1997 Ford Escort Review

Used Escort for sale
List Price Estimate:$360 - $851
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Ford Escort model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Attractive new design. Good cargo space. Zippy new engine makes driving this car fun.
  • Not much rear seat room.

Vehicle overview

The Escort has been Ford's bread-and-butter car for the last 14 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. Recently, however, a rash of excellent cars from Dodge, Honda and Geo has really put the Escort on the defensive. Why buy an 88-horsepower Escort LX, when the Dodge Neon is offering 132 horsepower? Why get an Escort covered in poor-fitting plastic that is a bit too shiny, when the immensely refined Geo Prizm is available? Why get the noisy, vibrating Escort when the smooth quietness of a Honda Civic beckons? Apparently enough people were asking these questions that the gang at the Blue Oval decided to update their entry-level offering. The Escort needed help in three major areas; the first is power. The old 1.9-liter four-banger just wasn't getting the job done against the newer cars. Heck, the lowly Hyundai Accent and Suzuki Esteem had more power available than the base 1996 Escort. To tackle this, Ford replaced the old powerplant with a 2-liter overhead-cam engine that produces 25 percent more horsepower and 14 percent more torque than last year's model. This difference in engines is most readily noticed under hard acceleration; what was once a noisy bumpy affair is now a smooth, quite one. Coupe versions of the Escort are available with an even more potent engine, a 2.0-liter ZETEC powerplant taken from the Contour. This engine provides 130 eager ponies and 127 foot-pounds of torque.Ford's second area of concern was with body stiffness and vibration. Previous Escorts are notoriously wiggly over rough surfaces. The Escort's tendency to shake, which leads to a lot of rattle-and-roll, can really punish passengers on long commutes. One-piece body construction, a cross-car beam and stiffer stabilizer bars solve this problem by radically improving the Escort's torsional stiffness.Fit and finish, the Escort's third problem area, are also refined by the one-piece body construction; windows and doors fit better and are less likely to let in the weather. The instrument panel, a long-standing sore spot among Escort owners, has been brought up to speed by the introduction of Ford's Integrated Control Panel, first seen on the 1996 Taurus. The ICP reduces dashboard clutter by combining the stereo and climate controls. The single-unit ICP is very easy to use and allows eyes-on-the-road operation of its systems. Further interior improvements include rear-seat heater ducts, an upgraded six-speaker audio system and nicer upholstery and dashboard materials.Of lesser importance, is the Escort's new sheetmetal. Striking a more mature chord, the new Escort has fewer cut-lines and a more polished demeanor than previous models. We find this ironic considering how much more fun the new one promises to be. In the end, we feel that Escort is a real winner; no more increased blood pressure when merging with freeway traffic, no more shaking like a willow when driving over uneven pavement. Ford has done a fine job bringing this car up-to-date. We expect to see quite a few of these new Escorts on the road.

1997 Highlights

The Ford Escort is totally redesigned this year with improvements across the board. The most noticeable improvements are in the powertrain and ride quality. New sheet metal gives the Escort a rounder, more aerodynamic appearance as well. The GT hatchback version is dropped.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Ford Escort.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
1997 Ford Escort station wagon
Fay Forto,09/13/2009
LX 4dr Wagon
It drives like new. I enjoy driving it and it is a great gas saver. I can drive all day long and it is fun to drive it. It takes 5 passengers including me the driver. It drives very smoothly. I can put groceries behind the back seat. I can also put things on top of the car. It is very useful to me. I love it because it gives the same comfort just like a mini van or SUV. It is very comfortable. It provides what I need in a car. I do not have to spend a whole lot of money buying an expensive car because this one provides me what I really needed in a car. I enjoy driving it and I want other car owners to know that it is not just foreign cars that saves me gas. I am happy with it.
4.75 out of 5 stars
300,000 kms and still going strong!
LX 4dr Wagon
Bought my Escort Wagon used and best money I've ever spent on a vehicle so far. Plenty of cargo space but small enough you can park anywhere. Put winter tires on it and is amazing around town; have passed half-tons stuck on the side of the road. Can even do some light off-roading. Easily put 2 kayaks on top and has enough clearance that you can get where you need to go. Little slow off the start but once its going has lots of pep. With regular maintenance its been very reliable and is still zooming along at 300K. And fuel mileage is awesome! Had a hatchback Escort before and wasn't too thrilled but the Wagon has really been impressive.
3 out of 5 stars
Ford escort 97 station
LX 4dr Wagon
I bought this car a year ago second hand. I needed a cheap car to get me to work and just prayed it would not die on me even though it had 220000 K's on it. It now has 310000 It still gets me from A to B fine. Ive had the problem that it sometimes refuses to go into first gear. This problem has something to do with the sync rings in the gearbox but the problem just seems to sort it's self out. Other then that I have not r had any problems with the car. It is quite sluggish compared with all of these modern cars here in Europe and the suspention is like spagetti in the corners, but hey it is no racing car.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Bullet proof
LX 4dr Sedan
I hope I don't jinx myself, but my Escort seems indestructible. I bought it with 72,000 miles and it just turned over 237000! It runs like a champ and gets 33-34mpg consistently. It still has the original clutch, struts, and even exhaust system! I would not hesitate to drive it cross-country. I typically change the oil at around 4K- 5K miles (most of my miles are pretty easy, few city miles) and it is never more than 1/2 quart low on oil. I love my Escort and will be very sad when I finally have to replace it. I'm shooting for 300,000 miles!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Ford Escort

Used 1997 Ford Escort Overview

The Used 1997 Ford Escort is offered in the following submodels: Escort Sedan, Escort Wagon. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan, 4dr Sedan, and LX 4dr Wagon. Pre-owned Ford Escort models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 110 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Ford Escort comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Ford Escort?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Ford Escorts are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Ford Escort for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Ford Escort.

Can't find a used 1997 Ford Escorts you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Escort for sale - 3 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $16,965.

Find a used Ford for sale - 10 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $22,048.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Escort for sale - 8 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $18,889.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 3 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $22,304.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Ford Escort?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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