Bought my '99 Escort with 24k on it, thinking it was a good buy. Less than a month later I had bad vibrations in the car during idle. Had to rip out and replace the motor mounts, a problem that I've read other people having online. Horrible console design, cup holders won't hold anything bigger than a 20 ounce cup. Bad acceleration and I'm already having transmission problems thanks to it. For some reason gas mileage plummets with city driving from 30-35 mpg to about 25 or so. I like small cars so this is actually a bit big for me; I'd have preferred a ZX2 if anything. Back seat has no room for comfort. My issues with the exterior looks were solved with a body kit. Speakers didn't even survive 2 months.
The only parts I like on this car didn't come on it. The most reliable car I've ever owned, but that definitely isn't saying much.
The gas mileage shouldn't drop that much from city to highway. Motor mounts seem to be a reoccurring problem with this car; look for bad vibrations in the console and steering wheel. Horrid acceleration, I've been out sped by minivans.