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Matt715 01-20-2013 05:49 PM

Thinking of getting a Focus but have a few questions
Hi everyone,

About a month ago I picked up a 01 Escort to use as a commuter vehicle which I have gown to dislike rather quickly. I'm thinking of getting rid of it and trying a Focus.

A main reason why I don't like my Escort is that I'm 6'4" and the seats are just not built to fit a large person for a long period of time. Add to it that w/o tilt steering, the wheel sits in my lap which doesn't allow me to change positions at all.

I only have about $5,000 to spend so I will most likely be looking at older models. Was there any seating or major interior changes during the first 7 or so years of production?

I found what looks to be a clean '01 ZX3 5 speed with 40,000 miles on it. Are there any inherent problems to look for on this vehicle? This car doesn't appear to have tilt steering. How is the standard steering wheel height for people with long legs? I would just go and sit in it but it's about 2.5 hours away.

How about other years and models? Are there some that are better than others? I do know that I don't want a SPI powered Focus.

Would a 130,000 mi car be a safe buy or should I stay away from higher mileage vehicles?

Typically, how long are the auto and manual transmissions good for? How about clutch wear? I realize that there are a lot of variables due to driving styles and maintenance.

Since this is a commuter car for me, high fuel economy is a must. Are there certain models that get better fuel economy than others? How about auto vs manual? I drive 99% highway and tend to drive on the conservative side.

I would just go and check out some different models to see which ones I like the best but I have no inventory in my area. The oldest thing on the local lots is a '07 sedan.

Sorry for all the stupid questions but I hate making large uninformed purchases. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. [:)]

Red Jay 918 01-20-2013 06:48 PM

well if you don't want an SPI Focus then you're doing right as the ZX3 if i remember correctly came STANDARD w/ the Zetec engine. on the seating i say just find a ZX3 on a carlot & ask if you can sit in it. or hell maybe any Focus will work. and major interior changes in the 7 years... not much. 05-07 got a redesigned dash but i believe everything else was carried over from the 00-04 but i'm sure i'll be corrected if anything here is wrong!

whynotthinkwhynot 01-20-2013 07:02 PM

00 Focis have different TBs

02.5 and newer Focis with manual transmissions have different shifters.

03+ Focis with AT's have stronger transmissions than earlier models.

03-04 Focis might come with Duratec engines. Look for coil on plug ignition.

05 Focis have a body change, and an interior change.

06-07 Focis have different front suspensions than 00-05 models.

Matt715 01-20-2013 07:04 PM

There is a newer four door ZX3 with a leather interior on a lot close by. Are the leather seats the same as the cloth?

As for the Ztec engines, I have been looking for the 3 as the eighth character in the VIN number to figure out what engine is in the ones I have been eying up since most places/people don't show a pic of the engine and many list it incorrectly in the description.

Edit: Excellent info whynotthinkwhynot! Is the shifter a problem on the '02.5 and earlier manuals? How about the early autos? Are they prone to premature failure?

gondorian 01-20-2013 07:26 PM

The shifter base eventually breaks on the early models in many cases. I fixed mine up and it wasn't very hard. I made a thread on it. If I remember correctly the 2007 had different seats available but otherwise they should be the same.

FocusedSlayer 01-20-2013 07:28 PM

I'm 6' 2 and I don't have any problems with my 07 as far as getting in and out. Plenty of head room and plenty of leg room but I have the Sedan with a 2.0l Duratec in it. As far as seats there not very comfy on long rides but they have support where you need it.
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Matt715 01-21-2013 12:09 PM

Excellent info everyone. I'm going to go and kick some tires once the temps get above zero later this week.

Matt715 01-21-2013 02:41 PM

I went to town and sat in both a '06 sedan and a '04 hatchback. I fit really well in the sedan but not so much in the hatchback. There seemed to be less shoulder room and my left shoulder was hitting the pillar where the seat belt was pretty badly. This car had a leather interior so I don't know if there is a difference in seats with a cloth interior. I hate to take a day off of work, drive 5+ hours round trip only to sit in the car and find out in less than 30 seconds that it won't work for me. Any ideas?

crazy_urn 01-21-2013 03:06 PM

If your primary concern is gas milage, I would not totally dismiss the SPI. New they were rated better than the zetec or duratec (iirc). My 03 SPI still gets 30-33 mpg.

You do have to watch out for the valve seat issue, but it is not a bad motor. Mine has run strong for nearly 10 years and 115k miles with nothing more than standard maintenance and a new alternator.

as far as seating goes - I am 6'2, and was 240, i felt like I had a bit more room in the sedan than the hatch, but that was long time ago , so I may be mistaken.

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