1998 Ford Escort Review


Pros & Cons

  • Economical, reliable transportation in a package that is vastly improved over the previous model.
  • Poor resale value.
List Price Estimate
$367 - $866

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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 really put the Escort on the defensive. Why buy an 88-horsepower Escort LX, when the Dodge Neon offered 132 horsepower? Why get an Escort covered in poor-fitting plastic that is a bit too shiny, when the immensely refined Geo Prizm was available? Why get the noisy, vibrating Escort when the smooth quietness of a Honda Civic beckoned? Apparently enough people were asking these questions that the gang at the Blue Oval decided to update their entry-level offering.

In 1997, Ford updated their entry-level car by addressing three major areas. The first was 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 2.0-liter overhead-cam engine that produces 20 percent more horsepower and 14 percent more torque than the 1996 motor. 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 firmer 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 maturer chord, the new Escort has fewer cut-lines and a more polished demeanor than previous models. The obvious exception here is the Gen-X-directed ZX2 coupes, which are definitely not meant to attract a mature audience. 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 of updating the Escort.

1998 Highlights

Packages are reshuffled on Ford's entry-level cars. Available this year as sedans, wagons or stylish coupes, the Ford Escort now qualifies as a low emissions vehicle, thanks to the car's split-port induction 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Ford Escort.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Can't be killed
ZX2 Hot 2dr Coupe
This car is ridiculous. Got this in 11/01 used from some dude who wanted a car with cruise control. Had 56K miles on it, almost 8 years later I have 143K on it. No problems at all with this thing. Runs as smooth as it did the day i took it over. Oil is always clean, probably dont even have to get an oil change every 5k miles. I still have to replace the timing belt. The tie rods had to be occasionally replaced every now and then. But thats it. I wish this thing would die already so I can feel justifed to get a new car already!
I really love my Escort
LX 4dr Sedan
This is my second Escort. I purchased my first 98 escort new and drove it to well over 300k miles. It was sadly taken out by a tractor trailer while parked, but was still running strong. I am on my second 98 escort (took me months to find one) and it's also great. Purchased it with 108k and have taken it all over the country since. Just like my first escort, this one just keeps going and going. I like dependability and economy in my vehicles and this car serves them both up with a smile.
Fantastic City Car
ZX2 Cool 2dr Coupe
I've driven this car for the past 11 years and have had very few problems with it. It has enough power to be fun to drive, and to get you around slow trucks when you need to, while still getting good gas mileage. The best thing about it, though, is the amazing amount of cargo space for an economy coupe. Between the surprisingly roomy trunk, and the fold-down seats, you can actually haul quite a lot of stuff. I am regularly surprised at how much I can stuff into such a small car. On top of that, it's one of the best-looking cars in its class, (IMHO), it turns on a dime, and it fits in almost any parking space. The only thing it doesn't do well is snow. But then, what little car does?
SE 4dr Sedan
After having this car for a couple of years, we decided she deserved a name, Loretta. We bought her when she was already 12 years old but she only had 63,000 miles on her. Now she's got almost 150,000 and still going strong. The fuel pump has been replaced and a couple of other things, but she's never left me stranded. All of those were things that I needed to do, but she gave me the time to save the money and never quit on me. We love this car. She is now being passed down to my daughter who loves her just as much as I do.


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 1998 Ford Escort

Used 1998 Ford Escort Overview

The Used 1998 Ford Escort is offered in the following submodels: Escort Sedan, Escort Coupe, Escort Wagon. Available styles include ZX2 Hot 2dr Coupe, SE 4dr Sedan, ZX2 Cool 2dr Coupe, SE 4dr Wagon, and LX 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 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 1998 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) 1998 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 1998 Ford Escort.

Can't find a used 1998 Ford Escorts you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Escort for sale - 1 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $10,394.

Find a used Ford for sale - 6 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $25,296.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Escort for sale - 2 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $15,339.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 8 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $9,985.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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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Check out Ford Escort lease specials