Questions on 01 Escort

I am looking into buying an '01 Escort sedan. Has AT, AC, 4-DR, 80K miles for $3450. A very affordable price. Going by Consumer Reports, Escort is the only Ford make that is well-engineered, reliable.
Actually its the ZX2 that they reviewed and say is a 'good bet". This one is not an ZX2, and I don't know what the difference is. For the '01 XS2, there were 5 out of 14 different "trouble spot" points that rated only "average", and so that year did not get an overall reliability check-mark. The '02 ZX2 Escort DID get a reliability check-mark because all 14 points were above average for that year.
If this info can only be applied to the ZX2 model, than I can't make an evaluation on this data....do both models have the same powertrain/systems?
Does the reliability of these cars compare with Toyota Corolla or Hyundai Elantra? Trannys prone to failure?
Also, when is it due timing belt change? If not done and it breaks, does it screw up the valves and pistons? Geronimo
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<geronimo> wrote in message

The reason that CS didn't evaluate the standard Escort after 1999 or so is that Ford only sold them for fleet use, i.e. rental cars. They were not sold directly to the public. That wouldn't prevent me from buying one, but not at $3450.
Having said that, the Escorts were indeed very, very good cars. I would like to have another one in a 5 speed.
CJB
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So more than likely its a ZX2 they have?
Yea, would rather have a 5-speed. If I get the tranny power-flushed , new oil and filter when I buy it should it be a reliable car?
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According to latest Kelly BB, 2000 4-dr sedan Escort has a good cond. trade-in value of $2850. But value being sold by private party is $4150. So $3450 is not a good deal? Should I offer something closer to the trade-in value? thanks, Geronimo
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Run a carfax first; negotiate with your knowledge that this was a rental car. Rental cars get little respect, because they're always abused. I'm not saying it's a bad car; it might be a good one. I am saying that, generally speaking, rental cars are statistically more likely to have problems because they haven't been as well cared for by their drivers.
CJB
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