If the budget is tight, a used Ford Focus can be an excellent vehicle choice…

The Ford Focus is an affordable and underrated used compact car buy

It got a major makeover for the 2008 model year: an all-new coupe (two-door) edition was introduced to complement the stalwart (four-door) sedan. Lamentably, however, the popular in Canada (but not in the US) wagon and (Euro-style) hatchback versions of Focus were discontinued.

The ’08 refresh of Focus included new front and rear body fascias, improved sound insulation, a redesigned interior and a new-tech multi-media upgrade. The ’08 Focus is also an about 45-kg (100-lb) lighter overall and it’s the weight reduction measures included the elimination of a spare tire, which was replaced by an inflator kit. A real spare tire/wheel could be added as an option.

An auto industry landmark was reached when Ford teamed up with Microsoft to offer a unique new multi-media system called Sync, which (for the first time) allowed control of digital music players and cellular phones with voice commands. In addition to the benefit of driver hands-free call taking, the Sync system can also translate text messages into voice messages.

The ’08 Focus, both coupe and sedan, came in S, SE and top-line SES trims. The Sync system was a ($495) option with the SE trim level and standard with SES. On the downside, electronic stability control was not offered on any version of the ’08 Focus.

The most noticeable change from a driving perspective was the reduction in outside noise and chassis vibration. The quieter cabin is the result of sound deadening improvements that include the use of thicker glass. The steering column in this Focus is also mounted on a stronger crossbeam beneath the instrument panel, which helps eliminate vibrations.

The only engine (in Canada) was a 2.0-litre, dual-overhead-cam, 4-cylinder engine, which came with a new air intake and cooling systems. It produces 140-horsepower (4-horsepower increase over the ’07) and fuel economy has been improved.

The transmission choices were a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. Fuel economy is 8.4 L/100km in the city and highway fuel economy is rated at a phenomenal 5.9 L/100km with the automatic. The manual transmission slightly increases city consumption and reduces highway consumption, so overall the rating is the same.

Overall, the coupe performed better than the sedan in IIHS crash tests, as the sedan got lower scores in side impacts. All editions of the ’08 Focus came with a new design of side curtain air bag that uses a “roll-fold” technology to protect occupants who are resting their heads against a window.

The biggest change on the 2009 edition of the Ford Focus was the inclusion of electronic stability control as standard on the SES trim. It was also standard with a new SEL mid-level sedan trim and an option on lower trim levels. The coupe also got a sportier appearance package and a minor improvement in performance.

Just minor tweaking of trim packages followed in 2010. In 2011, the coupe edition was discontinued. All of which was in preparation for an all-new Focus that arrived (with great fanfare) for the 2012 model year.

If the budget is tight, a used Ford Focus can be an excellent vehicle choice.

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Price Check: 2008 – 2011 Ford Focus (August 2014)

Year            Edition            Expect to Pay Today

2008            SE sedan            $5,000 to $8,000

2009            SE sedan            $6,500 to $9,500

2010            SE sedan            $8,000 to $11,000

2011            SE sedan            $10,000 to $13,000

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Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

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Safety Recalls: 2008 to 2011 Ford Focus:

2008: An incorrectly assembled driver’s airbag may not deploy properly during a frontal crash. All vehicles included in this recall were still in dealer inventory and the driver’s airbag module assembly was replaced.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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