Ooh La La! 1000 Posts !!
The Humpin' Hula Award
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Bethlehem, PA
You can search the threads for more info, but from being a member of Escape central for the last 4 years he's some info I can help you with.
Personally an '05 or newer will be your best bet as this was a modification year.
The paint matched cladding started in '05 and only was availble on certain colors. Owning one of those colors, it looks cool, but not with 4 years of stone chips on the plastic, I wish I had the plastic cladding. A more powerful 4cyl was offered if your looking for a manual trans, as the V6 only had the auto option.
Only issues with the vehicles, like you said, the rear shocks and the auto transmission. As long as the fluid was changed on a regular basis, it will hold up fine.
Manual vs auto, I'd say a difference of 1-3mpg.
I too live in PA, and you can get away with FWD, but I wanted the assurance of AWD for the deeper white stuff, and had not had any problems. The difference will be 1-2 mpg based on what I've been reading.
Good luck researching!
Original owner of these vehicles:
'87 Ford Mustang LX 5.0L Hatchback 232,000 miles
'98 Ford Taurus SE, Duratec V6 105,000 miles
'05 Mazda Tribute s AWD 94,000 miles
and still on the road.
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