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Ford Focus Wagon (2001)

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 16,235
     Price As Tested                                    $ 17,795
     Engine Type              DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 121 cid/1988 cc
     Horsepower                                   130 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               127 @ 4250 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  103.0"/66.9"/168.1"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2757 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  13.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           195/60R15 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Front-engine/two-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Four-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                 75 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            25/31/29         

     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          18.5 seconds @ 96.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           105 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

Brendan - Ever since sport/utility vehicles and minivans have been battling it out for the title of "Favorite American Family Car," the old reliable station wagon of my childhood took what seemed to be a permanent back seat to these tall people-overs. The traditional Brady Bunch, gas-guzzling kid toters seemed to be history, replaced by eight seaters that require less frequent, but more expensive trips to the gas station. But now there's been a vehicular movement to a new breed of small wagons that are back on the market. They've brought back the idea that a family vehicle can handle like a small sedan and still haul the family to the beach in relative comfort. The new Ford Focus SE wagon is one of these. It's powered by a 2.0 liter, 130-hp engine with plenty of acceleration and enough room for almost everything.

Mikele - Being a small-car person, I found the Focus to be a great vehicle for doing my daily errands as well as being perfect for my commute to my far-away job. Being a dog-person too, I liked the roomy rear cargo space that held our dogs on our exercise trips to the park, and it had plenty of room for grocery hauling on the weekends. The fold-down rear seats produce even more room for hauling cargo, and its roof rack will provide the means to pick up our Christmas tree, although I don't think it was designed to carry stuff much heavier than that. Shopping at the mall went very smoothly, due in part to the tight turning circle of the Focus. It makes life easier when you're trying to squeeze into those ever-shrinking parking spaces. The more I drove the Focus wagon, the more I realized that while a small hatchback is "groovy" and cute, a little station wagon can haul some pretty big loads as well as being as "parkable" as my little two-door. The fuel mileage is an attractive plus for expanding families, too. I definitely would recommend this type of car to young families, both for roominess and safety. I felt sympathy for the drivers of those giant, four-wheel drive behemoths that seem to be becoming so popular with today's female drivers. They seem so difficult to maneuver around town.

Brendan - According to Ford's promotional literature that came with the car, we should feel safe in the Focus because of the dual airbags and front and rear energy absorbing crumple zones. Side air bags are an extra option and the more of those SUVs I see on the road, the more I think side-bags are a good idea, especially in a subcompact. The front doors are reinforced with cross beams for added protection and I like that too. There are five sets of shoulder and lap belts, and the fronts have adjustable upper anchors. The rear seat is OK for a couple of normal adults, but your father and I would have to be contortionists to get rear seat comfort. The rear cargo space fit my drum set nicely and while I don't do "gigs" anymore, it was easier to transport them locally in the back of the Focus wagon rather than your hatchback. The rear section has a pull-out cargo cover that hide stuff when we were out doing store-to-store shopping. Another neat feature is the detachable face radio that enabled us to take it along with us when we shopped in marginal places. A couple of drawbacks of our Focus was the lack of rear seat headrests and the manual seat adjuster on the driver's side is hard to reach. The rear seat tether points make it easy to hook up child seats, and thanks to my brother Matt's two daughters, we were able to do a reality check of this feature. Since they were born, the girls have become road test veterans.

Mikele - After watching you struggle with the girls' kicking feet, I see that you're going to need more practice, I hope. The Focus four-speed automatic shifted smoothly but the five-speed manual would be more fun. It really handled great in San Francisco traffic and it's agile enough to squirt through holes as they open up. It really was a joy to drive.

Brendan - I hope you had both hands on the wheel most of the time Mikele. I've always though that you'd make a great San Francisco rush-hour taxi driver.