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Mercury C557
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A week in the 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 - Examiner.com

June 17, 6:28 PM
Autos Examiner
Brady Holt
Car reviewers spend a lot of time in shiny, new, expensive cars they don't own. This reviewer, for example, spent seven straight weeks this spring in a series of 2010-model cars priced from $26,000 to $39,000. After weeks of leather seats, navigation systems, and powerful engines, it was going to be very difficult to transition back to a slightly battered decade-old economy car worth about $3,000.

Or was it?

This 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 hatchback wasn't freshly detailed before spending the last week with the Autos Examiner between drives of a $29,000 Nissan Altima Coupe and $26,000 Hyundai Sonata. Nor were its assortment of dings popped out, or its various little broken interior components repaired. And even setting aside cosmetic and mechanical reminders that the car has been on the road for more than 100,000 miles, any economy car is going to feel like a step down from an entry-luxury sedan or crossover SUV.

But any small car has its own inherent advantages. This Focus hatchback, at 168 inches long, is half a foot teenier than the smallest vehicle of those seven weeks -- the Hyundai Tucson SUV -- and occupies nearly three feet less of curbside real estate than the Honda Accord Crosstour. The 28 miles per gallon it returned over a week of commuting duty was on par with the best of the others, and the Focus didn't ask for the Nissan Maxima's premium fuel. And it can be parked on the street with less concern for the well-being of its bumpers than a new, pricey car.

And the Focus has its own advantages. Still a fairly new design in 2001, the Focus had been developed with the European market in mind, designed for customers who demand better driving dynamics and interior packaging than American small-car buyers had been accustomed to. (The Focus has since migrated back toward emphasizing competence for the money more than sharp handling; another European-sourced car is due as a 2012 model.)

This car's suspension, steering, and shifter show the effects of age; this Focus isn't the brilliantly agile car it had once been. But the interior still holds four adults more comfortably than the larger Mazda3 or Nissan Altima Coupe -- two new cars from recent weeks -- and at least as much usable cargo space behind the rear seat than in the Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV. And solidly but not intrusively bolstered front seats offer better lateral support than pretty much any mainstream car on sale today.

Also, while the Focus's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes just 130 horsepower, with a fairly light weight -- 2,500 pounds -- and a five-speed manual transmission, it felt quicker than the tested four-cylinder Mazda6 midsize sedan (though the Mazda did return the better fuel economy).

To be clear, despite various shortcomings with the various cars that recently spent time with the Autos Examiner, all represent a step up in many ways from an aging economy car. But both because new cars aren't perfect either and because even an old Focus has a lot of things going for it, transitioning back to it wasn't as hard as it might look.


Vehicle tested: 2001 Ford Focus ZX3
Vehicle price: $3,200 (in 2009, used)
Odometer reading, beginning of week: 104,159
Odometer reading, end of week: 104,420

Key specifications:
Length: 168.1 inches
Width: 66.9 inches
Height: 56.3 inches
Wheelbase: 103.0 inches
Weight: 2,551 pounds
Cargo volume, behind rear seat: 18.6 cubic feet
Cargo volume, with rear seat folded: 42.5 cubic feet
Turning radius: 17.9 feet
Engine (as tested): 2.0-liter I4 with 130 horsepower
Transmission (as tested): 5-speed manual
EPA city mileage: 22 miles per gallon
EPA highway mileage: 30 miles per gallon


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Mercury C557
Joined
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22,734 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
imho this ^ is a Superior Editorial
AND a well-written REALITY CHECK...

...think FoMoCo oughta keep it mind while they continue to load-up on techno-goodies
imho
FoMoCo can't "afford" to build their reputation solely on things that will make a good chunk of traditional customers unable to justify/"afford" the pricetag$$$$$$
 
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