Bought mine used six years ago. In that time, I've put $700 in parts and labor in it. The parts are very cheap in cost, have never broke down on the side of the road. Tires are not real expensive and easy to find. Has a good survival rating in crashes, It's compact style, makes it easy to maneuver. Very durable car.
Bought it for 300 dollars, interior was immaculate, had just under 120k on it, someone forgot to replace the timing belt as scheduled, after looking in the cylinders with a horoscope I decided to try just a timing belt kit, new water pump (good logic to do both at the same time as the water pump is a pain in the a** if you don't do it without the motor elevated) and new idler and tensioner pulleys. After that half days work it busted right off and sounded like a pocket watch ever since, it has just under 240k on it now seeing as I drive 130 miles every day. The seats are comfortable enough if you're not a 6 foot 9 Leviathan like me. Surprised that it has legroom enough for me as well. The car is great for 1 or 2 people but if your back seat passengers are anything bigger than kids they're going to be quite cramped, that and the 130 horse 2.0 dohc motor begins to lug down, but come on, it's a 90s economy car what do you expect out of it. Now if it's just me by myself the car performs quite well surprisingly, the handling is very tight and responsive ( if you maintain the front end) it loves interstate driving though it doesn't really like anything above 80 for long distance driving, the ride is very firm but still comfortable enough, braking is very responsive even with the age of the car. The automatic transmission is not the best engineered piece of equipment though, around 150 K when I would turn into a parking lot or take off from a stoplight while still in 2nd gear it would begin gear hunting and jar your teeth when it would finally settle on one after about 3 seconds, I was fortunate enough to get ahold of a shift correction and clutch kit, after the rebuild I have had no problems whatsoever out of the trans other than having to change the fluid every 50k, although if you don't like a firm shift I'd go back to a factory rebuild, me personally it's pretty nice. Gas mileage in town stays pretty consistent at 27 for me, and on the interstate if you stay below 80 it actually gets 32. But other than the transmission issues and regular maintenance (which if you're not mechanically inclined I wouldn't do more than change the spark plugs and wires or change the oil and filters, save for the trans filter, seeing as there's a torque mount brace right under the trans pan.) I haven't really had any issues out of the car, I'd honestly have no problem jumping in it right now and tearing off to California and back to Texas. It is definitely a great car for someone looking for a cheap gas saver that won't leave them stranded as long as they take care of it. And I definitely plan on keeping this car until the aftermarket drops support for it seeing as it has served me well.
I owned a white 1999 Ford Escort LX back when I was in high school and my first year of college. I have to admit when growing up I always wanted a mustang GT as a first car since it was sporty and since my dad would only let me get a Ford since he works for a Ford dealership. When I heard I was going to the shop to check out my first car I had no clue what it was. When the shop door opened a brand new Saleen Mustang was sitting in the first stall I saw. I scream and ran to it but little did I know before my father corrected me that the Saleen was a customers car. My father pointed to the stall to the back of the shop and there was my escort. At first I was furious it wasn't a mustang but after driving it for a while I am so glad he got me that escort instead of a Mustang. It taught me how to be a better driver and not to mention it was a fun little car despite having a 2.0 SOHC engine. Unfortunately some things happened to my little escort and now I have a Ford Five Hundred. It would still be on the road if I wasn't acting like an idiot but I was going through a rough time in my life when that happened. I will say finding an engine for one that isn't over 100k miles is almost physically impossible. However I would buy this car again if given the chance in the near future to put up and take care of. I loved this car despite not having power windows, power locks, cd player, Bluetooth, or even navigation. I was very content with this car and if you are looking for a first car for your kids I would highly suggest this or a new focus not the first generation of the focus because those where terrible but this car is perfect.
I heard that the automatics can be not so reliable. I have the 5 speed and I love it. No major repairs in the 6 years I've had it. Got it used with about 80,000 miles on it and it's going to be hitting 200,000 this year. I fully expect to get 300,000 minimum. This car is amazing in the snow and overall handling.The dimensions or center of gravity must be just right because this this is a serious trooper. I Live in North East Pennsylvania, I've commuted to my job as a snow plow driver in snow nearly a foot deep to where the bumper was pushing snow. Rain, snow, ice whatever you throw at it as long as you know what you're doing it can handle it all.
We were the second owners of this car and it was good at first but after making numerous trips of over 500 miles the car did not prove to be reliable. We had many problems with the belt and brakes. It was very small for us. Once we stayed local and drove only 3 mile a day, we were ok and didn't have prolems, but it always felt like the car was in the shop.