Car Review 1999 Contour SE
Make/model: Ford Contour or Mercury Mystique
Trim: SE, Ford and GS, Mercury
Engine: Zetec Zeta I4, DOHC VCT (Variable Cam Timing)
Interior: The ford line, especially the SE, which was the base model at the time, are cloth and vinyl. The seats were comfortable with a built in arm rest. There are 3 cup holders, unfortunately one is so shallow you cannot keep anything in it. The arm rest prevents the cup holder in the center console from being practical, so you have effectively 1 cup holder. The gauges on the automatic I4 show only fuel, speed, and temp. The seats were comfortable and you favor a straight backed seating position due to the orientation of the steering wheel and seat. There is plenty of room for people in the car. I am 6'4'' and fit comfortably in this car. The only issue I encountered with the Interior was the dash up near the heating vents would warp and peel up. In some cases it was so bad it impaired road vision. This was corrected with a recall at some point.
Storage Space: The trunk was spacious, (fit 2 200lb people in it, and could fit a sousaphone in it) as was the rear seat. It is a smaller sedan so the rear seating was not as good as a full sedan, and the front seating was spacious enough for me (6'4") to sit comfortably in either the driver or passenger seat, without my head hitting the ceiling.
Handling: Great handling for a small sedan, hugs corners well and the suspension doesn't throw you around when taking those breathtaking turns. This car handled great in snow, I was able to get around in Iowa during the winter with out ever getting stuck. So in summation I would say that it has a fairly sporty suspension, with good handling at the expense of comfort.
Power: It *is* a sedan after all, and therefore it's power was not impressive. however, it is also a smaller sedan. There is plenty of get up and go in city driving, but seems to lack in torque in 1st and 3rd and high end power. This was an issue on hilly interstates, you find yourself mashing the pedal to the ground to prevent slowing down. That said it is lighter than most, I was able to beat my friends V6 lumina with this car.
Comfort of Ride: The ride is fairly smooth, you do feel some road vibration but it is not horrible. Road noise is also not overly annoying, even on the interstate I found I was able to listen to my music at lower volumes without the road noise disturbing me.
Looks: This part is debatable, I have seen kits that look awesome, and personally I think that it looks ok. Some people however have described it as a "giant tampon". So it is like always a personal preference, I will say that it looks like all ford cars of this era in interior and exterior styling,
Reliability: This is where this car shines, I put 100,000 miles on the car, and never had to do a major repair. I had one broken timing belt, and a small transmission leak, but that was the extent of it. Never let me down, I drove this car through 4 foot deep water at one point and it floated to the other side and kept going (much to the dismay of the stranded truck). The body itself is durable, even though it was 9 years old there was minimal body rust.
Overall, a good car. It gets you from point A to B every time. It also has potential for modding as there are many aftermarket performance parts avaliable. It can find a niche as a tuner/ricer or a DD, and is basically a do all car.