The best transportation for the money at that time
The clutch pilot bearing failed at approximately 110,000 miles. It was an inexpensive and relatively easy part to replace. The replacement part is still operating (I know the individual that bought the car from me) at 280,000+ miles.
The alternator failed at approximately 130,000 miles. Easy replacement. I also replaced the drive belts and steering tie-rods at that time.
In the last two years of ownership serious rust developed around the rear wheel wells and the lower edge of the hatch lid.
The 'Pony' series was the bottom of the line for the U.S. market Ford Escort in 1991. Without options it was pretty much basic transportation. The Pony I bought had optional air conditioning (which also adds power steering) and an AM radio, which I had deleted. I soon found a Ford AM/FM radio for it at a flea market for the princely sum of $5.
I doubt that I'll ever own another car with as much service, comfort, economy and reliability as that car gave me. My original intent when buying it was for a work car only. With an 80 mile round-trip work commute the Mustang GT was collecting a lot of mileage. And it was far from the best vehicle to drive in snow/ice conditions. It didn't take long for the Escort to become my prefered transportation, leaving the Mustang as the weekend toy.
The 'Pony' never once left me stranded. And even with 260,000 miles on it I would not have been afraid to cross the continent in it. Yes... it was that trustworthy. I perform all my own maintenance and repair and I always use quality lubricants and other expendables. I'm sure that had some bearing on the reliability.
The car still has the original exhaust system! That is amazing! At about 150,000 miles I could tell that the struts were getting firmer, as if the oil in them was thickening. But if anything that only improved it's already excellent handling. The front-to-rear weight ratio for that series of the Escort was very well balanced and it would corner like a cat as long as you remembered to keep the power on while cornering. The 'Pony' line had 13 inch wheels rather than the 14 inch of the "LX' series. The smaller tire diameter served to make the handling quicker, actually.
Ford rated the 1.9L engine at 88 horsepower. That was the most impressive 88 horsepower I have ever encountered. The 'Pony' series had a slightly higher final drive ratio than the 'LX' cars. That let the engine spin up quicker and in any gear the throttle response was noticably snappier than that of the 'LX' cars. The lower gearing (and smaller tires) actualy allowed the 'Pony' to have a slightly higher top speed than the 'LX', too. Highway driving always netted 42 to 46 MPG, unless I was running late for work and really had my foot in it. (My current '96 LX tops out at 42 MPG: The lower final drive ratio actually hurts economy due to the engine having to work a little harder to maintain speed.)
If I could buy another new 1991 Escort ('Pony' or 'LX') I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th November, 2006