- Improved overall refinement
- Improved interior design
- Quiet ride
- Available SYNC with voice commands
- New body lacks style
- Less sporty suspension
- No dedicated performance models
The 2008 Ford Focus isn’t all new, but it is an improvement, and a solid choice if you’re looking for a roomy car that handles well with a base price that starts around $15,000.
The previous-generation Focus was a little car that was fun to drive. Editors at TheCarConnection.com have recommended the car to many for that reason, along with the fact that the cars were reliable and economical. Those recommendations will likely continue, as the 2008 Ford Focus is an improved automobile.
Ford has simplified the Focus range and now offers only a traditional sedan and two-door coupe; gone are the hatchback and wagon. Trim levels include the bare-bones S, the midline SE, and the well-equipped SES. All models share a more refined 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 140 horsepower. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and four-speed automatic. But these elements are about all that's similar between the 2007 and 2008 models. Curiously, anti-lock brakes are still optional.
At first blush, it's clear that the Ford design team hit the old Focus with a Fusion stick. While the result doesn't look anything like Ford's popular mid-sizer, there is a family resemblance, but the 2008 Ford Focus won't win any beauty contests.
The car is significantly quieter inside, thanks to more than 100 hours in the wind tunnel. Along with some wind noise, the supercheap feel of the previous Focus interior is a thing of the past. The new look is more substantial and dimensional, as evidenced by such detailing as the sculpted rings surrounding the instrumentation. Safety has also been addressed with the addition of standard side and curtain airbags for those up front. The interior also features Ford SYNC, a voice-activated, hands-free communications and entertainment interface that links the car to all manner of phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and portable storage devices. Developed with Microsoft, this $395 option delivers unparalleled device integration. The Focus is the first vehicle to launch with the system, and it works well, depending on your cell phone and how you store your music on your MP3 player. Using SYNC gets easier over time, as you learn the cadence of specific commands. Teenagers should feel immediately comfortable.
One could argue that this major update was too long in coming. The fact is that in this hypercompetitive market, it's high time Ford did something, and the struggling, cash-strapped automaker has finally done so. It is not all new or the excellent European Focus that so many industry insiders wish Ford would bring across the pond (and perhaps should have), but the new model is a better driver carrying big-name technology.