super-clean, 130-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
Fuel economy is good: The base engine earns an EPA rating of 27/37 mpg City/Highway with the five-speed manual, 27/34 mpg with the four-speed automatic. It puts out much lower emissions so it meets California's PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) standards.
The Focus ZX4 ST is fun to drive. Ford borrowed suspension pieces from the European-market Focus and the 2004 Focus SVT to give the ZX4 ST sharper handling. The ZX4 ST comes with unique 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels and Pirelli all-season radials. The package provides sharp handling response, precise steering and generally an enjoyable connection with the road.
We found the higher horsepower engine in the Focus ZX4 ST delivered strong acceleration performance and cruised easily on the highway. The only complaint with the engine was noise. Despite efforts by Ford engineers to quiet the cabin, the ZX4 ST was noisy even when cruising at highway speeds. The 151-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder that goes in the ZX4 ST gets an EPA-rated 23/32 mpg.
The Ford Focus is inexpensive, stylish, practical and fun, and it appears Ford has fixed the quality problems that plagued the earlier models in the life cycle of the car in 2000 and 2001. The Focus boasts an extra-long powertrain warranty of five years or 100,000 miles and the improvements have boosted its quality ratings.
Michelle Krebs filed the original report, with New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.