I had bought my 1998 Contour SE in August of 2001 with 31000 miles and currently has 40000 miles. In six months I've had to replace the fuel sensor and PCV valve, Catalytic converter, Alternator, (totalling ~$550)and about another $200+ counting other mechanics fees for just identifing other problems. In addition, I was not notified by Ford about recalls on my car. These repairs should not occur at this mileage and why am I left in the dark about recalls? I am very unimpressed by Ford.
The engine does have peppy acceleration and the handling is great (compared with Saturn SL2). Also handles very well in snow.