2004 Focus New Car Test Drive
Ford Focus continues to be one of the most enjoyable compacts in its price range. Overall, it feels cushier than other compacts, both in terms of its comfortable seats and its soft suspension. It's fun to drive, however, with agile handling. It's comfortable on long trips and stable at high speeds. The Focus is among the best of the compacts in terms of ride quality and has been lauded by the enthusiast publications for its handling. For 2004, Ford has revised the steering and suspension to further improve the ride and handling.
Ford's New Edge styling has helped the Focus stand out from the crowd. It comes in a wide variety of body styles to meet many different needs and lifestyles. It's a versatile car, particularly the three-door and five-door hatchback models with their flip-down seats that provide lots of cargo space.
The 130-horsepower engine that comes on most models delivers brisk acceleration performance and was revised for 2003 for improved response and quieter operation. For 2004, a larger, 2.3-liter engine is also available that produces 145 horsepower and lower emissions. The 170-horsepower SVT versions offer thrilling acceleration performance, sporty handling, and excellent brakes, yet give up nothing in terms of practicality. SVT versions are available in three-door and five-door hatchback styles.
The Ford Focus lineup is extensive with four distinct body styles, three trim levels, and four engines to choose from. Most models come standard with a manual gearbox, but four-speed automatics are available for all models. The three-door hatchback, five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and five-door hatchback all ride on the same 103-inch wheelbase and offer similar driving characteristics.
Anti-lock brakes ($400) and side-impact airbags ($350) are optional and we highly recommend them.
Four-door sedans are the most popular. The entry-level LX ($13,185) comes with a 110-horsepower engine, a single overhead-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder with two valves per cylinder that delivers an EPA-estimated 27/36 mpg City/Highway. LX comes with wind-up windows and does not come standard with air conditioning. SE ($14,915) comes with the 130-horsepower twin cam engine with four valves per cylinder and adds air conditioning, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, a CD player with MP3 playback capability, variable intermittent windshield wipers, and body-colored trim. The sporty ZTS ($15,535) is equipped with the 145-horspower 2.3-liter engine, driver's lumbar support, aluminum wheels, speed control, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, and nicer trim.
ZX3 ($12,725) is a three-door hatchback equipped as a sport compact car with the 130-horsepower twin-cam engine, 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, and a CD/MP3 player. Several packages are available, the most elaborate of which is the ZX3 Power Premium Package 120A ($2,545), which comes with the 2.3-liter engine, air conditioning, power windows, dual power mirrors, power locks, rear stabilizer bar, 205/50R16 all-season with 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, remote keyless entry, front center armrest w/storage, AM/FM/CD/MP3 with four speakers, map light, speed control, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel. For 2004, the ZX3 is available with leather seating surfaces.
ZX5 is a five-door hatchback, a cross between a four-door wagon and a coupe, with four doors and a tapered rear roofline leading to a rear hatch. The ZX5 ($15,035) comes standard with the 130-horsepower Zetec engine, 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps. Also standard is a CD/MP3 player. ZX5 Premium package ($1755) adds the 2.3-liter engine, P205/50R16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, rear stabilizer bar, dual power mirrors, fog lamps, AM/FM/CD/MP3, power windows, power locks, map light, body-color trim, speed control, and leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Wagons are available in SE and ZTW trim. The SE wagon ($17,130) comes standard with the 130-horsepower dohc Zetec engine and a choice of manual or automatic transmission. The ZTW wagon ($17,745) is an enthusiast's sport wagon with 16-inch alloy wheels and a six-disc in-dash CD changer. A four-speed automatic is standard, with a five-speed manual optional. Leather seating surfaces ($695) are optional.
SVT versions are available in three-door hatchback ($18,590) and five-door hatchback ($19,090) models. Both feature the Ford Special Vehicle Team's 170-hp version of the 2.0-liter engine. Focus SVT models boast a Getrag six-speed manual transmission, SVT-tuned suspension, and special trim, including a rear spoiler. A new European package ($3,410) includes black leather Recaro seats, special wheels, the Audiophile System, the Cold Weather Package, high-intensity discharge headlights, and a moonroof. Competition Orange and Screaming Yellow are among the new colors.
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