"I didn't pay much for this car and it gets consistently over 30 MPG mixed city/highway, usually 28 mpg or higher with no highway miles. Easy to drive, easy to park, high fun factor (I have the 5-speed manual, with spoiler, power sunroof). It's reliable and has never left me stranded, but over the years it's needed standard maintenance and repairs. Front wheel bearing went bad two or three times, and the rear brake has a tendency to get tight and need adjustment -- otherwise just normal maintenance (brakes, tires, exhaust, tuneup, oil changes, etc.). It's a great little car if you don't need luxury. The older it gets, the more squeeks and rattles it has, and the ride is somewhat noisy and rough (sporty). Two things that annoy me are 1) if the driver's window is down, water pours in from the roof (if it's wet from the rain) or when you use the windshield washers, and 2) the seats are uncomfortable (very bad lumbar support and no center armrest). I use a couple of pillows in the car: a small one for my lower back and bigger one stuffed between the seats to rest my elbow on. But other than those minor issues, I love the economy and fun factor of this car."
"Fun to drive, a "driver's car". Responsive, powerful acceleration, loud cabin noise from engine - deliberate design feature for sportiness. Economical to fix compared to imports and larger vehicles, as Ford is domestic and Escort a top selling car, so parts are reasonable and gettable. Punishing on long road trips - no lumbar support in bucket seats - at least I can't tell. A/C and heat powerful with strong blower. Has had numerous tie rod ends replaced, and twice have replaced struts and brake pads, in 13years. Very surefooted and stable in treacherous northern Ohio winters, if you get proper touring all season tires as your tire specialist advises. TigerPaws were atrocious - horrible hydroplaning and spinout effect accelerating from stops."
"I have had this car for 6 years. It was my very first car and I cannot imagine learning to drive without it. It is small and compact but it makes it great for turning sharply and fitting into small parking spaces. I did have trouble with my steering ty-rod (sp?) I saw another car the same as mine the other day and noticed the same thing hanging down as mine did when it went bad. I kind of wonder if there was a defect or something. So if you have this car, I would get that checked out."
Pros: "Low overall operating costs, roomy for compact."
Cons: "Low power. 14" wheels."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"A simple, low-powered basic transport, with reasonable handling, low operating costs (mileage mediocre, though, given the lack of power, apparently due to transmission limitations more than any other factor), very decent fit and finish for such a basic car. Decent accessibity and cargo capacity for such a small vehicle."
"I owned a '97 model for about a year and fell in love. I named him THE GREAT WHITE! It was my first Ford vehicle b/c I got a really good deal at an auction and couldn't afford to spend much; (said I would never drive a ford) and he was so reliable, dependable, great on gas, very comfortable for a sporty model and had awesome get-up-and-go! Believe me, I know what's comfortable and what isn't b/c I once owned an Audi A8 Quattro. I would get another if one came across ( I have to look for good deals because I don't have much money). I was so upset last week when the motor started knocking in him. The previous owners (unbeknownst to me) dogged him out and didn't take care of him. He gave it all he had for a year though, and didn't let me down one time!!! A HELPFUL HINT: if you want a car to last you MUST CHANGE THE OIL REGULARLY (every 3000 miles or less, depending on driving conditions) and perform ruetine maintainance: transmission drain and fill (never a flush on high-milage vehicles b/c it can stir up metal shavings in the bottom of the pan and ruin the tranny) tranny and fuel filter, tune-up every 30k to 40k depending on driving conditions and timing belt and drive belt replacements when worn (ask mechanic in reference to this). Also if you have fuel injection having the injectors cleaned every 20k can drastically inprove performance and gas milage, especially in high milage vehicles. I AM NOT A MECHANIC, BUT I HAVE READ ABOUT THIS IN CONSUMER MAGAZINES AND A LIST OF PREVENTATIVE MAINTAINANCE SUGGESTIONS at various auto part stores. I wish you the best and if you are thinking of buying one or any other car for that matter, it most important to ask for a CARFAX report and service records from the owner OR a dealer. TAKE CAR OF YOUR VEHICLE AND IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!"