American Two-doors for a New Century, in 2001

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]

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