Had a rough start with this vehicle as we had to chase some electrical issues (check the ground for the trouble lights on the steering column). It's been reliable since except AC just went out. V6 with 5 speed is a blast to drive. Ignore the "check engine" light as dealer and others cannot figure out cause. Runs fine. Good driver in the snow.
Engine, power, handling, gas mileage, heated mirrors.
Road noise, seats, ride, back seat room. Cup holder.
Worst vehicle I have ever owned. Bought it with 75,000 miles on it. Have had to have 4 MAJOR repairs before it hit 100 thousand miles (electrical problems). Gas mileage is horrible, even after a tune up, new tires, alignments & religiously changing oil and transmission fluid. My 4x4 jeep Cherokee got better city mileage than this Ford gets on the highway (@60mph.) I discovered this year and model is at the top of the "Do NOT buy used" list. I will NEVER buy another FORD vehicle; everyone in my family has had poor experiences with Ford Vehicles.
Nothing crosses my mind
Electrical system! Sturdier motor mounts, wiper system, easier access to transmission dipstick, larger console between the seats, roomier glove box, spend more on manufacturing than on advertising. Trunk escape.
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).
We've had our Contour for almost 7 years. CARFAX says it was a rental before we bought it. Aside from replacing the alternator last year, we've never had to have major repair service done on it. Rear-ended twice by people going 20+ mph with no real damage. Nice power, turns great, comfortable, decently roomy in the back seat for a small car. Decent gas mileage for its weight and age. We are thinking of selling it (we want a Hybrid) and I will be sad to give it up.
Power! It beats our newer ('02) compact sedan for acceleration on a straight surface, and blows the '02 away on a hill. (Really. We've 'tested' this. ;) )
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!