by Bob McHugh
An imaginative design that was also very practical, the year 2000 Ford Focus was a trend-setting small car – for a new millennium. Its taller-than-average body has raised seating that takes advantage of new-found inner space. This also makes getting in and out of a Focus easier than most and the “Control Blade” rear suspension offers a passive form of four-wheel-steer that gives the Focus surprisingly good handling characteristics.
Auto critics loved it, European Car of the Year, Canadian Car of the Year, honour after honour was showered on Focus. “With Focus, our goal was to break the basic small car mould with a car Canadians want to own – not one they must settle for because of price,” said then President and CEO of Ford of Canada, Bobbie Gaunt.
Focus was the most successful new Ford vehicle launch in years. By the end of January 2000, more than 11,300 Canadians had already driven away in a brand new Focus. A base Focus LX 4-door sedan sold for $14,995. Prices for the Focus ZX3 (a 3-door hatchback) started at $16,695, the Wagon started at $17,695 and a sporty ZTS at $19,795.
Safety features included new-generation de-powered driver and passenger air bags and optional side airbags. There are pre-tensioning and load-limiting systems on the seat belt retractor mechanisms, it also came with ISOFIX child-seat attachments and ‘bounce back’ power windows.
Standard power in LX and SE sedans is a 110-horsepower 2.0 litre engine. Fuel consumption is rated at 9.4 L/100 km in the city and 6.5 L/100 km on the highway. The ZX3 and the ZTS sedan both come with a 16-valve Zetec 4-cylinder engine that produces 130-horsepower at 5300 rpm.
AdvanceTrac, a vehicle stability system was initially offered as a new option on the Z” versions of 2001 Focus and expanded to the rest of the Focus line in ’02. The ZX3 and LX also got a standard remote keyless upgrade in 2001.
A new five-door hachback version of Focus called the ZX5 was a new addition in 2002. It has seating for five and a 60/40 split rear seat that folds flat. A Canadian Winter Package, an MP3 audio system, and an optional perimeter alarm system were new options in 2003. A significant reduction in road noise was also achieved through new under-body sealing and thicker carpet under-lay.
2001 Ford Focus wagon
Now for the bad news, product quality, especially in the first and second (to a lesser extent) years was poor. Focus was recalled for nine separate safety defects (see attached list) in the first year alone. It’s sad, because Focus is actually a well-designed and well-engineered car. The basic mechanical stuff appears to stand up reasonably well and product quality appears to be on the mend, with just one recall in 2002 and none in 2003.
Focus performed well when crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The driver space was maintained reasonably well in the frontal offset crash test, however, intrusion into the footwell area contributed to the possibility of leg injury. Advanced front airbag and safety belt systems, optional side airbags with head protection, and an optional stability control system were considered pluses.
A great design and fun to drive, the Ford Focus got off to a shaky product quality start, but has seen steady improvements. Used prices are reasonable and selection is excellent.
2000-2003 Ford Focus
- Four-door sedans have a rear decklid wiring harness that may fatigue and develop broken wires in a bend area. Dealers will replace it with a longer modified harness.
- Vehicles with cruise control have a cable that may interfere with the throttle during wide-open acceleration. Dealers will inspected and replace the cable if necessary.
- The left rear wheel and brake drum assembly may loosen and separate from the vehicle. Dealers will inspect and replace rear wheel hub and bearing assembly, if necessary, and an additional retention device will be added to the left rear spindle.
- Water in the fuel Injector Pressure Sensor (IPS) can freeze at low temperatures and cause an engine no start problem or internal engine damage, due to hydro-locking. Dealers will replace the IPS.
- Water in the cruise control servo assembly can cause intermittent (unintended) speed control operation or prevent the throttle from returning to idle. Dealers will inspect and replace the cable and the servo assembly if necessary.
Years 2000 and 2001:
- Insufficient clamp load at the attachment of the lower suspension control arm ball joint to the steering knuckle may result in separation of the joint or fracture of the ball joint stud of some vehicles.
- Vehicles equipped with a Zetec engine may have battery cable insulation that could be damaged due to loose or broken attachments and/or misrouted battery cables. This may cause an electrical short.
- A switch located in the plastic cover of the wiper motor gear case could malfunction and overheat. This can cause a loss of intermittent wiper function, a loss of wiper park function, a complete loss of wiper function, smoke or ignition of the plastic cover material.
- Dealers will install a revised rear seat back hinge to the station wagons and 3 door versions of Focus. The rear seat and seat belts may not provide the intended level of performance in a collision, without this modification.
- French language air bag warning labels that may not remain permanently affixed to the sun visor. Owners will be supplied new labels.
- Sedan and wagon versions of Focus may have faulty seatback recliner mechanisms that may unexpectedly recline. Dealers will replace the seat back recliner handle spring on both front seats.
- The cruise control cable may hang up at the throttle body bracket during high, wide-open throttle operation on manual transaxle versions. Dealers will replace the throttle body and check for proper operation.
Current Red Book Pricing (avg. retail) May 2004:
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.