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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Coupes are sportier, with better grip and balance overall
New 4.2 final drive ratio to make off-the-line acceleration a bit quicker
Didn't punish the driver in terms of ride quality
The 2009 Ford Focus fits well into its designated role as a comfortable commuter thanks to its soft ride and high fuel economy. However, despite Ford's claims of a sportier Focus, the Ford Focus 2009 is still by no means a road rocket.
All versions of the 2009 Ford Focus feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine "that produces 140 hp in sedans and 143 hp in coupes," according to Consumer Guide. The power boost for the two-doors comes courtesy of a retuned exhaust that Autoblog says "allows the only engine option...to breath[e] better." Power is generally adequate, but far from spectacular. In the Ford Focus 2009 coupe, Autoblog reviewers find that "the 143-hp 2.0L engine is not nearly enough to make anyone feel fast," and Consumer Guide reports that the Ford Focus "has just adequate power for highway merging or ascending long grades." Cars.com adds that the Ford Focus sedan's "engine isn't peppy and doesn't induce much confidence of the line." For the number enthusiasts out there, Edmunds says the 2009 Ford Focus will hit "60 mph in 8.0 seconds."
In terms of transmissions, Edmunds reports that "the standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual," although a "four-speed automatic is available as an option." Neither transmission wins accolades in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, although Cars.com finds that "the four-speed automatic shifts upward smoothly enough...when you're not lead-footing it." Consumer Guide agrees, commenting that "the automatic provides timely downshifts," but they recommend the manual since "manual-transmission models feel snappier." Criticism of the manual comes from Autoblog, where reviewers feel that the "unremarkable five-speed transmission, rubbery clutch and tall shifter" all combine for "an ordinary, economy car driving experience from a vehicle whose exterior promises more."
Like any true economy car, the 2009 Ford Focus offers above-average fuel economy. For the sedan with automatic transmission, Cars.com reports that the "EPA figures are rated at a very respectable 24/35 mpg city/highway. In comparison, the 2008 Honda Civic gets 26/36 mpg." For the Ford Focus with automatic transmission, the official EPA ratings drop to 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway.
One area where the 2009 Ford Focus makes a name for itself is in the ride and handling department. While most agree that it's no slouch, TheCarConnection.com editors note that it doesn't have the crisp handling feel that pre-2008 Focus models possess. MyRide.com calls the 2009 Ford Focus "a very competent handler," and Cars.com adds that the latest Ford Focus "maintains its reputation as a solid handler with a steering wheel that has a somewhat heavy feel to it." Consumer Guide praises the sedans for their "communicative steering and decent grip in fast turns," while they feel that the Ford Focus "SES coupes are sportier, with better grip and balance overall." Car and Driver observes that the Ford Focus's "independent suspension seems to have become a bit softer and more compliant," which leads them to believe that "those seeking luxury in their small cars will approve; those who equate small with fun will be disappointed."
The brakes on the 2009 Ford Focus, Cars.com says, "offer little reassurance. The pedal needs a thorough push to bring a response, making you feel as if you're trying to slow a full-size SUV rather than a small economy car."
Aside from the brakes, the 2009 Ford Focus has all the qualities of a top-notch commuter, though it lacks a sporty edge.