2003 Ford Escort Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Ford Escort Coupe


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Ford Escort Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 130 hp @ 5300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Ford Escort

  • We're surprised the ZX2 Coupe has lasted this long. It's not a terrible car, but the Focus ZX3 is so much better that we wonder what the point of this Escort-based econocoupe is.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Affordable price, standard 130-horsepower engine.

  • Cons

    Superior Ford Focus ZX3 competes in the same showroom, lack of cabin space, uncomfortable seats.

  • What's New for 2003

    The aged Escort receives a few changes this year. On the outside, there are stylistic changes to its front and rear fascias, including…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (54 total reviews)

A great little car

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Escort ZX2 Deluxe 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Bought this car new (13 miles) and drove it 143,000+ miles. I love this car. Got standard transmision that makes it even more fun to drive. Vibrations from the motor can be rough in idle, but it's not too bad. Gets 34 MPG in stop and go traffic. Very comfortable inside and sporty outside. Never had a machanical problem with it, and it's been very dependable. The ride is very smooth even after all those miles. Plan to drive it until the wheels fall off! It is MY car! **Sorry for any misspellings**

Great first car

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Escort ZX2 Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I drive on average 600 miles a week, so I've put this car through its paces. I love it. It gets great gas mileage, looks great, runs like a dream. Some people complain about the vibration or the engine volume; but I really don't notice it. My only complaints are that with a 2003 it's hard to find replacement parts if your girlfriend puts it in the ditch trying to drive in six inches of snow.

Good car

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Escort ZX2 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I just got this car as a graduation gift and it definitely was not my choice car, but anyways it drives really well and its fun to drive. It is as basic as a car can get, no power anything, no cruise control, etc. I feel like it will last me so many more years, i feel safe in this car. The only major complaint is how hard it vibrates the entire car when idling. So although it doesn't have a lot of fun gadgets, it's reliable and a good first car.

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Ford Escort Review

What's New for 2003

The aged Escort receives a few changes this year. On the outside, there are stylistic changes to its front and rear fascias, including standard foglamps. Inside, new cloth spruces up the seats, and the standard model receives a cassette player. Fifteen-inch wheels are standard on all models, and two new colors make their debut. For 2003, Ford has renamed the options packages "deluxe" and "premium." The deluxe package gets you a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that tilts, cruise control and map lights as standard equipment. Premium models also get power windows, locks and remote keyless entry. Finally, the in-dash six-disc CD changer is no longer available.


The Ford Escort ZX2 Coupe must feel like middle management. It has some decent skills to offer, but it's getting old and definitely feeling the heat from younger and more dynamic members of the team.

The younger and more dynamic teammate would be Ford's Focus ZX3. Both the Escort ZX2 and the Focus ZX3 are aimed at attracting young buyers through a combination of an affordable price, unique styling, versatility and a fun-to-drive nature.

The ZX2 has been around since 1998 as the coupe version of the Escort Sedan. It shares the same basic front-drive platform and suspension components with the Escort Sedan (which is no longer available). The ZX2 has its own unique body panels, however, and its styling could be an attribute to some people, especially those who dislike the sharp-angled Focus, which might explain the ZX2's longevity. But allow us to be frank: The Focus is a much better car.

We see little reason to buy a ZX2 Coupe over a Focus. The ZX2's lower price might be attractive, but the difference isn't that great. All the while, the Focus has a roomier interior, better suspension and handling, and better crash-test scores. If the ZX2 were middle management, it would probably be fired by now.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The two-door Escort ZX2 is available in three trim levels: standard, deluxe and premium. Standard on all ZX2s are foglamps, a cassette player and a rear spoiler. Deluxe versions add air conditioning, cruise control and a CD player, while the Premium package includes power windows and locks. Options include ABS and a sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

The only engine available is Ford's 2.0-liter Zetec four-cylinder. This is the same engine that's used in the Focus ZX3, and it's rated at 130 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. The Zetec engine is competitive for this class, and its best attribute is a broad and usable power band. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional.


The ZX2 provides basic safety features like front airbags, glow-in-the-dark trunk release and seatbelt pre-tensioners, with ABS as optional equipment. It lacks modern advancements like traction or stability control and side airbags. NHTSA frontal crash testing hasn't been performed on the two-door, though the no-longer-available four-door earned three stars for driver and front-passenger safety. Rear passengers in a side impact may fare well with a score of four stars, but the ZX2 earned just a single star in side-impact testing for front passengers.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the ZX2 has a swoopy (some would say overwrought) instrument panel that blends into the door panels. Both front and rear interior room is good for this class, though the Focus has even more. The same goes for trunk space. The ZX2 will hold 11.8 cubic feet of cargo, while the Focus can manage 18.5 cubic feet. As with most small cars, the ZX2's split rear seatbacks can be flipped forward to make extra space for longer items.

Driving Impressions

Understeer is the predominant handling trait of the aged ZX2. We do like the Zetec engine and the sufficient thrust that it provides. The manual's shifter is rather floppy and has long throws, but it's clearly the better choice for a more sporting drive.

Talk About The 2003 Escort