Since the model was developed by Ford in Europe and engineered in Germany, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the 1999 Ford Contour significantly exceeds expectations in terms of a domestic produced compact sedan. However, while the automotive press has been quick to praise the Contour for its appealing combination of compact German engineering and an entry-level price, the public was slower to do so. This is why Ford refreshed the Contour’s exterior in 1998 in an effort to give the compact family sedan a more distinctive image.
The Contour has also replaced the manual transmission version of the Taurus SHO as Ford’s most sporty sedan model. Ford also dispatched its Special Vehicle Team to lend a little performance tuning to the Contour. The result of that tuning is the Contour SVT, a zippy sport-oriented model that’s performance capabilities contradicts its rental car exterior. The affordably-priced Contour is available in three trim levels: the base model LX, the more performance-oriented SE, and the even sportier SVT.
Body Styles: compact sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 2.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Ford Contour LX, Ford Contour SE, Ford Contour SVT
There have been a number of changes introduced to the Contour for 1999. All-speed traction control has been made available as an option for V-6 models that are equipped with ABS. New exterior colors have been introduced and old ones phased out with Tropic Green and Medium Steel Blue replacing Dark Green Satin, Light Denim Blue, and Pacific Green. Mild revisions have also been introduced to the instrument panel while the 10-way power seats have become six-way power seats. Also, the integrated child seat has been removed the list of optional extras as have the 15-inch wheel covers. Rear-seat capacity has also been increased for the third year in a row.
With an appearance that’s frequently described as being akin to those of a Hertz rental car, looks may not be the 1999 Ford Contour’s strongest suit. These looks can be improved somewhat by the addition of an available wing spoiler for both the SE and the LX model. Other exterior features for the 1999 Contour include body-colored bumpers, body-colored bodyside moldings, chrome grille moldings, dual power remote exterior mirrors, and monotone paint.
Standard features for the LX include tinted glass, power exterior mirrors, 14-inch wheels, and intermittent windshield wipers. Available options for the LX include a rear spoiler and alloy wheels. The more upmarket SE makes gives the consumer a power moonroof.
With the Contour continually struggling with a reputation for being cramped, Ford increases the amount of back-seat space for the third year in a row. The Contour’s interior is at least spacious enough to accommodate five passengers. Bucket seats come standard for both the SE and the LX while the SVT gets sport seating. Door trim across the line is vinyl while cloth seat trim is standard on both the SE and the LX. The sporty SVT gets leather trim, which is also available as options on the SE. Standard features for the LX include bucket seats and cloth seats. The more upmarket SE makes many of the extra options for the LX standard and offers additional options such as a leather-trimmed steering wheel, sport seats, leather seats, and a power driver’s seat. Opting for the high-performance SVT model gets the consumer more interior leather.
Performance & Handling
The Contour is far more capable in terms of performance and handling than its generic, rather forgettable looks might suggest. Both the two-liter four-cylinder and the 2.5-liter V-6 are capable of delivering an exciting driving experience when married to a manual transmission. Standard features for the LX include power steering and tilt steering wheel. An available option for the LX includes cruise control. Opting for the high-performance SVT model gives the consumer sport tuning and 195 horsepower.
Driver and passenger side front airbags come as standard for the 1999 Ford Contour. The Contour received a perfect five-star rating on driver-side impact tests conducted by the NHTSA. The model also received four out of five stars in both passenger-side impact and side-impact rear tests. For side impact front tests, it received three out of five stars, and in frontal-offset impact tests conducted by the IIHS, the Contour received the lowest rating of ""poor."" Standard features for the LX include power brakes with driver and passenger airbags. An available option for the LX includes four-wheel ABS.
EPA Fuel Economy
Ford Contour four-cylinder, five-speed manual: 21/31 mpg city/highway
Ford Contour four-cylinder, four-speed automatic: 20/28 mpg city/highway
Ford Contour V-6, four-speed automatic: 18/26 mpg city/highway
Ford Contour V-6, five-speed manual: 17/26 mpg city/highway
- German engineering
- Affordably priced
You Won't Like
- Rental car looks
- Awkward stereo controls
- Rear seat is not comfortable
Isn't the best looking sport sedan on the road, but delivers reliability, performance, and good fuel economy.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Dodge Stratus
- Chevrolet Malibu