Best Used Mercury Coupe - Cougar
Mercury has existed in Ford's shadow for most of the past 30 years, releasing vehicles which were in essence engineered to use Ford platforms in order to keep the automaker's development costs down. Eventually, Mercury managed to carve out a niche for themselves as the builder of premium editions of Ford automobiles, vehicles which were badge-engineered to a certain degree but which were geared towards a specific subset of buyers interested in a softer, more comfortable ride. Mercury automobiles also tended to offer longer lists of features in order to satisfy the demands of these same buyers.
In the 1990s, Mercury convinced their corporate masters that perhaps the automaker's image would be well served by allowing for a few specialty vehicles to be built, cars that would be exclusively owned by Mercury and which would help to give dealerships and salespeople a firmer example of what the Mercury identity was all about. This dovetailed nicely with Ford's desire to import some of the styling and design used by European vehicles to North America, as they would not have to worry about the effect it would have on the sales or marketing perception of the Blue Oval's U.S. lineup. Provided with the chassis that underpinned the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique, the company was given the go-ahead to build the Cougar two-door, a replacement in name only for the large personal luxury coupe which had been erased from the company's offerings a few years previous.
The new 1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar was a coupe unlike any that had ever been produced by the automaker. Compact and based on front-wheel drive architecture, the Cougar heralded a new era for the brand and allowed it to break free from their reputation as Ford's lap dog. The Cougar was far sportier than any other Mercury vehicle in recent memory, and its handling and peppy range of engines drew positive reviews from the automotive press. The vehicle's sleek and vaguely futuristic styling also broke fresh ground for the company and hinted at the direction that would be followed by Mercury in the new millennium.
While the final generation of the Mercury Cougar never sold at the volume that was hoped for, it still presents excellent value on the secondhand market as an economical and fun to drive vehicle. This article goes into further detail about the best used coupe available from Mercury.
1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar
To say that the open-mouthed styling of the 1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar coupe could have been lifted directly from the design notebooks of Ford's European operations would not be a stretch. The automobile's clean lines, uncluttered save for a crease at just above the rocker panels was unique at Mercury, resembling an updated take on the Contour / Mystique sedan whose platform it shared.
The 1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar features two interesting engine combinations that engage buyers on separate levels. For those who are more interested in fuel economy than chirping the tires, a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine is one hand to offer 125 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. The vast majority of these vehicles were matched with a 5-speed automatic transmission, although some managed to escape the factory saddled with a 4-speed automatic. Performance enthusiasts would do better to seek out the 2.5-liter V-6 power plant. With 170 horses and 165 lb-ft of torque, this engine is well suited for spirited driving, particularly as it is matched to a very responsive chassis and suspension that eagerly carves up bends in the road and then pushes the driver for more. The latter engine is offered with the same transmission options as the 4-cylinder.
The interior of the 1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar is meant to match the curves and angles of the automobile's exterior sheet metal, with round gauges offset by a dashboard that forgoes complication in order to give the vehicle more of a racy feel. Seats are comfortable and supportive, and while rear seats are not terrible for adults they are also not meant to be used on trips lasting more than half an hour or so. Leather seats, an in-dash 6-CD changer and exterior appointments such as a rear spoiler and upgraded wheels highlight some of the individual options available for the coupe.
The 1999 - 2002 Mercury Cougar is an exciting used coupe in a segment of the market known more for its frugality than its interesting driving dynamics.