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Josh Rosenberg
Josh Rosenberg

We don't just talk cars ... we teach how to buy them.

Used Ford Focus Overview And How
To Buy At The Best Price

Introduced for the 2000 model year, the Ford Focus won a solid reputation for its appealing combination of style, decent handling for an economy car, fuel efficiency and value for the dollar. The bottom line is that it's one of Ford's most popular cars.

For those possibly interested in buying an older used Focus, here's a general overview followed by some money-saving buying tips:

Ford Focus SE Coupe (2008)

There have been three Focus generations in the United States: 2000 - 2007, 2008 - 2011 and 2012 - 2018. The second generation was a fairly significant refresh that included the introduction of the coupe body style, updated interior and exterior styling, and introduced a more powerful engine and new safety features.

Initially, the trims included base S, midgrade SE and sporty SES models for both the coupe and sedan. This was changed for the 2009 Focus, with the sedan being available in S, SE, SES and SEL trims, while the coupe is offered as the SE and SES. In addition, some of these used Focus models can be found with the newly added stability control option. The coupe also received a minor exterior revision.

Under the hood of all of these newer Focus models is a 2.0 liter inline four-cylinder engine that pumps out 140 horsepower. Shoppers in California-level emission states can find the cleaner, PZEV-certified version of this engine that produces 130 horsepower. Transmission-wise, all can be found with either the standard 5-speed manual or the optional 4-speed automatic.

Gas mileage performance for a manual transmission Focus is very good at 24 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway. So is the automatic, actually, with the same in the city and losing only 2 mpg on the highway. And overall, they both provide a rather engaging driving experience for a car in this price range.

While the interiors of these Focus models are reasonably attractive, they may be a little inferior to some of the segment leaders when it comes to materials quality. They do, however, compensate with the addition of Ford's Sync system (developed with Microsoft) which allows for voice-controlled cell phone, PDA and MP3 devices.

Prior to the 2008 update: The Ford Focus was introduced for the 2000 model year and offered as a two-door hatchback ZX3, a ZX4 sedan and a ZXW wagon. These used Focus models can be found with either a fairly unenergetic SOHC 2.0 liter inline four-cylinder good for 110 horsepower, or a quite capable, and therefore preferred, DOHC 2.0 liter engine (the Zetec) that was rated at 130 horsepower. Transmissions were again either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

Used Ford Focus shoppers should be aware that there were a number of significant changes in the earlier models. From 2000 through 2004, the trim levels were usually base LX, midgrade SE and uplevel ZTS. Optional front-seat side airbags and antilock brakes (ABS) can be found in some of these vehicles, as can stability control which was offered for several years beginning in 2001.

For 2002, the four-door hatchback ZX5 was added. Beginning in 2004, a 2.3 liter inline-4 that generated 145 horsepower and cleaner emissions was made available. In addition, the quite hard to find and short-lived (2002-2004) Focus SVT hatchback featured a 170 horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 6-speed transmission.

2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Hatchback

There was also a mild update for 2005 which included some exterior cosmetic changes, a redesigned interior control layout inside and new engine choices (a 136 horsepower, 2.0 liter four-cylinder or a sedan-only 2.3 liter, four-cylinder that produced 151 horsepower). In 2008, both the hatchback and wagon were dropped and the trim levels were renamed S, SE and SES.

The last generation made its debut early in the 2012 model year and carried through 2018 when it was discontinued. This Focus was impressively redesigned and invigorated with stylish good looks, a fun-to-drive personality, high quality materials, excellent gas mileage and host of available high-tech features. In fact, it now clearly ranks among the small car segment leaders.

Offered in both sedan and hatchback choices, the latest Focus offers an attractive and head-turning exterior design, backed up with a best-in-class, high quality interior. And under the hood is a new four-cylinder engine that's both capable and fuel-efficient, paired with a new automatic transmission and a suspension tuned to provide both a refined drive as well as nimble handling abilities.

Standard features on the base model Focus S (sedan only) include power front windows, power mirrors, power locks, air-conditioning, keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, an anti-theft engine immobilizer, quad beam halogen headlights, a tire pressure monitor, a 4-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.

2012 Ford Focus Hatchback

The Focus SE adds rear power windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, foglights, automatic headlights, a rear spoiler on the hatchback, 16-inch steel wheels, Ford's MyKey parental controls and a trip computer. The hatchback SE also comes with a removable cargo cover and a 60/40 split-folding seatback instead of the sedan's one-piece folding seatback.

Moving up to the Focus SEL adds most of the SE's available options (but not the sport-tuned suspension), one-touch up/down power windows and multicolored ambient lighting, while the top-of-the-line Titanium model adds the sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, MyFord Touch technology with a center touchscreen and Wi-Fi, keyless entry/ignition, upgraded interior and exterior trim accents, a rear spoiler on the sedan and a 10-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio and satellite radio.

This last Focus is powered by a new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 5-speed manual transmission as standard on the S and SE model, while a 6-speed automatic transmission, called "Powershift", is standard on SEL and Titanium models (optional on the S and SE). Powershift is not really a traditional automatic transmission, but is actually a dual-clutch automated manual.

2012 Ford Focus Hatchback

Its fuel economy is another big plus. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for 5-speed manual models is 26 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. Focuses equipped with the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic are rated even better at 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. The best gas mileage performer is the SE with the $495 SFE package, with ratings coming in at 28 and 40, respectively.

Overall, we believe the Ford Focus has much going for it as a used car purchase, particularly 2008 and newer models (and especially the last generation), due to its value pricing, appealing design, capable handling and very good fuel economy.

How To Get The Best Price

There are actually several different ways to buy a used Focus at the lowest price, and even at wholesale. You can click on the links to each of the following methods to get the specific instructions.

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a super effective method, one that often beats down prices even to wholesale levels. And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

2006 Ford Focus ZX4 Sedan

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.

Also ... for those of you who might be interested in a
brand new Ford, if the price was crazy good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Ford. This works just phenomenally well.

Other Pages Of Possible Interest:
  • 2012 Ford Focus Review
  • 2011 Ford Focus Overview
  • Review: 2010 Ford Focus
  • 2012 Ford Fusion Review
  • 2012 Ford Mustang Overview
  • Ford Fusion 2011
  • 2013 Ford Explorer

  • Additional Models Of Possible Interest:
  • 2013 Ford Mustang
  • Ford Fusion Auction Sources
  • Ford Mustang Auction Info
  • Pre-owned Ford Truck Auction Sources
  • Pre-owned Ford Taurus Wholesale Strategies
  • Pre-owned Ford F-150 Wholesale Sources
  • Ford Explorer Wholesale Sources

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