With a new look both inside and out, as well as a number of new standard features, the Ford Focus SE sedan takes a big step forward for 2008, which is part of Ford's overall strategy to remain competitive in today's automative market. Ford notes that, overall, the 2008 Focus SE is 30 pounds lighter, 10 percent quieter, and has 3 percent more horsepower than the previous year's model. In addition, says Ford, the Focus SE has more safety features, better driving dynamics, and better overall fuel economy.
The Focus's improved fuel economy comes courtesy of a revised 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter Duratec 20 inline four-cylinder engine. Thanks to new air intake, cooling, and exhaust systems, the engine provides improved smoothness and responsiveness, while achieving up to 35 mpg on the highway. The engine links to either a five-speed manual transmission, which comes standard, or a four-speed automatic, available as an option.
As far as its standard features are concerned, Ford adds Ice Blue backlighting for the instrument gauges and control knobs, a top-of-the-dash display with multifunction readouts, an MP3 input jack for the AM/FM/CD audio system, and side curtain airbags to the equipment list. The Focus SE sedan also comes with a keyless entry system, power windows and door locks, and power exterior mirrors, among other features. Options include antilock brakes with traction control, leather-trimmed seats, Sirius satellite radio, and Ford's Sync, a new in-car, Bluetooth-compatible wireless communications system that enables drivers to make voice-activated cellphone calls, among other functions.
The front-wheel-drive Focus SE rides on a stiffer, "Euro-inspired" body structure and a retuned suspension, resulting in better ride quality, sharper steering, and improved handling. Eight-spoke 15-inch wheels are also part of the package. It all makes for a compact that drives and rides well, with plenty of power under the pedal, drivers note. Some reviewers point out that the automatic transmission can make harsh shifts under aggressive driving, and others note that the backseat can be cramped. But most drivers and reviewers give the Focus SE good marks overall.