2004 Ford Focus ZX3 Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
A money pit. If I had to rely on this car for above average use I would have been in trouble many times. For a small car the mileage is below avg-my last trip I couldn't even get 30 mpg hwy/22-23city. The transmission fluid had to be changed at 40k - it's synthetic and cost over $200. The alternator went out at 48k-the engine must be jacked-up to release the alternator so it near impossible for an owner to do.You are looking at $400-700 cost due to labor and parts. The ignition lock seized at 45k-must be towed to the dealer to be fixed due to the anti-theft chip. Around $500. Now at 56k the thermostat housing and valve cover gasket are leaking-Parts and labor will cost you around $500.
Hatchback is good for storage; the ride quality is good for a small car for short commutes and long trips. Exterior design is sharp and unique.
Don't get one, the new focus is even smaller inside than my '04, and the reliability is not any more certain. Gas mileage has barely improved, and only for hwy driving.