By on July 28, 2021

We’re back with more 1997 midsize sedan action in today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn. They’re all on the smaller end of the midsize sedan scale, all American, and crucially, all wearing semi-upmarket branding.

Chrysler Cirrus

For 1997, the Chrysler Cirrus is in its third model year, a part of the Cloud Cars that finally put an end to the K-based nonsense that went on at Chrysler for forever. The Cirrus employs either a 2.4-liter inline-four or 2.5-liter V6 (161 HP), the latter a Mitsubishi engine shared with the Galant. Available in LX and LXi trim, the V6 is an option at both trim levels. Regardless of trim, all Cirrus’ are fitted with a four-speed automatic straight from the 1989 Dodge Spirit. An LXi with leather and V6 asks about $21,700.

Mercury Mystique

Mystique is in year three of its run for 1997, a “world car” Mondeo rebadge project Ford might end up regretting in the future – we’ll see. In 1997 there are three Mystique trim levels: base, GS, and LS. Two engines are on offer, a 2.0-liter inline-four from the Zetec engine family, and a 2.5-liter Duratec V6 (170 HP). Mystique is available with a five-speed manual, but the vast majority of customers choose our pick, a four-speed automatic. Air conditioning is an optional extra on the LS, and is included in an equipment package with the 2.5 V6. The V6 Mystique stays cool inside for $19,070.

Oldsmobile Cutlass

A Malibu by any other name, the upmarket Cutlass is new for 1997 as a replacement for the ancient A-body Cutlass Ciera. Oldsmobile buyers receive the warhorse 3.1-liter V6 as standard (155 HP). All Malibus and Cutlasses use a four-speed auto from the Cavalier. Two trims satisfy the Cutlass customer, GL and GLS. Today’s GLS has all the equipment from the GL as standard and includes an optional sunroof. Yours at $19,225, and it may just be the last time you can buy a car from Oldsmobile that wears a Cutlass badge.

Three alternatively, upmarket branded sedans in 1997, all V6-equipped and around $20,000. Which gets your money?

[Images: Chrysler, Ford, GM]

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72 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: Upmarket Brand American Midsize Sedans in 1997...”


  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    -Buy the Cutlass, I have a weird nostalgia for that 3.1L V6.
    -Drive the Mystique, it was a GREAT handling car, just too small and my god, so incredibly unreliable. My friend was in the shop constantly.
    -Burn the Cirrus. What a turd.

    • 0 avatar
      tane94

      The 3.1 v6 had a design defect that caused coolant leakage at around 30,000. My mechanic replaced dozens of defective coolant valves on those engines.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “defective coolant valves”

        3100s do often need their intake gaskets replaced but I’ve never heard of a “defective coolant valve” on these engines. I’m not sure what that part would refer to. Something in the heater core?

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I owned 4 3100 equipped GM’s of this time era and dad had 2. Surprise- we never had to replace a single intake gasket even with over 100K miles. The trick- not keeping the Dexcool in the radiator for 100K miles. We actually changed over to the older green half and half antifreeze on dads 1994 3100 Cutlass and 1999 3100 Lumina LS and never had an issue. My two 1996 Luminas saw coolant changes every 40K as did my two Cutlass Supremes.

        Those 3100’s were butter smooth, very peppy and overall a big improvement over the previous noisier 3.1 V6 that ran out of steam past 4000 RPM’s. It was one of our favorite engines of this time period. Some had the intakes go bad early in the engines life so It appears some were of lesser quality or not torqued to proper specs.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      My Mystique with the V6 made it past 200,000 with very little time in the shop. Mostly just expected wear items. It was fun to drive. I’d buy it all over again.

      Did your friend have the I4? I heard that had some issues.

      • 0 avatar
        eng_alvarado90

        The I4 was more problematic than the Duratec. But I believe it’s also a matter of how well you maintain it. One of my cousins had a 96 Contour which overheated and required a new engine at around 100K miles.
        My neighbor had a 95 Contour with the same powertrain. It never required major repairs and the last time I rode in it the ODO was around 170K miles.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I had a 1999 Cougar — based on Mystique / Contour — and agree the handling was SHOCKINGLY good. Nice heavy laser-sharp steering, and it was just so easy to toss around corners. Ride was VERY rough – will never forget how it felt to literally bounce down the 110 freeway through Downtown LA – but worth it. Fun car, not perfect, a bit goofy, but lots of fun per dollar. Some car mags compared the driving experience to the contemporary 3-series, and while hardly as refined, it was not far off.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    No real preferences or dislikes here, but it does show 25 yrs later you can get something a LOT better for that same 20 grand.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Very true. But even at that time, you had so many better choices. The ’97 Camry gets called out all the time for not being a Lexus on the inside like the previous gen Camry was, but compared to these heaps, the ’97 Camry was in another league. And they’re still all over the road today.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Paid $16K for a fully loaded (for the day) Mystique in 2000. Can’t touch that today, with good reason (inflation).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Noooooooooo!!!!

    Buy: Mystique. At least it will be fun while it lasts.
    Drive: Cutlass. Ugh.
    Burn: Cirrus. Pain.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember how quick the Contours went downhill, appearance wise. For that I think I’m gonna have to buy the Malibu instead.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t have any personal experience with the Contour/Mystique but they must be built out of mozzarella for an N-Body to be considered the higher quality option.

      • 0 avatar
        96redse5sp

        If you’re talking about style, I agree. The first generation contour was definitely European, but understated in an elegant sort of way. The second generation Contour design was a bit of a letdown. The first generation Mystiques, however were dowdy and the second generation was a massive improvement -my favorite styling of the entire CDW27 effort.

        • 0 avatar
          sckid213

          Agree 100 on the Contour styling going backward while the Mystique improved. The Mystiques made very good first impressions with the leather interiors, IMO too. They did feel truly Euro and a bit upmarket – and drove it – compared with garbage like the “Cutlass”

      • 0 avatar
        AmsterCub

        I remember thinking the Contour was just modern enough that the design would look good for a long time to come. I was happy to see a European car on Phoenix roads. Then two years later, every one I saw had discolored hoods and bumpers (why were they always dark green?) and terribly yellowed headlights. The Euro cars were not made for Arizona, at all.

  • avatar
    xidex

    buy mystique, had a contour back in the day and was excellent
    drive cutlass only cause i had to choose the lesser of two evils with the cirrus
    burn the cirrus

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Buy the Cutlass for its better resale value.
    Drive the Cirrus. My 95 Stratus with the 2.5 V6 was sweet, I’m tellin’ ya. And the Cirrus is good-looking.
    Burn the Mystique. What a dorky car.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      I was going to point out that burning the Mystique for being “dorky” proves you know nothing about cars… but you already proved that by saying a ’95 Stratus was “sweet.”

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Concur with SCE.
      Buy Cutlass for resale, easier to find parts probably, and decently reliable.
      Drive Cirrus: * see below
      Burn the Mystique: they were unreliable and had *tiny* backseats.

      The “cloud” cars get a lot of hate, but having owned a 97 Stratus, even with the agricultural 2.0, a 5-spd trans, and crank windows, it was a good handling car, solid stiff chasis, decently fun, and fantastic A/C output. Also an excellent roadtripper- very spacious backseat for real adults, a huge trunk (with full-size spare!), and I got 35mpg+ many times with 4 aboard and not driven gently. The seats were comfortable, and the controls were perfectly placed. Although the Cirrus allegedly had a softer suspension, my guess is with leather seats and more options it would be decently comfy. They did have problems over the long haul, which is a shame, but they were also bought by a lot of people who weren’t trying, so they didn’t maintain them well.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    God, I thought you were kidding when you said you might actually make this a B/D/B…I think the best fate for all three would be a nuclear weapon that removes them from Earth. But I’ll play along.

    Buy: Mercury. I’ve only driven the Ford, not the Mercury, but I can’t imagine they are too different. I did like their Euro-roots, but as others have said, quality wasn’t Job One here.

    Drive: I just can’t. I tried. But the rules say that I can drive the Olds into a huge moat filled with gasoline – conclusion below:

    Burn: Chrysler. Push the Chrysler, on fire, into said moat and remove these two stains from the Earth. The Olds felt outdated even new. The Chrysler, oof. Rough engine. The rentals I was forced into felt brittle, hollow, coarse, and unrefined. It’s like Chrysler stopped at “looks good, that’s all.” And I can’t recall the last time I saw either the Olds or the Chrysler on the streets outside of a scrapyard.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      it was like they had a popular one with the LX and the small neon. their midrange was phoned in

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        And the Neon was cost-cut to death. 3 speed automatic, Play-Skool plastic interior, power windows only up front. But the engine had an easy 20+ HP on the competition, it had a TON of room in the trunk and in the back, and it was fun to drive, especially with the stick. They had duel airbags while the Japanese still used robobelts or door belts. A few of my friends had these during and after college and they liked them a lot. But most of them were sticks. And the Japanese had smoother engines with 4-speed automatics.

        When you sat in a 1994 Civic, Sentra, Corolla, or Protégé, it might not have been as quick, but it just felt better built.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The Mercury had a larger flywheel, better insulation, came with more standard features, and slightly better fit-n-finish. Aside from that, very close to the Ford.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Buy: The Malibu (oops Olds). I had a 5th generation Malibu and stil respect its value. The styling has I believe aged gracefully. The interior was functional. There were no complaints about the drivetrain. And I still see them regularly in running condition. Quite often wondered what they would be like with a MT.

    Drive: The Mercury. They had a reputation of being a ‘drivers car’. And also a reputation for being unreliable and finicky.

    Burn: The Chrysler.

  • avatar
    C5 is Alive

    *Third model year for the Cirrus. It was MT’s 1995 Car of the Year and my grandfather bought a ’95 LX the day they came out.

    Buy: The Cutlass. These were supremely boring vehicles, but it was also the most competitive 1997 Oldsmobile available and, from what I saw, better-built on average than the other two choices.

    Drive: The Cirrus. Like I said about the LH cars in the previous BDB, Chryslers of this era were actually pretty fun to drive for what they were, though even with the Mitsu 2.5L these were somewhat underpowered. They were also quite comfortable inside.

    Burn: The Mystique. Overpriced, cramped, overpriced. FoMoCo immediately started decontenting the Contour/Mystique after the 1995 intro flopped, yet the MSRP somehow remained static (though rebates did increase.) They did drive like good European cars are supposed to, but that never outweighed their shortcomings.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “but it was also the most competitive 1997 Oldsmobile available”

      Really? I greatly disagree. I’d rank it last among Oldsmobile’s 1997 offerings.

      • 0 avatar
        eng_alvarado90

        You could do worse. Oldsmobile still sold the Achieva in 1997. What a pile…

      • 0 avatar
        C5 is Alive

        ajla – I realized after the comment period closed that I should have said “class competitive,” which I maintain it was.

        On features, powertrain, size and interior room and even build quality, the Cutlass (and Malibu) came closest to matching up against their primary midsize competitors – certainly closer than the Cutlass Supreme managed – than any other Olds product in the compact, full-size, SUV or minivan segments*. They didn’t necessarily beat any of them, mind you, but they came close… even if sales figures didn’t reflect that.

        *Maybe an argument could be made for the Aurora… but, no. It was a nice enough luxury car, even a revelatory one for GM, but it was still no Lexus competitor.

        SCE – Yeah, I’ll try to live with that shame, too. Unlike some here, I actually have plenty of seat time in all three of these cars.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “than any other Olds product in the compact, full-size, SUV or minivan segments*”

          Well, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I have some love for other ’97 Oldsmobile offerings, but none for this car.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            Fair enough. Never said I loved the Cutlass, just that objectively it matched up better against its peers than other 1997 Olds vehicles. Personally, I wouldn’t say no to an absolute creampuff 1997 LSS with the Series II L67.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I know. I just don’t agree with that conclusion.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Like me, you’re obviously somebody who knows nothing about cars – according to quaquaqua ^^. /s

  • avatar
    96redse5sp

    Drive the Mystique with the V6 and five speed manual. An absolute blast to drive and, at the time, along with the Contour, lauded as one of the best handling front wheel drive cars ever made on America. Generally reliable if you avoided the auto.

    Buy the Cirrus. Still a cool innovative looking car. Not a great driver’s car.

    Burn the Olds. Or don’t burn. It’s hard to muster up any kind of feeling for this blandest of the bland cars from the last century…

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Buy the Cutlass. It was basically a Malibu and old Malibus of that vintage refuse to die as I still see a lot of them on the road.
    Drive the Mystique. I drove a Contour and liked it but they weren’t built to last and disappeared from our roads awfully fast.
    Burn the Cirrus. Poor headlights and styling that aged horribly.

    About the 3.1V6. Its problems were traced to GM trying to be cute around that time by reinventing the wheel and introducing their own Dexcool coolant. That stuff was the color of tang and ate through the cooling system seals in no time flat. GM was eventually sued for the damages.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/gm-settlement/gm-settles-lawsuits-over-engine-coolant-problems-idUSN2735011520080327

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      We called it… Orange Death.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        I heard the smart play was to flush out the orange crap and put traditional green coolant as you got one. Even if brand new.

        Some mechanics though swear up and down it wasn’t the coolant to blame, just owners neglecting changing it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          This is what we did. I seriously don’t think I have had the coolant changed in my 3800 since the end of 2010 but the first thing I did that fall was drain and replace with standard issue. I have no leaks and have had none in that time frame though 60V6 were the motors most susceptible.

  • avatar
    B Buckner

    The Cirrus was the 1995 Motor Trend car of the year. 1995 Car and Driver top 10. Not perfect, but sophisticated double wishbone suspension with Audi-like combination of comfort and handling. Great seats and large interior for its size. Many are burning a good effort by Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The N-body Malibu was the 1997 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
      And did the Cirrus outhandle the Contour?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Motor Trend tends to have some wonky COTY awards.

        • 0 avatar

          Didn’t the Renault Alliance win once? Lol.

          • 0 avatar
            theflyersfan

            I had to look up the list, but in 1983, it did.

            Some other gems:
            2012 VW Passat
            2002 Ford Thunderbird (before the flame war starts, I know it had style, but underneath, it was a bunch of existing parts and not evolutionary or revolutionary)
            2000 Lincoln LS
            1997 Chevrolet Malibu
            1991 (the gold standard of WTF?) Chevy Caprice

            And back when they had the Import Car of the Year:
            1999 VW New Beetle. See above about existing parts and new style.
            But I’ll give credit where credit’s due – they mostly got the ICOTY correct.

            It really is an ad dollars award.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I don’t think picking the Lincoln in 2000 was that bad.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            Given how the LS turned out…

            Could have been worse though, I’m surprised they didn’t go with Catera.

            @theflyersfan

            1990 Lincoln Town Car (with 5.0 carryover!)

        • 0 avatar
          Crosley

          Their awards were the equivalent of “everyone gets a trophy” to satisfy their advertisers.

          Its funny how at one time it seemed a big deal and in retrospect, almost every car seemed to get one. And they had “import” of the year, “truck of the year”, etc. It just rotated around depending on what year the refresh happened.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Yeah, look at the history of Motor Trend cars of the year. It’s actually pretty funny. MT really knows how to pick ’em.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    This was actually a decent offering by the Big 3 to go against the imports when they could undercut on price.

    I owned a new 99 Ford Contour, essentially the same as the Mercury Mystique. It really was a lot of bang for the buck, I got it relatively loaded with a V6 for only $13,900. I’m pretty sure Ford never intended to sell them that cheap and they were just getting rid of them. It had a few issues covered under warranty and I didn’t own it outside of that period as it made me worried. I heard they were service nightmares later on. My ownership experience was largely positive, but the resale was terrible and I never bought another new domestic vehicle. Car though was quick and had world class handling. Back seat was probably smaller than a Mustang, almost unusable.

    I would probably:

    Buy Mystique, great value

    Drive Oldsmobile, Malibu was a good platform, just boring. But comfortable

    Burn Cirrus, Mopar Quality. Had an extended rental with a Stratus, felt really cheap but a decent effort.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If I don’t follow the rules – burn all 3 of them and get a bus pass.

    FINE – follow the rules

    BUY: The sponge that is the Cutlass. This is going to run badly long after either have stopped running. Case in point – when is the last time you saw a Contour/Mystique or a Cirrus? Now when is the last time you saw a clapped out barely running Malibu of this gen. Objectively the worst of the interiors, basically the worst of everything – sans like yesterday will run badly long after either other choice stopped running. Ya Dexcool monster blah blah blah parts are plentiful and cheap and I know what I’m signing up for.

    DRIVE: Mercury Mystique – if I have to pick from the 3 here you go. It is the best of the 3 head and shoulders albiet the smallish trunk cramped backseat, and somewhat spartan interior appointments even for the time of era. Material quality is the best of the three. Also has the best driving dynamics. This was the era of a GM product will nickel and dime to you to death and when a Ford dies – it’s feckin’ dead.

    BURN: Cirrus – it’s no contest – the Mitsubishi 2.5 was trash, the car is cost cutting trash, it’s just trash. I had one of these as a rental once and I just wanted to drive it into the first large tree I saw after a couple of days. Yeet this sucker right into the fire.

    • 0 avatar

      Basically agree here. BURN THEM ALL.

      The cloud cars were OK new, had a friend with a almost new Plymouth Breeze back in the day with a manual and it was a decent car. Fast forward ten years and a coworker had a lower mileage cirrus and that thing was self destructing did not age well at all. Honestly there are more of the K-AA-AC body mopars (Spirit, Acclaim etc) around then the JA (cloud cars) at this point.

      The Cutlass is a cockroach. I have a coworker who has been driving one for the last 8 years as it slowly dissolves but makes it the 8 miles back and forth to work everyday.

      The Contour Mystique, is a bit of a shame. They handle really well don’t ride bad, but the 4 cyl in them is awful. Hated the 97 Contour we owned. The automatic were none to reliable either. They also seemed to be very inconsistent build quality. The only vehicle I have heard more wild swings in reliable to piece of crap was the first gen liberty. These things either go forever or crap out at 100k miles depending on the day were built apparently.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    Buy: Cutlass. Easy to find parts, roomy, newest design out of these three, comfortable. It’s plain vanilla ice cream and most people are ok with that.

    Drive: Mystique. Duratec is a solid engine and this car got the best handling and power to weight ratio of the bunch.

    Burn: Cirrus. It was a very close call between this and the Cutlass. My 1st car was a hand-me-down 2000 Stratus with the 2.4 which my parents bought new and never gave us any major problems other than the OEM radio, power steering pump and warped brake rotors (it was under braked).
    The sole reason I’m buying the Cirus despite my own experience was because I haven’t heard anything good about the V6.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Buy: Mystique- I used to occasionally drive a Contour as a government vehicle. It had the Zetec four and given its European lineage it was well built and handled nimbly.

    Drive: Cutlass- A besmirching of a legendary and best selling nameplate nonetheless it was a better designed and roomier N-body.

    Burn: Cirrus- An ok cloud car but not as refined as the others. I had a coworker who bought a base Stratus with the Neon 2.0 and a 5 speed which was a nice combination. He actually happened upon it while shopping for a Neon and it wasn’t much pricier.
    Oh and replacing the battery, that’s a heck of a job.

    Honorable mention: Grand Am or Achieva. Not as roomy but they last forever.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Drive the Mystaque. At least it comes with a real transmission.
    Crush the other two. Oldsmobile because it’s a GM, with all the cheapened mediocrity that that entails (but Oldsmobile is a cool brand name), and the Cirrus because it was lousy in so many ways.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    “the K-based nonsense that went on at Chrysler for forever.” It wasn’t nonsense. It allowed the company to pay it’s debt and survive with a wide range of products.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed – glad you brought this up.

      The K cars weren’t bad for the time, and Chrysler did a great job coming up with derivatives. My 85 LeBaron GTS was a solid runner until it rusted out at 15 years and 200k+ miles in Pennsylvania hills and salt.

    • 0 avatar

      Certainly saved them, and the original K and the minivans were absolutely winners! Other good things in there too like the Spirit R/T.

      But by the late Eighties and the Dynasty and Co, it was all getting too much and time to move on. The platform was stretched just too far from those basic roots.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I would buy the Cutlass. My cousin bought one under my guidance and liked it overall as a good all around car. She especially appreciated the split folding rear seats for the added utility, the huge trunk, the smooth effortless V6 and the comfortable leather seats! It was a 1998 and she had that car until 3 years ago!

    I would drive the Cirrus because it was a nice handling, roomy and comfortable car that was decently designed.

    The Ford gets the burn for it’s smaller trunk, smaller interior and mediocre styling.

  • avatar

    Buy the Cirrus (if you’re going to punish yourself, punish yourself with an acre of dashboard), drive the Mystique, burn the Olds. Nothing against the Olds, just– OMG if that was the best they could do then they deserved to go under.

    • 0 avatar
      toronado

      I don’t really fault Oldsmobile for that, they threw a Malibu at them and a budget of $20 to make it different. At this point they went all in on the Aurora and let everything else go other than a little effort on the Bravada IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I still remember the ad campaign for Malibu. “It’s the car you KNEW AMERICA could build!” Such a weird thing to declare, looking back. Though it did LOOK the part in terms of mimicking an import blah-sedan that was all the rage back then.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Seems like none of you ever drove a Cirrus LXi, and it shows. A much better car and design than the wretched Malibu/Cutlass and Contour/Mystique.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I live where vehicles rust …All brands ! Some worse than others.

    Buy the …Ford for no other reason that its just the best looking of the three, but the rustys will eat it in no time.

    Buy the Olds …My late wife wanted one, but her sister already had one ..Wifey ordered a 97 Grand Am 2 dr.. finished in” midnight magenta ” or popsicle purple if you will .. An” E type interior ” all I know is the price went up another $500 ….I rarely drove it ..Once a week I’d wash and vacuum it …Wifey would drop it off at the Pontiac dealer for service. They drove her to work and picked her up …GM coughed up for an intake gasket and around the 60 KLM mark ??? (36000 miles ) The Grand Am ran, and ran, and barely cost much outside of regular. maintenance ..May she rest in peace , but she was tough on brakes. At about 140000 KLM’s we gifted it to our oldest girl .. Eventually in spite of careful rust proofing , I didn’t like the looks of the sub frame.. I sold as is, and saw it around town until 2010 -11 …Nothing spectacular but a good car it was .

    I guess a I need to burn the Chrysler ??? But reluctantly I’ll play by the rules .

  • avatar
    Offbeat Oddity

    Buy: Mystique: A tough call between this and the Cirrus, but the size is just about perfect for me (I don’t use the rear seat for anything, so a tight rear seat isn’t a deal breaker for me). I’ve only ridden in them, but I’ve heard nothing but raves for how they drive.

    Drive: Cirrus: I liked the styling and surprisingly spacious interior considering its size. I owned a 1998 Neon and my grandparents owned several Chrysler vehicles during this time period, and we’ve had good luck with them. Though a solid effort, it didn’t stand out to me the way the Intrepid and Neon did.

    Burn: Cutlass: There’s nothing wrong with it, but the Oldsmobile I was crazy about in 1997 was the new Intrigue. It’s just a little blah even though it’s probably the most reliable.

  • avatar
    texan01

    Ugh…. I guess Buy the Olds, burn the Chrysler, and drive the Mistake.

    I had the last of the line 2000 Contour and it was a cheap nasty affair, and the Mistique was no better. crumbly plastic, coarse NVH from the chassis, but it was a fantastic handler, and the 125hp Zetec 4 was decently peppy even with the spectacularly dimwitted and flaccid 4 speed automatic. It was just a 4 door 2 seater with me and pretty much anyone else riding in it, I’m 6’2″ and there was just no room for legs in the back seat behind me. I preferred the updated design over the older Ovoid design that Ford was going for in the mid 90s. The GM N-body is cockroach quality if you do the bare minimum to maintain it. the Chryslers didn’t hang around long enough to look completely tired by the time they were finally parked.

  • avatar
    Deorew

    Buy and Drive: Mystique, hands down.
    I had a ’95 Mystique, 6 cyl, 5 speed manual for 17 years.
    It went 368,000 miles, original engine and transmission, except for 1 clutch replacement.
    Nothing more than normal maintenance.
    Fantastic car from top to bottom.
    This was leather, sunroof edition, before all the de-contenting.
    Now I have a ’13 Focus ST, 224,000 miles.

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