Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,700*


1990 Ford Probe GT


1990 Ford Probe LX


1991 Ford Probe GT


1991 Ford Probe GT


1992 Ford Probe LS Sport

Pros:
  • Acceleration (GT and LX)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy (4-cylinder)
  • Handling/roadholding
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance
  • Torque steer (GT)
  • Noise
  • Rear-seat room

In midrange LX form, at least, the early Probe can be a passable sport-coupe choice. Best to steer clear of GT models, as the turbo four has a reputation for early failure.

Overview

Introduced for 1989, Ford’s sporty, front-drive hatchback coupe shared its chassis and powertrain with Mazda’s MX-6. Three models were sold: GL, LX, and GT. A V6 engine and all-disc brakes arrived for ’90 in the mid-range LX, which could now be ordered with antilock braking. The GT stuck with its 145-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but could now have an automatic transmission instead of the standard 5-speed manual gearbox. A non-turbocharged version of the 2.2-liter four, producing 110 horsepower, remained in the Probe GL. Rear shoulder belts were standard, and front shoulder belts became motorized.

Yearly Updates

1991 Probe
No mechanical changes were evident in 1991.
1992 Probe
A new Sport option package for the LX included a rear spoiler and 205/60HR15 tires on alloy wheels–the same tire size as the GT. The under-seat stowage area was dropped, and GL and LX coupes gained body-colored side moldings and monotone fascia/bumper covers.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base GL Probes used a 2.2-liter, overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine, rated 110 horsepower. A turbocharged, intercooled 4-cylinder went into GT Probes, while the mid-range held a 140-horsepower V6 engine. Either 5-speed manual shift or a 4-speed automatic transmission might be installed. For 1992, the V6 engine gained five horsepower and five pound-feet of torque.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/133
Engine HP 110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
24/31
21/28
25.3

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 140-145
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 160-165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/26
18/24
21.0
Turbocharged ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/133
Engine HP 145
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 190
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/27
19/25
22.5

Road Test

Performance from the gruff base 2.2-liter 4-cylinder (12-valve) engine is passable but uninspiring, especially with automatic. So, availability of a V6 was a welcome change–far more powerful than the basic 4-cylinder, but considerably more refined than the turbocharged GT. Hooked to automatic, the V6 engine’s low-speed and mid-range response give the Probe outstanding flexibility. Mated to the 5-speed, the V6 adapts well to sporting, high-rpm driving.

The turbocharged GT is very quick, but it can be an unpredictable handful under hard throttle, exhibiting “torque steer” that pulls the front wheels off course. The turbo’s boost also kicks in too abruptly at low speeds. On the plus side, the GT’s wide tires and sport-oriented suspension promise fine handling. All told, though, we’ve liked the well-rounded LX model best. When equipped with bigger (15-inch) tires, antilock braking, and analog instruments, the LX is the most appealing choice of them all. The Sport package, available in 1992, elevates the LX’s already-capable road manners close to those of the GT, without losing much in ride comfort.

Cargo capacity is ample, even with the rear seatback up, but liftover is high. A low roof offers little headroom for anyone taller than 6 feet. Few adults will enjoy climbing into the back, which is fit only for children. Controls fall easily to hand, and analog instruments are clear.

Early models had reliability problems, but those seemed to be remedied by 1990.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1990 Ford Probe GT 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 38

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
99.0 177.0 67.9 51.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
41.9 15.1 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.3 35.0 42.5 39.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Probe 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 126
Injury 119
Theft 78

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Condensation from the air conditioning leaks onto the front carpets because there is too much insulation around the evaporator. (1990-92)
Dashboard lights
Description: The engine speed sensor harness may short to the crankshaft pulley illuminating the check engine light. (1993)
Exhaust system
Description: Loose heat shields over the muffler and catalytic converter cause a rattling or buzzing noise. (1990-93)
Hard starting
Description: The air inlet ducts tend to crack or the clamps get loose causing hard starting, hesitation, and rough idle on cars with 2.2-liter engines. (1990-92)
Audio system
Description: Whining noises in the radio speakers are caused by the fuel pump in the gas tank. An electronic noise filter must be installed on the fuel pump. (1989-92)
Water leak
Description: Water gets into the wiring harness connectors in front of the radiator, which can drain the battery causing a no-start, failure of the under hood light, problems with the headlights and retractors, or lack of air conditioning or blower. (1990-91)
Water leak
Description: Water contaminates the fuel pump cut-off switch, which causes the passive restraint shoulder belt to remain in the engaged position. (1990)

Recall History

1990
Description: Throttle levers on some cars may have been bent during assembly, so throttle could stick.
1990-92
Description: Rail of automatic shoulder belt can wear, causing cable to jam and render belt inoperative.
1991 GL
Description: Brackets that mount automatic shoulder belt retractor assembly may have a spot weld of inadequate strength; belt could fail in a collision.

Equipment Lists

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Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.