2008 Ford Focus Review | Edmunds.com

2008 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 140 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/35 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Ford Focus

  • The 2008 Ford Focus is much improved and still fun to drive. As a value-driven choice, it works very well, but those seeking a top small sedan or coupe should look elsewhere.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Plush ride quality, responsive steering, simple controls, very good fuel economy, quiet interior, low price.

  • Cons

    Bland interior design and materials on most models, no rear headrests.

  • What's New for 2008

    While not completely new, the Ford Focus gets a significant refresh for 2008. Many of the mechanical components are unchanged, but the car gets a new look inside and out. Ford's hands-free Sync communications system is added to the options list and the base 2.0-liter engine gets a slight power increase. The 2.3-liter engine is dropped, as are all wagon and hatchback versions. A coupe version of the Focus is also new for 2008.

Full 2008 Ford Focus Review

What's New for 2008

While not completely new, the Ford Focus gets a significant refresh for 2008. Many of the mechanical components are unchanged, but the car gets a new look inside and out. Ford's hands-free Sync communications system is added to the options list and the base 2.0-liter engine gets a slight power increase. The 2.3-liter engine is dropped, as are all wagon and hatchback versions. A coupe version of the Focus is also new for 2008.


When the Ford Focus debuted for the 2000 model year, it was heralded as an American compact that offered European driving characteristics in an edgy and stylish package. It's been a rare small-car success for a domestic automaker, as usually this segment is dominated by import brands. Even in its old age, the Focus still sells well, usually third behind the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

As good as the car was at its debut, it had been soldiering on in the past few years without a redesign. In hopes of keeping it competitive, Ford has refreshed the Focus for 2008. Although the Focus looks new, it is mechanically very similar to last year's model. Still, Ford has revised the suspension, added a few horsepower and updated the interior for 2008.

The new interior has a stylish, somewhat upscale look in SES trim, as that's the version that adds metallic-looking surfaces to the dash. Similarly, white-faced gauges with chrome rings add an elegance previous editions of the Focus lacked. Blue gauge lighting also brings the Focus into the 21st century and contributes to the car's overall more modern feel. But the most significant upgrade for 2008 has to be the addition of the Microsoft-developed Sync system. It works as a Bluetooth connection for your phone as well as a voice command interface for digital music players.

For 2008, a coupe body style joins the Focus lineup for the first time. While at first glace, it seems as if Ford has done little more than reinvent the Escort ZX2, company officials say the coupe was added because buyers are looking primarily for coupes and sedans in this segment. As a result, all hatchback variants of the Focus have been dropped for 2008, including the spacious Focus wagon.

The 2008 Ford Focus' new look seems to be polarizing, with some suggesting it pales in comparison to the Mazda 3 and Honda Civic, while others see the obvious visual connection to other Ford products like the Fusion as a positive. Either way, value is still at the heart of the new Ford Focus. Its low base price, six standard airbags and abundance of options will appeal to those who want more car but aren't willing to pay extra. However, those looking for razor-sharp handling and a premium ownership experience will want to look elsewhere.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Ford Focus is available as a coupe or sedan. Both body styles are offered in base S, midlevel SE and top SES trim levels. Base models come with features like air-conditioning, tilt steering wheel and an auxiliary audio jack for the stereo. Cruise control and satellite radio are on the options list.

Step up to the SE and many of those features are still optional. The SE comes with full power accessories, remote keyless entry and other options that are not available on the S. Equipment like Sync, an upgraded stereo with a six-CD changer, heated side mirrors, chrome exterior trim, faux-aluminum interior trim, an upgraded driver seat, customizable interior lighting and a leather-wrapped steering wheel all become available on the SE. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are standard versus the S model's steel wheels with wheel covers.

Top-of-the-line SES versions get 16-inch alloy wheels and upgraded tires as standard as well as adding front and rear stabilizer bars for improved handling. There's no real sport package per se, but the SES is as close as you'll find. This well-equipped Focus also comes standard with much of the SE's optional equipment. Other options for the Focus, depending on the trim level, include leather seating, heated front seats and a sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

Just one engine is available in the Ford Focus for 2008. It's a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder good for 140 horsepower. A cleaner version of that engine that earns PZEV tailpipe emissions certification is also available for California-emissions states. That engine makes 130 hp.

The standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual. A four-speed automatic is available as an option. Opt for any Focus with a manual transmission and fuel economy is estimated at a very good 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Automatics are similar but decrease highway fuel economy by 2 mpg.


Six airbags are standard on all Focus models. This includes front seat side-impact airbags as well as head curtain airbags for both front and rear seat occupants. Antilock brakes are optional on all trim levels. The rear seats lack head restraints, and stability control is not offered.

Interior Design and Special Features

The interior of the 2008 Ford Focus has been reworked with new gauges, a different steering wheel and new seats. The seats prove supportive for long driving stints, while the interior environment is fresher and much more attractive. Still, compared to other small cars, the Focus' interior is nothing special in terms of design and materials, even with the optional aluminum-like trim highlights.

New for the 2008 model year is Ford's Sync system. Essentially a hands-free voice-recognition interface, Sync was developed by Microsoft and Ford. It adds Bluetooth functionality to the Focus but requires fewer steps than other systems. You don't have to save voice tags or build lists of phone numbers, as Sync wirelessly accesses your device's phonebook. It offers similar control for the iPod, Zune or other Plays for Sure portable MP3 players.

Driving Impressions

No one will mistake the 2008 Ford Focus for a Mazda 3, but the car is reasonably fun to drive thanks to quick steering. The interior remains quiet on the highway, as there's little wind or engine noise. Occasionally, road and tire noise makes its way into the cabin, but the car is quieter than the previous Focus and quieter than many other cars in its class.

The 2.0-liter engine provides adequate power. Five-speed automatics are increasingly common for this segment, but the Ford must do with a four-speed. Its gears are well spaced at least, and even on steep inclines, the transmission rarely shifts up and down looking for the right gear.

Read our Ford Focus Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Focus legacy

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Purchased my 2008 focus SE last summer. It has been so great! 40 miles to the gallon is a plus. It is actually my 2nd focus my first being a 2000. I put 200k on my 2000 and so far 20k on my 2008. Defiantly a HUGE step up. Way better horse power and very peppy style. I would not be afraid to drive either of them across the country tomorrow. Best compact car on the market. Never had a problem with any of my focus's. In a few more years I will be looking forward to buying a next generation focus

Very happy with my car

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus SES 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

bought my 2008 ford focus used , replaced a 200 ZX3 that was written off by insurance company . while its not a sports car it does very well in both city and highway driving . over all the car is very comfortable and quiet . the sync system is relatively easy to use but does have some weird things about it , when i use iPod connection and drive to destination and turn off car , upon restarting the sync does not recognize iPod and have to scroll through menu to get it back . sometimes refuses to reconnect . i wish there was a trunk release button in the cabin other than using just the key and the remote fob . but other than that very pleased with it .

Very good compact car

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Have had my 2008 Focus since 2009 and 9,000 miles. Have about 45,000 miles on it now and am very happy with the car. Provides a nice balance of a soft, quiet ride, and decent handling. I get about 29 mpg on my commute in heavy city driving. On highway trips, have gotten as good as 45 mpg. Sync system is easy to use and links my phone and iPod without problems. Trunk is very good size for a compact car with a nice, wide opening. Would definitely recommend.

Good commuter/family car

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I had a 2008, and 2010 and a 2012 Focus thus far (as of this writing), and I think the 2008 and 2010 are the best of them all. It's not the sportiest car out there, and the dash in the 2008-2011 models looks a little dated) but they are reliable, get good gas mileage, and are safe cars (found out in my 2010 unfortunately). Sync is easier to use in this area (2008-11) than in newer version of the Focus. The 2008-2011 is a good move in the right direction for Ford, especially with the previous generations (2000-04 especially) having issues. I had no problems with either the 2008 or 2010, and I put about 40k on both.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Issues with door latches, and

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought a 2008 Focus Automatic(why doesn't Edmunds have the automatic as option for review?) brand new. First winter the passenger side door lock froze. 6months into ownership of it the carpet came undone from under plastic door trim on both sides of car. Same issue with "09" too. 2 years in the trunk door latch is blown. We had to rig it so can open from pulling a rope threaded though the fold down back seat. Asked it to be repaired when had it in for service and idiots at shop failed to do anything to it. Haven't taken it back. 5yrs old now and back door on passenger side will not latch. Going to have to have it repaired when have the money. Issues with alignment on it and the 2009 too.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Updated 5-14-11 now 4-12-13

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Vehicle: 2008 Ford Focus SES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Sold her having 72K to her new owner. When sold still no issues and still gets 30 mpg.

Talk About The 2008 Focus

2008 Ford Focus Discussions See all Started By

2008 Ford Focus Long Term Road Test Edmunds introduces its newly added 2008 Ford Focus to its long term road test fleet. Read more here....

will wheels from a 2008 focus stock 15" aluminum fit a 2010 focus ses with 17" wheels? I heard they might not clear calipers...

What the #$%&? According to http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/FVDP/Preview/styleId=100728682, the 2008 Focus for US will be yet another stup!d facelift! What Ford really needs if it wants to bo...

Read more about the 2008 Ford Focus

Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 35
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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