Mercury Mystique (1997)
These two cars are essentially the same vehicle, sold under different names.(In our opinion, this is a really stupid practice. We guess that we'resupposed to believe that the cars are different? And that a Mercury isworth more than a Ford? Come on. Give us a little credit for someintelligence.) Both cars are available with either a four or a six cylinderengine. The Mystique, however, is not available in a four cylinder automatic
We test drove the four cylinder Contour and the six cylinder Mystique. Wekind of liked the styling of these two cars. They're kinda cute (in ouropinion). And they're nicely sized, especially for one or two people.They're not as bulky as a full-size family car, like a Taurus, but they'rebigger than puddle jumpers like the Escort. If you use a car to commute mostdays, and occasionally have to put a few other people in it, this car's sizeis perfect.
We drove a four cylinder Contour with a stick shift last year, and it wassporty and a lot of fun. We remember thinking it was a nice, less expensivealternative to some of the lower end European sedans. But, this year's fourcylinder Contour, teamed up with the automatic transmission, was annoyinglynoisy and pretty shaky, particularly when stopped at a light. (Don't forget:the cars we're testing are brand new, so it's only going to get worse as itgets older! It's sad, if this is as good as Ford can make it.) It stillhandled well and was fun to drive, but the vibration at stop lights quicklybecame the car's prominent feature.
These cars were introduced in 1995--the Contour replaced the Tempo and theMystique replaced the Topaz. Neither the Topaz nor the Tempo had a verystellar repair record, and while both of these cars certainly feel a zilliontimes better than the old Tempo, it's too soon to know how they'll hold upover time.
According to Consumer Reports, the 95's and 96's aren't bad except for"integrity" and "hardware." We read this to mean that little things keepbreaking or falling off. Not good for a 1 or 2 year old car (in our humbleopinion).
The Mercury Mystique that we tested was a six cylinder model with theautomatic transmission. It was a lot nicer than the Contour and we werefavorably impressed with this car, until we found out how much it costs:over $19,000! Granted, this was the "fully dressed up version," but it is alot of money, particularly when for about the same money (actually a littlemore), you can get a Toyota Camry.
View cars.com model report on this vehicle.