Compact car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $7,200 – $14,500*


2009 Ford Focus Front


2008 Ford Focus Rear


2008 Ford Focus Interior


2008 Ford Focus Front

Pros:
  • Fuel economy
  • Front seat room, comfort
Cons:
  • Gauges can be hard to read in certain light
  • Interior materials
  • Noise
  • Available sunroof cuts into rear-seat headroom
  • Rear-seat comfort and entry/exit (coupe)

Focus feels dated and less refined compared with such cars as the Honda Civic and Nissan Versa. The versatile hatchback and wagon that made Focus stand out were dropped as part of the 2008 redesign. Still, front-seat room and comfort impress, new-car pricing has been competitive, and used-car prices can be tempting. The top-end SES coupe adds a bit of handling spice without sacrificing good ride control. Sync is a nice feature, despite a few bugs. Overall, Focus is worth a look; but be sure to survey the competition before buying.

Overview

Substantially updated for 2008, the Ford Focus received fresh styling and new features. Again compact in size, Focus came as a two-door coupe (offered for the first time) and a four-door sedan, competing against such models as the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Nissan Versa. Hatchback and wagon models no longer were available.

Suspensions were retuned. Seats got improved contours, along with more lateral and lumbar support. Cupholders were installed in doors, and the center console grew in size. A new “top-of-dash” display appeared at eye level atop the center stack. Interior lighting was color configurable.

S, SE, and top-of-the-line SES trim levels were offered, the latter featuring white-faced gauges, a rear spoiler, and unique 16-inch wheels. The only engine was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. Curtain side airbags and front side airbags were standard. Antilock brakes were optinal. Newly available was Ford’s Sync, which provided voice control of certain cell-phone and MP3-player functions. Standard on SES models, Sync was available on SEs as well. Also available were leather seating and remote engine start.

Yearly Updates

2009 Focus
Styling was freshened slightly for 2009 and an antiskid system became available. A new SEL trim level was offered for the Focus sedan, and the S coupe was dropped. S and SEL models were now sedan-only. The Focus engine developed 140 horsepower in sedans and 143 horsepower in coupes. Ford’s Sync system was standard on SES and SEL models, and available for the SE. An SEL could be equipped with leather upholstery and heated front seats.
2010 Focus
The 2010 Ford Focus lineup gained some newly standard safety features but was otherwise largely unchanged.
2011 Focus
Focus dropped its coupe for 2011, the final year of this design.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Focus models have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine developing 140 horsepower in sedans and 143 horsepower in coupes. Transmission choices include a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 140-143
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 136
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
24/35
24/33
31.2
27.3-28.9

Road Test

With automatic, the Focus has just adequate power for highway merging or ascending long grades. The automatic transmission provides timely downshifts. Manual-transmission models feel snappier, with better overall performance.

Fuel economy scores high. Test Focus models with automatic averaged 27.3 to 28.9 mpg in mostly highway driving. A manual-shift sedan did better yet, averaging a frugal 31.2 mpg. Regular-grade gasoline is used.

The SES sedan’s standard sport suspension and 16-inch wheels provide a firm but compliant ride. SES coupes have 17-inch tires but are only slightly more firm.

SES sedans have communicative steering along with well-controlled body lean and good grip in fast turns. At highway speeds, however, they’re subject to gusty crosswind wander. SES coupes are sportier, with better grip and balance overall. Braking is strong and stable, though pedal feel scores are average.

Marked road rumble increases noticeably over coarse pavement, but is better controlled than in some cars in this class. Tires thump loudly over expansion joints. The engine sounds coarse during acceleration but quiets down while cruising.

Controls are mostly intuitive and handy on a well-arranged dashboard. Gauges can be clearly seen but can be hard to read in changing lighting conditions. Taller drivers may find the tops of the fuel and temperature gauges blocked by the steering wheel. Ford’s Sync setup is a hit-or-miss affair. Yes, it works fairly well as a voice-controlled system for MP3 players. At times, though, it may not recognize certain voices. Sync’s cell-phone integration isn’t as easy to use as some rival setups. While voice commands have generally worked well, some functions are not very intuitive.

Cabin materials and workmanship are generally class-appropriate, but a couple of details disappoint. The dashboard in SES models is dominated by dull, silvery plastic trim, which practically reeks of cost-cutting. Even the available leather trim looks low-grade. One test sedan suffered from several misaligned body panels and a poorly upholstered rear bench seat. On the other hand, the available automatic day/night rearview mirror is a pleasant surprise.

Comfortable, chair-height front seats are generally supportive, and headroom is outstanding in models without a sunroof. Even with the sunroof, headroom is quite good. Leg space is fine for the class, too. Still, some testers found seats to be too flat for ideal long-distance comfort. Large door openings ease entry and exit.

Rear space is decent for the class. In fact, occupants enjoy more headroom and legroom than in most compacts, though the sunroof housing trims headroom for taller riders. In coupes, smaller adults will fit in back for short trips. Entry/exit in two-doors is difficult, as front seats slide forward awkwardly.

Cargo space is usefully shaped, though the available subwoofer eats up space (if installed). The trunk lid uses space-saving strut-type hinges. All models have low trunk liftover, plus split-folding rear seatbacks for added versatility. Interior storage is merely adequate. The glovebox is skimpy. So are the front-door map pockets. The center console storage bin is deep, but its opening is small.

Ratings

Model Tested: SES sedan, automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 8
80%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 50

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.9 175.0 67.9 58.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.8 13.0 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.3 41.7 36.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.9 175.0 67.9 58.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.8 13,0 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.3 41.7 36.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Focus 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 3
60%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Ticking noise from engine compartment sounds like cam or valve problem, but is from fuel injectors for which an insulator may be installed. (2008-09)
Steering problems
Description: The steering wheel may not lock and the key warning chime may continue to sound even though the key has been removed requiring a new steering column lock. (2008)
Water leak
Description: Water on the rear floor of four-door models due to leak at belt molding then water gets past water shield behind door panel. (2008)
Electrical problem
Description: On vehicles with the SYNC system, the USB port, the voice commands for the phone book work and the steering wheel switches may quit working requiring reflashing the accessories module. (2008-09)

Recall History

2008
Description: Driver’s airbag module may not have been properly assembled, and may not deploy properly in a crash.
2008 Those w/K2 Motor aftermarket headlamps
Description: Headlamps are missing the amber side reflex reflector.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.