Bought my 95 Contour LX with the 4-cyl 5-speed manual transmission. I've been trying to convince myself to buy another car for 6 years now - I have failed over and over again. This car certainly isn't flashy or super powerful, but believe or now it is fun to drive. The two big complaints with this car are ridiculous cup holders and not enough leg room in the back for adults. Mechanically I had issues with the OEM rear struts; had them replaced at 20K mi under warranty, then again at 35K mi. At 60K mi I had Midas install non-Ford struts. Am now pushing 215K mi with those same struts. Other than the usual maintenance, this car has been fantastic.
Excellent fuel economy (avg 33 mpg), fun to drive
New cupholder design, more legroom for rear seat passengers
Transmission went sour in 67,000 miles and had to be replaced. Fuel injection system had to be rebuilt at 68,000. Water pump went bad at 69,000. Transmission is designed so that a repair is not possible. Once you have internal problems the only fix it to replace the transmission (average estimate to replace was $3K). Water pump was designed with rubber blades on the shaft which wore down to nothing (average estimate to replace was $500). Fuel injection system design is complicated, thus expensive to repair. All in all this car lives up to FORD's intiials (Fix Or Repair Daily).
I bought the car in 97 and hod no problems. Once it hit 75K, everything started falling apart. I.e. Oil pan gasket, driver side power window motor, starter, water pump, AC compressor, one engine plug wouldnt fire -- replaced that, interior falling apart -- leather stitching, dash board plastic cracking, and now the transmission is going out. I have spent $2500 on car in last 2 years. Has 112K now and I cant wait to get rid of it. I WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN!
Owning a Ford Contour has been perhaps my worst car experience. Every part of the vehicle seems to be made from toy plastic. I can effortlessly BEND the gear shift. A 3 year old child literally ripped out the cupholders. I have replaced front & rear springs, front & rear suspension, front & rear brakes, and timing system. Don't buy this car unless it is for a very short period of time and out of complete desperation. The good things: The transmission is holding up, and the radio still works. Several mechanics have confirmed that the heater will be the next to go. Be careful out there car-buyers.
The windshield wiper motor costs $400 dollars to replace. A cheap car with expensive parts?
Bought my Contour new in late 1994 and am just about to turn 170,000 miles. Have the 4-cylinder, manual transmission. I've been looking at new cars for about 3 years, but frankly haven't found a need to replace this Contour.The car has been incredibly reliable. Save the expected maintenance (oil changes, brakes, tires, timing belt, etc), I've probably had to put a total of $1000 into it over the last 10 years (and most of that was replacing a couple of engine mounting bolts). Routinely get about 33 mpg highway, and with the manual transmission the 4-cylinder has some pep to it. The car is rock solid and is fun to drive.
Even for a 4-cylinder, the car is fun to drive.
Cupholder design is pretty bad, especially in Contours with manual transmissions (which only have one cupholder). Rated the car a "7" in comfort because back seat legroom is tight if front seats are all the way back. Driver and front passenger comfort is excellent.