Bought this car new in 1998; wish I had bought two of them! Only major work in 12 years was replacing timing belt and rear brake lines. I put snow tires on their own rims on for 6 months of the year to help save original rims and tires (replaced twice). Live in New Hampshire, so a little rust has shown up around wheel wells. For less than $500 in body work, I'll have a car that should last for several more years. Gets mid 30's mpg on highway with manual transmission. Wish that Ford hadn't discontinued the Escort line. Will consider the Fiesta down the road for my next car, but am in no particular hurry.
Comfort, solid ride quality, reliability, gas mileage, convenience of wagon for hauling light loads.
A little more pep, only because engine strains with air conditioning, but living in New Hampshire, it rarely gets turned on.