Used 1998 Ford Escort Wagon

1998 Ford Escort
List price range


  • Economical, reliable transportation in a package that is vastly improved over the previous model.


  • Poor resale value.

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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.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Ford Escort.

escort 330 k miles
dan299, 5/30/2013
bought the car with 156000 miles about 6 years at 330;000 and still running good had to replace the clutch,,but u should expect that with that mileage...other than that just regular maintenance.......
98 wagon, 10/22/2015
Bought used in 1999 with 25,000 miles. Not a lot of power but fun to drive around town. Reliability has been better than average, interior and body/paint have held up well and average 30 - 32 mpg. A great second car and will keep it until it dies.
Great little hauler!
Byron, 8/13/2010
Bought this car new in 1998; wish I had bought two of them! Only major work in 12 years was replacing timing belt and rear brake lines. I put snow tires on their own rims on for 6 months of the year to help save original rims and tires (replaced twice). Live in New Hampshire, so a little rust has shown up around wheel wells. For less than $500 in body work, I'll have a car that should last for several more years. Gets mid 30's mpg on highway with manual transmission. Wish that Ford hadn't discontinued the Escort line. Will consider the Fiesta down the road for my next car, but am in no particular hurry.
Broke all the time
rose313, 8/23/2012
I bought this Escort, my first car, with 55k miles on it and drove it until the transmission went at 210k miles. Every month from the time I bought it, it was in the shop. I had to replace everything, some things twice, such as the muffler and exhaust. I replaced the e-brake, shocks, struts, fuel injection system, intake valve, just about everything in this car. I loved it because it was my first car and the fact that it was so roomy, I loved having so much space in the back. I used to see these on the road all the time, but now I hardly ever see one, I'm guessing it's because they all fell apart.
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Features & Specs

24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
110 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1998 Ford Escort Wagon features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 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 1998 Ford Escort
Used 1998 Ford Escort Wagon Overview

The Used 1998 Ford Escort Wagon is offered in the following styles: , and SE 4dr Wagon.

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