Pros: Gas mileage, dependability, head-turning good looks
Cons: Rear visibility, electrical system
After 25,000 miles, my Cougar has yet to spend a second in the shop for anything other than routine maintenance. I got the 2.0l I4, and the gas mileage has remained in the mid-20s in the city, and upwards of 33mpg highway. People still gape at this car from time to time, and friends beg to drive it. Those who can drive a manual transmission (automatic only comes on the V6) are impressed by the smooth gearbox and tight handling. The Cougar is quick and steady on takeoff, and for a 4-cylinder, surprisingly fast on the highway. (Downside: speeding tickets!!!) The only problems I've had have been minor electrical quirks, like the detachable stereo faceplate coming loose, and not being able to find the lock/unlock mechanism to install keyless entry. Overall, though, a solid and beautiful car, and I regret that Ford has not advertised it better. I would definitely recommend the Cougar to anyone who wants an economical, gorgeous car, and doesn't have time to spend at the repair shop.
*UPDATE: My Cougar recently rolled over 100,000 miles, and it is still a great car. It has only spent time in the shop at about 40k to replace the fuel filter and a defect in the timing mechanism. Also, I have had some trouble with the electrical outlet. The fuse has blown twice from normal use of cell phone chargers and the FM transmitter for my mp3 player. Still, the total I have spent on this car, other than routine maintenance, is under $200. It still handles well, but the ride isn't quite as smooth. Other than normal wear and tear, the Cougar looks great. The upholstery and paint have held up well, and interior molding is pretty good. I have driven this car all over the great state of Texas, as well as several trips to New Mexico, and one excursion from Lubbock, TX to Minneapolis, MN. It held up like a champ every time, and has continued to get excellent mileage. With the K&N air filter, it's still about 30mpg highway. I really like this car a lot, and can't understand why Mercury stopped making it. With all the parts Cougars share with current Ford models, it makes no sense. Everyone I know who has a Cougar loves it. If there were a 2007 Cougar, I'd buy it today.