2003 Ford Focus Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Ford Focus

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

  Average Consumer Rating (23 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

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!



1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Mediocrity at its best!

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

My 2003 Ford Focus has seen it's share of problems: Alternator, Thermostat Housing, AA Solenoid, Fuel Pump, Water Pump, Drive Belt, Timing Belt and Engine Mounts. I Love the compact design; however, this causes astronomical labor charges or very difficult self repairs. You actually have to go under the car to change the headlight bulbs. Overall, I like my Focus, but I wish Ford had put more thought into the quality. For example, a thermostat housing that is not made of plastic. If yours has not failed yet, then it soon will. Or a better set of engine mounts. One thing that the focus will do is help you become a great mechanic.




Great little car

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

I've really enjoyed my Focus. It not really a fancy car, but it's nicely built, solid and dependable. I'm a fairly big man and I can get in it comfortably without having to do a lot of contortions to fit in the seat. The headroom is excellent and it is not cramped at all. It has a nice comfortable ride, too. If you have to commute a ways to work, this is the car for you. I'd had the car about a week and had to make a trip from Kansas City to Mitchell, SD.(about 400 miles and did so one tank of gas.)I'll definitely buy another one some day.




Liked my contour better

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

I really like this car, but I loved my 95 Ford Contour. I keep my cars for at least 150K miles, so hopefully my Focus will last as long as my last car. I really wish I had purchased the power premium model, but at the time I wanted a liquid grey 5spd and there was only premium available.




Love my focus

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

When my T-Bird was involved in an accident, I was given a Ford Focus to drive by the rental company. I thought I would hate driving a smaller car. After a week I bought one.




Love my focus!

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

The name of my car is true! Focus!! It gave me nre focus ... a wonderful "happy" yellow ,,, and a joy to drive!



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