The 1997 Ford Contour classifies as a compact car that replaces the Ford Tempo in Ford’s lineup. This four-door sedan boasts excellent handling, performance, and overall road feel and ride quality. Designed in Europe, the Contour has the character of a European sport sedan and drives like one as well. This “world car"" was designed with the goal of creating a compact vehicle that could be sold in any market worldwide. Minimal changes from market to market mean streamlined production and bigger profits for Ford.
The front-drive Ford Contour comes in four trims: the base, GL, LX, and SE.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 2.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Ford Contour, Ford Contour GL, Ford Contour LX, Ford Contour SE
Minimal changes affect the 1997 Ford Contour, but the GL and LX now offer an optional Sport Package with aluminum wheels, fog lights, and a leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel. A trunk light now comes standard with all models, as well.
The Ford Contour rides on a wheelbase of 106.5 inches. The base, LX, and GT come with standard 14-inch tires, while the sporty SE has standard 15-inch tires. The Contour has a length of 183.9 inches, measures 69.1 inches wide and 54.5 inches tall. Depending on the trim, the Contour’s standard manual transmission models weigh between 2812 and 3005 pounds, while the optional automatic transmission versions can weigh anywhere from 2759 to 2926 pounds. The 1997 Ford Contour has rack and pinion steering and a full independent suspension.
All Contours come standard with power steering. Power door mirrors, front fog lights, and variably intermittent wipers come standard for the LX and SE. The SE also includes a spoiler.
The 1997 Ford Contour seats up to five people. Front headroom totals 39 inches, while rear headroom totals 36.7 inches. Legroom up front measures 42.4 inches. The back seat’s legroom feels somewhat cramped at 34.4 inches. This rear bench seat undoubtedly feels uncomfortable for most adults. In contrast, the Contour’s front seats prove incredibly comfortable and provide ample room and great support, unlike most American-made compact cars. The Contour’s instrument panel is ergonomically correct with logically placed controls and legible dials and gauges.
All Contours come standard with a tilt steering wheel, front cup holders, a four-speaker stereo system, an AM/FM radio, dual front-impact airbags, front bucket seats, and rear bench seats. The LX and SE also add in a standard cassette player and a tachometer. Air-conditioning and a CD player remain available as options.
Performance & Handling
The base, GL, and LX come standard with a 125-horsepower, two-liter, four-cylinder engine. The SE contains a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter, V-6 engine with sport suspension, large tires mounted to alloy wheels, and sporty front seats. This engine provides an option for the GL and LX.
The 1997 Ford Contour gets highly praised for its handling and drive quality. The Contour handles like a dream and corners well. Acceleration feels quick. The Contour experiences no problem whatsoever with highway merging or passing. It offers a smooth ride. Even the four-cylinder engine surprisingly possesses plenty of power. Braking is phenomenal, even when it comes to sudden and unexpected stops.
The 1997 Ford Contour comes standard with driver and passenger front airbags. In front-impact crashes, NHTSA crash test results rate the Contour with four stars for passenger safety and five stars for driver safety. In side-impact crashes, the Contour earns three stars for front safety performance and four stars for rear safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Ford Contour, four-cylinder: 24/33 mpg city/highway
Ford Contour, V-6: 20/30 mpg city/highway
- Great handling
- Fun to drive
- Good brakes
- Quick acceleration
You Won't Like
- Useless cup holders
- Back-seat room
- Body integrity
Value, efficiency, and looks to boot.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Buick Skylark
- Chevrolet Lumina
- Dodge Stratus