I'm at 128,000k and it's sitting at a repair shop right now waiting for the auto salvage guys to pick it up...tranny finally blew and I'm done dealing with this hunk of junk, multiple and frequent problems beginning 3 months from purchase date; alternator, blower motor, brakes, sway bar links, outside window trims, temp gauge that burns out every 6k miles, serpentine belt, wheel bearings, broken cup holders, gas cap cover had to be pried open every time, various inside lights constantly burned out, paint peeling off front end, heat slow to warm up, weak A/C and the fuel pump wiring was at the point where I had to lean back and hold the plug down while turning the key to get the thing to start.
I liked the handling, smooth and responsive when it was working, good gas mileage (mostly in town). Took it on a cross country road trip and the seats were comfortable and the interior and trunk were roomy enough to accommodate baggage along with camping gear (tent, bags, food etc.).
I don't think this thing can be salvaged. These cars are lemons as a general rule and count your lucky stars if you got a good one...you're the exception to the rule. This experience has taught me the importance of doing your homework before buying a car!
I bought my Contour used and have put a lot of happy miles on it. It has the largest standard wheel/tire combo available and I suspect the engine management chip may have been tweaked by a previous owner. It handles like a dream, virtually the same as my '03 Focus SVT (it helps that it's lower and wider than the SVT). Power from the Zetec 4 is quite adequate for occasional gusto driving, and works well with the OD automatic transmission. The state troopers once gave me a certificate that it can indeed go 92 MPH without breathing too hard. The only costly maintenance has been to replace the timing belt at 60k miles as recommended.
Excellent balance of comfort and performance. Overall, I have to say it's my favorite of all the cars I've ever owned, including the SVT I replaced it with when it reached 80k miles. My wife now drives it, but I still take it out to blow the plugs off from time to time.
The cup holders stink, but I understand they can be replaced with larger ones from later models. Now that it's 10 years old, it's apparent that Ford could've used better grades of plastic.
Car purchased by my wife with 35k miles, she puts 34 miles a day to work and home. Within the first year tires were shot, alignment bad, replaced ball joints, the large belt. Then at 50k to 60k miles front wheel bearings, Brake rotors, calipers. since then alternator, large belt. Now at 120k the front wheel bearings and brake rotors (warped) and now head gasket!
The handling on the road, straight as an arrow.
Wheel bearings do Not! go out at 55k and then at 120k as well as rotors warping. Design, design, design reliability. To late now for Ford
I bought this car slightly used, based on favorable reviews in the car magazines. It is a sporty sedan that packs a lot of value for the money. The engine, suspension and brakes are well-suited for the enthusiast driver. However, this is the most fragile car I have ever owned. With less than 75k on the odometer, I have had to replace the water pump (a flawed design with a plastic impeller wheel), the catalyst, and the starter motor. The check engine light turning on is a quarterly event. The stock CD player would skip if you looked at it cross-eyed. Owning this car makes me believe that when Ford lines up suppliers, it always takes the low bidder. Ford: you have lost this customer.
Performance, gas mileage.
(These comments pertain to current Ford sedans, since the Contour is out of production). The car needs to hold up better after the warranty expires. Long-term durability must improve on Ford products, because if the Contour is any indicator, it is horrid. Will the Fusion be any better? We'll see.
My Contour now has 198,000 miles on it. I bought it used with about 34,000 miles(mostly highway) and have owned it for 7 years now. I changed the transmission once, the alternator once, several belt changes, headlight problems, and several other minor changes, but never any engine problems. It is still a fun car to drive but since it was my first car I am ready to move on to foreign cars (less maintenance).