Ford Cars and Trucks For 1997
By Carey Russ
The Ford oval is found on cars from the entry-level subcompact Aspire to the last of the full-sized, rear-wheel drive sedans, the Crown Victoria. If things seem quiet at Ford this year, that may only be an illusion. The 1997 model year started early with the newest version of the Escort, introduced last summer. The 1998 model year will also come early, with a spring '97 debut of the 1998 Contour and a sporty Escort-based coupe. There have been upgrades across the line for 1997, with most engines now having 100,000-mile tune-up intervals.
With new styling and construction, and major improvements to the powertrain, suspension, and interior, there's not much about the 1997 Escort that hasn't changed. It has features that are rarely found in its price class, like 100,000-mile tune-up intervals and an optional remote keyless entry system. Three trim levels of sedan and one wagon are offered.
The totally new bodywork of the 1997 Escort has plenty of contemporary Ford styling cues. One-piece body side construction helps make a stiffer, quieter chassis, and major suspension modifications further enhance the handling abilities and fun-to-drive character.
The roomier, redesigned interior has much in common with that of the Taurus, including an "Integrated Control Panel" that places audio and climate controls in one, easy-to-use location.
The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine has 110 horsepower, long service intervals, and extremely low emissions levels.
1998 Escort ZX2
The sporty 1998 Escort ZX2 coupe was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit at the beginning of January. It will go on sale in Spring, 1997. The Escort ZX2 is aimed at young buyers who want a car with style, personality, and responsive engine power that is affordable to own and drive.
Designed from the start as a coupe, not just a 2-door sedan, the ZX2 features the 130-horsepower "Zetec" 4-cylinder engine, unique styling, useful interior space, and a high level of standard equipment.
The American version of Ford's "world car" sedan gets a new sport appearance package and minor interior upgrades for 1997. The 1997 model run for the Contour will be very short, with much-refined 1998 models appearing in early 1997.
External styling of the 1998 Contour is new, with only the roof, doors, and rear quarter panels shared with previous models. The front is crisper, with a new chromed grille, wraparound "jewel" headlamps, and a new hood. The interior has been refined and redesigned. There is more rear-seat legroom, and all 3 rear seat positions have shoulder straps.
Mechanical upgrades to the 1998 Contour include extensive revisions to the "Zetec" 4-cylinder engine for cleanse, quieter operation and suspension refinements. Manual transmission Contours have a new clutch and new, cable-operated shift linkage.
Few cars have had the impact on the automotive scene that the Ford Mustang has had. After getting the overhead-cam "modular" V8 last year, the current version enters its third year with interior enhancements and an electronically-theft-resistant ignition key system. There are three engine choices - 150-horsepower V6, 215-hp V8, and 305-hp V8 Cobra. Each is available in coupe or convertible styles.
The last of the big, rear-wheel drive sporty coupes has the only V8 engine in its market segment. It has a new automatic transmission, a redesigned instrument panel, and new options this year.
The second-generation Taurus was new last year, so gets only a few changes for 1997. Most importantly, the Vulcan V6, standard in G and GL trim levels, has transitional low-emission vehicle (TLEV) status and is expected to get full low-emissions vehicle (LEV) status by mid-year. Flexible-fuel versions are also available that can run on gasoline or methanol.
Dual overhead cam V6 LX and V8 SHO models are also offered.
The full-sized, six-passenger Crown Victoria has new steering gear. A special compressed natural gas (CNG) version is the first factory-produced natural gas-powered car, and has the cleanest internal combustion engine of any car ever certified for sale in North America.
Ford's economical little hatchback comes in 3- and 5-door models and gets freshened exterior and interior styling and upgrades to the drivetrain and suspension for 1997.
Two models of the Probe sports coupe are offered for 1997. The GT has a new GTS sport appearance option package with racing stripes and special wheels.