1999 Mercury Cougar I4 from North America
A great runabout with a sporty nature - just don't get the auto!
The transmission had a gasket blow at approximately 50000 miles. It was replaced under my extended warranty and two subsequent units were replaced before my warranty ran out at 80000 miles. Total cost, had I not purchased the warranty, would have been around $10,000.
That having been said, the only other two major repairs were a bearing in the right front assembly, again a warranty item, and the standard brake jobs (only two in 110,000 miles!).
Last summer I had several problems with the car stalling, which was traced to the O2 sensor: its "fault" setting allows it to work just fine in the winter, however, and I don't plan on replacing it until June. Regardless: this is a standard service item that should've been replaced well before 130000 miles.
The '99-2000 models come with plastic lense Bosch headlights that will yellow in time. You can replace them with the 2001+ glass units, but it requires modification.
Lastly, the driver's seat (perhaps to be expected at 130k) has not held up well and I will need to replace it soon.
My particular car was the Zetech I4 mated with the dreaded CD4E transmission from... well, just about every automatic car Ford makes. Ford never produced automatic I4s for the market (and in fact, my VIN shows that the car was new Cougar #28 - making it either a press vehicle, or part of the Ford rental fleet - not a proper production vehicle.) I would certainly stay away from this transmission!
However, the engine is an absolute dream and absolutely *nothing* has gone wrong with it in 110,000 miles! I suggest using Mobil 1 and 93 octane as a very rudimentary insurance, but don't expect problems from this engine. I cannot speak for the more popular Duratec 6. However, I have driven the v6 cars and found that they are quite nose-heavy compared to the I4 and have serious doubts that they handle as well for this reason. The I4 Cougar handles especially well, especially with its new Traction TAs, and has no problem leaving the Eclipse, Tiburon, or Civic behind on off-ramps (0.85g on the skidpad - a little less than the stellar Mazda P5 ( (0.87g) ) - not great, but not bad for the money). It's also quite comfortable, no matter what people say: I drove from Maryland to Wyoming in three days with two other people in this car, and we didn't kill one another.
I enjoy the styling, the usable torque response, and the gorgeous interior. I only wish that the car had been a little lighter and rear-wheel drive: the hip arches certainly suggest that it is already. I believe they'd still be making it today if that'd been the case.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 2nd May, 2005