By on March 15, 2011

Timothy writes:

I’m a recent convert from a jalopy-related website to TTAC, and couldn’t be happier. So my first time question for everyone…

I’ve got a 2001 Ford Focus ZX3, five speed with 2.0 DOHC engine. It’s got a little over 130k on it, I’ve owned it since new and paid it off many years ago. It’s starting to show it’s age (a rough idle we can’t seem to pin down, the rear bearings are making a lot of noise even though we just replaced them, and a lot of squeaks and rattles that annoy from time to time). I do love this car, and when I’m on the open highway or zipping around an on-ramp, I’m reminded why I love it. My wife also loves it, and it’s been a part of my life for ten years. Yes, I’m a sentimental fool.

So what to do? We’ve come close to pulling the trigger on a used Altima with the six-speed (the only way I’ll have one) but now that most of the decent priced ones are out of warranty, I’m leery to get into another car that could be a money pit. A Juke is also a potential, but we have an ’04 Honda Element that gets poor MPG, so we need another high MPG vehicle for long slogs.

I’m a Ford man through and through (having owned an ’86 Escort, a ’95 Contour and my Focus) so I’m considering:

2011 Fiesta. I really like this car, great mileage, nice colors, but it’s small. I’m thinking that since they aren’t selling as well as Ford hoped, there might be some wiggle room on price, but I’m not holding my breath. My wife also loves the Fiesta (but the Element is her car, this would be mine) I’m almost 34, and to be honest, I want something a bit larger and more ‘adult’. That brings me to the…

2011 Focus. This car looks really awesome, even if I do have to get the five-door if I want a hatch. But seriously? Why on earth would you price the hatch way more than the sedan (and let’s not talk about how much it costs to get cruise-control…). Of course, you can price a Fiesta right into Focus territory…

I’ve considered a lot of other vehicles, (Fit, Sentra FE+, Civic, Fusion) but I keep coming back to these two. If you couldn’t tell, having a shift-it yourself is a priority. So what should I do? Dump more money into the ’01 Focus to keep it running indefinitely, the ’11 Fiesta or ’11 Focus?

Sajeev answers:

I get you, which makes my job easy.  Born and raised a Lincoln-Mercury man, my life being a screwball Ford hot-rodder ended with the demise of the Mark VIII and the New Edge Cougar.  Yeah, the Jag-based Lincoln LS never shook my etch-a-sketch…but once again I digress…

Forget the Fiesta, for reasons I’ve mentioned before: it’s gonna slide into irrelevancy as Ford scales up production (and incentives) of the Focus. Putting two small Ford products in the same “space” is just as shortsided as splitting the original Taurus’ market with two platforms: the Mazda-Fusion and the Volvo-Five Hundred/Taurus.  With size and fuel economy figures in mind, the Focus is a better car for the vast majority of Americans.

Question is, do you keep the current Focus while waiting for the first wave of incentives on the 2011 (now 2012) model, or “make do” with a lame-duck Focus with a few bolt-ons (better dampers, ECU re-flash) and save many, many thousands in the process. While the upcoming model looks fantastic in the flesh, consider your other needs: kids, wife, house, college, etc.  Sometimes having a new kitchen is far better than any “latest and greatest” Ford product from Europe. No matter how awesome it might be.

While the current Focus sucks by fanboi standards, it’s hard to say no to a perfectly decent, nicely loaded, 1-3 year old Focus SES or SE Deluxe for $9-13k via Autotrader. Think about the big picture, and then pull the trigger when the deal is right.

Steve writes:

This is a hard one. As much as I endorse the ‘keeper’ philosophy, the Focus was an especially trying model during it’s early years. The 2000 models set a record for recalls and the 2001’s weren’t that much better. The idle/shaking/squeezing issues of these Focii are as prevalent as kudzu at the wholesale level. I tend to avoid early Focus models due to these chronic headaches and repairs.

I’m glad you’re a fan of the current model. As a final year model you would usually have the advantage of the highest quality for the model run and an incentive driven new car price. But not these days. I just don’t see Ford discounting this model much and at nearly 20k new and well equipped, there are better options out there.

I would look at a variety of two to three year old compacts and mid-sized vehicles. Not just the Focus. Get one on eBay with good miles or go local with a private owner. A CPO warranty is not a good investment in this range and you do want to know the car’s history. I would simply drive in a few different vehicles and then use the internet to help you narrow your choices. Get… the… car…. inspected…

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected], and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.In a rush?  Don’t be shy about asking to cut in line.

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70 Comments on “New or Used: Ford Fanboi Losing Focus?...”


  • avatar
    banjopanther

    I’m in the same boat, 2001 Focus ZX3 102K with a few minor mods, short shifter, cold air intake, suspension kit (stock now due to a very rough driveway), telescoping steering column installed from another focus. and I love it. I had the recalls too but, (after 3 stuck ignition switches that stranded me), it’s been great since then. However, it’s got the shakes, is this just the engine mounts? The new mustangs look good, but so does a kitchen and bathroom remodel…

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      I managed to dodge the ignition key issue, just had the gas tank problem (straps rubbing a whole in the top of the fiberglass tank) and since I bought the car in MA but registered it in FL for the first five years, they wouldn’t do the free replacement on the rear bearings like they were supposed to in NE states…

  • avatar
    segfault

    Finding a used anything with a manual will be difficult.  Ford’s option packages/pricing to get cruise control is pretty ridiculous, and their website doesn’t do a good job of listing standard features and options on their vehicles.  I would go so far as to say that they have the worst website of any car manufacturer in terms of being able to look up vehicle specifications and options.
     
    As far as the car goes, you could always get a new Focus or Fiesta without cruise control and add aftermarket cruise once it’s available.  With modern, electronically controlled throttles, this is less of a kludge than it used to be.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I would look at a variety of two to three year old compacts and mid-sized vehicles. Not just the Focus. Get one on eBay with good miles or go local with a private owner. A CPO warranty is not a good investment in this range

    What private owner sells a just out of warranty 3-yo vehicle unless he knows it’s a POS?

    • 0 avatar

      Anyone who wants to upgrade because they have more money, or take the bus because they have less.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Not everyone understands how money works.  Many people want a new car every 2 or 3 years.  You can find very good deals in the used car market on quality cars.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Yep, maybe they ran out of money, or had a baby, or the lease is up. Or, in my case, they were driving a Passat. :(

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Many people want a new car every 2 or 3 years.

      If that’s the case it would be cheaper to lease.

      I’d tend to think most people selling after 3 years (private party) would be those like Glsippy, who know better than to keep the car any longer.  Your theory that CPO is a waste when you’re spending +$10k on someone else’s problems seems a little dubious.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I can attest that there are many people who trade cars for strange reasons even when it isn’t in their best financial interests to do so.
       
      One of my personal favorites was a lady who traded in a ’11 Mustang two weeks after she bought it because she got tired of the color.
       
      We’ve had people panicking over gas prices already trading trucks, SUVs, and V8 cars with low mileage that are only a couple of years old for new 4 cylinder vehicles.
       
      Add in unexpected changes in jobs that might require a different vehicle, changes in family status as mentioned above, and a whole host of other reasons, someone who bought a car thinking they might keep it for five years or longer might decide to jump ship after only two or three years.

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      I traded my 2007 Cobalt after 33 months of ownership because it was a POS and the factory warranty was about to expire.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Nullo,
       
      Then how do you determine the true reason for the sale?  No private party seller (I assume) is going to tell you that the reason he’s selling is because it’s a total POS.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      jmo –
       
      True enough, so if you buy private party, you need to Carfax or Autocheck it to see if it has been in a major wreck, flooded, etc, then take it to a mechanic you trust to give it thorough inspection.
       
      There is a slim chance that a car that looks fine might have some sort of intermittent lemony type of problem, but any time you buy used, you take a certain risk, and true lemons with undectable constantly breaking bits are pretty rare these days.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      then take it to a mechanic you trust to give it thorough inspection.

      But, as I’m sure you agree, many issues can’t be detected just by looking.  If they were offering huge discounts on 3 year old cars, I’d say you’re right.  But, with the prices they are asking it just doesn’t make sense to take that risk. (In my opinion)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What private owner sells a just out of warranty 3-yo vehicle unless he knows it’s a POS?
       
      Well, if you are shopping for something like a Grand Marquis, Lucerne, or Avalon there is a good chance the owner became physically unable to drive or died.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m selling a 2yo absolutely mint condition Saab 9-3 Combi because I decided I wanted a BMW 328i Wagon while I can still get one. BMW has announced that ’11 is it for the wagons in the US. I would have prefered to keep the Saab a few more years, but oh well, I can afford it. At $16K or so it will be a heck of a deal for someone. Lots of warranty left too, not that I have needed it.

      I do agree with jmo that an extended warranty is generally a waste of money.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I do agree with jmo that an extended warranty is generally a waste of money.

      Except for laptops.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      jmo
      March 15th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      I do agree with jmo that an extended warranty is generally a waste of money.

      Except for laptops.
      I’d say it depends on the situation when it comes to cars.  On a new car, I probably wouldn’t go for it, if I didn’t trust the car to be a reliable model, I wouldn’t buy the car.  On a used car where you don’t know exactly how the previous owner has maintained it, it can make sense depending on the pricing.
       
      When I purchased my current vehicle, there was 1 month remaining on the factory warranty.  I financed the vehicle through my credit union, and they offered a warranty that would cover it for four years and an additional 40,000 miles (which works for me, as I don’t put a lot of miles on my car) bumper to bumper, no deductible, for about $800, which given the price I was paying for the car made sense to me.
      I fully expect the car to last, but not having to second guess every occasional odd noise or hard shift as an eminent failure and possible cost of thousands helps keep me sane.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I think that the OP meant to say ’12 Focus, since he’s talking about a 5 door.
     
    So my answer is, unless money is tight, buy a new ’12 Focus. Everyone who has driven one raves about it. You will have to contend with the ‘new car’ bugs, but then that’s why you have a warranty.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    2011 Elantra, 6-spd MT with the stuff, $16895, 10/100 warranty, more space than a Fiesta.  Time to convert.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Get a 2012 Focus but don’t be in a hurry.  Unless the current Focus blows up tomorrow, you’ve got time to wait.  Maybe you’ll even get the dealer to drop the price enough to negate any price difference between the sedan and 5-door.  Plus if you must have a real honest to god manual trans the likely your Focus isn’t going to be that price.  I’ve built and priced one online and IMHO the Focus is pretty well equipped even when ordering almost no options.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “I’ve built and priced one online and IMHO the Focus is pretty well equipped even when ordering almost no options.”   Oh-oh, Dan! Do I detect a hatchback in your future instead of the Flex?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Flex for my lady.  I haven’t said what I’ll be driving.  Daddy needs to commute farther and faster.  (My lady doesn’t care as long as I’m willing to swap keys if necessary to switch on and off on droping any future children off at daycare.) 

  • avatar
    anchke

    >>>Sometimes having a new kitchen is far better than any “latest and greatest” Ford product from Europe. No matter how awesome it might be.<<<

    But not in this RE market, unless you enjoy going from upside down to  r e a l l y  upside down. Good time to seek out a great price, zero financing deal on an EOY Focus.  Forget about everything except utility and cost.

    • 0 avatar

      Many parts of the country didn’t see a crash in Real Estate, just a slight slowing of appreciation, but little or no depreciation.  New England was especially fortunate in these regards.  So that kitchen could still make a lot of sense if your not planning to sell. The cabinet makers don’t have a lot of work, so prices are lower and schedules are more free.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The hatch doesn’t come in the base S trim level, and the difference between the SE Sedan and the SE Hatch is only about $800.
     
    From the SE hatch, the 201A package which includes cruise, map lights, and an alarm is only $395, that’s less that it would cost to add cruise aftermarket with installation.  If you are buying new though, I’d go all the way to the 203A package that gives you the cruise plus Sync, Sirius, and some other nice convenience stuff that will make the care more enjoyable to live with and help you with resale down the road.  Go ahead and add the SE sport package to give yourself the alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, upgraded seats, and leather wrapped wheel for $695 and you are looking at at a sticker of $20,680.  There will probably be a $500 rebate at launch (there usually is something) and if you’ve owned a bunch of Fords in the past, you might qualify for some private offers that would give you some extra savings.  If you get something in the mail from Ford (from Ford corporate, not the dealer) that looks like a certificate for money off – keep it, those aren’t just marketing, those are real extra rebates that are only sent to certain people.
     
    As far as the Fiesta goes, sales have been picking up rapidly due to the gas prices rising.  The last time I’ve sold as many Fiestas as I have this month is when the car first launched.  The Fiesta does have a very nice lease program, so it might be worthwhile for you to take a two year lease on one for only a couple hundred per month to wait for the Focus ST to come out or to wait for incentives to increase on the new Focus in general.  Ford almost always has extra rebates for those coming out of Ford/Lincoln leases good towards the purchase or lease of a new FoMoCo vehicle, so even though you would be effectively adding an extra couple years worth of payments, a few of those would get erased at the end due to the extra discounts you’d get.  As far as buying a Fiesta outright right now, the dealer will be limited in what they can do.  The rebate on the Fiesta is only $500, and there is very little mark up on those cars to play with.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I agree that buying ye olde Focus now is probably a bad move. If I’m not mistaken the US Focus that has been on sale until the new ’12 Focus is essentially still the same car as the one you’re driving now (sure, heavily upgraded, but it’s an old design). In a year or two, ’12 Foci are going to be trading for the price you’re paying for a mildly used old one now and you’ll be kicking yourself in the head like those people who still buy a new iPhone in May.

    On a side note; I remember the first gen Focus you’re driving right now actually had a very good TueV rating when it was launched. They made quite a big deal about it since it beat out the Toyondaru’s that had had a lock on the first places. Don’t know how it differs exactly from the US model though…I suppose they’re manufactured in other factories and incorporates components from different suppliers.

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    Given your very good habit of keeping cars for a while (’86, ’95, ’01, ’12?) I say you’ve got no problem buying the new ’12 focus, if you pay $20K and keep it 10yrs you’re paying $2,000 per year (~167 per month) not counting resale in 10 yrs and maintenance.  I see nothing wrong with this outcome.  It’s not a lot more expensive than buying (as Sajeev suggests) the $12K last model focus 3 yrs used and keeping for 7 yrs (comes to ~143 per month, not including resale and maintenance).  Not to mention that then you have to drive around in the old model watching all the other “better” focii drive around.  Screw that!

    If you’re particularly frugal or need to be, hold the current ride for 1 yr and buy a 1 yr used focus at a decent discount.  Problem is, I’m not sure these will depreciate enough to make it worth it.  My call:  buy the new one and enjoy it for the next decade.    

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      I’m tending to agree with you…we just replaced the timing belt on the ’01, and I if I can get the rear-end to behave, I wouldn’t mind driving it for another year. Heck, I’m probably going to keep it as a winter beater after that.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I agree, a new car spec’d the way you want it that you’ll be happy with for 10 years is a better deal than a used car that you dump in three years because it’s not quite right.

  • avatar
    gtg645w

    My girlfriend has a 2001 ZTS with 67k that she got brand new for her 15th birthday.  She pre-ordered a 2012 focus titanium 4 weeks ago.  Got a great deal.  400 under invoice.  Our local dealer does $99 over invoice special orders and with the 500 off for preordering, it was a great deal.  She has been waiting for it since they came out in detroit over a year ago.  She was previously looking at the A3 but decided the focus had better technology and a far better price.  I like to say it is a focus in name only.  The only thing it doesn’t have on the Audi is power, which she doesn’t care about, and the shiny rings on the grill.

  • avatar
    rtfact32

    Thanks for all the great advice.
    Several things to note: I don’t want one of the ’11 Foci, as it doesn’t come with a hatch. Hands down, next to having a five-speed, it’s one area I don’t want to relent on. I sat in several Hyundai’s at a recent auto-show, and sadly, the interiors just let me down in a big way (being a Lego fanatic, I know the differences between plastics, and I don’t want to feel that cheap stuff in the Koreans for 10 years).
    We test drove a Fiesta last weekend, and I was generally impressed with the fit and finish, but it was a little snug (I’m 6’2). Let’s not even talk about the car salesman and how disgusted I was that I knew far, far more about the car than he did. C’mon Ford…let’s do better!
    We also test drove a Honda Fit…while it didn’t capture me like the Focus does, I was stunned at the value for the price. Cruise, hatch, USB input in the glove box…for $15k.
    There is only so long I can pawn off my Focus on my wife before she gets wise that I can’t stand to hear that noise from the rear end. I think in the end what I’ll do is keep the ’01 running until late this year…and see what happens.
    For the record, I’ve been very, very pleased with my Focus. The interior in the ZX3 is absolutely amazing, even after 10 years. The fit and finish is excellent, and the quality of the materials still stuns me. This is from a Ford Fanboy of course, and I’ve been in the sedans and other ZX3’s that have far inferior insides…but I do love my Focus.
    Thanks for all the great comments and thoughts!
     
    ~Timothy

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Let’s not even talk about the car salesman and how disgusted I was that I knew far, far more about the car than he did. C’mon Ford…let’s do better!

      Today, I went to both a car dealership and an Apple store.  It’s shocking how much better the customer service and product knowledge are at Apple.  You’d think when buying a product that costs 10x as much you’d get better service.  Nope….

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’ve always been very impressed with my experience at Apple stores.  Even compared to other electronics retail establishments, Apple seems to have its act together and runs a tight ship in their storefronts.
       
      Of course, most car buyers wouldn’t be happy with an Apple Store model for car sales if it came with the very high non negotiable prices that Apple Stores come with.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “But seriously? Why on earth would you price the hatch way more than the sedan”
      “it doesn’t come with a hatch. Hands down, next to having a five-speed, it’s one area I don’t want to relent on”

      You’ve answered your own question. Buyers in this segment (like you) value function over form. Smart mfrs (like Ford) recognize this and price accordingly. The only way to switch this equation is to move upmarket where the buyers favor form over function. However, the options are few, especially when a manual is desired.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Of course, most car buyers wouldn’t be happy with an Apple Store model for car sales if it came with the very high non negotiable prices that Apple Stores come with.

      But, imagine a car that came with Apple Care.  You bring your car in because sometimes one of the buttons doesn’t work and they gave a replacement, no questions asked.

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      If you don’t like the Koreans’ plastics, you definitely don’t want a current model Focus, and not just because there’s no hatch.  Decontenting really hit the Focus hard – the current ones’ interior is Walmart-grade crap compared to the first few years.

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      Where to start with “Karl”…
       
      Yes you can get cruise control with the five-speed (he didn’t even know the various trim levels, when I said Rapid Spec 201A to him his eyes glazed over). No it’s not “Built in America”. No it doesn’t get 45 miles per gallon. Yes this is the only five-speed four door hatch on your lot, or, for that matter, in all of Rhode Island. No I don’t want a ‘screaming deal’ on this silver Fiesta, I want a five-speed in blue with a hatch. Yes I know it has “Blue Tooth”…but do you know what that is?
       
      Let’s contrast that with the Honda salesman, “Bob”.
       
      You want to test drive a Fit? The five-speed base spec? I’ve got two on the lot. Let me get your license and I’ll bring it around. Five minutes later, car idling, “Can I tell you anything about the car? You’ve done your research? Great. Take it for a spin, 20 minutes, on the highway, wherever you want. I’ll be here when you get back.”
       
      Granted, these are one-time experiences, but driving away from the Honda dealership, I said to my wife, if I were to buy a Fit, I’d come back and talk to that guy. If I were to buy a Ford, I’d find the closest dealership with the product that I wanted and buy from whoever found me first.

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      @MoopyMop:
       
      That’s the same thing that happened with the Contour…they had to decontent the s**t out of it after ’95 so make the price comparable to whatever carpbox Chevy was putting out. Quite a shame, as the standard features were pretty nice for the model I had (I think it was a…GL maybe?).

    • 0 avatar

      Drop me a line via FB, not sure if this is OK to do on TTAC, and I apologize if it isn’t, but I have a low-mile 2000 ZX3 rear suspension that would likely fix your wheel bearing issues and I’m only 100 miles away.

    • 0 avatar
      ScottA

      Apple also has a gross margin % around 40 which is significantly higher than most companies in that industry because apple is also selling the experience ( I think normal is 20%. My numbers might be slightly off but my point isn’t). The luxury cars mark up is a better comparison to Apple. Lexus might be selling you a Camry with the L on it but it’s the dealer experience people pay more for. are also something

    • 0 avatar
      neevers1

      Our honda dealer is notoriously terrible, and the ford one is quite good. It’s not about ford or honda it’s about each dealer. Apple can keep all stores up to snuff because it owns those stores, where as car dealers are franchises.
       
      I’d get the new Focus.

  • avatar
    timothymcn

    Car Blog relationships aren’t exclusive. You <i>can</i> read both, but I totally understand if the recent redesign at said Jalopy related site turned what was an exciting and loving relationship into endless fighting over loading the dishwasher, or intrusive advertisements. I guess I still only frequent the site out of loyalty, an old-world belief that it’s “the right thing to do,” and the rare but passionate makeup sex.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    If going for a new Focus, I’d wait until next year until they get all the possible wrinkles straight. Prices also may be lower because all the gotta have it now people already bought theirs.
     
    After all, from what he said, the car is not falling apart now.
     
    Waiting until next year has other advantages. There should be a new Civic, maybe GM brings the Cruze hatch and other models may change. You might be able to buy the standard for excitement in driving, a brand new Whirlyota Kelvinatorolla.
     

  • avatar
    pourspeller

    If you can wait a year, I’d keep the current Focus and get a slightly used 2012 model in 12-18 months.
    If you can’t wait, try a gently used Mazda3. A fun-to-drive, reliable bet.

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      I’ve looked at Mazda3’s…and I’m shocked at the poor mileage (not to mention what the heck the Mazda2 is doing averaging only 33 MPG…that Mazda6 a few cars away can manage 32!).

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      The Mazda3 is definitely a fine car – basically the same platform as the new focus.  But you’re right, even with the 2.0L 5 speed fuel economy isn’t as good as it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      A gently used 3 may be very expensive. Maybe it’s just the dealer in my area, but they had a 2008 with the 2.3l with 85k on it and wanted $13k. Perhaps I’m a little off when it comes to shopping for cars, but 13k for a car with 85k miles seems very steep.

  • avatar
    hp12c

    Timothy how about an in-between solution, such as buying a 2003-04 Focus SVT 5-door hatch?  You’d spend less than half the price of the 2012 and could have a heck of lot of fun tweaking and modding while you figure out how bad you really want the new model.  SVT FTW!

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      Oh, I’d love a SVT…but if I were to take that route, I’d just work on my ZX3. At this point, I’m not so much as trying to get extra performance out of my car, rather, I need one that isn’t going to take me to the brink nickel-diming me to death. If I were closer to my parents house in upstate NY, that’s one thing (having a car lift, industrial grade air-compressor and everything else you’d need) sure makes replacing bits and pieces easy…but 6 hours away is a bit of a commute for that.

    • 0 avatar
      hp12c

      Yep that makes sense.  In that case the other posters have it right, keep your ride running for a year waiting for the kinks to get worked out and the prices to settle down a bit on the new model.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    If you absolutely must have a Ford, get the 2012 Focus. You might try the base Hyundai Sonata with a 6-speed manual. It’s about 20k, weighs only 100 lbs or so more than the Focus, but has 199 horsepower.  You might have an easier time finding a Chevrolet Cruze Eco  with a 6-speed manual.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It’s a shame the hatch version of the civic is not available because sedans are so impractical. I think the Fiesta would make a great commuter car but if longer trips with luggage happens often, then the Focus will do better. The hatchback will pay for its self there because they can swallow heaps more luggage.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    A paid off vehicle is tough to beat.  I would do this:  The next nice day you have, go out and detail the crap out of your Focus.  Make it pretty.  Maybe buy some new floor mats.  Then go for a drive.  While you’re driving it, think of all the good times.  Then try to imagine couging up the cash (or monthly payment) for a new one. 

    Your car isn’t that old, nor does it have that many miles.  In my world (I drive over 40K miles a year), 100K is hardly broken in.  If there is a rattle or a squeek–turn up the radio. 

    But get the bearings fixed.  Bad bearings can be dangerous.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    The Fiesta is advertised for 11k in Boston. As cheap elsewhere. This is almost no money. Are you sure its too small?

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    If you are considering the Ford Fiesta, why not consider the Mazda 2? It’s pretty similar, there’s a smaller price of entry but you can’t get as many features (leather, and such). Reviews so far seem to be positive.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Also 25 less hp IIRC, as long as that sort of thing is important to you.  Now imagine a Mazda 2 if Mazda would offer the full support of the Mazdaspeed Catalog to the little go cart!  Eat my dust Mini Cooper!

    • 0 avatar
      rtfact32

      Check out what kind of mileage the Mazda2 gets…or…doesn’t get…and you’ll understand why I’m not even considering. A car that small should get closer to 40 MPG than 30 MPG…

  • avatar
    chris8017

    With 0% APR, big incentives and high quality on new cars (and high resale prices on used vehicles) it makes sense IMHO to buy new if you are looking at a slightly used car (unless the resale is aweful i.e. the current generation focus).  I believe it makes even more sense if you are looking for a base model car with an MSRP around $20k. I think that if you are looking for bells and whistles used cars typically make more sense.

    My 2001 Saturn SL with 133k miles currently needs a new clutch, two front wheel bearings, new EVAP canister, timing chain rattle and a blown stereo speaker…not to mention rusting rear door sills.  I wanted to replace with a slightly used (2 year old) car with a MT and 4 cylinder.  However, finding used cars with a MT is very hard these days (unless it is a Subaru).  It was also hard to accept purchasing a slightly used car with 20k miles on it when the price was only a few grand less with a higher % APR (and being stuck with a slushbox transmission).  Dropping $18k on a car with 25k (potentially abused) miles is tough to swallow when you can buy brand new for a few bills more and not worry about other people’s issues….while getting the proper transmission and color you want. Configuring the car you will drive for 10+ years the way you want can’t be discounted in the decision factor.

    I recently purchased a 2011 Mazda6 i Sport with 6speed manual (Base model).  They were offering 0% APR too. Not the most “frugal” car imaginable…but it is practical enough while also being fun to drive. I also plan to drive this one into the ground like I have always done with my cars (new or used).

    If you keep your cars a long time (10+ years) I think the lost $ in resale doesn’t work out to be that bad as long as you maintain the car well and are happy with it.  When you trade every 3 years is when you lose the big $.  By keeping my Saturn for over 10 years, I was able to keep a lot of money in the bank so buying new wasn’t as big of a hit financially.

    Used cars with 100k miles go for $8000-$10000….ones with 150k are going for $4000-5000. That is just madness IMHO.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Strongly agree with this. The knee-jerk response to “buy a lightly used 1-2 year old car” isn’t automatically wise in all markets.
       
      With vehicles that don’t depreciate much (here it’s civics, corollas, golfs) you don’t save all that much once you replace tires and other wear items and consider lost years of warranty.
       
      High depreciation vehicles (German luxury) are another story.

      As a last point, if I have a choice of possessing a car in the first 100,000 miles of its life or the last 100,000 miles, I’m going to choose the former, Even if it costs me a few bucks more.

    • 0 avatar

      I see clean, nicely loaded current bodystyle Foci going for low teens, VERY low teens. If you can’t get a low APR from the dealer, join a credit union.  I am still certain that the good money for the OP is in a 1-3 year old Focus.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    The current Focus is merely a shell of the 2001 model, a complete rental grade penalty box.  I drove a loaded up one, with the cool Euro rally wheels and everything… still crap.  Dont bother.  He likes his Focus, the new Focus is a great car.  He doesnt even seem to really care about performance, so why wait for the ST?? It will be expensive.  I would recommend the Mazda3, or the GTI, or even a used Volvo C30, but mileage and/or reliability wont be there for any of those.  And he kept his car 10 yrs!  I say go for it, bite the bullet and buy the new car.  $20k is really not bad when spread over 5 yrs at a low interest rate.

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