1996 Ford Aspire

  • 1996 Ford Aspire Base Hatchback

    Base Hatchback

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.3L I4
    • MSRP
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1996 Ford Aspire Review

Somewhat lacking, but offers reliability and value.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1996 Ford Aspire classifies as a subcompact car marketed by Ford from 1993. The Aspire actually serves as the second generation of the Kia Festiva, which launched in 1986. Mazda in Japan and Kia Motors in South Korea built the Festiva.

The Aspire sells as the second-generation Festiva in many markets. However, Ford markets the car as the Ford Aspire in the North American market.

The Range

Body Styles: three-door hatchback, five-door hatchback, sedan
Engines: 1.3-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: three-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Ford Aspire

What's New

The 1996 Ford Aspire only comes in a base model. The SE that Ford previously offered gets dropped this year, along with several other optional and standard features. Moreover, the Aspire now comes in four new colors.


The 1996 Ford Aspire uses a more rounded body style than its predecessor, the Ford Festiva. It has a longer, wider, and more aerodynamic exterior appearance. This year, the Aspire gets a minor change in its front fascia. It does away with the front spoilers and adds body-colored window moldings and center roof pillars.


The Ford Aspire offers good visibility for the driver in all directions. The dashboard has a very convenient and modern design with all the controls well-placed and within easy reach of the driver and front passenger.

The tall roof of the 1996 Ford Aspire makes the cabin bigger than most other rivals. Headroom seems great for the front and back, but the lack of legroom at the rear can cause passengers discomfort. Another poor aspect of the Aspire results from the lack of upper body support in the front seats, although they feel quite supportive in general. Cargo space seems a little tight in the three-door hatchbacks, but the five-door models offer a better amount of space.

Performance & Handling

The 1996 Aspire only offers one engine, a 1.3-liter, straight-four engine that delivers 63 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with either a manual transmission or an automatic one.

Performance remains just about average when driving around town, but the Aspire lacks the torque for safe passing on the highway. The engine works best with the manual transmission; it tends to get very feeble with the automatic shift. The engine itself sounds quite loud and gets annoying when drivers push it too hard.

Road grip feels good for the 1996 Ford Aspire, and so does steering response. Without the power steering option, the Aspire proves a little difficult to steer.


The 1996 Ford Aspire earns four stars out of five for driver and passenger safety in frontal-impact tests conducted by the NHTSA.

EPA Fuel Economy

Ford Aspire 1.3-liter four-cylinder, automatic: 29/34 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good fuel economy
  • Well-designed dash
  • Good visibility
  • Stable and maneuverable

You Won't Like

  • Poor acceleration
  • Noisy engine

Sum Up

Somewhat lacking, but offers reliability and value.

If You Like This Vehicle

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