The shape of the 2005 Ford Focus is almost identical to that of the newest Honda Civic. Who copied who? The Ford Focus model was released first. It takes years for designs to go from drawing board to driving. It just shows that given the constraints of building a car that can comfortably fit 90 percent of all Americans, a number of manufacturers are coming to very similar conclusions.
Inside, the gauges and controls are simple, easy to read and well within reach. The steering wheel has a nice feel and grip. The materials that make up the dashboard and console are hard plastic. The door panels, seats and balance of the interior also look good and fit together well. The interior is up to Japanese standards except for the seats which offer less support in the lower back than is needed.
Out on the road the chassis feels well-balanced with precise steering and control - this is a hallmark of every Focus I have driven. The shifter is slightly notchy, and the clutch is good, but it took a bit to learn how to modulate the clutch for smooth shifting. The 2.3 liter four cylinder engine pulls well in low- and mid-ranges as well as the upper reaches where overhead cam engines usually perform their best.
The car proved to be quick and nimble around town, easy to park and more than held its own in freeway traffic. Puttering over a backroad short-cut through the hills the car was very composed, with plenty of agility to avoid the wayward squirrel or chipmunk. But the road noise over the backroads could be intrusive at times.
We averaged 25 mpg in the usual cluttered commute traffic combined with backroads short-cuts and fast freeway driving. This was substantially better than the last performance Focus we had that only squeezed out low 20s for gas mileage. The Focus has spirit and is a fun car to drive. With its competitive pricing, it offers a lot of bang for the buck.