Bought my SE in 1998 with 15K. Has not let me down once since I bought it. With only regular maintaince it has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. 27MPG in town, and a best of 34MPG on the highway cant be beat. Currently has 112,000 miles and still starts and drives like it did when I bought it. Ride is probably a little stiff to most people, but very well controlled and makes me want to take the curves and turns faster than I really need to. Excellent cornering manners. Very comfortable in town and downright perfect for road trips. Mine has the 2.0 Zetec engine and it delivers more than enough power for commuting, but could use a little more for driving in the mountains.
Looks great. Handles great. Better fuel mileage than anything else I have owned or driven. Interior is simple but has everything I need. Quiet during normal driving but the engine has a really nice muted growl when accelerating hard.
The cupholders are possibly the worst design ever. There is a factory updated design that works much better though. I-4 engine could use another 15-20 lbs torque and horsepower. But with the relaiblity of this engine Im not complaining. Nothing breaks on this car. Better than the Honda I had.