2005 Focus vs older models

My parents are looking for a higher seating position car than their Camry. We looked at the Toyota Matrix and they liked it but also like my Focus. They drive a lot (35-40K/yr) and their Camry has been
unbelievably reliable and cheap to run. So we were leaning towards the Matrix but we drove a 2005 Focus wagon to compare. As we like my 2001 ZX3 a lot, we were very let down. So much that was standard is now optional (on the ZX3 too). I would have to get the $500 sport package to get the alloys, tach, leather wheel, etc that I got with my base car. Maybe one can't even get the rear sway bar that I got standard. Add into this, the new blander/generic styling. I know it is subjective and some may like it better, but we didn't. It lost its unique style and blends in. Again, some may like this better. I also know that the recalls are over that the early models had. Mine has had no service needs so far. Just fluid and filter changes.
THe Focus may have ridden a bit better but they were quite close in overall performance...maybe the Matrix was smoother. It definitely was finished much better and felt more expensive. The main advantage of the Focus was the current $3,000 rebate...otherwise, the prices are close. The Matrix XR with a sunroof and most other power options is a bit over $17K. They got a Matrix XR for $15K with their Camry (242,000 miles).
Anyway, these are just my thoughts and I would like to hear yours. I am glad my ZX3 only has 60,000 miles and I do not have to look for a new car for myself for a while. I would consider a ZX3 and maybe if I add all I want, I would like it better (I'd miss my interior though). By the time I need to buy, I hope that the current European Focus was here. We need it NOW. Why do we (USA) always get/keep the older designs? My guess is that small cars are the norm in much of the rest to the world and Europe and you must have up to date/competitive designs to make it. Here the small cars are for a relatively few and the manufacturers CAFE numbers.
Gary
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Some comments: -You should also compare these 2 to a Mazda 3 Sport. -Even a fully loaded ZX5 or ZXW version of the Focus will be about $3k (US) cheaper. This is significant in a car in this price range. The Japanese makes dont discount much. The SES version has all the features you like. - The Matrix has significantly worse handling and poorer rear seat ride comfort than the Ford or Mazda - The Matrix will get significantly better fuel economy than the other two. (Work it out on an annual basis. Given your parents high mileage, this may offset the initial cost difference). - It sounds like resale value (Japanese better than Ford) is not a factor since they keep their cars a long time.
In summary, - if they want a sports car and dont care too much about the initial and fuel cost, go with the Mazda. - if they want a high quality, versatile vehicle and dont mind the ride and handling, the Matrix would still be good since I suspect the fuel savings would offset the intial cost difference. - if they want the best 'value' in a terrific handling /riding car (but with only avg fuel economy), the Focus ZX5 or wagon is a great deal in a now reliable car.
-Garyz
GM wrote:

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Good summary. Much as I like my Focus (here in Switzerland), I recommend the Matrix/Vibe twins to a lot of people, and if I were back in North America, this would be the car at the top of my list. The Focus is the better driver's car, but probably not profoundly so in everyday life, and the other pluses of the Toyota product make it a much more compelling buy.
The new Focus here is certainly nice, but I prefer my 2003 model.
Stephen
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Stephen F. wrote:

I have a 2004 ZX5 with the 2.3L engine, I drove a bunch of 2005 cars, Focus, Subaru, Mazda 3, Hyundai, and both Hondas.
The 2003/2004 Focus withe the 2.3L engines just gets up and walks all over them. I Paid 11,900 as a factory certified used car with the 6 year 75,000 mile warantee. Now if the dealer network wern't so bad.....
anyone no a good dealer in the New York Metro area?
jt
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We just traded in a 2000 LX on a 2005 SES. The 05 has about 20 more hp than the 00 and with the larger tires rides and handles much better.

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One thing I noticed is that adding packages to a less expensive model was WAYmore expensive than getting the better equiped model. The price difference between an SE and an SES is hundreds of dollars less than adding the appearance group and convienience groups to an SE
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