For years, the Ford Motor Company boasted that its Escort badge was the world’s best selling car line. But as buyers began demanding more than just basic transportation, the trusty old Escort couldn’t cope. So Ford has refocused its compact car approach, with this all-new 2000 Focus. But in a day of sport-utes and trucks in every driveway, will the Focus get noticed?

You better believe it can! Because we think there are still plenty of drivers out there who appreciate a zippy, smartly packaged, easy to park econobox. Especially one that comes with a dash of new edge styling and in three popular flavors. There’s a 4-door Sedan, a station wagon, and a 3-door hatchback coupe.

And with the 2000 Ford Focus you get not only all that, but also something not usually associated with “compact” cars…. room! And an impressive amount of it, too. Inside our ZTS sedan’s large green house you’ll find a total volume of 107 cubic feet. That’s more than a Ford Contour. In practical terms that means no matter what Focus model you choose, you’ll have mid-size car front, head, foot and shoulder room.

In fact, with its standard height adjustable driver’s seat, and our car’s tilt and telescoping steering wheel, the Focus can accommodate those from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-8. The seating position is tall and upright, and our ZTS tester came with wide and firm cloth buckets. Leather trim is available. Seat belt pretensioners are standard and side airbags optional.

The deep set, glare free gauges are large, if incomplete. Our top grade ZTS featured a standard in dash CD-player AM/FM stereo. The controls are large, set high, and sound quality is quite good for a budget car system. Likewise, the rotary climate controls are also a snap to operate. Materials and construction of the highly styled dash are first rate, but the lightweight looking upholstery fabric and the Playskool numbers on the shifter scream bean counter handiwork.

In the rear one finds adequate room for two full-size adults, although there are shoulder belts for three. Like the front, there’s plenty of room for head and torso. Leg room, while tighter, is still best in class.

The trunk too is generous with 12.9 cubic feet of storage. A compact suspension makes the load floor long, low, and wide. Smart, glow-in-the-dark knobs release the 60/40 split seat backs. They’re designed to attract the attention of a child accidentally caught inside.

Under the hood you’ll find a choice of two engines. The Escort’s 2.0 liter split-port induction, single overhead cam 4 that produces 110 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque or, like our ZTS, and the 3-Door ZX3 Coupe, the European-designed 2.0 liter Zetec, twin-cam, 16-valve 4 cylinder that spins out 130 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque.

In our 5-speed manual tester, a 4-speed auto is also available, Zetec was good for runs to 60 in a moderate 9.3 seconds. And the quarter mile passed in 17.2 seconds at 82 MPH. Our drivers noted that around town, the Focus seems quicker than its numbers imply.

And while acceleration may be merely adequate, brakes are outstanding. Equipped with the optional 4-channel ABS system, the front disc, rear drum setup brought us to a stable halt from 60 in a average of 115 feet. Pedal feel is firm without being overly hard, ABS modulation is consistent and reassuring, with overall operation highly resistant to fade.

And the Focus certainly doesn’t fade when it comes to handling either. Its high-strength, ultra rigid chassis and body rides on an independent MacPherson strut-coil spring suspension up front, and a compact, independent multi-link “Control Blade” setup at the rear. 15-inch tires are standard on all models.

Control blade allows a bit of passive rear steering. That makes for pure fun when romping through a slalom. The rack and pinion steering not only is weighted just right, it’s precise too. Plus, there is just enough safe under steer dialed in to keep the rear firmly planted when you want to push a Focus a little too hard.

Also dialed right in to the consumer and the competition are Focus prices. The 3-door starts at just $12,280. 4-door LX sedans at $12,540, with the upgraded SE sedan bringing $13,980. The SE wagon will fetch $15,795, and the ZTS sedan, like the one we tested, is $15,580.

Armed with pocketbook numbers like those, plus its stand-out-in-a-crowd styling, huge interior, and impressive handling and braking performances, Ford is hoping buyers of all ages will agree that when it comes to small car value, no matter how crowded the marketplace, for year 2000, there isn’t anything else to “Focus” on.


  • Engine: 2.0 Liter Zetec Dohc 16-valve 4-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 130
  • Torque: 135 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 9.3 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 17.2 Seconds @ 82 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 115