Comfy in sweats

David Yochum

Ford’s four-door has the feel, missing the style

Plain Jane may be the nicest girl in school. But unless she changes her wardrobe, Jane won’t get the attention she deserves.

Such is the case with the 2006 Ford Focus – the most comfortable car in The $16,000 Challenge that doesn’t take any risks.

“Nothing catches your eye,” Rogers said. “The fog lamps are a nice touch, but it’s mediocre – there’s nothing really negative or positive about the car.”

The Focus, which has seen minor redesigns since 2000, is powered by a peppy 2.0L136-hp Duratec engine. Available in hatchback, sedan, 5-door hatchback and wagon body styles, diversity might be Focus’ greatest strength next to comfort. However, our testers certainly wouldn’t include the words “fresh” and “Focus” in the same sentence.


+ Extremely comfortable

+ Sharp turning

+ Quick

– Aging without grace

– Noisy cabin

– Annoying turn signal

“Styling is still stuck in the 90s,” Dinovo said. “It’s plain and dated – too streamlined.”

Sheth was the only tester who liked the Focus’ newer look, but the overall consensus said the car was nothing out of the ordinary.

Dinovo noted an unattractive radio while Rogers could only compliment red-needled dash gauges.

Not having the best of looks, our “dark toreador red” Focus did show passion during runs through campus – easily maneuvering inside the campus esplanade and through dead-end church parking lots.


Base price: $15,775

Price as-tested: $18,510

Engine: 2.0L DOHC 8V 4-cylinder

HP @ rpm: 136 @ 6000

Torque @ rpm: 136 @ 4250

Transmission: 4-speed auto

Base weight (lbs): 2,610

EPA mpg (city/highway): 26/32

“There’s good oomph and acceleration,” Dinovo said. “Focus has a tight turning radius, just not a very smooth ride.”

Goffe and Dinovo each took issue with the Focus’ insulation, as driving over potholes revealed loud, intrusive knocks.

The SES Focus, which stickers for $15,775, includes dual power mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, air conditioning, keyless entry and power windows and locks. Adding anti-lock brakes, side airbags, a power moon roof, and 16-inch alloy wheels push the vehicle to $18,510, before extensive dealer discounts knock the final cost back under $16,000.

Depending on the bottom line price, Focus could be a quality purchase, especially for those with decades of driving experience. As Goffe put it, “Your grandma would drive this.”