I got my contour back in 98, it had 30,000 miles on it. Within the first month I had to take it in for the recall on the heat blower switch. Then I had to have new rotors put on it a couple months after that. It seemed to run good for a while. Now the latest is that I have no dash lights, the right hand blinker doesn't work, the heater switch doesn't work again and it runs loud. But it is pretty reliable as I haven't had any major things go on it.
I have the 5 speed and it is zippy. The car handles well. I like the lighted door handles. And it is fairly comfortable on long trips for the driver.
Cupholders suck, the could redo the seat adjustment thing. The back seat is not comfortable. Ford needs to work on the small things like the heater switch, headlamp switch, electrical stuff, and a few interior design things.