2005 Focus New Car Test Drive
If you aren't aware there's a new Ford Focus on the road, you haven't been paying attention. Ford is making a big deal of the revamping of its small car, the 2005 Focus. The automaker claims it is conducting an advertising blitz like it did on the F-150 pickup truck.
Ads for the Focus have been plastered all over popular shows like 'American Idol.' They feature the Focus talking and 'begging to be driven.' The Focus is critically important to Ford, not necessarily in terms of volume and profits, but in that it reels in certain kinds of important customers, notably first-time buyers, first-time Ford buyers, women and minorities.
The Focus is one of the many new or redesigned cars Ford introduces this year, its 'year of the car.' The Focus has been spruced up outside by a mild facelift, though it takes a sharp eye to distinguish the subtle changes. Designers made more changes on the inside, rendering a more traditional look than before.
But the biggest news is under the hood where the engine line-up has been revised. Among them is a super-clean, 130-horsepower engine that's more powerful and slightly more fuel efficient; it qualifies as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle in California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. A new 136-horsepower engine is more powerful than last year's powerplant.
Despite the makeover, the Ford Focus remains inexpensive, stylish, practical and fun. The sedans are comfortable and move people efficiently. The three-door hatchback proves to be economical and practical yet sporty and fun. The five-door hatchback makes it easier for rear-seat passengers to join in the merriment. The wagons can carry a ton of cargo.
We found the sporty ZX4 ST fun to drive, if a bit noisy. It delivered strong acceleration from its 151-horsepower engine with sharp handling and precise steering from its sports suspension. It ranks among the most enjoyable cars in its class.
Four body styles are offered: the ZX3, a three-door hatchback; the ZX4, a four-door sedan; the ZX5, a five-door hatchback; and the ZXW, a wagon.
Three engines are offered. All models but the ZX4 ST come with either the 130- or 136-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. They are paired with the five-speed manual transmission, standard on some versions, or a four-speed automatic. The ZX4 ST comes with a 151-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder offered only with a five-speed manual.
The ZX3 ($13,005), ZX4 ($13,605), and ZX5 ($14,305) are available in base S trim. The S trim level comes with manual driver's seat-height adjustment, split-folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD, and 15-inch wheels. (The destination charge will add another $545 to all retail prices.)
Mid-level SE trim for ZX3 ($14,505), ZX4 ($15,105), ZX5 ($15,805), and ZXW ($16,805) adds air conditioning, an overhead console, AM/FM/CD/MP3, dual power mirrors, power windows and locks, and remote keyless entry.
Upper-level SES for ZX3 ($15,605), ZX4 ($16,205), ZX5 ($16,905), and ZXW ($17,905) adds a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, fog lamps, tachometer, AM/FM/6CD/MP3, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The high-performance ZX4 ST ($17,705) includes: a sport-tuned exhaust; the ST suspension with unique 16-inch alloy wheels; four-wheel disc brakes with traction control; decklid spoiler and lower body moldings; chrome-tipped exhaust; body-color, heated outside mirrors; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with contrast stitching; and sporty interior fabrics and instrument panel different from the other versions. (The SVT performance version has been eliminated from the line.)
Standard safety features include second-generation airbags, which include shut-off the one for the passenger seat if it is unoccupied or occupied by a small child, child safety seat attachments, child locks on the rear doors. Optional on all models are anti-lock brakes and side-impact airbags ($350). The ABS ($400) with traction control ($115) is standard on the ZX4 ST and optional on all other models.
Other options include a four-speed automatic transmission ($815), power moonroof ($625), leather upholstery, heated front seats, an alarm system and an Audiophile sound system with Sony speakers and subwoofer.
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