Purchased this car at 30,000 miles. Has been very good to me, only minor repairs have been needed. Have owned this car for almost 10 years and I am very pleased, I now have close to 180,000 miles and this little Escort is still running strong.
Gas mileage, very reliable
More powerful 4 cylinder engine more interior room
I have a 2006 Grand Caravan SXT and a 2002 Eldorado ETC, but they simply don't compare to the 1997 Escort wagon. Shortly after I bought it the rear suspension began groaning over bumps. I never worried about it, but eventually it turned out to have broken rear springs -- relatively cheap to replace. Absolutely wonderful engine: I have the 2.0L SPI (split port injection) and it makes the correct amount of power. The chassis is still firm, steers straight, no squeaks, though it won't be long until the rust starts at this age. I'll just keep 'er going indefinitely as a winter-beater, top-notch reliability and ease of maintenance.
I love the wagon and the higher-end LS features combined with low-end simplicity and value. Excellent reliability with distributorless ignition, there's virtually nothing to do to tune it up besides screw in new plugs!
Timing belt is getting old and it's a tight pinch to get it out, but that's typical for this type of repair.
I really like my 1997 Escort. It has lots of power and I really like the handling on dirt and asphalt roads. My only complaint is that the back of the car is too light and it likes to slide when going through curves on dirt roads at high speeds. But I added weight and it is great now.
The engine power is the greatest
More horsepower and more weight in the back if the car. Other than that it is a great car.
I got this car after graduating college. Basically because I wanted an economical car that could move stuff. The Escort wagon seemed like the perfect choice. I was really impressed by how well it starts in cold weather conditions. With a new battery, it has started up great, even with a windchill of -30. The cold did take a toll on the interior, one of the rear locks (the thing that sicks up) snapped off. I guess it got really brittle in the cold. So be careful! It is a bit sluggish, but what can you expect from a basic economy car? It has delivered what I expected. So far, I cannot complain.
Gas mileage, roof rack, cargo room, maneuverability.
Cup holders, interior components, lower back support, noisy cabin.