Halfway through the year, the 1985 1/2 models rolled out and continued unchanged for the 1986 model year. Ford replaced the 1.6-liter engines with two 1.9-liter engines: a carbureted version with 86 horsepower and a fuel-injected version (standard on GT and optional on other models) with 108 horsepower. The Mazda-built diesel was still available, though its days were numbered, as few buyers opted for the fuel-stingy but slow oil burner.
A cleaner front end with flush-mounted headlights, a lower hood line and a simpler grille with horizontal openings identified the latest version of Ford’s hot-selling subcompact. Taillights were revised slightly, now having three horizontal segments. A new trim level dubbed “Pony” was introduced, aimed at those who wanted basic transportation and nothing more. For driving enthusiasts, the Escort GT now offered an improved sport suspension with 15-inch eight-spoke alloy wheels, an asymmetrical grille and a color-keyed body kit consisting of a front airdam (with integral foglights), side sills and rear spoiler.