2003 Ford Focus Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Ford Focus Sedan

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Ford Focus Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 110 hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/32 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 (20 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


Not a lemon, but not

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

I bought my 03 Ford Focus LX used at 35000 mi. Drove great for first year. Soon after, alternator died (after draining 2 batteries), brakes CONSTANTLY squealed (even after replacing rotors), a pipe to the engine RUSTED OFF (luckily a friend could replace it for me), tail lights died a lot, ridiculous rattle/vibration in the dash that would go away if you hit the dashboard, trunk would not latch since the last few months. I was in a wreck a month ago that totaled the car at 141,000 mi. I walked away without a scratch, so I guess the car was pretty durable. Wouldn't purchase another one though, I'm looking for a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima now.




Got rid of it

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

Bought this car at 40k miles and got rid of it at 64k. We had the key problem where the ignition locks up; we just never took the key out, always left it in the car to avoid getting stranded. Couldn't put chains on it. Trunk wouldn't shut properly. Gas mileage steadily declined despite regular oil changes and check ups. After reading all the reviews about the car crapping out around 60k, we just wanted to be rid of it.




Not the best

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

My dad originally bought this car for me for my first car. I will say that for a first time driver, it is decent. Very easy to drive. For the few years I owned it, I never had any mechanical problems with it. The 4cyl. engine, in my opinion, is way too small. Awful pickup on the highway. It is very low to the ground and had a tendency to bottom out. Also, not really good in the snow. Decent MPG though. I ended up trading it in for a 07 Jeep Liberty, which I love and would recommend to someone over the Focus.




Good first car

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

Bought it with 48,000 miles on it. Apart from regular oil changes and one bad heater coil ($100) it has run quite well. Fun to drive in summer but need to be careful in winter.




Buyer beware

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

Ignition replaced 3 times. Exhaust pipe that connects to engine replaced twice. Mechanic said it will have to be replaced again and again because it is a known defect. Brakes replaced too many times. Now engine rattles. My mother has the same car. Same problems. It has been in fender benders twice and a guy driving a stolen truck ran in to the front end and no dents! The other cars had the damage. That is one great thing about the car. There is not a lot of room in the back seat.




Laurie's review

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

I previously had owned two Escorts before my Focus. When Ford quit making the Escort I was very upset because I always knew what car I'd be purchasing next - an Escort. However, I decided to give the Focus a chance, since it replaced the Escort, and I've really been happy with its performance and quality. The only maintenance I've had to perform so far is changing the oil and tires. I did have a problem with the truck when I first got it, but it was under warranty and Ford fixed it right away. It's been a great car and I will be purchasing another one really soon!



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

  • 24
  • cty
/
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs