We bought the Escort Wagon in June of '97. Only one visit to the shop since then for a mechanical problem, and that was to replace a failed emission control part (after 3-year/36,000 mile warranty expired, of course - our cost was $175.00). During a brake job at 43,000 or so we had to replace the front rotors - they were too thin to turn. The car is fun to drive, but not exceptionally quiet. The stereo AM-FM cassette is pretty good, and the options available are great. Our Escort is loaded - every option but a CD player. I use the cruise control daily!
Options available; seat belts easily fit heavier people without the need for seat belt extenders like many cars require.
Since the Escort is being phased out, there isn't much room for improvement. Still, this car would have benefitted from a quieter engine - the 110 HP four is pretty vocal when pushed!