My family has owned this car since '97 and have had very few problems with it. We've had no major problems. The mileage is excellent, even after 11 years. I always get at least 22 mpg, and when I drive on the highway I get 35 mpg. For this class of car I can't think of anything that I don't like about the car. Everything is set up to be user friendly by the driver. Easily viewable gauges, plenty of trunk space. There's about twice as much trunk space as many other 2 door coupes. I've never been in an accident, so I don't know how the car handles in these situations (knock on wood).
Cruise control on an Escort is very nice on those long highway drives.
I think they've made a few since this car was released...well actually they stopped making this car...now the Focus.