1994 Ford Aspire

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1994 Ford Aspire

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Available in 3 styles:  Aspire 2dr Hatchback shown
Asking Price Range
$435–$627
Estimated MPG

36 city / 43 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

By 

Orlando Sentinel

The new Ford Aspire is about as basic and as inexpensive - as cars come these days.

Its role in the Ford lineup is to offer potential buyers a reasonably safe, completely reliable and extremely affordable entry-level Ford product.

Viewed in this context, the Aspire - which replaced the Ford Festiva - gets the job done.

But after a week behind the wheel, I found that the Aspire is not sophisticated, refined or very much fun to drive, despite its cute appearance.

In my view, the Aspire is merely adequate.

On the plus side of the ledger, the Aspire comes standard with driver and passenger air bags and is available with anti-lock brakes, making it one of the least expensive vehicles you can buy with these popular safety items.

With just 64 horsepower available from its 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Aspire offers relaxed acceleration that is smooth and fairly quiet.

In its May issue, Car and Driver magazine clocked an Aspire at 12.7 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. To put things in perspective, this means the Aspire, which starts at $8,895 is one of the slowest cars on the market.

And consider this: The new Dodge/Plymouth Neon, which also offers dual air bags, starts at $9,475 and comes with an engine that offers more than twice as much horsepower - 137 to be exact.

The Neon, which goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, may cost more, but there is clearly a lot of value in the higher price.

That said, I found the Aspire to be OK once cruising speed has been reached. And fuel economy, at 42 mpg on a road trip, is excellent.

Our test car came with a five-speed manual transmission. A three-speed automatic is optional. The shifter is memorable - but for all the wrong reasons. Despite a week of driving, I never managed consistently smooth shifts. The shifter makes changing gears sloppy, slow and heavy. However, the clutch pedal was light to the touch and moved smoothly.

HANDLING

Our test car, an SE model, offered stylish alloy wheels and had a big wing on the hatchback. Usually such items are installed on sporty, zippy cars that can handle a curve.

Not this time.

The suspension system, struts up front and a torsion beam axle in the rear, just can't handle any quick maneuvers, such as a quick turn, without allowing the body to lean considerably, and that undermines your confidence in the car. In other words, the Aspire is best driven easily.

Perhaps the soft suspension is by design. If the engine were more powerful and performance were better, the suspension system would be completely mismatched to the car.

Ourtest car did not have power steering, and although it was not difficult to turn, the steering felt vague and dull. Ditto for the power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes. They seemed to have very little bite. You really have to apply pressure to the brake pedal to obtain satisfactory results.

FIT AND FINISH

The Aspi re may have several performance and handling shortcomings, but the test car was assembled well, and its interior was roomy and attractive.

I liked the instrument cluster. The analog gauges featured a blue background and white numbers. The gauges were easy to read and very stylish. They would, in fact, not be out of place in a more expensive car.

With the Aspire you might not get to your destination quickly, but at least you'll get there comfortably.

Ford outfitted the Aspire with an excellent AM/FM radio, a powerful air conditioner and a comfortable set of seats.

The switches and controls were simple and easy to use.

Visibility is generally good, except to the rear. That wing I mentioned earlier cuts across the middle of the rear window and is directly in the driver's line of sight.

With the rear seat folded forward, the Aspire can carry an impressive amount of cargo. I loaded six large boxes into the rear.

For a small car, there's plenty of foot and head room, front andrear.

With more power, a stiffer suspension system, power steering and a precise shifter, the Aspire would be a terrific little car.

But its shape, size and safety features make it just right for the entry-level buyer on a tight budget.

Specifications:

1994 Ford Aspire 3-Door SE

VEHICLE LENGTH Overall 152.8 Wheelbase 90.7

WIDTH Track-front 55.9 Overall 65.7

HEIGHT Overall 55.6

FRONT COMPARTMENT Head room 35.5 Leg room 41.6

REAR COMPARTMENT Head room 35.5 Leg room 33.6

WARRANTY 3-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance; 6-year, 100,000 mile rust protection.

MECHANICAL Drivetrain layout: Transverse-mounted engine and transaxle, front-wheel drive. Suspension: Front, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar; rear, torsion beam with coil springs and hydraulic shocks. Brakes: Power-assisted front disc, rear drum. Engine: 64-horsepower, fuel-injected single overhead cam 1.3-liter four-cylinder. Safety features: Driver's and passenger's air bags; anti-lock brakes optional. Fuel tank: 10 gallons. Weight: 2,004 pounds. Steering: Manual rack-and-pinion. Transmission: Five-speed manual. Wheels: Alloy.


    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

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