I bought my Escort brand new and it has been an awesome basic car to have. It has only "dumped" me once, and it was my fault because I ignored the dying battery warning signs. I have the 5 spd and it never gets less than 34 MPG no matter what the conditions. It averages 36. Escorts will go forever with care, and I expect to see this one get 150,000 miles.
I have owned my ZX2 since 1999. At that time it had a lot of horsepower and equipment for a reasonable price. It has been a good investment. At six years, the car has is still running with its original factory-installed battery. I replaced the tires (because I did not bother to rotate the original ones properly), but have I not invested a dime in repairs. It has been very reliable car. Too bad Ford decided to discontinue it, Escorts in general seem to be reliable cars. I am glad I bought the car and when ready to purchase another car, I will consider another Ford car.
Decent horsepower and fuel economy. The stereo system is decent.
The front seats should slide out of the way to allow passengers to gain access to the back seat. The manual transmission is notchy.
This has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. The mileage has always been great and I have not had any major repairs that weren't covered by the warranty. Economical - Yes! Efficient - Yes! Would I buy it again? Yes!
I would have to say the radio and the cruise control.
Can't think of any except to make satellite radio a standard feature.