Used 2003 Ford Escort Coupe

2003 Ford Escort
List price range
2003 Ford Escort

Pros

  • Affordable price, standard 130-horsepower engine.

Cons

  • Superior Ford Focus ZX3 competes in the same showroom, lack of cabin space, uncomfortable seats.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

We're surprised the ZX2 Coupe has lasted this long. It's not a terrible car, but the Focus ZX3 is so much better that we wonder what the point of this Escort-based econocoupe is.

vehicle overview

The Ford Escort ZX2 Coupe must feel like middle management. It has some decent skills to offer, but it's getting old and definitely feeling the heat from younger and more dynamic members of the team.

The younger and more dynamic teammate would be Ford's Focus ZX3. Both the Escort ZX2 and the Focus ZX3 are aimed at attracting young buyers through a combination of an affordable price, unique styling, versatility and a fun-to-drive nature.

The ZX2 has been around since 1998 as the coupe version of the Escort Sedan. It shares the same basic front-drive platform and suspension components with the Escort Sedan (which is no longer available). The ZX2 has its own unique body panels, however, and its styling could be an attribute to some people, especially those who dislike the sharp-angled Focus, which might explain the ZX2's longevity. But allow us to be frank: The Focus is a much better car.

We see little reason to buy a ZX2 Coupe over a Focus. The ZX2's lower price might be attractive, but the difference isn't that great. All the while, the Focus has a roomier interior, better suspension and handling, and better crash-test scores. If the ZX2 were middle management, it would probably be fired by now.

2003 Ford Escort configurations

The two-door Escort ZX2 is available in three trim levels: standard, deluxe and premium. Standard on all ZX2s are foglamps, a cassette player and a rear spoiler. Deluxe versions add air conditioning, cruise control and a CD player, while the Premium package includes power windows and locks. Options include ABS and a sunroof.

2003 Highlights

The aged Escort receives a few changes this year. On the outside, there are stylistic changes to its front and rear fascias, including standard foglamps. Inside, new cloth spruces up the seats, and the standard model receives a cassette player. Fifteen-inch wheels are standard on all models, and two new colors make their debut. For 2003, Ford has renamed the options packages "deluxe" and "premium." The deluxe package gets you a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that tilts, cruise control and map lights as standard equipment. Premium models also get power windows, locks and remote keyless entry. Finally, the in-dash six-disc CD changer is no longer available.

Performance & mpg

The only engine available is Ford's 2.0-liter Zetec four-cylinder. This is the same engine that's used in the Focus ZX3, and it's rated at 130 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. The Zetec engine is competitive for this class, and its best attribute is a broad and usable power band. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional.

Safety

The ZX2 provides basic safety features like front airbags, glow-in-the-dark trunk release and seatbelt pre-tensioners, with ABS as optional equipment. It lacks modern advancements like traction or stability control and side airbags. NHTSA frontal crash testing hasn't been performed on the two-door, though the no-longer-available four-door earned three stars for driver and front-passenger safety. Rear passengers in a side impact may fare well with a score of four stars, but the ZX2 earned just a single star in side-impact testing for front passengers.

Driving

Understeer is the predominant handling trait of the aged ZX2. We do like the Zetec engine and the sufficient thrust that it provides. The manual's shifter is rather floppy and has long throws, but it's clearly the better choice for a more sporting drive.

Interior

Inside, the ZX2 has a swoopy (some would say overwrought) instrument panel that blends into the door panels. Both front and rear interior room is good for this class, though the Focus has even more. The same goes for trunk space. The ZX2 will hold 11.8 cubic feet of cargo, while the Focus can manage 18.5 cubic feet. As with most small cars, the ZX2's split rear seatbacks can be flipped forward to make extra space for longer items.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Ford Escort.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

practical sports car
crash86,11/17/2004
i purchased this car for $6500 with around 23000 miles, 5speed, the whole package. accelerates and turns very well. a lil rough but it's a small car so no surprise there.
Domestic Sleeper
Kenniff,04/05/2010
It's always fun watching imports pull up, and not only find out they are slower, but don't get better mpg. I can fit 3 people and luggage for a week in it and still get 35 mpg hwy. New fascia reduces cute factor, and increases enthusiast curiosity. Have aftermarket tires, rims, muffler, air intake, etc. and I never think its a rocket, nor can I hear it 3 towns away. Sure, larger people will want to avoid driving, but were not all lineman here! Although the car was well worth the 11 large, kind of wish I didn't have to install an armrest. Nonetheless, this car has more range than one might expect, as I can drive from Tampa to Miami, and still drive around the city; Fords the best US maker
A great little car
mark_s3,04/30/2011
Bought this car new (13 miles) and drove it 143,000+ miles. I love this car. Got standard transmision that makes it even more fun to drive. Vibrations from the motor can be rough in idle, but it's not too bad. Gets 34 MPG in stop and go traffic. Very comfortable inside and sporty outside. Never had a machanical problem with it, and it's been very dependable. The ride is very smooth even after all those miles. Plan to drive it until the wheels fall off! It is MY car! **Sorry for any misspellings**
Approaching 100k and Near End of Life
Paul Gyergyek,08/13/2015
I bought this car in Dec 2011 (w/ only 72.8k miles on it) for my son in college. Almost 4 years and 25.5k miles later, I learned a valuable lesson in used-car buying: a older, low-mileage car is not always a good deal. It cost a ton to maintain this car - I think I've replaced everything once, some things twice (front brakes, portions of exhaust system). The upstate NY winters (no car washing = lots of rust damage) & rough roads have aged this car tremendously. However, lots of items that shouldn't have failed, did - CD player (it won't play ANY CDs), speedo, odometer, blower motor resistor. My son's hard driving, especially on some bad country roads, and not taking good care of it was a major contributing factor to its rapid decline. However, honestly, I think the previous owner simply sold this car at the right time. Best Features: The gas mileage is fantastic! 32-36 MPG on most of my trips. I own an '07 Mustang GT, and this car, though it doesn't compare, is still fun to drive. Even though the '03 Foci I owned were better-built and performing cars, I prefer the ZX2 styling. Pretty roomy for me, a 250 lb guy. Stereo system sounds OK, for a lower-end vehicle. My son didn't care for A/C (which is good, 'cause it broke in 2014), but he loved driving with the moonroof wide open. Worst Features: Auto tranny downshifts very hard & violently into 1st gear when you stomp on the gas - but the car does move fairly quickly. In the northern rust belt, this car abhors water (and the damage it does) more than the Wicked Witch of the West. Definitely needs a driver's arm rest. I highly recommend snow tires for winter driving - it's snow/ice traction is poor. Update: Took the vehicle to the auto graveyard day after Thanksgiving 2015, with just under 100k on it. The tranny was leaking oil when driven in Reverse, and it just wasn't worth fixing. RIP.
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Features & Specs

MPG
23 city / 30 hwy
Seats 4
5-speed manual
Gas
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
23 city / 30 hwy
Seats 4
5-speed manual
Gas
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
23 city / 30 hwy
Seats 4
5-speed manual
Gas
130 hp @ 5300 rpm
See all Used 2003 Ford Escort Coupe features & specs
More about the 2003 Ford Escort
Used 2003 Ford Escort Coupe Overview

The Used 2003 Ford Escort Coupe is offered in the following styles: ZX2 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M), ZX2 Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M), and ZX2 Deluxe 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Ford Escort Coupe?

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Find a used Ford Escort for sale - 2 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $23,976.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 3 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $18,993.

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Should I lease or buy a 2003 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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