My Contour has treated me well. The heater switch failure was recalled and the cupholder was redesigned (97) to not spill on your passenger when taking left hand turns. After 96, Ford made 15" wheels standard for a smoother ride and eventually the 6 cylinder was standard. Why Ford discontiues a car if all the bugs are worked out, I don't know. Maybe the Engineers are bored have to "Focus" on some other problem. My Contour still handles and runs well at 92000 miles.
The good gas mileage matched with 16 valves and a 5 speed. The little things like: heated side mirrors, driver lumbar seat, ABS brakes, split rear seat, and having the title.
I believe Ford was on the right track with improvements. Put the Contour back into production and leave the
T bird alone.