2009 Ford Focus

2009 Ford Focus 2009 Ford Focus


Ford’s small car, the Focus, underwent a comprehensive face lift for 2008, but underneath the new clothes resides the same Focus platform that debuted way back in 2000. At that time, the Focus was at or near the top of its class and even won several of our 10Best awards. But today, the platform feels a bit less refined than the newer competition. The freshening went a long way toward updating the Focus’s styling, but much of the competition offers a superior driving experience.

The redesign killed the hatchback and wagon versions of the Focus, leaving only a four-door sedan and a newly introduced two-door coupe. Both versions ride on the same 102.9-inch wheelbase and have nearly the same interior volume. Only one engine is available, a Mazda-designed 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 132, 140, or 143 horsepower depending on emissions tuning and model. Coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, the 2.0-liter returns EPA fuel economy of 24 mpg city and 35 highway on regular unleaded. Power is adequate, and the engine rarely calls any negative attention to itself.

Inside, the Focus can feel a bit narrower than some of the competition. The new instrument panel is handsome and well laid out, but the optional ambient lighting system is a gimmick; it can change the color of the footwell and cup-holder lights. Sync, Ford’s voice-command system that can integrate one’s phone and iPod, isn’t a gimmick, though, and is fairly easy to use.

Completely retuned for 2008, the Focus’s fully independent suspension seems to have become a bit softer and more compliant. The Focus soaks up bad roads easily, but some of the sharpness that made the previous Focus a C/D favorite has been lost. Those seeking luxury in their small cars will approve; those who equate small with fun will be disappointed. Stability control and anti-lock brakes are optional on all trim levels.

For 2009, the Focus offers four trim levels (S, SE, SES, and SEL); coupes are available only in SE or SES trim.

Major competitors to the Focus include the Chevrolet Cobalt, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Corolla, Scion xD, and Volkswagen Jetta.


The Focus’s platform may be old, but the Focus makes up for it by offering a low starting price and a soft ride that might just appeal to some small-car customers, that is, if those customers can swallow the somewhat tacky styling.

Click here to read our full review of the Ford Focus.

Click here to read our latest comparison test involving the Ford Focus.

What’s New for 2009

For 2009, the Focus coupe undergoes a few minor cosmetic modifications, including ditching the heinous chrome fender vents, and the five-speed manual version of the two-door gets three extra horsepower. The SEL trim is new and offers a bit more luxury for folks downsizing to a more-fuel-efficient car. Stability control is now an option across the lineup.

Highlights and Recommendations

At the bottom of the Focus hierarchy is the S trim level, which is only available as a sedan and comes equipped with a full cadre of airbags. Of the few options offered, three worth considering would be the anti-lock-brake and stability-control package, Sirius satellite radio, and—for those who only want two pedals—an automatic transmission.

One needs to step up to the SE to get the Sync voice-command system. One option best left unticked is the ambient interior lighting, which allows the driver to select the color of footwell and cup-holder lighting—this option would be tacky in a limousine. Next is the SES model, which has options—and recommendations—similar to those of the SE trim level. The SEL is the top model and available in sedan form only. The SEL includes chrome door handles and mirrors, Sync, and leather-trimmed heated seats as standard. When offered as an option, the leather-trimmed seats aren’t that expensive, but there are vinyl interiors that look better than the Focus’s leather.

Even though Focus sales have been buoyed by high gas prices, Ford still offers tempting incentives and rebates on its small car.


Dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, front-seatbelt pretensioners, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard across the Focus lineup. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are bundled together in an option package that is available on all trim levels.