Overview & Reviews
"World music" is a nebulous satellite radio genre that tends to feature a lot of pan flutes, maracas, bongos and those crazy Australian didgeridoo things. The term "world car" is far less exotic, applying to a vehicle like the Ford Contour that can be sold in multiple markets with only minor changes made to best appeal to folks in both France and Fresno. It's an idea that German manufacturers have quite successfully subscribed to for decades, but one that American automakers have avoided as much as radio listeners avoid world music. Nevertheless, to save money and benefit from the engineering expertise of their European subsidiaries, American brands have increasingly turned to world cars in recent years.
The Blue Oval's first modern whack at them was the Ford Contour sedan produced from 1995 to 2000. Designed by Ford's European division and known as the Mondeo across the pond, the Contour had a decidedly European feel to it thanks to its spirited performance, composed handling and aerodynamic styling.
However, with a body size that fell in between compact and midsize, the car was often criticized for its lack of backseat legroom. Ford tried to compensate for this almost every year the Contour was sold. Excess seat padding was removed and the rear bench was redesigned, but its dearth of space remained the Contour's Achilles' heel.
In 2000, the Ford Contour was discontinued and not replaced. Its Mondeo sibling lived on in Europe, however, and is now in its third generation. This stylish, quasi-sport sedan was even driven by James Bond in Casino Royale and positive reaction to it has prompted speculation that it may eventually show up in the United States. Ford's "world car" Contour may soon live again.
Most recent Ford Contour
The Contour debuted in 1995 and was offered only as a front-wheel-drive sedan. Available in GL, LX and SE trim levels, the lower two trims came with a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 125 horsepower, with a 2.5-liter 170-hp V6 optional. The six-cylinder was standard on the SE. All Contours were equipped with a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. Standard features included dual front airbags, tilt steering wheel and AM/FM stereo. Other equipment offered on the LX, SE or as options, included power windows and locks, air-conditioning, cruise control, sunroof, power driver seat, leather upholstery, and CD or cassette stereo. Antilock brakes and traction control were available on all models.
In 1998, the Contour received a midlife styling tweak with a redesigned front fascia and taillights that mimicked its Mercury brand sibling, the Mystique. The rear seat was redesigned to squeeze a few more inches out of the cramped quarters. The base-level GL was discontinued, while a high-performance SVT Contour debuted. Equipped with a 195-hp version of the 2.5-liter V6 coupled to a five-speed manual, this was essentially a sport sedan for people who couldn't afford pricier European marques. The SVT version offered fun handling and quick acceleration, with a top speed of 143 mph.
In reviews and road tests, we showered great praise upon the Ford Contour -- especially the SE and SVT versions. The 170-hp V6 powered the SE up from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which was relatively quick for midsize sedans in the mid-1990s. We were impressed with this engine's broad power band and the wonderful pull it gave right up to redline. We also found that it handled better than many other competing sedans (or even sport coupes) thanks to its quick-ratio rack-and-pinion steering and relatively sophisticated rear suspension. The SVT's additional horses, 16-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and exterior styling enhancements made it even more desirable.
Downsides to the Contour were largely its cramped interior and questionable ergonomics. Ford's ubiquitous, small-lettered stereo drew considerable ire. Beyond that, the Contour was a fun four-door sedan that offered European moves at American prices -- one could even call it a "world car."
Past Ford Contour models
The Ford Contour lasted for only one generation from 1995 to 2000, with a midlife freshening in 1998. It replaced the Tempo in Ford's lineup.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 410.00
fun and mostly reliable - 1999 Ford Contour
By Skye - November 19 - 7:02 pm
We got this car as a gift (yay!) with 62,000 miles on it and after 2.5 years it's now almost at the 100,000 mile mark. We had absolutely nothing wrong with it the first year other than burnt out blinker bulbs. In the last year, we had a broken timing belt (thank God the engine's non-interference!) and just repaired a leak in the brake line, which corroded the brake shoes with brake fluid. Whoops. We also had to replace the heater, but it was apparently still under warranty after 16 years. I agree with others that the cupholders suck--they're small and tucked under the console, but it's not a luxury edition, so I don't expect it to be fancy. The engine runs great, although unlike other posters I find it doesn't accelerate well on the highway. The transmission is great, it's fun to drive and easy to park, and it has character. I definitely want to keep it for years to come.
1997 FORD CONTOUR GL 48000 MILES FOR $2400 - 1997 Ford Contour
By ponc1 - August 9 - 1:30 pm
Picked up the 1997 Ford Contour GL with only 48000 miles for $2400. Found it on Craigslist and the ad had it for $1995. It was mistake because the dealer I spoke to said it should of been $2995. When I brought a copy of the ad they had to honor the sale of the price. The dealer said I got this for a steal and since they didn't want to get in any legal trouble they took my cashiers check right away. The Contour runs great. The interior is in excellent condition. I am happy with my Contour. Just good luck I found this car. There lost is my gain.
I really just love Oliver - 1999 Ford Contour
By Colton - July 28 - 2:54 pm
I have the Sport Model. It's green with 112k on it. It has the Suratec DOHC 24 valve 2.5L V6 and it is so awesome to drive! It gets okay mileage. But honestly the issues I've had are minor, and are from the previous owner not taking care of it. All I have left to replace is the O2 sensor. I really recommend this car. I'm 19 and this is my 4th car. And it's by far the most reliable I've had. And all my cars have been 2000 and newer. It will last me throughout college no doubt.
Kicking myself... - 2000 Ford Contour
By spencerq - June 3 - 12:33 pm
I'm writing this review hoping that it might relieve AT LEAST the tiniest bit of intense fury I have built up from 2 1/2 years of driving this disaster in engineering. This car is the embodiment of all things evil and horrible in the world. I bought the car for $3,000 in 2012. I gathered my service records last week to assess that I've spent ~$6,700 since on repairs (NOT including regular maintenance upkeep items). I've had a CONSTANT recurring oil AND tranny fluid leaks, blown head gaskets, I've rebuilt the transmission, replaced the fuel pump, replace all three engine mounts, the alternator, the radiator TWICE, the solenoid switch and more. It has only 130,000 miles & STILL HAS PROBLEMS!
Pure [non-permissible content removed] but surprisingly reliable - 1996 Ford Contour
By levip0721 - January 15 - 6:02 pm
I bought this car in July 2013 from a friend, I'd say less than 24 hours of ownership it overheated, hose blew and split a hose and blew water pump gasket, oil pan leaks now fixed antifreeze leaks with k-seal(does wonders) rear struts are junk, pulls hard right ,poor gas mileage, erratic idle, can't loosen tensioner pulley to replace serpentine belt, THE slowest and least powerful car I've ever set foot in, my old Buick would blow the doors off this. The only positive thing is it's never broke down, only not started once from maf sensor wet, other than that I think about running it into a tree to put this useless excuse of a car out of its misery, also all windows have wiring issues
I love my car. - 1995 Ford Contour
By marie46 - February 6 - 7:43 pm
Bought my car with 97,000 miles in 2010, my car currently has 119,000 miles and it runs beautifully. My car has never had working AC which has never bothered me I have never spent more then $200 in repairs when I replaced my timing system. This car has a bad rap, but if you take care of your car it will last a very long time. Every time I get an oil change it runs smoother then the time before. Currently my heating motor has gone out twice its a cheap part I just haven't bought the new one. $40 fills my tank I get great gas milage. My only complaint is I have no cup holders. Who makes a car with no cup holder? That is just silly.
FORD FOUND ON ROAD DEAD LITERALLY!!!!! - 2000 Ford Contour
By countourhater - March 6 - 10:27 pm
What bad things can I not say about this car. I bought this car for almost $10,000 in 2008 with only 86000 miles. Within a matter or weeks of buying this car my spark plug popped out of the engine. It didn't stop there. Less than a year later my head gasket blew 100miles away from my home and luckly drove back but ate gas up all the way home. I had 3 wheel bearings replace. The car died right in the middle of the road beccause the Transmission died while in Drive. The starter died. Fuel pump died in a parking lot. A hose deteriated and made the car stall out. This car has cost me an arm and a leg for the loan but mostly in the cost of repairs. All theses probs occured b4 car could reach 150K
Hated it! - 2000 Ford Contour
By happygopink - December 19 - 10:45 pm
I bought my Contour in July of 2001, it was a year old at the time. It was okay for the first few years, but just okay. Then, before I even finished paying it off, I had to have the transmission rebuilt. Then, in December of 2011, it went out AGAIN. The thing had 91,000 miles on it. It shouldn't need a new transmission every 45,000 miles, if you ask me.
I will have a hard time parting with this Contour! - 1999 Ford Contour
By incaleif - November 2 - 7:30 pm
I took on this contour when it had 196,000 miles. The seller fixed an exhaust problem. I replaced the upper outer ball joints, had the brakes redone with new fluid, did rear struts, changed the front wheel bearings, changed the transmission fluid, P/S fluid, drained and flushed the radiator, changed the valve cover gasket and I do oil changes every 3000 miles. I get 30 mpg. Just now I may be looking at changing the water pump and timing belt. But this car is worth it! It has 230,000 miles and still running strong.
Chose some thing else - 2000 Ford Contour
By dm18 - October 12 - 8:18 pm
I bought this car new, it lasted 11 years. Fuel pump failed in weeks2. Second month, a small piece of debris smack the oil pan cracking the oil pan. (both common problems reported for this car at the time in user forums) year 1, the dash board pilled up in the summer heat. (another common issue) Year 6, the electric motors for the sun roof, left front door, right front door died and had to be replaced. Year 8, the padding in the seats became stiff. Dash board pilled again. year 11, 51,000 miles engine died 3,500 dollars repair.