Used Ford Focus: Introduction
Among its many innovations, Ford Motor Company indeed had a better idea when it came to compact cars. Rather than introduce one version for the Americas, another for Europe, and still others for Africa, Asia, and Australia, the company decided to make the same car work in all of those markets.
Thus, the Ford Focus is a “world car”.
Introduced into the North American marketplace in 1999 as a 2000 model, Focus has been Ford’s best selling small car in America to date. In fact, with its combination of sporty styling, crisp handling and a broad variety of body configurations, Focus has found considerable success for Ford all around the world.
There have been three generations of the car offered since its launch.
1999 - 2007
The first generation of the Ford Focus sold in North America was initially offered in three body configurations; three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and five-door wagon. Model year 2002 saw the introduction of a fourth variant, the five-door hatchback. A very popular car, the GEN1 Focus won a number of awards and regularly ranked among the ten best-selling cars in America.
The base engine was a 110-horsepower, single overhead cam 2.0-liter inline four, which returned decent fuel economy, but not a lot of thrill. The optional engine, a 130-horsepower double overhead cam four provided a bit more giddyup. For transmissions, Ford offered a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. These conducted the engine’s output to the front wheels.
One aspect of the car universally praised was its handling. This was due in no small part to the innovative multi-link rear suspension design it employed. In fact, the setup was so successful; other manufacturers soon came up with versions of it for their cars in the Focus’ competitive set.
On the safety front, the Focus offered airbags for both the driver and the passenger, optional side airbags for the chest and head, as well as child safety seat attachments. For 2001, Ford also added electronic stability control as an option.
There were a number of changes instituted to the GEN1 Focus over the years in an effort to keep the car fresh. As a result, there are a multitude of trim levels and special editions of the car. One — the “Kona” edition — even came with a bicycle, although nobody brought the bike back when it was time to trade in the cars.
Performance-oriented drivers will want to be on the lookout for the SVT Focus. This version came with a 170-horsepower, 2.0-liter four and a six-speed manual transmission. Ford Focus SVT was offered from 2002 to 2004.
The look of the car was updated for 2007 by freshening the exterior and reworking the interior. Engines were upgraded around this time as well. The base engine of the car was changed to a 136-horsepower inline four. A 151-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder was offered with the sedan. Also in 2007, the wagon and three-door hatchback went out of production.
Used Ford Focus: 2008 - 2011
Debuting in 2007, as a 2008 model, the North American version of the Focus moved away from the “world car” concept when its development was separated from other versions of the car. Two models were offered, a two-door coupe and a four-door sedan.
The 2.3-liter engine went away, leaving the newly upgraded 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter four as the sole powerplant offering. However, with its lighter and stiffer body, the GEN2 Focus performed just as well as the GEN1 did with the 151-horsepower engine. Transmissions remained four-speed automatics and five-speed manuals
A number of innovations were offered with the 2008 Focus, chief among them was the Ford SYNC telematics system developed with Microsoft. Providing voice control for telephone and audio functions, the Focus was the first affordable car to deliver such sophisticated technology.
Used Ford Focus: 2012 - Present
An all-new, third generation Focus model has just been introduced, hewing more closely to the “world car” concept than the second generation. Key features include a handsome and well-crafted interior. Continuing the trend advanced with the 2008 Focus, the 2012 model again offers tech innovations found previously only in more expensive cars. These include parking assist (the car will parallel park itself), and the MyFordTouch system, which does away with dials and knobs in favor of a touch sensitive panel to control secondary functions.
Used Ford Focus: Summary
Over the years, Ford’s Focus has proven to be a good seller for the company. While it was somewhat neglected at times in favor of the company hugely profitable truck lines, the basic Focus was so good, it still stands up pretty well in the used market. One model year to watch out for though is 2000, as there were a number of quality issues affecting those.
We strongly recommend running an Internet search for “Ford Focus recall”— incorporating the model year of the car you’re considering — during your research. This will get you a list of the updates needed to endure the safety and reliability of whichever model year of the Focus you choose. Also, make sure you have any car you’re seriously considering buying inspected by a trusted professional mechanic, who knows the car very well, before making any offer to purchase.