Pros: Sleek, aerodynamic exterior, sporty interior. Good gas mileage. Roomy trunk.
Cons: Not available in V8 or convertible, so it's not a TRUE sportscar. No backseat room.
The 2000 and 2001 Cougars have been scoffed by many an auto enthusiast because they're not TRUE Cougars. Even a laymen can see that the retooling the Cougar underwent for the new millennium bears absolutely no resemblance to the Cougars of the 80's and 90's. While this may be true, I myself am not adverse to change, and if you can stop crying about the fact that the model has essentially migrated from luxury to sport, you'll find a fun, zippy little car with a lot of character.
First the skinny:
The 2000 and 2001 Cougars are essentially identical. They are available in 4-cylinder or V6. I got the V6 (obviously). I was bummed out (but not surprised) to learn that no V8 was available. The car is rather small, so a V8 probably wouldn't have fit too well under the hood anyway. The V6 clocks in at just under 200 horses, which is a bit anemic...I mean, the Taurus has more horsepower than that. The small size of the car makes it pretty fast in spite of the small engine...it's comparable to a V6 Mustang. Also available as an option is the obligatory sunroof (but no convertible top). The usual amenities are available as well if you want them, such as manual trans, leather interior, spoiler, better rims, cd changer, etc. The hookup I bought last year (i have the 2000 model) ran about 19,000 with the works...I got everything but the sunroof.
Now the good:
I'm into speakers and really wanted to put a subwoofer in the trunk. This car has a TON of trunk space. This was a big selling point for me. In addition to the already generous trunk space, the back seats fold down to give you enough room to store skis, subwoofers, dead bodies...whatever.
The interior and exterior are both very stylish...I got the leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and let me tell you they are VERY sexy.
The car is small and only has a V6, so the gas mileage is great and the takeoff speed isn't bad at all. I average 23 miles/gallon city driving and 27 miles/gallon highway...that's important considering the outrageous gas prices we're experiencing.
The bucket seats are comfortable, they have lumbar support and all that jazz. They're fully adjustable...the drivers seat moves up and down, which is great for me. I'm very tall, so I move the seat down to give myself more headroom.
Maintenance-wise, i've never had it serviced for anything but oil changes and recalls; I'll get to that in a minute...
Finally, the bad:
Ok, I'll get to it now...the RECALLS. As with any new model of car, you can expect recalls. In the year I've owned this car, there've been THREE! They sounded pretty serious, too. Electrical fires under the hood, brakes not working, that kind of stuff. These will likely be cleared up by the time you purchase your new 2001 Cougar, but it had to be mentioned.
My biggest gripe is that there's no back seat room at all. The Mustang has the advantage here because it uses a bench in the back seat, which gives you a bit more room. The Cougar, however, uses bucket seats, which are a lot less comfortable and a lot smaller. I'm 6'4" and I simply cannot sit back there at all...my head hits the glass on top of the trunk. Even smaller people have trouble fitting back there, it's a bit of a bummer.
I'm a bit of an audiophile, and speakers are important to me. The speakers that come with the Cougar are god-awful. Annoying at low levels and intolerable at high volume levels, they cover the full spectrum of suck. They can be upgraded to "premium" speakers for another 50 bux or so, but the premium speakers are just as bad...I honestly can't even tell the difference. I wish they offered something like the Mach 460 system (found in Mustangs) so that non-audiophiles can get a decent-sounding stock system, but alas, there is no such option. The first thing I did when I got home was rip out all four of those awful speakers and replace them with lots of amps, woofers, and expensive component speakers. Ahhhhh....that's better :)
And last of all, the summary:
I wanted to wait a while before reviewing this vehicle. Sometimes things come up that you didn't notice before. I can say I've put 15,000 miles on this vehicle and am STILL very happy with it. If you want something sporty, yet practical, this may be the ticket. You get a sleek looking car, that's not as typical as Mustangs or Cameros. They have a nice, practical pricetag, and just the right mix of necessary and desirable features. If you can get past the small backseat and sucky speakers, you'll find a lot to like in the NEW Mercury Cougar. Old-schoolers can scoff all they want, they're just jealous...