I hate the automatic seat belts. Not only do these belts have all the annoyances of other automatic seat belts, but they have a hair trigger. They lock up and will pin you against the seat seemingly if you hit even the tiniest of bumps or if you turn, accelerate or decelerate quickly (anything faster than granny driving being "quickly" in this case). This has caused me considerable frustration... it is difficult to turn and check your blind spot if the seat belt has you crazily glued to the seat (this happens to me a lot on exit ramps). Imagine if airbags had such a hair trigger!
I have had the same experience as another reviewer with the hydroplaning problems. Nothing serious really, and the front-wheel drive helps to minimize it even if you do hydroplane. As long as you drive to the conditions you should be fine. But if you are one of those that thinks rain, etc. shouldn't slow you down then this is not the car for you. Actually, people like that shouldn't be allowed to drive at all.
It is surprisingly roomy and it's even pretty comfortable unless you are going on long trips. The seats are kind of hard and nineteen hours of driving in one stretch will really make you want cushy expensive seats.
Overall, I am extraordinarily happy with my Escort GT. I have not maintained it as well as I perhaps should have and it keeps going. It is very economical, has superb power, it's small and has an almost zero turning radius. Makes driving in Houston almost bearable.