My family has owned this car since 1998. first my dad, then my sister. It has always been dependable, economic transportation. nothing fancy, but very good on gas, very easy to maintain and with few repairs over eighteen years.
I bought this 1998 Tracer Wagon new in 1998. It has been one of the most economical cars I have owned. It had a few items fixed under warranty. The only non warrantee items I have fixed are the PCV valve and hose, an alternator and some normal maintenance items such as plugs, shocks, tires 1 set of brakes. The car now has 180K miles and still runs strong. It burns no oil, and still has the original clutch. It never got less than 30 MPG, it would average 33 and occasionally would get 40 mpg if you drove a whole tank at 55 mph. I would still be driving the car but a large tree fell on it. I did jack the roof back up and put a back hatch on it and my daughter still drives it. The only complaint I had with it was the cabin noise was a little high, but not any more than any of the other cars in its price range. It was a great car and I was sad to see it go. I bought an 2006 Infiniti G35 to replace it and while it is a fine car, I have spent more on maintenance on it in one year that I did the 12 years I owned the Tracer.
I bought my Tracer used with 75k on the clock in excellent mechanical/physical condition confirmed by a trusted shop. By 96k the car was dead and I'm far from an aggressive driver nor do I abuse my vehicles. A/C went at 78k as did the Idle Air Valve, timing belt went at 83k, tie rods went at 94k etc! This was with me ensuring regular maintenance, oil/lube, tire rotations the whole lot. In the end what killed this car and my wallet along the way was build quality and bad engineering. The final nail in the coffin for this car was when it dropped a valve seat which apparently they like to do around 100k due to "an engineering defect". Thanks Ford this is now why I drive a Nissan! :-)
I didn't mind the cabin too much, engine wasn't too bad considering it was only 110hp. Auto transmission was sluggish at times getting up to speed with the A/C on. Turn off the A/C if you want more power lol
Hire engineers that can create an engine that wont die after 100k! This thing was near impossible to install a simple stereo in or change the busted factory speakers. Fix the stupid rough idle with these cars mine was rock solid at the start by the end I thought I was being shaken to death at idle!