It was an excellent utility vehicle for its day
The rear counter shaft bearing in the transmission failed at 160,000 miles. This is a very common failure on the 4WD Vista's. There is an oil slinger in front of this bearing that is supposed to sling oil at the bearing; I find that it actually keeps oil away. This transmission bound up and could not be shifted. There was no other damage. I removed the oil slinger, installed a new bearing, did some clean-up and spent 5 hours to putting the transmission back in the car.
Another problem was a plugged catalytic converter. Engine would start, but had very little power. Replaced the converter, did a tune-up, and the engine perked right up. 12 years later it was still running strong.
When 5th gear stopped working, I found that the switch on the shift linkage was bad, and no longer available anywhere. I manually moved 5th gear into position, and left it there. This resulted in a change in gear ratio's for all the other gears, and moved overdrive to the 4th gear position. I think it works better this way.
This car has good performance, handles well, and is very reliable, after its maintenance issues were solved.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th April, 2011