I have an 1993 Mercury Topaz LS 2.3L, 4 cylinder, 4dr, Auto, Power locks, cruise, and A/C with 185000 Kms on it and have had some issues with it. I have had my car for 8 years, and bought it from the Ford dealer with 40000Kms on it for $7500.
Overall, the car is pretty reliable for its age. If you are pretty gentle on the gas, as this is not a race car (no hard acceleration), the engine is responsive and will last. General maintenance (ie. Changing spark plugs, regular oil changes, air filter, PVC, air breather, fuel filter, coolant/antifreeze) is pretty simple even for someone with limited knowledge of car repairs.
Auto transmission is very reliable, not much up/down shifting if light on the gas, very responsive when needed with engine(passing cars on the highway). Make sure you change the transmission fluid and pan gasket (75000 Kms, 150000 Kms, etc) when the fluid becomes dark red (you will thank me later).
Care should be taken regarding gas mileage. City mileage is fair; a full tank of gas = approx. 350 Kms. Highway mileage with cruise on with a full tank of gas = 650 Kms. The tank is fairly big approx, 50 litres, so be prepared to spend some $ on gas to fill her up.
I have taken my car on a lot of long road trips on the highway, and have had no problems with it. No overheating, and OK on gas.
The driver and passenger side seats seem to be a little small. Not designed for tall people. Otherwise, comfortable for long road trips.
The issues I have with it is continuous repairs to the front-end suspension systems (CV boots, in/outer tie-rods, ball-joints, struts & springs, and an left axle replaced once.) Do not replace these parts with used or after market parts as you will be sorry. I have since replaced all front end parts with new (from 100000 Kms to 140000 Kms) with no problems to-date (touch wood!).
My power locks on my passenger side front door and driver rear do not work anymore (happened at 110000Kms).
Front and rear brakes and parts are pretty easy to install/service, and last years.
I exhaust system has held up very well. I have not had to change a thing since I bought it 8 years ago (new front to back when purchased). Some minor welding of brackets, but that is to be expected.
In the cold winter (-20C to -30C), if the cars block-heater is plugged in, it will start no problem. If the car is sitting for hours in the cold it will turn over, but slowly.
The cars electronic sensors work well, except for the check engine light comes on sometimes (it only happens in the cold winter (-20C to -30C), but goes off when the car warms up.
My car is also rusting out from the floorboards, doors and around rear wheel base (have had the car rust checked 4 times over 8 years, but our cold climate needs salt on the roads).
My car now however, with 185000 Kms on it, is having oil blow-by problems. The valve guides are getting worn. The oil is blowing past the valve cover and onto the outside of it. I refuse to put anymore $ into this car for any more major repairs. Just keep checking/adding oil and clean the motor off a rag when needed.
Overall, for the amount of $ I bought the car for 8 years ago, I have got my $ out of it. Although, I wouldn't mind owning a NEW car now, if I could afford it.