2003 Ford Focus Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Ford Focus

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Ford Focus Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 130 hp @ 5300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Ford Focus

  • The 2003 Ford Focus is a wonderful small car that's fun to drive, frugal with fuel and offered in such a wide variety of configurations it would be hard not to find one that suits your needs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Thoughtful ergonomics, large interior, smooth ride, sharp steering, impressive selection of body configurations and features.

  • Cons

    Seats aren't comfortable for everyone, below-average reliability.

  • What's New for 2003

    Minor changes are in store for the 2003 Ford Focus. Two new trim levels increase the breadth of prices for Ford's economy car; a base trim for the three door hatchback renders air conditioning optional and only comes with a manual transmission. For the five door hatchback, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, front reading lights and a center console are available when you step up to the comfort trim level from the base level. Heated front seats are a new option, as is a traction control and ABS package. New colors for the exterior brighten up the color palette, and the interior is freshened with two new fabric trims. Finally, a CD/MP3 player is now standard on the ZX3 and ZX5. A SVT version of the ZX5 is also scheduled to appear later in the year.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Top flight car - if

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

Test drove an Acura RSX-S and SVT. RSX felt cramped with poor outward vision poor and didn't come "loaded" as the SVT - which had everything but traction control. Driving position, outward vision and ergonomics all superior to RSX, as are brakes. Body roll excessive and gear linkage slow. Worst feature is the dual mass flywheel, which is supposed to dampen out ham fisted shifting, but merely retards revs, acceleration, and obviates engine braking. Noisy car with practically no sound insulation, although it comes with a good sound system. MPG on the poor side, especially in mixed traffic, (22-23).



7 of 12 people found this review helpful

Absolute piece of garbage

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought the car back in 2011, used, about 65,000 miles on it. I should be able to get some life out of it, right? Wrong. About 4 months later, the alternator had to be changed. Figured that was normal - took it for inspection in June of 2012 - needed a tune-up. Then - the ignition started sticking, got to the point where I was coming out of a hair appointment and the car would not start. Had to call a mechanic - $400 dollars to get the ignition fixed! Now - the battery's drained and my transmission is sticking. I have no clue how much it's gonna be, but the car has been sitting in the driveway for about 3 months and I refuse to put another dime into it. Good riddance.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Clear sailing

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus ZTW 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I love this car. The only issue is that it is rough on tires. I normally get about 40K out of a 60K tire. I average 26-27mpg in the winter and 29-32mpg the rest of the year. I have 149900 miles on my car. I have not experienced many of the issues that others have, but then I bought mine new and know what it has gone through. If you do the maintenance when the owner's manual says to do it then you will have very few problems. Word to drivers the rotors are not the best, but the pads are really good so if you have worn out your brake pads, that is on you. I went 89K before having to change rotors and it was a mountain pass that did in the rear brake pads.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

More fun than expected

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I knew what I wanted initially: a small hatchback with good mpg and a manual trans. However, I never expected to like it this much. The old saying that its more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow... this car nails it. Driving around town I find this car more satisfying than my 400hp Mustang. Its reasonably peppy, doesn't have to be revved, and with the addition of a stiffer rear swaybar, the handling is a blast. Tons of room too. On one trip I managed 3 people and a 50" tv. On another, a full dresser. It's got 140k miles on it, so a few things are starting to go, but I'd say its held up incredibly well. Couldn't be happier with my purchase!




Underpowered, boring, but reliable.

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

We owned this car for a little over 5 years. It gave us very little trouble, and was very economical. We got rid of it with 100,000 miles. At that point it was a very rattly annoying car to drive. Also very underpowered, passing someone had to be all planned out. Awesome on fuel, but I think a Civic or a Mazda would have been a lot more fun.




Avg bang for avg buck

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Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Whaddya expect... you're buying a used car! Granted I bought it 40km and am now past 130k, but its been a great car for the buck. ( had a Toyota dealer ask 10k for the used price at first though? what the..!!) But reading through these reviews its obvious too many poor quality parts were used given how many similarities in repairs: trunk latch has been replaced 3x now and still doesn't latch all the time. Door handles. Ignition locked up. Battery is being drained by something, replaced once already. Sway bar/bushings. But be realistic. Otherwise its been a great little mid level car.



Full 2003 Ford Focus Review

What's New for 2003

Minor changes are in store for the 2003 Ford Focus. Two new trim levels increase the breadth of prices for Ford's economy car; a base trim for the three door hatchback renders air conditioning optional and only comes with a manual transmission. For the five door hatchback, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, front reading lights and a center console are available when you step up to the comfort trim level from the base level. Heated front seats are a new option, as is a traction control and ABS package. New colors for the exterior brighten up the color palette, and the interior is freshened with two new fabric trims. Finally, a CD/MP3 player is now standard on the ZX3 and ZX5. A SVT version of the ZX5 is also scheduled to appear later in the year.

Introduction

"Smart design and spirited driving" were the guiding forces behind the development of the Focus. It debuted in 2000 with "New Edge" styling, a roomy interior and excellent road manners. These qualities, plus a wide variety of configurations, have made the Focus the best small car from a domestic manufacturer. It falls behind the Civic and Corolla in terms of refinement and reliability, but the 2003 Ford Focus is still worth considering for a fun and functional small car.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2003 Ford Focus is available in four body styles: a three-door ZX3 hatchback, a five-door ZX5 hatchback, a sedan and a wagon. The sedan can be ordered in one of three trim levels, starting with the base LX model and going up to the midlevel SE and highline ZTS trim. Wagons are available in SE or ZTW trim. The ZX3 can be had in base, premium or power premium trim, while the ZX5 allows for the choice between base, comfort and premium models. There's also the high-performance SVT Focus, which is based on the ZX3.

Powertrains and Performance

The base drivetrain for LX models is a 2.0-liter 110-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. This same drivetrain is standard in SE sedans, but ZTS sedans, along with wagons and hatchbacks, get a more powerful 130-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. A four-speed automatic is optional. Both engines provide adequate power, though the higher-output motor is the clear choice for enthusiasts. Still not enough? Then maybe you should consider the SVT Focus. Based on the ZX3, this hot hatch puts out 170 horsepower and is equipped with an exclusive six-speed manual transmission. The SVT Focus also comes with 17-inch wheels, oversize four-wheel disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension to keep it glued to the road.

Safety

For safety, the Focus has ABS, traction control and stability control as optional equipment. NHTSA crash test scores for the ZX3 are good with the car earning four stars in frontal impacts and front side-impacts. The rear side-impact test, however, resulted in a very poor one-star rating for the ZX3. However, the ZX5 and wagon also scored four stars for rear side impacts. In frontal offset testing (conducted by the IIHS), the Focus has earned a "Good" score.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Focus is roomy for its class, offering generous accommodations for its front and rear passengers. Inside you'll find plenty of headroom. Some options usually not found in this segment include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 player and a stability control system. Some may find the asymmetrical dash layout odd, but the well-dampened controls and correct ergonomic placement should forgive any faults.

Driving Impressions

Regardless of trim, the 2003 Ford Focus offers a smooth ride quality and above-average handling ability. The four-wheel fully independent suspension allows for noticeable body roll while cornering, but the Focus stays planted and inspires confidence. The steering system is surprisingly quick, fluid and responsive, always providing plenty of feedback from the road surface. Our experience with our long-term ZX3 has proven to be more than satisfactory, and the SVT Focus, with its aftermarket-sounding exhaust, short-throw shifter and optional audiophile sound system has proven to be our favorite sport compact hatchback.

Talk About The 2003 Focus

Read more about the 2003 Ford Focus

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 22
  • cty
/
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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