Bought as a family car at two years old and then kept on as a tow car (speedboat) and general hack when we replaced it with a VW Passat in 2002.
It's hard to get excited about an Escort, but I have nothing, but admiration for the way this car has performed since we've owned it. It has never left me, my wife or my daughter stranded, and has barely needed anything other than routine servicing since bought. It starts on the key on the coldest morning, and the torquey (if noisy) diesel engine makes light work of a speedboat and trailer or a load area full of rubble en route to the dump.
The interior looks cheap and dated these days, although the Ghia trim level does at least provide nice seats and a good overall level of specification. The driving position is natural with a wide range of adjustment and it's a good motorway car despite the engine noise which becomes very intrusive if you stray much over 80 mph. Performance itself however is excellent, the car still capable of pulling itself up any motorway hill, even fully laden at 100 mph without any trouble at all. Acceleration through the gears, as with most turbodiesels, is lively and effortless.
I do my own maintenance - oil and filter every 6k and cambelt every 30k (a known weakness on these engines which wrecks the top end if it fails). I've had to replace two sets of glowplugs, a radiator and a clutch, and that's it as far as the mechanical parts go. The exhaust and battery are consumables, and 6 and 7 year lives respectively are impressive.
The car is looking a bit tatty around the edges mostly due to its workhorse lifestyle, but while it remains mechanically reliable, it has a welcome place on our driveway. Parts cost peanuts, maintenance access is logical and simple, and if you don't want to tackle jobs yourself, nobody baulks at working on an Escort. As well as being cheap to keep on the road, it's cheap to run. Regardless of towing or load, it never gets less than 40 mpg and unladen on a run will return an easy 50. Insurance costs pennies, parts cost pennies, and depreciation was repaid in usage terms years ago. It's a cheap car to own.
As a cheap workhorse, these cars cannot be beaten in my opinion. Far better engineered and more dependable than many think. I wonder if those whining about reliability ever bother to get theirs serviced or those going on about rust ever clean their cars. Despite several major chips, this car is still totally rust free at 12 years old, and its mileage has just been shrugged off like it's nothing.
Will keep it until it dies, but evidence suggests we might be in for a bit of a wait.