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November 19, 2008 > Auto Review: 2008 Ford Focus

Auto Review: 2008 Ford Focus

Ford's Focus is a great small car. It does a lot of things well but could use a few small changes. The interior and exterior of Ford's Focus was redesigned for the 2008 model. The line is available in a 2-door coupe (the first for Focus) and a 4-door sedan.

One of its strongest points is moving people around efficiently. Our test car was a 2-door SES model with the 2.0-liter motor coupled to the 5-speed manual transmission. The EPA estimates for this one are 24 in the city and 35 on the highway.

I used the Focus for an hour and a half (each direction) freeway trip. The car's on-board computer system recorded 36.6 MPG for the morning trip with no traffic and the air conditioning turned off. Coming home I hit some traffic and used the air conditioning system. The Focus still ran 35.9 miles for each gallon of regular gas it drank. Even when driven hard, it still produced 30.9 MPG.

The Focus has agile handling, a composed ride, and a large interior. It has great brakes and a good air bag system. The seats are comfortable and work well for long trips.

One fun item on the Focus is the customizable interior ambient lighting system. You have a choice between 7 different colors for the interior "mood" lights. All the foot wells and cup holders can be colored to fit your mood by using a switch on the dashboard.

Another nice feature is Ford's Sync. This allows you to hook up your electronic toys simply and quickly with the best connections. A microphone mounted inside the cabin allows passengers to use a hands-free mobile phone conveniently.

I did have a few minor complaints. The transmission shift lever felt a little rubbery and was not as precise as some other cars. With the 2-door body, it is hard for adults to get into the back seat. So if you need to regularly carry more than 2 adults, get the 4-door Focus. The ABS brakes and traction control are not standard, they are $385 extra.

The SE and SES Focus models have a triangular chrome badge on the front fenders. I know this is a person's view, but Ford, please take it off. It disrupts the flow of the Focus' lines and spoils the styling.

Two power plants are available to move the Focus on its way. The standard engine is the 2-liter, dual overhead cam, 4-cylinder that delivers 140 HP. Then there's the super clean, 130 HP engine that qualifies this Focus as a "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle". This means that its tail pipe emissions are less than some hybrids. The transmission choices are a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual to drive the front wheels.

The lowest priced Focus (the S coupe) starts at $14,695. The sedan is $300 more. The SE trim models are $1,000 more. Our top of the line SES coupe had a base price of $16,695. The Focus is a good choice for economical transportation.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM

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