2003 Ford Focus Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Thoughtful ergonomics, large interior, smooth ride, sharp steering, impressive selection of body configurations and features.
- Seats aren't comfortable for everyone, below-average reliability.
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.
"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.
2003 Ford Focus models
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger1 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
- Side Impact TestPoor
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintMarginal
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestNot Tested
Used 2003 Ford Focus Overview
The Used 2003 Ford Focus is offered in the following submodels: Focus Hatchback, Focus Sedan, Focus Wagon, Focus SVT. Available styles include SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SE Comfort 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SE Comfort 4dr Sedan w/Zetec (2.0L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SE 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A), LX Premium 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZTW 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A), ZX5 Premium 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX3 Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX3 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX3 Power Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX5 Comfort 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX5 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZTS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and SVT 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M). Pre-owned Ford Focus models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 130 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Ford Focus comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The Used 2003 Ford Focus comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2003 Ford Focus?
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Which used 2003 Ford Focuses are available in my area?
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Find a used Ford Focus for sale - 10 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $7,756.
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Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Focus for sale - 2 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $25,372.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Ford Focus?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.