Buy/Drive/Burn: American Two-doors for a New Century

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn is the first of two consecutive entries where we’ll be evaluating two-door offerings from the dawn of the new millennium. First up is the American car trio… though one of them is thoroughly European.

Mercury Cougar

Mercury brought back its Cougar nameplate in a very different way for 1999. Using the European-market Ford Cougar and badging it as a Mercury, Ford replaced two of its prior product offerings: the sporty front-drive Probe and the personal luxury rear-drive Cougar. Built on the same platform as the Ford Mondeo, the Cougar was available with inline-four and six-cylinder engines. Like the Probe, the Cougar was front-engined and front-wheel drive. Contrary to standard Ford operations, the Cougar was exclusive to the Mercury brand; there was no Ford twin in North America. Today’s selection will be the more powerful V6 version, with a 2.5-liter Duratec engine. Power is distributed via the four-speed automatic from the Ford Probe. Cougar lived on through 2002 before it was eliminated without replacement.

Chrysler Sebring

The Chrysler Sebring lineup was new for the 1995 model year, when a new coupe went into production at the Normal, Illinois plant alongside the Dodge Avenger, Eagle Talon, and Mitsubishi Eclipse. For the 2001 model year, Sebring expanded its range when a sedan joined the convertible and coupe. The coupe’s new design was more upscale looking than the seldom-recalled outgoing generation. Coupe customers could select from an inline-four 2.4-liter or a 3.0-liter V6. Both engines were provided by Mitsubishi. Today’s Sebring Coupe is a fully loaded LXi with the V6 and four-speed automatic. The Sebring Coupe was dropped after 2005. In 2007, new sedan and convertible versions continued on the evolved Chrysler-Mitsubishi JS platform.

Oldsmobile Alero

In 1999, Oldsmobile replaced its Achieva and Cutlass models with the singular and all-new Alero. Sharing the N-body platform with the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac Grand Am, the Alero was available in two-door coupe and four-door sedan body styles. Engines ranged from 2.2 to 3.4 liters of displacement, with either four or six cylinders. Today’s Alero is a GLS trim with the 3.4L V6 from the Oldsmobile Silhouette. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic. The Alero lived on through 2004, as Oldsmobile ceased to exist at the end of that year. It was succeeded by the Pontiac G6.

Three American cars, each serving the middle market with two doors and V6 power. Which one is worth the Buy in 2001?

[Images: Ford, Chrysler, Oldsmobile]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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3 of 45 comments
  • Spookiness Spookiness on Dec 05, 2019

    Buy the Alero. Like other GMs of the period, they run a long time, sometimes poorly. I actually liked the relatively clean styling and interior nice-ness of the farewell Oldsmobile lineup. Drive the Cougar. I admire the styling, but mechanically not too sure. I think it's a very good early 90's design. Read an article that said the design started with the designer sketching his cat. Burn the Sebring. It its probably a comfortable cruiser, but Mopars of this era dont' do much for me.

  • Holden Miecranc Holden Miecranc on Dec 06, 2019

    Bought an '01 Alero GLS Coupe in '04 with 15k on it. Almost 16 years later, I still have it as my winter car. Absolutely the most trouble free car I have ever owned. Excluding replacing the OEM plastic head gaskets, which I knew going into it, I've had nothing but general maintenance required to the car. Modded the daylights out of it for fun and now, with 170k on it, it still runs pretty well.

  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??
  • Slavuta "There’s also the problem of climate change, and the more intense weather that comes along with it"How could one even write something like this? We don't have more intense weather. We have better weather. When Earth started, it was a fiery ball. We don't know what weather was in 1700. And even if we know some of it in Europe, we don't know what was happening in Africa, South America, Oceania, etc. We have people living in places where they did not live before. We have news that report weather related events minutes later or during. This did not happen before. There is no evidence that we have an increase in intensity. I looked into historical records in the area where I live - there is not much movement at all between 1970 and now. And remember - none of the previous weather predictions have materialized.
  • VoGhost Very soon, every home will have a 240v outlet in the garage, which can function as your electric charger, just like a modern home has 120v electric outlets and light switches inside the house. This is where the market is going. You all would see that if you didn't have those oil soaked blinders on.