2002 Mercury Cougar Review

Pros & Cons

  • Unique styling, well-tuned suspension, large cargo area.
  • Acceleration from four-cylinder model can't match racy looks, heavy steering, compromised outward visibility.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$630 - $1,421

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A sporty coupe that isn't particularly sporty and isn't really a coupe.

Vehicle overview

The Cougar stands out as one of the more distinctly styled vehicles on the road today. And don't expect Cougar customers to be cross-shopping for the Grand Marquis; this kitty kat is aimed at a different crowd.

Showcasing Ford's short-lived New Edge design theme, Cougar's look combines sleek, rounded main forms with creased straightedge detail. The most interesting parts of the Cougar's appearance are the cat's-eye headlamps with smoked lenses, large triangular taillights, sculpted doors and hood, and the character line that runs along the lower portion of the greenhouse.

Underneath this eye-catching skin are components that are much more familiar. The Cougar is built on the same European-engineered platform that spawned the old Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. It also shares roughly 70 percent of its parts with those two dead entry-level but fun-to-drive sedans.

As such, the Cougar is blessed with an excellent suspension, neutral handling characteristics and powerful brakes. This translates to plenty of fun on curvy roads. The only thing slowing the Cougar down is its heavy steering feel and engines that don't quite perform up to par with the car's exciting looks. Ford offers either a 125-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 2.5-liter V6 that produces 170 horsepower. Compared to the motors found in the Acura RSX and the Volkswagen GTI, the Cougar is a bit shy on power. Traction control is available on the V6 Sport, but we aren't convinced you'll need it.

Mercury was originally planning to offer a high-performance version called the Cougar S last year, complete with the old Ford SVT Contour's stunning engine, but that car has been shelved. Instead, two special editions -- the XR and C2 -- are offered when you select the Cougar V6 Sport. The XR is sheathed in special red or black paint and rides on 17-inch machined aluminum wheels finished with black-painted ports and red center caps. It also has a rear spoiler and unconvincing fake hood scoop. The C2 gets unique French Blue paint, with French Blue instrumentation and a French Blue spoiler. The machined aluminum wheels have French Blue center caps. Why didn't they call it the Cougar FB? Because you can also get it painted in white, silver or black, too.

For all Cougar interiors, you'll find a conventional control layout with a decidedly unconventional appearance. Accessing the backseat is a breeze, thanks to a front passenger seat that slides forward when the backrest is folded and then returns to its preset position once riders are secured in back. The rear seats are firm and place the rider high in the car; taller adults will find that their heads are squashed into the headliner. Fold those seats down, and you're blessed with a huge cargo area.

A CD player is standard, which makes sense in a car marketed to young adults, and a handy six-CD in-dash changer is optional. The instrument cluster displays satin aluminum-faced gauges and graphics, and many components are finished with satin aluminum paint. Just like every other youth-oriented car sold since the Audi TT came to market a couple of years back. Side airbags are standard on V6 Sport models, but unavailable on regular Cougars. If you want ABS, you've gotta have a V6 engine.

Despite the relative lack of oomph, the Cougar still has a lot to offer. It's affordable, functional, fun to drive and neat to look at. But without more power and a diet, it can't hope to compete with cars like the Acura RSX and Toyota Celica.

2002 Highlights

New colors spruce up the outside, and all Cougars get the formerly optional Convenience Group (cruise, remote keyless illuminated entry and rear wiper/washer) as standard equipment. Evidently, the Zn (Zinc Yellow) feature car from 2001 failed to get buyers' pulses up, so Mercury tries again for 2002 with the XR package, which includes special red or black paint, a rear spoiler, a fake hood scoop and special logos. The Cougar C2 feature vehicle makes a return engagement for 2002. Sadly, the shelved Cougar S never materialized.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Mercury Cougar.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2002 Cougar V6 35th Anniversary Edition
Qwerty,07/15/2009
One of the best cars I've owned, easy fun to drive, got some power to it, would be nice if they could get a more powerful v6 in it
It's all over at 67,000 miles
Disgruntled,10/10/2006
Transmission needs to be rebuilt....it has slipped since it was brand new. The spoiler broke at 3 years and they don't make it any more. The head gasket is blown and it has never over-heated, has had regular oil changes/service and obviously not used to tow anything. I need to replace a couple of sensors and it is $700 at the dealership. You have to pay $93 for diagnostics to determine minor failures and another $140 for compression diagnostic. As I should have remembered before I bought this, it is just a shinier FORD - Fix Or Repair Daily. I also own a 1967 Ford Mustang which is reliable - built before the American automotive manufacturers forgot how to build a decent, reliable car
Best kept secret
Great car,04/29/2008
This is my SECOND Cougar. The first one (2000)is still in service with 225,000 miles on it. My 2002 will turn 230,000 this week. Rock solid car and I can't understand the complaints. I intend to go at least 300,000 miles if not more. Both Cougars had brakes replaced the first time at 110,000 mile. Both also had to have fuel pump and AC clutch replaced at 140,000. Overall mileage is still above 27mpg. Great brakes and very sure footed and fun to drive.
I LOVE THIS CAR!!!!
cougarfanatic,10/02/2011
My cougar is the best car ever!! It is definitely a head turner. Its exterior is white with a red stripe. the interior is black and red. it is very fun to drive esp. in deep curves. it handles very well. This is not only a aprts car for girls!! I get approached by guys all the time about my car. I recently purchased this car for $1500. the previous owners thought that it needed a new computer. but once i got it home i noticed that the spark plugs were on wrong. lol so i got this great sexy car for cheap. i would give this car a 5 in every category but the back seat isn't to comfy. other than that this car is the best ever.!!!!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2002 Mercury Cougar features & specs 

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2002 Mercury Cougar

Used 2002 Mercury Cougar Overview

The Used 2002 Mercury Cougar is offered in the following submodels: Cougar Hatchback. Available styles include 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 6cyl 5M), Sport Ultimate 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 6cyl 5M), Sport Premium 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 6cyl 5M), Sport 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 6cyl 5M), and 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Mercury Cougar?

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Mercury Cougar?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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