What's New for 2000
The 2000 Escort line has been simplified. The station wagon is discontinued, and there is now only one trim level for the sedan and coupe models.
The Escort has been Ford's bread-and-butter car for over 15 years. Think of it as the car that brings consumers into the Ford family. The Escort's low price, decent reliability and above-average crash test scores have consistently offered recent college grads and young families an attractive set of American wheels.
For 2000, the Escort Wagon is no longer offered, so you're left with either the Escort Sedan or Escort ZX2 Coupe. In addition, there is now only one trim level offered.
Much of the optional equipment offered on the 1999 sedan is no longer available. This includes the Power, Comfort and Sport groups. An AM/FM stereo cassette is now standard, however, as is a rear window defroster and a remote trunk release. Like many other Ford products this year, the Escort gets Ford's Belt Minder system (to remind you to buckle up) and a glow-in-the-dark trunk release lever (for those all-too-frequent times when you trap yourself in the trunk).
The 2000 Escort ZX2 Coupe isn't quite as stripped as the sedan. In addition to the equipment listed above, the ZX2 also has standard power mirrors and the ability to be fitted with the optional Power and Comfort groups.
The Escort Sedan has a 2.0-liter, SOHC four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. It generates 114 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. These numbers are certainly decent, but we prefer the 2.0-liter DOHC engine found only in the Escort ZX2. The ZX2's engine makes 130 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Either of these engines can be equipped with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
Another bonus to the ZX2 is the optional S/R package. This package adds stiffer suspension parts, more horsepower, rear disc brakes, a stronger clutch, a short-throw manual-transmission shifter, upgraded seats and a unique tire/wheel package. Even if the performance upgrades didn't work (which they do), the S/R package would still almost be worth it for the seats and improved shifter.
Too bad the S/R package doesn't upgrade the rest of the Escort's interior, as well. We're not particularly fond of the regular seats or the overall ergonomic design. The radio is mounted too low and the cupholders are too small. Rear-seat room is good for this class, however. Both the sedan and coupe have a 60/40-split rear seat.
If you're looking for an inexpensive and competent vehicle, the Escort could be your car. Just don't set your expectations too high. The Dodge Neon, Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda Protege all eclipse the Escort in terms of refinement.