They are not good cars. And definitely DO NOT
get one older than 2002.
Frequent electrical issues such as the wiring in the hatchback, and the third brake light assembly likes to melt (also, the bulbs inside turn black and burst!). You can repair the wiring, and Dorman makes a good aftermarket brake light assembly.
Most of them have drum brakes in the rear, and the hub and wheel bearing is built into the drum. Wheel bearing issues are frequent, and only the OE bearings are worth using. And Ford stopped supplying the OE drum and bearing assembly! Bad bearings are so loud even turning up the stereo doesn't drown it out
The funny thing is that Ford still supplies the rear hub and bearing assembly for the cars with rear discs, even though they are much less common
The Mk1 Focus didn't come with a cabin filter from the factory, but the tray is there where the cabin filter goes (under the hood). It's kind of difficult to do with the slot under the windshield covers the filter halfway. And you'll probably break the cowl trim piece.
A lot of the switchgear likes to fall out as well. The hood release cable and a couple other things can fall on where the driver's feet go.
The transmission is shared with Mazda, but Ford left out the drain plug. You can get a pan with one from the Mazda dealer, or an aftermarket pan.
Also, both engines use a timing belt.
Coming from a CRV, or any Honda or Toyota, you will be disappointed. Ford is just not up to the level of Honda and Toyota. Get a Civic Si hatchback. The EP3 should be in your price range by now. Or any Civic or Corolla
Go with the DOHC, the SOHC drops valve seats. The ride and drivability of our 02 is the best in our fleet is the only reason I fixed it.
The Zetec has many problems of its own
Properly-made oil filters for the Zetec use an anti-siphon valve (does the same thing an ADBV does, but facing backwards). Fram, Wix, and Hastings make correct Zetec-spec filters.
The thermostat housing likes to explode every couple years, and coolant loss is quite common, too. And that's on top of the Zetec running hotter than most cars, and the fan kicks in later than you might be used to.