I have a 91 escort gt, I wanted something practical that could haul a nice amount of stuff for its size, had a good engine, good gas mileage and was fun to drive. I started comparing different models, and it came down to an escort or civic. The Escort was MUCH safer in the model years I was looking at, had a free wheeling engine(don't have to worry about timing belt destroying my car, that was important to me since I would be buying a high mileage car), cost less, looked better, cheaper insurance, and just as or more reliable, and was faster than all but the crx si. Oh yeah, and it was a Ford, so the choice was clear.
I keep hearing the people on ford trucks.com say that the straight six is one of the most reliable engines.