2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
I have had a lot of fun driving this car. The handling and ride of this car rival my wife's Honda Accord (no kidding). I test drove the new Honda Civic, new Toyota Corolla, and a new Suzuki Forenza. The Focus had the most headroom, the most comfortable seats, and the best road manners. The interior is well laid out with all of the controls within easy reach. On the highway the engine noise is quieter than expected. The engine doesn't sound too hurried even at speeds around 70 mph. The car tracks straight and is very responsive to steering input with the short wheelbase. Braking feels solid, even with drum brakes in the rear. I am getting just over 27 mpg with mixed city/highway driving.
Great handling and ride for an entry level car, adequate headroom for taller people, good visibility all around, comfortable seats, smooth shifting transmission, instrumentation layout easy to read, good audio sound, road/wind noise not so bad at highway speeds, price, great headlights, foglamps.
ABS and side airbags should be standard equipment, should have a heat shield on the inside of hood in engine compartment, wheel wells around the back tires are some kind of fiber material -- why not easy-to-clean plastic? Gas mileage could be a little better for a compact.