By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2008 Ford Focus. It competes with the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.
(upbeat music) Hi. I'm Mike Hanley with Cars.com. If you're feeling the crunch of gas prices on your pocketbook and are looking for a more fuel-efficient ride, a compact car is one way to go.
Ford's offering in this segment is the Focus that you see here, and it's been redesigned for 2008 with new styling and features. Like other Ford passenger cars lately, the Focus receives a horizontal chrome bar grill that's becoming the face of Ford cars. Additional styling cues include appliques on the front corner panels that are popping up on a number of cars these days, including the Focus. And in addition to the sedan you see here, there's also a new coupe body style for 2008, but we're a bit mystified as to why Ford decided to drop the hatchback version of the Focus when that body style is gaining popularity. Inside the Focus, Ford has given the car a new look. It has a new gauge cluster that has attractive blue backlighting, and that blue backlighting carries over to the middle of the dash, where the buttons and controls have all been redesigned. One other feature that's worth mentioning is that the Focus is available with Ford's Sync system. We have a detailed video that dissects Ford's Sync system if you wanna check that out for more information. Even though it's a compact car, the Focus has good space in the front. And the seats in this SES trim level are covered in leather upholstery. One other interesting feature the Focus offers is adjustable interior mood lighting. You can choose colors like red, green, and blue to light up the foot wells and cup holders of the car when the Focus has this feature. It's kind of an interest thing if you wanna customize your car a little bit. The backseat of the four-door Focus is definitely on the small side. Now, you may be wondering, "Well, why are you talking "about backseat space in a compact car? "Aren't they all small?" Well, that's not always the case 'cause the Honda Civic offers a larger backseat when you're back there. So that's one model to consider if you are concerned about the comfort of your rear passengers. Or you may wanna consider stepping up to a larger car, like the Ford Fusion. Well, you're probably interested in fuel economy, and the Focus with the manual transmission gets 24/35 miles per gallon city/highway, and 24/33 with the automatic. The only engine offered in the Focus is a two-liter four-cylinder, and it's rated at 140 horsepower or slightly less in states that have adopted California emissions regulations. But that engine is also cleaner. In terms of the driving experience, the Focus has responsive steering and a steering wheel that has a nice heft to it that makes the car easy to maneuver on busy city streets. The ride is firm, for sure, but it's not harsh. What's not as appealing is the five-speed manual transmission, which has long-ish throws that have a rubbery feel to them. The two-liter, four-cylinder engine is a very smooth unit that makes adequate power, but at higher RPMs, it doesn't make the greatest engine sound. On the whole, the Focus is a decent entry in the small car segment, but it doesn't have the level of refinement of a Honda Civic. Now, that's a minor critique in this part of the market, and the Focus's attributes, like its good gas mileage and portable music player-friendly Sync system, should definitely heighten interest. <v Narrator>For additional information on this car or any other, go to Cars.com and our blog, KickingTires.