About a month ago I picked up a 01 Escort to use as a commuter vehicle which I have gown to dislike rather quickly. I'm thinking of getting rid of it and trying a Focus.
A main reason why I don't like my Escort is that I'm 6'4" and the seats are just not built to fit a large person for a long period of time. Add to it that w/o tilt steering, the wheel sits in my lap which doesn't allow me to change positions at all.
I only have about $5,000 to spend so I will most likely be looking at older models. Was there any seating or major interior changes during the first 7 or so years of production?
I found what looks to be a clean '01 ZX3 5 speed with 40,000 miles on it. Are there any inherent problems to look for on this vehicle? This car doesn't appear to have tilt steering. How is the standard steering wheel height for people with long legs? I would just go and sit in it but it's about 2.5 hours away.
How about other years and models? Are there some that are better than others? I do know that I don't want a SPI powered Focus.
Would a 130,000 mi car be a safe buy or should I stay away from higher mileage vehicles?
Typically, how long are the auto and manual transmissions good for? How about clutch wear? I realize that there are a lot of variables due to driving styles and maintenance.
Since this is a commuter car for me, high fuel economy is a must. Are there certain models that get better fuel economy than others? How about auto vs manual? I drive 99% highway and tend to drive on the conservative side.
I would just go and check out some different models to see which ones I like the best but I have no inventory in my area. The oldest thing on the local lots is a '07 sedan.
Sorry for all the stupid questions but I hate making large uninformed purchases. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.