Looking Through The First Generation of Ford Probe

Table of Contents

Overview of Ford Probe

The Ford Probe is a distinctive liftback coupe that was produced by Ford from 1988 to 1997. This vehicle is essentially the result of a collaboration between Ford and Mazda. You will find the Ford Probe a clear departure from the traditional Mustang aesthetics, embodying a front-wheel drive configuration that is obtained from the Mazda’s G platform. It was initially considered a fourth-generation Mustang, but being Japanese engineering the Probe faced a lot of resistance from the audience; hence, the idea didn’t really work.

When we trace the lineage of Probe, it takes us back to the “Probe” series of concept vehicles in the late 1970s. The project that eventually birthed the Probe codenamed “ST-16,” faced backlash, leading Ford to reconsider its role as a Mustang successor. Though there were a lot of challenges and financial crises, Ford remained consistent and came up with the ST-16 as the Ford Probe in the year 1988, coexisting with the Mustang.

But what kind of car is the Probe, and how practical is it? Let us look into it.

Origin and Evolution

As mentioned before, the Ford Probe resulted from the collaboration between Mazda and Ford. It is a sporty compact car that came as a replacement for the Ford EXP. This vehicle rebelled against the typical American car design while incorporating more of a sleek look with aerodynamic features.

As for the first generation of Probe, it shares its platform with the Mazda MX-6, featuring a front-wheel-drive layout. This one was available in a couple of engine options to cater to various markets. We will look at the first generation in more detail later in this article.

As for the second generation of the Ford Probe, it was introduced in 1993. It continued with the same platform of MX-6 once again. However, the design evolved a bit and got a bit more curves and refined styling elements.

We also have a high-performance variant of the Ford Probe, called the Ford Probe GT, which was introduced with the second generation in 1993. It shared its underpinnings with the Mazda MX-6 GT, emphasizing sporty dynamics. This vehicle was equipped with a 2.5-liter V6 engine that’s capable of delivering top-notch performance compared to its models. With its sport-tuned suspension and distinctive styling cues, the GT catered to car lovers looking for a more spirited driving experience.

Despite having so many attractive features and positive attributes, the Ford Probe faced a lot of challenges in the market, as a result of which its production ceased in 1997. However, the model’s legacy lives on as a representation of Ford’s experimentation with design and collaboration during a transformative period in the automotive industry.

The Ford Probe GT earned the prestigious title of Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year in 1993. Additionally, it secured a place on Car and Driver magazine’s esteemed Ten Best list for the years 1989, 1993, and 1994.

Power, Performance, and Efficiency

The first generation of the Ford Probe was produced between 1988 to 1992. The first-generation Ford Probe offered a range of engines, with the base engine including a 2.2L SOHC (Single Overhead Cam) 4-cylinder engine that produced around 110 horsepower. The turbocharged version can also be found in the Ford Probe GT, which could deliver approximately 145 horsepower.

Compared to the base version, the GT model had better acceleration and overall performance, thus making it a more performance-oriented vehicle. As for the fuel efficiency, the 2.2L base engine had decent fuel efficiency for its time, while the GT model, being more performance-oriented, had slightly lower fuel efficiency.

Exploring the Interior Features

With 37.8 in. front headroom and 43.1 in. front leg room, the Ford Probe features quite a spacious interior, having a sporty and driver-focused design. The seats are adjustable, allowing both the drivers and passengers to find a comfortable position. Air conditioning was another common feature. Then, we have door locks and power-operated windows in the higher trim level to add convenience to the overall driving experience. A tilt-adjustable steering wheel was a feature in many Probe models, which helps customize the steering wheel position.

The overall interior aesthetics is improved by using either cloth or leather upholstery.

Interior Color Options

Typically, the interior of the Ford Probe was available in grey, blue, red, and beige colors. These colors were often coordinated with the exterior color choice to give more of a stylish yet cohesive look to the car. As for the interior, you will find it in:

  • White
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Silver
  • Red
  • Green

Buyers have the option to choose a combination of interior and exterior colors to personalize the car.

Exploring the Infotainment Technology

This vehicle was not as advanced in terms of infotainment technology. But it did have some good features of its time. There were CD players in some of its models. Its digital instrument cluster primarily serves as an instrument panel and displays basic information like RPM, speed, and fuel levels.

The speaker system was also good, and the sound was delivered from the audio system. The sound quality could vary based on the trim level and audio system specifications. For radio reception, the Probe was equipped with an antenna, usually located on the exterior of the vehicle. However, the first generation Ford Probe lacked many connectivity options, as seen in contemporary vehicles.

Space and Storage in Ford Probe

You will find a couple of storage compartments and pockets in the interior to accommodate smaller items. There is a respectable volume for the cargo, which can go up to a maximum of 18 cubic feet. The rear seats of the Ford Prob are designed to fold down and offer additional flexibility for transporting larger items.

Safety Features

The safety features of the Ford Probe first generation included standard elements for its time. You may find anti-lock brakes, side-impact door beams, driver-side airbags, 3-point seatbelts, child safety door locks, Child Safety Door Locks, Crumple Zones, side-impact door beams, etc.

Ford Probe’s Stand Among Competitors

First, we have the Mazda MX-6, which shares the platform with the Ford Probe, having similar styling and performance. Since this vehicle has a lot of similarities in design with the Probe, it became difficult for the Probe to stand out distinctly.

Then we have the Toyota Celica, known for its reliability, strong resale value, and efficient engines. Honda Prelude is another vehicle known for its engineering and reliability. This one had strong performance and handling characteristics. Since the Probe focused on bringing more of a modern design, it’s simply the styling that could influence the choice between the two.


  • Comes in a range of engine options
  • Has a responsive and agile handling
  • Features cockpit-style design
  • It is a versatile vehicle and super practical


  • Limited rear visibility
  • The rear seats feel cramped
  • Many mechanical issues were reported


Since the Ford Probe is no longer in production, you cannot find a brand-new vehicle. However, used vehicles are still on sale. Depending on the mileage, vehicle condition, and a couple of other factors, the vehicle price will range from $5,600 to $9,900.

Drive Abilities

As for the driving experience of the first generation Ford Probe, it was generally well-received during its time. Having fuel-injected engines, this vehicle was known for smooth idling and reliable starts. The car gives a stable and consistent performance, hence contributing to a hassle-free starting experience. Its acceleration and power were well appreciated, particularly in the GT model, which offered responsive acceleration.

It was also applauded for its handling capabilities. The suspension system and chassis design contributed to responsive and agile handling. You get a relatively comfortable ride, perfect for everyday commuting.


The Ford Probe, particularly its first generation, was a car of its kind. It is particularly a compelling choice for those looking for a sporty and affordable vehicle from its era. If you appreciate its design and are comfortable with a compact interior, it could be a satisfying car to own. At the same time, it is essential to consider the limitations of its time, like the safety features and technological advancements. Owning this vehicle in this era is going to be a challenge as there’s a lot you might not find compared to the cars of this time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Were there any limited edition models of the Ford Probe?

Certainly, there was a special edition model called the Ford Probe LX “LX-E.” This vehicle came with some additional comfort and luxury features that included upgraded audio systems, leather seats, and a distinctive exterior.

What were the transmission options available in the Ford Probe First Generation?

Both the manual and automatic transmission options were available in the Ford Probe First Generation. The manual transmission was 5-speed, and the automatic transmission featured electronic controls for improved shifting.

What were the innovative interior features of the Ford Probe First Generation?

The Ford Probe has a cockpit-style interior, having a digital instrument cluster, driver-centric controls, and pop-up headlights. You will see sportier interior in the GT model, including unique upholstery and trim.

Written by: Motorcardata

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