The Auto Channel
By: Mike O'Neill | Ford Communications Network
DEARBORN, Mich. – Some of the biggest news about the 2004 Ford Focus is under its hood.
The available Duratec 23E 2.3-liter, inline dual-overhead cam engine helps Focus meet the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) standard and California's Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standard, which allows vehicles to emit only one pound of smog-forming pollution over 15,000 miles of driving.
That's good enough to earn the car a perfect "10" on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guide to Green Cars. Focus also has zero fuel system evaporative emissions.
"The Focus PZEV and the Duratec 23E are technological breakthroughs that deliver real-world environmental benefits without asking consumers to make a single compromise in performance, driving range, refinement or practicality," says John Sidelko, Focus chief engineer.
Delivering 144 horsepower and 149 foot-pounds of torque, the Focus PZEV engine originally was introduced in California, New York and Massachusetts to meet stringent emissions standards.
Now, all 2.3-liter 2004 Focus models are identical to the Focus PZEV. They share the same emissions hardware, fuel system components and powertrain calibration, though emissions vary slightly outside of California because of that state's unique fuel formulations.
"That's the first time such low-pollution cars have been sold nationwide," writes James R. Healey in USA Today.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the standard, five-speed manual transmission is 25 miles per gallon in the city circuit and 33 mpg on the highway. Equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission, Focus sees 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
The combination of low emissions and high performance, augmented by changes to the front suspension that improve ride quality, is drawing rave critiques for a vehicle already considered by many reviewers to be best-in-class when it comes to handling. Focus has been selected as one of Car and Driver magazine's 10 best cars four years in a row.
"Lovely steering – good feel, good straight-ahead accuracy – and a chassis that'll dance any step you wish through corners make the Focus a delight in otherwise dreary daily duty as well as on your favorite back road," says Healy. "The tidy handling demands no compromise in ride comfort, which is nice engineering magic."
It's got an appealing package, too.
"There's an available CD-MP3 player that's standard on most models," notes Brad Roney, Focus Marketing Manager. "In addition, the driver's seat is fully adjustable, height and front and back, and it comes with an available moon roof as an option on certain models."
Ford expects to sell more than 240,000 Focus models this year. That's an increase over last year, and the numbers may climb even higher when a redesigned 2005 model launches next spring. To be introduced in April, the 2005 Focus will have new front and rear styling, a completely new interior and new powertrain options.