"A pretty good little car over the years. Handles very well if not sporty, and has very good road manners in good or bad road conditions even with as many miles as it has. It has very good road feel and just the right amount of steering wheel feel. There is some wind and road noise at highway speeds which can be intrusive.
Have had the car since 2004 when it was bought used with 72000 miles on it. Reliability has had it's up's and down's with the 4 speed auto transmission going out at 76,000 miles due to a computer hiccup. The second transmission has been going strong with 95,000 on it now. There has been some other issues such as the water pump going out at 102,000 and a timing belt tensioner pulley disintegrating at 142,000. Fortunately the engine is non-interference design so that the valves and pistons don't ever hit. Other than regular maintenance, it has been pretty good besides the aforementioned issues.
The 2.0 liter Zetec is a fantastic little engine. Runs like it's brand new. It keeps good oil and doesn't burn a drop even with 170k miles on it! A little under powered at times but it does climb grades on the highway fairly well. Though only rated at 125 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque it feels like it might be a little more. Gas mileage can vary any where from 17 mpg in town up to 36 mpg on the highway but mostly gets 20 mpg in town and 32 mpg on the highway.
The interior is snug but comfortable, however, the rear seat leg room is small. Trunk is spacious for the size of the car. All of the electrical equipment still works in the interior which is surprising to me. There are squeaks and rattles but not bad for a 17 year old car. The only real complaint is the transmission going out but as far as that goes this has been a good car."
"Other than normal wear and tear replacement parts, this has been a great car (which is why I'm still driving it) and still runs like a top. The only minuses are the seatbelts, which are hard to fasten and un-fasten and the electronic transmission, which you have to wait until it engages before pulling forward. If you don't, it waits a minute and lunges forward. It's a design flaw which can't be corrected. It was also a problem on the Cougar. Other than those two things, it's been a great car."
Cons: "Severe rust issue rear wheel wells to rockers."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Has been a great car. It is the LS with leather seats and sunroof. Very attractive interior design. Still drives great. V6 has a lot of low end pep but struggles on hills. No engine or drive train problems. No problems with interior controls. Issues: 1. automatic trunk release sticks in winter 2. makes a howling sound in winter (sounds like a moose) until engine warms - it is echoing through the air intake and is easily remedied with a 15 cent washer; 3. MAJOR RUST ISSUE: rear wheel wells forward into the rocker panels. Look carefully in this area because the thick rock resistant paint hides the rust until half the panel has been destroyed. No rust anywhere else on the car even underneath. But beware of this issue - it is AWFUL!"
"Great car but the big disappointment is the engine compartment wiring insulation is going bad. Ford/Mercury had a 'silent recall if you took it to the dealer years ago', but will not do anything now and does not have replacement wiring harnesses, making a good car junk.
Same problem for this year (1995) Ford Contour. Later years used better wiring insulation in the engine compartment.
po-po on Ford"