"Smart design and spirited driving" were the guiding forces behind the development of the Focus. Targeted to be the new volume leader in Ford sales worldwide, the Focus is a highly evolved compact car with "New Edge" styling, a roomy interior, and excellent road manners.
Ford offers the Focus in three body styles: a three-door 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 mid-level SE and highline ZTS trim. Wagons are available in SE trim only.
One of the key design elements for the Focus is its intelligent use of space. Ford boasts that the car's overall design started on the inside to provide additional cabin space and comfort. The goal was to have the Focus comfortably accommodate humans ranging from a 4-foot-10-inch female weighing 95 pounds to a 6-foot-4-inch male weighing 240 pounds.
Besides providing more space and comfort for passengers, the interior also features thoughtful ergonomics. Controls are large and easy to find. Since most people adjust the radio more than the climate system, the radio head unit is placed above the climate controls.
The interior itself is attractive, and contains styling elements from both the Escort ZX2 and Mercury Cougar. All Focus seats can be adjusted in height, though some of our editors dislike the seating position, saying it is too "chairlike." A tilt/telescopic steering wheel is optional.
For safety, the Focus utilizes an optimized body structure, standard driver and passenger airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and load-limiting retractors, and optional side airbags. A three-point safety belt for the center rear seat is standard, as are child-safety-seat anchor points. NHTSA crash test scores are very good for this segment.
The base drivetrain for LX models is a 2.0-liter, 110-horsepower engine and five-speed manual transmission. This same drivetrain is standard in SE sedans, but ZTS sedans, along with SE wagons and the ZX3 coupe, get a more powerful 130-horsepower, 2.0-liter Zetec engine as standard equipment. The Zetec makes 130 pound-feet of torque at an easily accessible 4,250 rpm. Both engines provide adequate power, though the Zetec engine is the clear choice for enthusiasts.
Enthusiasts should also enjoy Focus' ride quality and handling ability. A fully independent multilink suspension has been adopted for the rear. Body roll is noticeable while cornering, but the Focus stays planted and inspires confidence. The steering system is surprisingly quick, fluid and responsive.
Ford is serious about retaining its share of the worldwide subcompact market. The Focus reflects not only the company's dedication to this goal, but also its ability to make solid, practical transportation for the 21st century.