My wife had an accident with her 2000 Cavalier and we needed a car in a hurry. This is what we found. I had poor experiences with Ford in the eighties, but the car had the features, price, and storage for her needs. We have had the car for over 80,000 miles now (we bought it with 79,000) and I must say, this is the most reliable Ford I've ever owned, we've had very little repair work done. It handles nimbly for a wagon and accelerates well. My only gripes are very poor thigh support in the front seats (making drives longer than 90 minutes uncomfortable) and poor gas mileage for a 4-cylinder car (this car gets roughly 25-26 mpg in a 70/30 mix of city/highway driving).
Cabin heater is excellent. It feels sporty to drive even though it's a small wagon, both in handling and acceleration. Plenty of rear storage.
Adding a 5th gear to the automatic transmission would help gas mileage. Redesign of front bucket seats sorely needed for thigh support. 6-disc changer ate several discs; better to have single-disc CD/MP3 player. Moderate brake squeal even after a full brake job. Leather but no heated seats.
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