Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,900 – $3,200*


2000 Mercury Cougar


2000 Mercury Cougar


1999 Mercury Cougar interior


2001 Mercury Cougar


2001 Mercury Cougar Zn

Pros:
  • Exterior finish
  • Ride (base suspension)
Cons:
  • Rear-seat room
  • Rear visibility

With their “new-edge” look, Cougars earn points for style and originality in the trendy sports-coupe segment, but score weaker in practical virtues and driving satisfaction. Most competitive threat is the Mitsubishi Eclipse, which was much improved for 2000 and handles better. A Dodge Avenger/Stratus coupe is roomier, and an Acura CL or Honda Prelude costs considerably more.

Overview

Far different from the Thunderbird-related Cougars of the past, the revived Cougar for 1999 was a compact, front-drive sports hatchback coupe with seating for four. Its goal: to enliven Mercury’s image. Despite its sharp-edged styling, the 1999 Cougar was based on the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique sedans. Overall, the Cougar measured just an inch longer. Engines were the same as those used on Contour/Mystique, but Cougars got a firmer suspension and tighter steering. The base 4-cylinder teamed only with manual shift, while a 4-speed automatic was available with the 2.5-liter V6. Options included front side-impact airbags, antilock braking, and traction control (with V6 only). A V6 Sport Group included rear disc brakes (rather than drums) and 16-inch wheels instead of the usual 15-inchers. A split folding rear seatback was standard in the sporty four-passenger interior.

Yearly Updates

2000 Cougar
Little change was evident on the 2000 Cougar. The driver’s-door map pocket was deleted, and an ashtray/lighter now was optional. A new emergency release with a glow-in-the-dark handle went into the cargo area.
2001 Cougar
Cougars earned appearance revisions inside and out for 2001, including a new front fascia, grille, and headlights. The V6 Sport Group option added aluminum pedals. Instrument faces were revised, and a new steering wheel was installed. A six-disc in-dash CD changer joined the options list. Mercury announced a high-performance Cougar S with a more potent engine, but it failed to materialize.
2002 Cougar
Added midyear was a V6 35th Anniversary Edition package. Building on the XR package, it came with unique emblems and hood scoop, chromed 17-inch wheels, and an in-dash CD changer.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Cougars came with two distinct engines: a 125-horsepower 4-cylinder (manual shift only), or a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 that could be equipped either with a five-speed or with an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 125
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

24/34

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/155
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/28
20/29
19.9
20.7

Road Test

Reasonably peppy with the base engine, a Cougar gains some low-end muscle if equipped with the V6, but passing power is unimpressive. So is acceleration, with almost 10 seconds needed to reach 60 mph in an automatic-transmission Cougar. The automatic shifts fluidly, but hunts annoyingly between gears in hilly terrain and lacks a provision to lock out overdrive fourth gear. Neither engine matches Japanese-brand rivals for refinement or high-revving fun. As for economy, we averaged 19.9 mpg with a five-speed V6, and 20.7 with automatic. Cougars handle well, gripping nicely in sweeping turns, but lack the twisty-road agility and poise offered by most import brands. A long wheelbase (for a coupe) hampers nimbleness, but helps the base suspension yield a relatively comfortable ride. The V6 Sport Group improves roadability, but at the expense of a thumpy, nervous ride. Brake-pedal feel has been inconsistent, ranging from mushy to touchy on new test models, though stopping power is adequate. Road rumble and exhaust noise are intrusive. Front head and leg room are adequate in a rather claustrophobic interior. Bucket seats afford good lateral support, but aren’t the most comfortable. The cramped rear seat is for preteens, with poorly shaped cushions. Split folding rear seatbacks provide generous cargo space, but liftover is high. Lack of a redline on the tachometer, and low radio controls, mar an otherwise appealing dashboard. In addition, the cabin abounds with hard, cheap-looking plastic.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Mercury Cougar w/automatic V6

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 2
20%

Total: 40

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.4 185.0 69.6 52.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.5 15.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 34.6 42.5 33.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Cougar 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 3
60%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 107
Injury 96
Theft 76

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic-transmission fluid may leak from the vent hose. A redesigned hose is available. (1999-2000)
Climate control
Description: The blower may not work if the blower resistor goes bad. It is being replaced under warranty up to 6 years or 72,000 miles. (1999-2000)
Dashboard lights
Description: A low-coolant warning light my be due to a faulty coolant level float or wiring problem. (1999-00)
Engine misfire
Description: The 2.5L and 3.0L engines were built with the timing marks for the camshafts in the wrong place and if replacement timing chains are installed using the marks, severe engine damage will result. (1999)
Hard starting
Description: The engine may not start if the windshield-wiper switch is in the low or intermittent position because the wiper wiring was installed too close to the antitheft control module. (1999-2000)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (2002)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: If the sunroof rattles, there are revised guide shoes available. (1999)

Recall History

1999
Description: In high humidity, door-latch pawl on certain cars may stick in open or unlatched position, and door will not latch when closed.
1999
Description: Rough surface of heater-blower resistor’s stainless-steel blades can damage the copper surface of wiring-harness connector, eventually resulting in increased resistance and an open circuit, leading to electrical arcing.
1999
Description: Brake-lamp-switch terminals could overheat, potentially causing either loss of brake-lamp function or continuously illuminated brake lamps.
1999
Description: An open circuit in the wiring harness could lead to electrical arcing that could melt the connector housing material, increasing the potential for a fire.
1999-00 w/V6
Description: Battery cable may be misrouted and attachment to alternator cable under-torqued. If misrouted, cable could contact power-steering line and insulation could wear, resulting in electrical short.
1999-02
Description: Contamination of filter in fuel delivery module can eventually block fuel flow, which may cause engine hesitation, loss of power, surging, and similar symptoms, including stalling.
2000-01 w/adjustable pedals
Description: If grease from pedal assembly enters stoplamp switch, it can contaminate contacts leading to carbon buildup and, potentially, a short circuit.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.