I purchased the car new on April Fool's day of 1996. It has been great with no major problems. I replaced the speedometer at 84,000 miles, a weak point with all Fords of this era; miles and timing belt, it will happen to all of them, at 100000+ miles. I replaced the ignition pack at 110,000. It will do 30+MPG on trips and 26 MPH town and country. With 113,000+ miles it still runs like new on original tune and spark plugs.
1) Gas mileage. 2) The 1.9L engine is a great improvement over the original 1.6 Escort engine of the early 80's. It should outlast the rest of the car by a long shot.
Ford should have made the a/c vents easier to adjust. The tiny handles are just too small. The speedometer needs better bearings for the needle to allow it operate properly for the life of the car.