Review: 2008 Ford Focus
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Ford Focus brings itself more up to date for 2008 with bolder styling, an improved interior, new features and a new youth-oriented coupe.
The compact Focus line keeps a conventional 4-door sedan, but drops its hatchbacks and station wagon.
One Engine Left
A 5-speed manual transmission is standard. A responsive 4-speed automatic is optional, although a 5-speed automatic would improve performance and fuel economy. However, a 5-speed automatic would probably increase prices.
List prices began at $14,075 for the base S coupe with a manual gearbox and go to $16,375 for the SES sedan with an automatic transmission. All trim levels can be had with either the manual or automatic.
Transmissions have revised final-drive ratios for better highway fuel economy. The more-realistic 2008 EPA fuel economy numbers put the Focus at 24 mpg in the city and 35 on highways with the manual and 24 and 33 with the automatic.
Overdue For Changes
The new Focus has the front-wheel-drive layout of its predecessor, but its handling is crisper and it has new features.
Three Trim Levels
Styling of the European-style Focus is influenced by Ford's larger Fusion sedan, with a prominent chrome-bar grille design, flared wheel arches and sweeping lines. Still, the Michigan-built car won't win many beauty contests.
Seats have a better shape and there are larger, somewhat more useful bins and cupholders in doors. But fuel and temperature gauges are too small.
There is room for four tall adults, but leg room is tight for a long-legged passenger behind a driver. The coupe's doors are long and heavy, which makes them awkward in tight spots. They open wide, but getting in and out of the back seat calls for contortions, which aren't necessary with the sedan.
The trunk is roomy, and cargo space can be increased by flipping the split rear seatbacks forward.
Better Ride and Handling
My test car with 16-inch wheels had quick, nicely weighted steering with the right amount of power assist and confident handling. The ride was supple on most roads, although some freeway bumps definitely could be felt.
While Focus brakes have been improved, the front ones are discs and the rears are drums. The brake pedal allowed smooth stops because it wasn't touchy.
Also standard are a rear defroster, manual-adjustable side mirrors, tinted glass, 60/40 split rear seat, visor mirrors and a tire inflation kit (a regular spare tire is optional).
The SE and SES add power side mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry, although those items aren't offered for the base S.
Popular options include the automatic transmission, upscale sound systems, anti-lock brakes, power sunroof, cruise control, 4-way adjustable driver's seat and heated front leather-covered seats.
Sync "seamlessly integrates the Focus with today's popular portable electronic devices and is updatable to support tomorrow's devices and services," Ford says.
An ambient lighting system lets Focus occupants "set the mood" in the car with "subtle LED lighting" in cupholders and front/rear footwells. One can choose red, blue, aqua, purple, white, green and yellow by cycling through a dashboard switch.
I'd rather opt for the optional Deluxe Package for the SE series. It includes an enhanced "European-inspired" suspension with a rear stabilizer bar, 16-inch Euro flange wheels, metallic instrument panel appliqué, bright interior accents, performance instrument cluster, 4-way adjustable driver's seat, fog lamps, heated side mirrors with chrome caps and chrome door handles. A chrome exhaust tip caps things off.
Whatever its options, the 2008 Focus fits well in the expanding market for small, affordable, economical economy cars.