Compact car; Built in South Korea
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,500*


1994 Ford Aspire 4-door hatchback


1994 Ford Aspire 4-door hatchback


1995 Ford Aspire SE 2-door hatchback


1997 Ford Aspire 4-door hatchback


1997 Ford Aspire 4-door hatchback

Pros:
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls
  • Maneuverability
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Acceleration
  • Manual shift linkage
  • Engine noise

Aspire is an adequate basic car, but something like a Dodge/Plymouth Neon or a Chevrolet Cavalier won’t cost much more, and these are better and more substantial automobiles.

Overview

Korean-built, Mazda-designed minicompact went on sale early in 1994, replacing the Festiva as Ford’s entry-level automobile. Dual airbags were standard and antilock braking optional. The front-drive Aspire used a 63-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, with 5-speed manual shift or optional 3-speed automatic transmission. Automatic was optional only on base-model Aspires, and available power steering could be installed only on base-model 4-doors. Both 2- and 4-door hatchbacks were sold, the latter on a longer wheelbase. Both came in base-level trim, and the 2-door could be ordered in upscale SE guise, adding fog lamps, a rear spoiler, and different seats and interior trim.

Yearly Updates

1995 Aspire
Few changes were evident on the ’95 Aspires.
1996 Aspire
Aspires lost their front spoilers in 1996. Window moldings and center roof pillars now were body-colored. The SE 2-door hatchback was dropped, leaving only base versions of both body styles.
1997 Aspire
Minor appearance changes marked the ’97 models, including new front and rear bumpers, headlamps, turn signals, taillamps, and wheel covers. Aspire did not return for ’98.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only one engine was available in Aspires: a 63-horsepower, 1.3-liter 4-cylinder, driving either 5-speed manual shift or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Nothing changed in the model’s 4-year lifespan.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.3/81
Engine HP 63
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 74
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
34/42
29/34
33.6
27.9

Road Test

Performance is adequate around town, but on the highway there’s not enough torque for safe passing. Acceleration is feeble with automatic–worse yet with the air conditioner running. With 5-speed manual is a bit better. Often, though, when you floor the throttle the Aspire just seems to be making noise, instead of accelerating significantly. The engine is loud and annoying during hard acceleration, turning raucous when worked hard. In addition, Aspire’s automatic transmission shifts with a jerk at times, especially when pushing the gas pedal hard. Fuel mileage with manual shift is impressive. You can expect more than 30 mpg in urban driving, and over 40 mpg on the highway. But the automatic transmission is not nearly as frugal.

An Aspire grips the road fairly well, is reasonably stable, and responds quickly to the steering wheel. Turning that wheel can be a battle, however, unless the car is equipped with power steering. Around town the Aspire feels nimble, but on the highway and expressway on-ramps it lacks composure. Even in mild cornering, the small tires squeal in protest.

Visibility is excellent to all directions, and the dashboard has a modern, convenient design. The Aspire’s tall roof gives everyone adequate head room, but rear-seat passengers are more cramped. Front seats are quite supportive in general, but lack upper body support. Cargo space is tight with the 2-door but better with the 4-door.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Ford Aspire 4-door

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 - 2
20%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

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

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 34

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
90.7 152.8 65.7 55.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
37.7 10.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 35.5 41.6 33.6
4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.9 155.9 65.7 55.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
41.0 10.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 36.4 41.6 34.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Aspire 4-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 139
Injury 188
Theft 37

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: A problem with the air conditioner compressor causes loud noises from under the hood when the A/C is running. A revised compressor corrects the problem. (1994-95)
Automatic transmission
Description: Slow transmission upshifts in cold weather are caused by ice in the vacuum modulator line. (1994-95)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission does not engage after the vehicle has been sitting for awhile, a check ball kit is available to prevent torque converter drain down. (1994-97)
Doors
Description: Door locks tend to freeze unless they have been replaced with new lock cylinders. (1994-96) If the doors are hard to lock or unlock, the door lock bezel could be causing interference. (1994-95)
Hard starting
Description: It may be impossible to start the engine in temperatures above 80 degrees (F) because the ignition switch expands and jams. (1995)

Recall History

1994
Description: Fuel and vapor hoses/lines may contact or have inadequate clearance, causing wear that can result in fuel leakage.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

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.