I have had my 1989 Tempo AWD for a single year now. It has never had a problem. And I know the previous owners well, and they have never had any major problems either. It has always started for me, and its very reliable. I would go to say its the most reliable model made in the 1980's. I left it for eleven months. It sat untouched for that time. I went back to it, turned the key, started right away. Thats quality. Excellent first car and general daily driver. Fuel economy is average, reliability outstanding, durability outstanding, styling is good - average, power is slightly below average and quality is too great for words.
I bought one new in 1990 because it was cheap. Paint problems, interior problems, over-heating problem and several other nuisance items all in the first six months. Once went with my wife to pick it up at the dealership, cranked it and it sounded great. I was using the power control to adjust the mirrors and to my wife said "I think that they have it right now", just before the mirror on the passenger door fell out of its housing. After a year, I traded it in on a Geo Prizm that never gave us a problem.
My very first car was a 1990 Ford Tempo, It was the worst thing ever. The car broke down constintly and was always leaking something. It was bad in the summer because the a/c was broke, and Horrible for the winter because the car took half an hour to warm up and it had ZERO traction. One good thing about the car in the winter, it did not over heat because of the cold. Well most of the time it didn't over heat. When I got a new car they gave me $500 for it and they were being nice. Check out my car review of the 1997 Honda Civic HX!
I love this car!!! With just routine maintenance (although it does use more than average front suspension parts), this car is unbeatable. It is an absolute "bear" in the snow. It now has over 173,000 miles and is beginning to show some surface rust, so I'm looking for a replacement vehicle. If it were economically feasible to replace the body and keep the car, I'd do it!