I bought my Esteem in 2000 used and have had literally no problems with it. Outside of the standard stuff (brakes, tires...etc) my Esteem has been the best. The key I find is to take proper care and do the oil changes regularly. I now have 130,000 miles on it with no sign of it giving up. It is great on gas but a little under powered with the 1.6L engine. A K&N air filter helps slightly with the power. The A/C is still working although I do re-charge it every year to lube the seals. After 6 years I am just starting to see slight signs of rust, which up here in Canada (we use salt on the roads in winter) is remarkable.
The fairly good cargo area. The back seat holds two baby seats and my 9 year old in the middle. (He prefers the van...lol)