Used 1997 Ford Escort Sedan

1997 Ford Escort
List price range
1997 Ford Escort


  • Attractive new design. Good cargo space. Zippy new engine makes driving this car fun.


  • Not much rear seat room.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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 1997 Ford Escort.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Wish Ford still made them!
Loving It Still,05/16/2010
I've driven BMW, MG, Healey, and the German-designed '97 Ford Escort is as much pleasure and fun as all of those. The car is an uber-reliable and sound vehicle if proper care and maintenance is taken and no stupid-loud stereos installed to shake it to bits. Most of the performance issues are readily deal with by installing sportier tires and with very few minor modifications, the sportier handling is that much more. This is an in-city sport-commuter crossover, not a sports car and not a luxury road boat, so don't bash it for not being what it wasn't designed to be or for user failure to maintain.
Bullet proof
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!
Just had to rebuff
I had to say something when I saw the posts bashing the sedan's performance. The Escort line has a long rally racing heritage and our other cars were BMW 3 and 5 series--there was practically no difference between them and our little Escort when it came to driving fun and handling. We're 12 years and 132,000 miles and the only repairs came from someone hitting us and two recalls that involved the air bags and seat belts. If Ford still made these, we'd be buying another one as an added vehicle, but sadly they want to focus on the Festiva instead.
First Car Is Always Best!!!
Got this as my first car. I purchased it with 81,000 miles and 6 years old for $1200!!! A steal!!! The only things it has ever needed is basic wear and tear items. 175,000 miles now and the water pump and timing are still original. Still run conventional oil with no leaks. AT does not slip and has no leaks as well! This has been my greatest purchase ever!! I wish Ford would make another one. I would buy another one in a heartbeat!!!
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Features & Specs

24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
110 hp @ 5000 rpm
24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
110 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1997 Ford Escort Sedan features & specs


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 Sedan Overview

The Used 1997 Ford Escort Sedan is offered in the following styles: 4dr Sedan, and LX 4dr Sedan.

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

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

Find a used Ford Escort for sale - 2 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $23,324.

Find a used Ford for sale - 5 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $23,767.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Escort for sale - 8 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $21,670.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 12 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $11,156.

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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.

Check out Ford lease specials
Check out Ford Escort lease specials