In 2005, the popular Ford Focus was slightly refreshed with a more conservative looking front façade and an equally more conservative dashboard. The changes are minor but are symbolic of the transformation from a quirky, somewhat adolescent looking car into the reliable, fierce competitor that it has become in the compact car market. It is also the year when the car starts to shed the problems that plagued it during its infancy in North America.
The Focus I drove had approximately 100k miles clocked on it. Its service and maintenance history appeared to have been kept up-to-date by its one owner and no major components had been replaced. It was equipped with a 5 speed manual transmission, power windows, locks, cruise control, air conditioning, heated seats and mirrors. The cloth seats seemed to have attracted some persistent stains but were in otherwise good condition, which reflected the overall condition of the car. The asking price was $3000, which included all required safety and emission certifications.
The car has a nice driving position and the seats have an easy height-adjuster. Combined with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, it was very easy to accomplish my desired driving position – which is relatively upright. The over-the-shoulder blind spot is manageable but I did find the driver’s side A-pillar tended to block the view on left-hand turns. The car has a pretty solid feel, even of this vintage, but its age and mileage does reflect in some rattles and squeaks in the interior fittings. By and large, these were minor but still somewhat annoying. That said, I was pleased to note that everything seemed to be working well inside the car. All switches, latches, buttons, etc. were still easily identified and worked as they presumably did on day one.
The car, by today’s standards, is a little underpowered but I doubt most people would really notice. Assisted by a manual gearbox, the car can keep up in most traffic situations. I would suggest that the first gear is too short though and I often found myself just starting out in second. I drove the car for three days and averaged 28 miles per gallon on a mix of city and highway driving. I found this to be a little disappointing but, then again, the real-life numbers usually are and I find this to be even more true of the mileage claims doled out by car manufacturers today.
The car handles very well. This car came with sport tires, sized 205/50/R16. Though they are an expensive size to replace, they are excellent for dry payment, city driving. I was surprised at how well this car gripped the road when pushed and how competently it stopped. That said, it is interesting to note that this car is on its third set of tires. But then again, the oddly sized Pirellis that came standard with this trim level are known to wear prematurely.
A review of the maintenance records suggests that this car may have a history of going through headlights – which are no easy feat to replace on this car for the do-it-yourselfer. Aside from that, it looks like it has enjoyed only routine maintenance which is pretty remarkable for a car with 100k miles on the odometer.
All in all, the 2005 Ford Focus ZX5 is a pretty respectable used car choice for $3000. If you can find one in this price range, it will likely serve you well. Prepare to start spending some money on components though, as no car goes forever without having to replace parts.