This car is a great car if you find one that has been taken care of. I bought mine with over 100K miles so it wasn't the best condition. The biggest problems was the underhood electrical system which failed in more than one place due to heat, fragile transmission, and dry rotted suspension mounts. The electrical system on certain contours was recalled but mine was over the time/mileage limit. The best part of this car is the 2.5 Duratec V6, especially if you get the SVT. Unfortuneately it doesn't have much low end torque so a 5speed is the best choice for this car. Fuel economy isn't great, just make sure you get one that has been taken care of.
We're the 2nd owner on our 2.0L 4 cylinder GL model. We bought it with about 30K on it and are at almost 121K now. We bought this exclusively as a back & forth to work runner and it's served it's purpose well. We still get 28- 30mpg but it's starting to nickel & dime us a bit. It's really been a great car and the problems we've started having are things you'd expect with a car this old. We've recently had to replace the timing belt, water pump, brakes, and the costly item was the catalytic converter. Wouldn't hesitate to buy another one with lower mileage.
Fun to drive car. Great handling and road feel. Good visibility. Comfortable firm ride. Some reliability problems that can be mitigated substantially by reading the techical bulletins and FAQ on www.contour.org
Bought my 95 Contour LX with the 4-cyl 5-speed manual transmission. I've been trying to convince myself to buy another car for 6 years now - I have failed over and over again. This car certainly isn't flashy or super powerful, but believe or now it is fun to drive. The two big complaints with this car are ridiculous cup holders and not enough leg room in the back for adults. Mechanically I had issues with the OEM rear struts; had them replaced at 20K mi under warranty, then again at 35K mi. At 60K mi I had Midas install non-Ford struts. Am now pushing 215K mi with those same struts. Other than the usual maintenance, this car has been fantastic.