Innovative Ford Sync system, above-average fuel economy.
Interior design missteps, low-quality interior materials, disjointed exterior styling, elevated amounts of road noise and vibration, not particularly sporty.
If you follow business news, you probably know that Ford's finances haven't been in the best of shape these past few years. As such, there hasn't been much money to go around. So what's an automaker to do when one of its cars is in need of an expensive redesign? Put out the tin cup? Hope that Monopoly money suddenly becomes legal tender?
No, silly. Give it an Extreme Makeover: Ford Edition! While the 2008 Ford Focus is being labeled as new, in fact, it's the beneficiary of a major refresh rather than a redesign. The car has updated sheet metal, a new coupe body style, a new interior design and the much-hyped Ford Sync system, but the underlying body structure and powertrain are largely the same as last year...and none too different from seven years before that.
The question, of course, is whether this makeover is sufficiently deep to keep the Focus a viable and recommended choice for a small car. To find out, we bought a 2008 Ford Focus SES Coupe for our
On the move, the 2008 Ford Focus SES falls in the middle of the road in regards to handling performance. Earlier Focus models were known for their lively steering and fun-to-drive nature. These attributes aren't as immediately apparent in the new car, as Ford chose to prioritize stability and ride quality instead. This is even the case with the as-tested SES trim, which comes standard with sportier wheels and tires and a rear antiroll bar. The Focus still possesses decent steering response and grip. But drivers looking for a sport-themed small car will find driving excitement elsewhere.
Ford says that it made a number of improvements to the 2008 Focus to help reduce wind noise. This is all well and good, but the Focus won't be getting many smiles from shush-happy librarians. Wind noise is, in fact, fairly muted, but road noise and vibration can be intrusive at highway speeds. The Focus' ride quality, at least, is pleasingly stable for a small car.
The front seats are firm and flat — they seem shaped for people who never met a Triple Whopper with Cheese they didn't like. On the SES coupe, height adjustment for the driver comes standard. One disappointment is the lack of a telescoping function for the steering wheel — this previously available feature was discontinued for 2008.
The Focus coupe isn't as rear-passenger-friendly as other small coupes. The front seats don't slide or cant forward easily, nor do they return to their original positions when placed back. Once seated in the rear, at least, normal-size adults will find suitable amounts of legroom and headroom. There's also generous foot room thanks to high mounting of the front seats. Unfortunately, there aren't any rear head restraints, which hampers long-distance comfort for adults and raises questions about crash safety.
Sync this into your brain: Sync is cool. Essentially, it's a Microsoft-developed, voice-activated control system for portable MP3 players plus Bluetooth cell phone connectivity for hands-free calling. It comes standard on the Focus SES.
Most portable MP3 players are compatible. You just need to use a special cable to hook up the player to the combo auxiliary audio jack/USB port. Sync will scan the MP3 player's musical contents and then one can control the player using voice commands, such as "Play artist: Madonna," or "Play playlist: Driving Songs." Sync confirms commands with a synthesized voice ("playing: Madonna"). Song information is also presented on a dash-mounted display. Other nice touches: MP3 players get their batteries charged while connected, and you can use the steering-wheel-mounted controls to skip through tracks.
In general, Sync worked very well for us. It recognized most of our voice prompt requests, and it didn't get tripped up when we threw some Spanish song titles at it. (The thick Sync manual says it can even be set up to operate in French or Spanish. "Tocar artista: Madonna!") There were times when Sync didn't recognize a voice request (it absolutely refused to play any music associated with Dean Martin), which means you're out of luck since the Focus' dedicated buttons can only advance tracks within a voice-selected song list. Plus, once your player is connected, you can't operate it by its own controls. You can, however, simply plug your iPod into the standard auxiliary audio jack (if you're really hankering for some Dino).
Design/Fit and Finish
Ford did what it could to make the Focus look new. But most of our staff found the '08 model to be worse looking than past models. The car's lines simply aren't cohesive, and certain design elements, such as the chrome fender vents (which don't actually vent anything) look totally tacked on.
Change for the better will be found on the inside. The dash and center stack have been completely redesigned and additional storage areas have been added. The look of the dash is high-tech. At night, the controls have blue illumination, and our car had the optional custom-color LEDs that light up the cupholders and footwells. There's enough interior storage for cell phones and MP3 players, and the center console bin is quite deep.
There are some annoying design missteps, however. The interior door handles for the coupe are placed too far forward. Leveragewise, this makes the doors feel overly heavy when closing. The white-faced gauges are hard to read. Finally, many of the interior materials simply aren't up to snuff. Fit and finish is fine, but overall quality is a few steps behind what's available from class leaders.
Who should consider this vehicle
Ford's tagline for the 2008 Focus is "Where MP3s meet MPGs." And guess what? Sync really does work. If you live your life one MP3 at a time and score big with pricing incentives, maybe the 2008 Ford Focus is for you. But to us, this is an underachieving small car more fitting of the following tagline: "Good enough for government work."
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2008 Ford Focus Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Ford Focus and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Focus featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Ford Focus and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Focus 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Focus.
Vehicle SES 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
Review I've had my car for 7 years bought new, longest lasting car I've owned. Being a home owner I have the same demands for maintenance, so I bought a 5x8 enclosed trailer put a hitch on the focus. I've pulled 50 sheets of drywall, lumber, ATV up north hunting, Ice fishing, car handles it just fine. Without the trailer I've drive through 4 inches of fresh snow fall, on federal land. My brother owned one, a guy who was blinded by the evening sun pulled out in front him, he hit him at 60, and walked away! The only reason I'm writing this review is because I'm looking at buying a newer model, but still keeping the 08' and putting snow tires on it
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Available Ford Focus 2008 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hatchback, Coupe, Electric, Wagon, SVT
Available Trims: SE, Titanium, S, SEL, SES, Electric, ZX4 SES, ZX4 S, ZX4 SE, ZTS, ZX3, ZX3 S, LX, ZXW SE, ZTW, ZX3 SE, ZX5 SE, SE Comfort, ZX5, ZX5 Premium, ZX5 S, SVT, ZX4 ST, ZX5 SES, ZXW SES
Exterior Colors: Ingot Silver Metallic, Oxford White, Magnetic Metallic, Shadow Black, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Sterling Grey Metallic, Race Red, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic (Late Availability), Kona Blue Metallic, Blue Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, White Gold, Blue Candy Metallic, CD Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Performance Blue Metallic, Ebony Clearcoat, Tectonic Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tricoat, Sangria Red Clearcoat Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-coat, Blue Flame Clearcoat Metallic, Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Pitch Black Clearcoat, Ingot Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Grey Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Blue Flame Metallic, Frosted Glass Metallic, Infra-Red Clearcoat, Sangria Red Metallic, Light Ice Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Black Clearcoat, Cloud 9 White Clearcoat, French Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Light Tundra Clearcoat Metallic, Lightning Blue Metallic, Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Atlantic Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Ebony, Liquid Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Sonic Blue Clearcoat, Vermillion Red Clearcoat, Aqua Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Toreador Red Clearcoat Metallic, Grabber Green Clearcoat Metallic, Jackpot Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Malibu Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Natural Neutral Clearcoat Metallic, Twilight Blue Clearcoat Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Yellow Blaze Metallic Tri-Coat, Amber Gold Clearcoat Metallic, CD Silver Clear Coat Metallic, Cloud 9 Clear Coat, Fort Knox Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Vapor Silver Clearcoat Metallic
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black Insert w/Warm Steel Surround cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Charcoal Black Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Warm Steel Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert cloth, Medium Light Stone cloth, Medium Dark Stone Surround w/Medium Light Stone Insert cloth, Charcoal Black w/Metal Gray Surround cloth, Medium Soft Ceramic leather, Medium Light Stone w/Medium Dark Stone Surround cloth, Charcoal Black cloth, Tuscany Red Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Medium Stone cloth, Medium Light Stone leather, Medium Stone leather, Charcoal Black w/Warm Steel Surround cloth, Light Stone leather, Medium Parchment, Metal Gray/Charcoal Black Surround w/Charcoal Black Insert premium cloth, Medium Graphite, Tuscany Red w/Charcoal Black Insert leather, Charcoal Black Surround w/Arctic White Insert leather, Charcoal Upper/Charcoal Lower leather, Charcoal Upper/Light Flint Lower leather, Dark Charcoal, Dark Pebble Upper/Light Pebble Lower, Arctic White w/Charcoal Black Surround leather, Charcoal Upper/Charcoal Lower cloth, Dark Flint Upper/Light Flint Lower, Dark Pebble Upper/Light Pebble Lower cloth
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Post-collision safety system, Alarm, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Heated seats, Sunroof/Moonroof, Power Driver Seat, Leather Seats, Remote Start, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Engine, Navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Upgraded Headlights, Upgraded Stereo, Mobile Internet