2008 Ford Focus Review

Consumer Reviews
4 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 23, 2008

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.

TheCarConnection.com's editors researched Web road tests and stories on the new 2008 Ford Focus to put together this conclusive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove several different 2008 Focus models, including the coupe and sedan body styles, and offer more insight and details where they help you with your own research. This review also compares the 2008 Ford Focus with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

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.

Review continues below

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.

6

2008 Ford Focus

Styling

The 2008 Ford Focus looks ungainly, but rescues itself somewhat with an attractive interior.

The 2008 Ford Focus is the product of a major redesign of Ford’s economy-class hatchback and sedan. In its transformation, the Focus went from a few body styles to just two—sedan and coupe—and in the process, it lost a lot of its handsome lines.

MyRide.com says, "The best angle on the redesigned Focus is probably the profile, which retains the wedgy shape of the original car." The front bumper of the Ford Focus 2008 protrudes in an odd way, and the rear end of the car isn't much better. The taillights are small, the hood sculpting is strange, and the word "FOCUS" on the middle of the lid to the trunk looks a bit misplaced. Adding to the sentiments of the other reviewers, Automobile calls the Ford Focus 2008 a "bottom-feeder that has swapped precocious charm for grown-up deportment." Edmunds says the new look of the Ford Focus is "polarizing" and that "Ford has done little more than reinvent the Escort ZX2."

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. Edmunds says "the interior of the 2008 Ford Focus has been reworked with new gauges, a different steering wheel and new seats." MyRide.com adds, "If you can get past the exterior and sit inside the Focus, you'll find a neatly styled interior. The new dash uses a minimum of panels for a clean look that's mostly devoid of cut lines." Automobile wholeheartedly agrees: "The interior trim fits properly and is finished with attractive textures and gloss levels."

Review continues below
7

2008 Ford Focus

Performance

The 2008 Ford Focus has improved gas mileage, a smooth ride, and reasonably sharp steering.

The 2008 Ford Focus has seen improvements all over, including under its hood by improving fuel economy and handling.

The only powertrain on the Focus is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, says MyRide.com. Due to better exhaust tuning and intake, the horsepower has been upped to 140. These changes have resulted in a partial zero emissions certification in a number of states, which shaves 8 hp off the total. Car and Driver confirms "the lone powerplant is a 2.0-liter twin-cam four producing 140 horses. It propels the Focus to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds." Edmunds adds, "The 2.0-liter engine provides adequate power."

"The standard transmission on all Focus trim levels is a five-speed manual," says Edmunds, but a "four-speed automatic is available as an option." When performing on the highway, the "four-speed automatic saps some, but not all, of the 140-horsepower engine's strength," MyRide.com notes.

According to Edmunds, the automatic tranny is also a drain on fuel economy. They state that if you go for a Ford Focus with a manual transmission, the "fuel economy is estimated at a very good 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway"; however, "Automatics are similar but decrease highway fuel economy by 2 mpg." MyRide.com's test drive of the Ford Focus yielded around 27.4 mpg, which is competitive for the class.

MyRide.com observes "for the new model, the suspension system has been completely revised with different spring rates, dampers, stabilizer bars and bushings. The Focus continues with MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link set-up in the back." In the end, they say that the 2008 Ford Focus is "a very competent handler."
Car and Driver reports that the "steering is light and linear and never feels artificial. Clutch takeup is smooth, and the shifter is satisfactorily accurate. Brake feel is good (although the 190-foot stopping distance isn't), and the pedals encourage heel-and-toeing." Reviewers also say that the suspension is a bit cushy, but it has a tall, tippy feel. Edmunds calls the Focus "reasonably fun to drive thanks to quick steering."

Car and Driver says, "What you notice first about the Focus is that it rides atop a greatly stiffened platform." MyRide.com agrees, noting, "Even though it's an eight-year-old platform, the Focus's chassis is taut. The ride is firm without too much harshness, and handling was good as far as we could tell on the moderately curvy wet roads."

Review continues below
8

2008 Ford Focus

Comfort & Quality

Top-line materials may be absent, but the 2008 Ford Focus is comfortable and has good headroom.

The 2008 Ford Focus earns compliments for its new interior, but rear seat space and some material choices take their bruises from reviewers.

Car and Driver starts off with the seat comfort of the 2008 Ford Focus, saying, "The front seats are flat and firm but offer little bolstering. Two adults can inhabit the rear, thanks to the sculpted front seatbacks, but climbing back there is a gymnastic feat, because the front seats don't automatically slide forward and there's a hanging seatbelt you'll have to battle your way past." Edmunds notes that the "seats prove supportive for long driving stints"; as for legroom and headroom, ConsumerGuide says that in the Ford Focus 2008, "Legroom is quite good for the class, and headroom is outstanding in models that don't have the sunroof. Headroom is still good in Focuses that do have it."

ConsumerGuide praises the fact that the "cargo area is usefully shaped" in the Ford Focus 2008. But they grumble that "interior storage is merely okay. The glovebox is skimpy, as are the front-door map pockets." The center console storage bin is deep, but its opening is small. They also mention that the subwoofer that comes with the optional audio system infringes on the cargo room.

Edmunds isn't a fan of the materials used in the Ford Focus. They state that the interior is nothing special when it comes to the materials and the design. They even claim that the optional aluminum-like trim highlights are run of the mill. Car and Driver agrees, griping, "too many surfaces are cheesy -- notably the faux aluminum trim, the hard-plastic door inserts and the flimsy trunk carpeting." Consumer Guide says the quality of assembly and workmanship is good, but the interior materials are a disappointment. The aluminum accents are called "silvery plastic trim," which makes obvious Ford's attempt to cut costs. Automobile, however, disagrees, noting the "Cheesy upholstery has been upgraded with a nicer cut of cloth or optional leather that doesn't look like it was recycled. The interior trim fits properly and is finished with attractive textures and gloss levels."

In terms of road noise in the Ford Focus 2008, Edmunds reports that the "interior remains quiet on the highway, as there's little wind or engine noise." And though "road and tire noise makes its way into the cabin," on occasion, "the car is quieter than the previous Focus and quieter than many other cars in its class." Automobile considers "the refurbished Focus surprisingly quiet and smooth-riding."

Review continues below
7

2008 Ford Focus

Safety

The 2008 Ford Focus gets good front-impact crash ratings, but many safety systems are optional or unavailable—and side impact results are low.

The 2008 Ford Focus performs well in federal frontal crash tests, but side impacts are a concern.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested the 2008 Ford Focus and awarded it five stars for frontal impacts and three stars for side impacts. Its rollover rating is four stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet tested the Focus.

Edmunds reports, "Six airbags are standard on all Focus models. This includes front seat side-impact airbags as well as head curtain airbags for both front and rear seat occupants. The rear seats lack head restraints, and stability control is not offered." A "tire-pressure monitor" is also standard on the Ford Focus, according to ConsumerGuide.

Edmunds notes "Antilock brakes are optional on all trim levels" on the Ford Focus 2008; "traction control" is available as well, according to MyRide.com.

Additionally, regarding visibility from the Ford Focus 2008, MyRide.com remarks "the view all around is very good" and that the "angle of the windshield relative to the driver provides an excellent view of the road."

Review continues below
8

2008 Ford Focus

Features

The 2008 Ford Focus sports the latest in music and cell phone gadgets, along with other useful features.

The 2008 Ford Focus makes up for its unappealing styling with a feature-rich interior that offers one of the most advanced entertainment and communication systems available.

The 2008 Ford Focus is available in three trim levels, according to Edmunds: the S, the SE, and the SES. While the base S model includes "air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, center console, split folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, digital-media player connection, tachometer, rear defogger [and] intermittent wipers," the SE adds "power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote entry system [and] floormats" to the Ford Focus 2008, reports ConsumerGuide. The SES adds even more convenience to the Ford Focus with "leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls, cruise control, wireless cell phone link, voice recognition, iPod adapter [and a] automatic day/night rearview mirror." MyRide.com notes the SES trim level includes a "moonroof, alarm, anti-lock brakes, traction control, ambient interior lighting and Sirius satellite radio."

MyRide.com praises the new system put into place in the Ford Focus 2008 by both Microsoft Auto and Ford. This system is called SYNC, and it "brings wide-ranging compatibility and voice recognition to the table." In fact, "voice recognition can find any song, artist or playlist on any music device connected to the USB2 input; you can even put songs on a simple $10 USB 'thumb drive' and have all of SYNC's functionality."

Additional option packages for the Focus include the Deluxe package and the Driver's group package, says ConsumerGuide. The Deluxe package includes "heated power mirrors, unique interior and exterior trim, fog lights, chrome exhaust tip, sport suspension, [and] 205/50R16 tires."

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

4 Reviews
5 star
50%
4 star
25%
3 star
25%
2 star
1 star
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
September 22, 2016
2008 Ford Focus 4-Door Sedan SE

Acceptable car for daily uses.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Car with a good driveability and performance acceptable. A car without critical problem anyhow the maintanence is according to Ford schedule.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
February 15, 2016
2008 Ford Focus 4-Door Sedan SE

Trouble-free after two transmission repairs.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Purchased as a used car off a dealer lot. Initially, had transmission trouble within weeks of buying. After repairs were done under warranty, the vehicle seems trouble-free. Only short coming of this model is... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 13, 2015
For 2008 Ford Focus

good small reliable car.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
One of the most reliable cars i've owned. I just passed it on to my daughter.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 11, 2015
For 2008 Ford Focus

Great car. Wish Ford had just updated this version of the Focus.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I've got almost 113,000 miles on this car. I've only had it in for one repair, other than brakes, tires etc. I wish they still made this model (an updated version would be O.K.) The only minor issue I have... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
USED PRICE RANGE
$1,995 - $10,495
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2008 Ford Focus against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Ford Focus?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area