Ford Focus SES Coupe Review

I began my automotive journalism career 12 years ago this fall by testing a small Ford coupe that impressed me more than I expected. So it's kind of appropriate that this, the 150th TireKicker post (first anniversary is August 24), is also about a small Ford coupe that impressed me more than I expected.

The Ford Focus has been a bit of a disappointment simply because there's a better one being sold in Europe. But there are two bits of good news: We'll be getting the Euro Focus (or something very close to it) in a year or two...and the American version is being constantly improved and refined in the meantime.

The SES I drove had a 2 liter DOHC four, a 5-speed manual that's one of the best I've had from Ford and 17 inch wheels.

Inside, air, SYNC, and auxilary audio jacks are all standard.

Options on the tester included leather heated bucket seats, a moonroof and an upgrade to the audiophile sound system...as well as anti-lock brakes (which really, really should be standard).

Base price: $17.570. As tested: $20.615.

EPA estimates: 24 city/35 highway.

Now in that range, there's a lot of competition (it takes 26 city to make the TireKicker Top Ten Fuel Savers...and a lot of compacts are priced in that $17,000-$20,000 range), but the Focus is now good enough that it's able to run in that crowded pack.