1997 Ford Aspire

  • 1997 Ford Aspire Base Hatchback

    Base Hatchback

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.3L I4
    • MSRP
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1997 Ford Aspire Review

Go little car, Go!

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1997 Ford Aspire is a front-drive, two- or four-door hatchback. Available in just one trim level, the Aspire replaced the Ford Festiva in 1994. The Aspire is an affordable little car. It is both inexpensive and reliable, which mark selling points for most buyers. As Ford’s entry-level car, the Aspire makes an ideal first car. It gets good fuel economy and feels surprisingly roomy inside, despite its small stature.

The Range

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

What's New

The Ford Aspire enters the 1997 model year with new wheel covers, new exterior paint colors, and an upgraded interior trim. Models equipped with an automatic transmission also get a higher final drive ratio for 1997.


The manual transmission two-door Ford Aspire has a curb weight of 2066 pounds, while the automatic transmission models weigh 2004 pounds. The two-door Aspire rides on a 90.7-inch wheelbase and measures 152.8 inches long. The four-door Aspire weighs 2144 pounds with the manual transmission and 2053 pounds with the automatic. The four-door rides on a wheelbase of 93.9 inches and measures 155.9 inches long. All versions of the 1997 Ford Aspire measure 65.7 inches wide and 55.6 inches tall.


The Ford Aspire accommodates four people. Each 1997 Ford Aspire comes standard with front bucket seats and bench seating in the back. The bench seating in the back can be folded down to maximize cargo space.

Standard seat upholstery is cloth, although leather seating remains available as an option. The seats feel quite comfortable and adjust. The two-door Aspire offers 78.5 cubic feet of passenger space, with cargo space totaling 14.9 cubic feet. The four-door Aspire provides 82.4 cubic feet of passenger space, with 17 cubic feet of cargo space.

All Aspires offer 41.6 inches of legroom in the front. When it comes to back-seat legroom, the four-door feels a bit roomier with 34.2 inches of legroom in the back, compared to the two-door’s 33.6 inches. The four-door also provides slightly more front-seat and back-seat head, shoulder, and hip room.

The dashboard instrumentation is readable, with accessible controls, although everything looks somewhat basic. The cup holders slide out right near the gearshift and prove sizeable enough to hold most soda bottles, cans, or travel mugs.

Performance & Handling

The 1997 Ford Aspire comes with rather anemic power. The Aspire’s optional automatic transmission zips whatever little power its 63 horsepower, four-cylinder engine sends to the front wheels. The Aspire performs much better with the standard manual transmission. Highway merges can be downright frightening at times with the automatic transmission, especially with the air-conditioning running. Uphill climbs prove also problematic with the air-conditioning on, as well.

With the manual transmission, the Aspire can be a fun car to drive, although some still find it sluggish while on the highway or climbing hills. Because of its compact size, the Aspire possesses great maneuverability. This little car’s handling is also tremendous. Many drivers appreciate its size when it comes to parking.


The 1997 Ford Aspire comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, an antitheft alarm system, drive and passenger front airbags, fog lights, front side airbags, headlight cleaners, and traction control. At this time, crash test ratings remain unavailable from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

EPA Fuel Economy

Ford Aspire: 34/42 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Great maneuverability
  • Fuel efficient
  • Reliable
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to park

You Won't Like

  • Small
  • Weak engine, especially on hills and highways
  • Noisy, rough ride

Sum Up

Go little car, Go!

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