97 Escort accelerates VERY slowly,ecspecially when the engine is cold.Ideas?? on 1997 Ford Escort

It seems like it takes a very long time to get up to 55 mph when I pull out on the highway I live by. It's so slow that I have to wait until there is nobody coming before I turn out to the get on the highway. Car seems to do better after the engine is up to temperature but still seems like I have to kick in the passing gear to get it up to speed. Passing gear won't even kick in when it's cold.

1 answer 2 comments
Fuel filter and air filter been changed?
You know I put a different engine in the car when I bought it a couple of years ago but I'm not quite sure I ever changed out the fuel filter. I was looking at it today and it looks very clean but we both know that doesn't mean a thing! I'll replace it and see what happens and let you know. Thanks!
In the last few weeks I have had wreckers bring me cars that stopped going down the road with loss of power and several had either a restricted air or fuel filter.