The 1998 Ford Contour classifies as a compact car derived from the first-generation Ford Mondeo. The Contour and its Mercury counterpart, the Mystique, replace the Tempo and Topaz, respectively, and both released in 1994.
Based on the CDW27 platform, the Contour gains popularity for its comprehensive list of standard features, value, and incredible ride quality and handling that otherwise only shows up in imported cars.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter I-4, 2.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Ford Contour, Ford Contour LX, Ford Contour GL, Ford Contour GE
The 1998 Ford Contour has been redesigned to give it more character, even though the taillight modifications look like the Mercury Mystique. The rear seat of the car gets bigger as well. The 1998 Contour also rolls out with some changes midyear, including the addition of depowered airbags, model consolidation, and improved handling.
This year also marks the launch of the 1998 Ford Contour SVT, which provides a performance-enhanced version of the sedan. This model uses a tuned version of the V-6 engine.
The exterior of the 1998 Contour has been revised with new front and rear fasciae. The front fascia includes larger headlights and a chrome grille surround. The altered roofline of the 1998 Ford Contour makes for more space at the rear. The car has a length of 185.3 inches, while the SVT edition measures 183.9 inches.
The Contour offers ample space in front and at the rear, which seems surprising for a budget sedan. The rear seat generally feels a little cramped, but this year sees the revised roofline allowing for more headroom than that in the previous generations. The legroom, however, remains the same at the rear.
The well-designed dashboard looks attractive, with most controls marked properly and within easy reach of the driver and front passenger. However, some controls in front remain a little too small for comfort and difficult to read as well.
On a positive note, the instrument gauges on the 1998 Ford Contour seem easy for the driver to read, without him or her having to look away from the road. The climate control system deserves special mention, and it uses three clearly marked rotary dials that prove easy to use.
Performance & Handling
The base two-liter, straight-four engine in the Contour delivers 125 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. Another engine option, a 2.5-liter, dual-cam V-6 delivers 170 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque. Both engines pair a standard five-speed manual transmission and a four-speed automatic transmission as an option. The 1998 Ford Contour SVT contains another version of the V-6 engine that delivers 195 horsepower. This engine only comes with a five-speed manual transmission.
The 170-horsepower V-6 provides enough power for any driving situation, taking the 1998 Ford Contour to 60 mph from a standstill in 9.3 seconds. The more powerful V-6 moves faster, but the transmission needs to be worked on a bit to tap into that extra power. Compared to these two engines, the straight-four engine seems a little sluggish and provides decent acceleration only when it is throttled hard. It does offer better mileage than the V-6 engines, but only by a small margin.
The 1998 Ford Contour receives a full five-star rating for driver safety and four out of five stars for passenger safety in frontal-impact collision tests conducted by the NHTSA.
EPA Fuel Economy
Ford Contour 2.5-liter V-6, automatic: 21/30 mpg city/highway
- Steering and handling akin to that of European sedans
- Good performance from V-6 engines
- Good safety record
You Won't Like
- Poor performance from the I-4 engine
- Some poor controls
Offers European style and agility.
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