2006 Focus New Car Test Drive
The Ford Focus is inexpensive, stylish, practical and fun. We found it more comfortable than some of the other compact cars, with roomy, cushy seats and a nice balance between a soft, smooth ride and responsive handling. It feels more European than Japanese or American in demeanor and a little more refined than, say, the Saturn Ion and Dodge Neon. A choice of body styles and running gear make the Focus appealing for many different types of people.
The sedans are comfortable and move people efficiently. The three-door hatchback is economical and practical yet sporty and fun at the same time. 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.
The Focus benefited from extensive upgrades inside and out for 2005 so there are relatively few changes for the 2006 models. New options for 2006 include a package that bundles popular safety and convenience features. A new Street Appearance Package adds a unique face, foglamps, lower air deflector, rear bumper and spoiler designed to give the Focus the look of a tuner car.
Buyers of early models had to endure a string of recalls, but those problems appear to have been solved.
The 2006 Ford Focus comes in four body styles: 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 a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. They are paired with a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic. The ZX4 ST comes with a 151-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder and five-speed manual.
The ZX3 ($13,465), ZX4 ($14,075), and ZX5 ($14,780) 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 adds another $545 to all of these manufacturer's suggested retail prices.) Air conditioning is optional ($910).
SE trim for ZX3 ($14,985), ZX4 ($15,590), ZX5 ($16,300), and ZXW ($17,310) adds air conditioning, an overhead console, AM/FM/CD/MP3, dual power mirrors, power windows and locks, and remote keyless entry.
SES trim for ZX3 ($16,095), ZX4 ($16,700), ZX5 ($17,410), and ZXW ($18,420) 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 ($18,220) 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.
Safety features that come on all Focus models include second-generation front airbags (that shut off the passenger-side airbag if it is unoccupied or occupied by a small child), child safety seat attachments, and child locks on the rear doors. Side-impact airbags ($350) are available for all models, and we strongly recommend getting them. Anti-lock brakes ($400) and traction control ($115) are available for most models. ABS helps the driver maintain steering control in an emergency braking situation; just remember to maintain firm pressure on the brake pedal and look and steer where you want the car to go.
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.