Used Ford Escort Hatchback 1990 - 2001 review

Category: Family car

Aim for one of the last cars if you're determined to buy one

Ford Escort Hatchback
  • Ford Escort Hatchback
  • Ford Escort Hatchback
Used Ford Escort Hatchback 1990 - 2001 review
Star rating

What's the used Ford Escort hatchback like?

The Escort's chassis and engines date from the 1980s, but Ford fettled them to keep the Escort competitive in its day, tuning the engines and strengthening the body. The result was that in 1999 Euro NCAP awarded it two stars out of five for occupant safety - that's poor by today's standards, but passable for a mid-1990s car.

Sales ended in 2001 and models from the last couple of years had loads of equipment to keep them selling. The cabin is roomy in the front and the curvy dash still looks okay, with big buttons for the minor controls and radio that make it easy to use. You'll have no complaints about the driving position, and the boot is a good size and shape, too.


Aim for one of the last cars if you're determined to buy one

  • It's super-cheap to buy and run
  • Getting old now, not very reliable and likely to be rusty

However, the rear legroom is tight, and there's little pleasure to be had from driving an Escort. The steering is lifeless and the firm ride is jolting in town.

Ownership cost

What used Ford Escort hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Ford Escort hatchback?

Mostly, the Escort shouldn't be too dear to run. Insurance is cheap because Flights and Finesses all come within group 4. And, while servicing is needed every year or 10,000 miles, it's a job any self-respecting local garage should be capable of. Watch they don't cut corners with cheap oil or brake parts, though.

However, running one may not prove as inexpensive as you'd think. Fuel economy is only average, for example. Expect the 1.6 petrol to return up to 35mpg overall, and the 1.8 about 38mpg, while the diesel is (in theory) capable of 43mpg. However, the Escort's age and poor reliability record suggests you should budget for frequent repairs.

Likewise, while spare parts are usually cheap and the car is straightforward to work on, some jobs take longer or need doing more often than they would on a more modern car.

Our recommendations

Which used Ford Escort hatchback should I buy?

Buy as new a car as you can and, preferably, a Finesse model with a 1.6 petrol engine. In its last years, the Escort range shrank to just two models, and this was clearly the better one. It has metallic paint, alloy wheels, air-con and a CD player as standard.

There's also a cheaper model, the Flight, but this has no air-con or alloy wheels, so we wouldn't bother with it.

Our favourite 1.6-litre engine may be a bit coarse but it is willing, tough and reasonably economical. There was also a fairly frugal 1.8, introduced in 1998 in higher-trimmed cars, but the 1.6 is good enough to make it relatively pointless.

The real alternative is the 1.8 turbodiesel, which is noisy, slow and thirsty. It also needs frequent maintenance, so we'd steer well clear of it. Whatever you choose, hunt down a one-owner, low-miler from the classifieds.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Ford Escort hatchback?