I love my Escort LX. I drive 80 mi. per day round trip and get 33mpg city. The car was given to me by a friend in 8-06. It sat for 9 mo. Before I put a new battery in it started it up. I've replaced the starter, tiresstruts, brakes recently the timing belt broke and I was told it was beyond repair because the camshaft was locked and possible piston and valve damage. It would cost more than the car was worth to repair. With nothing to lose, I managed to turn the camshaft backward and free it, put a new timing belt on and away we go. Runs like a champ. With gas prices rising every day (currently 3.60) my Escort is not for sale. It's a tough little car. With routine care it should run for ever.
Great gas mileage, low cost to operate, easy to park, parts are cheap, and tires last a long time.
Better heating system, deeper cup holders and more of them, better water drainage from the windshield away from windows.