2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES
2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

Share this story on Facebook

Join the official Autos Facebook group

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2006 Ford Focus

The Ford Focus brought a little bit of European flair to the small car segment for the 2000 model year. This was the company’s second attempt in five years or so at building a car it could sell simultaneously here and in Europe; the first was the Contour and Mystique twins that lasted from 1995 to 1999.

So the goal with the Focus was to replace two cars – the mid-sized Contour/Mystique and the compact Escort – with one, while coming up with something that would prove that a small car could be practical and fun-to-drive.

The Focus succeeded on many fronts: the styling was unique in a class where looks took a back seat to more practical needs, like miserly fuel consumption and a spacious, uh, back seat. Interior space was very good, too, and the Focus was available in a variety of body styles, including the station wagon configuration that many previous Escort owners had come to appreciate. This alone made the Focus a standout in terms of small cars.

But despite using proven components – the 2.0-litre engines employed here were carry-over units from the Escort – the Focus had a rough go of it during its first two or three years in production. Of the 13 recalls affecting the car, 11 were issued in its first two years on the market.

2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES
2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES. Click image to enlarge

In terms of reliability, most of the Focus’ issues seem to be electrical in nature: a rough idle is common, fuel pumps are prone to failure in early cars, but the consensus in Focus-related web discussion forums is that this issue was fixed in later cars. Many owners posting online complain of bad ignition lock cylinders that lock up, preventing the car from being started. Power windows seem to fail frequently too, though this apparently affects the two-door ZX3 model more than four-door cars.

If you’re into modifying your Focus, be aware that upgrading the suspension with a stiffer rear sway bar could cause a rear control arm to break in half.

The engine thermostat housing is a common failure point on higher-mileage cars and is a frequent cause of coolant leaks.

Generally speaking, later cars are much more dependable than earlier Focuses; I’d suggest a 2005 model or newer if you’re looking for a dependable daily driver. Consumer Reports only gives above-average reliability ratings to 2005 through 2007 models.

All Focuses up to the 2004 model year got 2.0-litre engines: base wagon and sedan models used a 110-hp single overhead cam (SOHC) version, while a 130-hp twin cam motor was standard in the hatchback and uplevel wagons and sedans. In 2005, the single-cam motor was dropped, and an ST sedan trim (which replaced the SVT hatchback as the sporty option) arrived with a 153-hp 2.3-litre engine. The Focus got a mild styling update – inside and out – in 2005, and that same year also brought some new model designations.

2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES
2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption, according to Natural Resources Canada’s testing methods, shows the Focus to be a typically efficient small car. The twin-cam Zetec 2.0-litre four-cylinder is rated at 9 to 9.5 L/100 km in city driving and 6.5 to 7 L/100 km on the highway, depending on the model year in question and transmission choice; earlier cars with the single-cam 2.0-litre engine use 8.5 to 9 L/100 km in the city and 6 to 6.5 L/100 km on the highway. The hard-to-find 2.3-litre uses 10.6 L/100 km in the city and 7 L/100 km on the highway; it was available solely with a manual transmission.

Crash safety is good, at least in frontal impacts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives these cars four and five stars for front-seat occupant protection in frontal impacts, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Focus its “good” rating in frontal offset crash tests.

The Focus has been available from day one with side airbags for the front seats; I’d advise looking for a car with them. Without, the Focus earned a poor rating in the IIHS’ side impact test, and while the NHTSA gives the Focus as many as three and four stars for side impact protection, its history is spotty: some model year cars got four stars for front-seat occupant protection and just one for rear-seat passenger protection, while others got three for the front seat and four for the rear seat. The main concerns for rear-seat occupants appear to be a high likelihood of severe head injury, and/or thoracic injury.

2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES
2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES. Click image to enlarge

The Focus’ resale values are bad news for those who bought these cars new, but good news for those shopping for used examples. Used values, according to Canadian Red Book, range from $13,050 for a 2007 ST sedan to $3,300 for a 2000 LX sedan. My pick (aside from the super-cool SVT model, which is covered in its own review on this site) would be a 2005 ST, which, with a Red Book value of $8,925, is a pretty good deal for a small car with a peppy motor and suspension bits sourced from the sadly-defunct SVT.

While the Focus turned the compact car segment on its ear in 2000, it was a Ford subsidiary – Mazda – which did the same in 2004 with the Mazda3. These days, the Focus pales in comparison to the little Mazda, and for many of the same reasons the Focus was considered the fun-to-drive benchmark of the class back in its day.

For a spacious-but-small car at a good price, I’d recommend a newer Focus (don’t go older than 2003, and 2005 and newer models are best), even if it’s no longer the most four-wheeled fun you can get for under $20,000.


Red Book Pricing (avg. retail) February 2009:

Price today
Price new
Focus ZX4 SES
Focus ZX4 SES
Focus ZX4 SES
Focus ZTS
Focus ZTS
Focus ZTS
Focus ZTS
Focus ZTS

Online resources
  • The two main web-based resources dedicated to the Focus are FocusFanatics.com and FocalJet.com. Both are very busy and have lots of information, so I’d recommend visiting both in your search for Focus info.

    Related stories on Autos
  • First Drive: 2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
    Test Drive: 2000 Ford Focus ZTS
    Test Drive: 2000 Ford Focus Wagon
    Test Drive: 2002 Ford Focus SVT
    Test Drive: 2002 Ford Focus ZX5
    Test Drive: 2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
    Test Drive: 2006 Ford Focus ZX5 SES
    Used Vehicle Review: 2000-2003 Ford Focus
    Used Vehicle Review: 2002-2004 Ford Focus SVT

    Manufacturer’s Website
  • Ford Motor Company of Canada

  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005025; Units affected: 152,181
    2000-2005: Certain four door (sedan and wagon) and five door vehicles originally sold or currently registered in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario may have faulty rear door latches. Corrosion build-up at the pawl pivot area of the latch can cause the latch to bind. The owner may experience difficulty opening or closing a rear door, and eventually the rear door may not latch properly. If not latched properly the door may open while the vehicle is in motion. Correction: Dealers will inspect the rear door latches. A latch that passes the evaluation will be lubricated to prevent future corrosion. A latch that does not pass the evaluation will be replaced.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 20022214; Units affected: 74,213
    On certain vehicles, insufficient clamp load at the attachment of the lower control arm ball joint to the steering knuckle may result in separation of the joint or fracture of the ball joint stud. If this should occur while the vehicle is in motion, loss of vehicle control may result. Correction: Dealers will verify the torque of the steering knuckle pinch bolt and tighten as necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2002213; Units affected: 41,068
    On certain vehicles equipped with a Zetec engine, the battery cable insulation could be damaged due to loose or broken attachments and/or misrouted battery cables. This in turn may cause the battery cables to short resulting in heat damage. The check engine light being illuminated or the engine failing to start are some of the possible symptoms however, smoke, melting or fire may also occur. Correction: Dealers will inspect the condition or the battery cable insulation for proper torque at the terminal ends. Cables will be re-routed, retaining clips installed and damaged battery cables replaced as necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001204; Units affected: 83,005
    Certain passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, and light and medium duty pickup trucks. A switch located in the plastic cover of the wiper motor gear case could malfunction and overheat, potentially resulting in loss of intermittent wiper function, loss of wiper park function, complete loss of wiper function, smoke or, potentially, ignition of the plastic cover material. Switch malfunction is most likely to occur when the intermittent setting of the wipers is being used, or when snow or ice obstructs the blades from returning to the “parked” position at the bottom of the windshield. Loss of visibility while driving increases the risk of a crash. Correction: Dealers will inspect the date code on the wiper motor. Motors built with the suspect time frame will have the wiper motor gear case cover replaced.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000305; Units affected: 20,777
    Certain station wagons and 3 door vehicles come equipped with a folding 60/40 second seat that becomes a load floor in the folded position. When the 60% portion of the seat is folded, if a load is applied to the front edge of the load floor, the outboard hinge pivot could disengage from the hinge. If the seat is then returned to the upright position without re-engaging the hinge pivot, the seat, and seat belts may not provide the intended level of performance in the event of a crash. Correction: Dealers will install a revised seat back hinge.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000302; Units affected: 9,815
    On certain vehicles, the decklid wiring harness may fatigue and develop broken wires in the bend area of the wire harness in the grommet on the decklid. This may occur due to a rigid vinyl sleeve that is located at the bend point. Broken wires could result in either a loss of individual lamp functions, or in the case of a short that causes a fuse to open, in the loss of stop lamp or tail lamp function. Correction: Decklid wire harness will be replaced with a wire harness that has a longer, more flexible sleeve.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000246; Units affected: 4,349
    Certain vehicles have a speed control cable that may have a core wire that is long enough to catch on the sleeve at the throttle body end of the cable during wide open throttle acceleration. If this occurs, the throttle may stick and not return to idle when the accelerator is released. A stuck throttle could result in result in reduced vehicle control and a possible crash. Correction: Vehicles will be inspected and speed control cable will be replaced if necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000245; Units affected: 36,012
    Certain vehicles may have rear wheel hubs that could loosen and allow the left rear wheel and brake drum assembly to separate from the vehicle. Separation of a rear wheel and brake drum could result in reduced vehicle control and a possible crash. Correction: Vehicles will be inspected and, if necessary, rear wheel hub and bearing assembly will be replaced. In addition, a redundant left rear wheel retention device will be added to the left rear spindle.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000096; Units affected: 8,482
    Certain vehicles do not comply with the requirements of CMVSS 1101 – Emission Device. The Injector Pressure Sensor (IPS), located on the end of the fuel rail, may become contaminated with water during shipping to the assembly plant. This water could freeze in low ambient temperatures and cause the IPS membrane to crack or burst, resulting in possible illumination of the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL), engine no start and internal engine damage due to hydro-locking. Correction: Dealers will replace the IPS.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 1999231; Units affected: 4,291
    On certain vehicles, the speed control cable end fitting may allow water to enter the speed control servo assembly. If this occurs, corrosion in the servo assembly could develop and cause intermittent speed control operation or prevent the throttle from returning to idle. This could result in unexpected acceleration and, potentially, a vehicle crash. Correction: Speed control cable will be replaced, speed control servo will be inspected for internal corrosion. Servos with evidence of corrosion will also be replaced.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001258; Units affected: 679
    Certain vehicles have French language air bag warning labels that may not remain permanently affixed to the sun visor. This fails to comply with C.M.V.S.S. 208 (27). If the label becomes detached and lost French speaking occupants may not receive adequate warning relative to the air bags. Correction: Owners will be supplied new labels.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2001077; Units affected: 1,783
    On certain vehicles, a damaged recliner handle spring could result in the loss of handle tension that in turn could result in an insufficient force to engage or retain the locking pawl of the recliner during normal use. Both the driver and front occupant seat backs could unexpectedly recline while the car is being driven and result in possible loss of driver control. Correction: Seat back recliner handle spring will be replaced on both front outboard seats.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    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 recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    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.

  • Connect with Autos.ca