2008 Ford Focus Review – Play "Michael Bolton"

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By Francis Cebedo

2008 Ford Focus


  • Revolutionary new Microsoft Sync system
  • Good gas mileage
  • Good value
  • Fun features like ambient lighting
  • New styling
  • Steering feel and responsiveness is quite good
  • Nice new features leave a good first impression


  • New styling – although it’s a bling, it’s a love it or hate it exterior design
  • Interior fit and craftsmanship is sub par
  • No hatchback model is a huge disappointment for some
  • Chassis stiffness and handling is uninspired. This is the same basic chassis as the previous model
  • New features don’t leave a good lasting impression


The Focus is all-new for 2008. The sad news is the hatchback model has been dropped from the line. Aside from the utility advantages of a hatchback it looked significantly better too than the sedan. Its absence will be missed. On the 2008 sedan, the exterior has been restyled with a new chrome grille, and the interior has been improved. The suspension has been retuned as well. The interior has received a facelift with flashy white instrument gauges and ambient lighting. Also new is the Ford Sync system, resulting from a partnership with Microsoft, which interacts with digital audio players and cell phones for hands-free calling and less distracting music controls.

The Focus is now available as a coupe and as a sedan, and both body styles come in three trims: base S, midgrade SE and sporty SES. All Focus models are powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that offers 140 horsepower. Cars sold in California-level emission states have a cleaner version of this engine that puts out 130 hp. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a four-speed automatic offered as an option.

Ford Focus - center stack Ford Focus - illuminated cupholders Ford Focus - white instrument gauges

Driving Impressions

With a stiffer body structure and good steering feel and response, the 2008 Ford Focus is fun to drive. Twisty roads are a delight rather than a chore. But if there are a lot of hills, the Focus doesn’t have the power to get up the hills swiftly and confidently.

The Focus leans more toward the ‘economy’ side of the fence rather the ‘performance’. This should be a fairly satisfying car for the young buyer more concerned about getting good value and getting good mileage with today’s high gas prices.

Folks looking for the new SVT Hatchback model will be deeply disappointed. The styling and performance is absent in this model year.


The interior has a good ‘wow’ factor. Our SES tester had leather upholstery and heated seats. The instrument gauges had a flashy white background and the ambient lighting could be switched around to different colors.

Ford Focus - front seats Ford Focus information display Ford Focus - steering wheel

However, further scrutiny reveals that the materials and fit and finish are not so great. The leather seats do not feel luxurious at all and the heated seats are either on or off. The instrument cluster and aluminum dash look inexpensive upon closer inspection.

The best features of this car seem to be the electronics, lighting and the Sync integration.

Ford Focus dash board Ford Focus Sync attachment Ford Focus subwoofer


The exterior styling is viewed as fun and edgy by a lot of buyers. But to us, it doesn’t look quite right. Our coupe tester in particular doesn’t go together well. The back, the lights, the wheels don’t really blend together to form a unified design.

2008 Ford Focus


This is where the car seems to shine if you choose fewer options. With a base price of $14,395 starting with the “S” model, the Ford Focus can be quite economical. If really want to load up on options, $20k for the SES model with all the electronics, is still a great deal.

Who Should Buy It?

Buyers who are value conscious, gadget freaks are the prime candidates. If you like the exterior styling and you value good mileage, this is a good choice.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 3.5 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.5 4.5 3.8/B-

US. Model:
2.0-liter in-line 4
140 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb-ft of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)

California Model:
2.0-liter in-line 4
132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (PZEV)
133 lb-ft of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)

>> Do you have an opinion of the Ford Focus? Submit your review of an 2008 Ford Focus or read what others have to say at CarReview.com

>> See all of the 2008 Ford Focus photos in our photo gallery

>> www.ford.comofficial website for Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs

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