My car finally started having difficulty opening both front doors much like several folks have experienced already. Read through the posts and dug into the car to find out the source of the problem. Only one post was correct. The white plastic clip that holds the rod that connects the door handle to the latch is the problem. It wears out and increases the travel required to operate the latch.
Two ways to fix, one cheap, which I like and one that is not cheap ($22 each door) but will likely last the life of the car. Both ways are the same amount of work.
1. Remove the door panel, you can leave the speaker in place.
2. Pull back the foam liner to expose the latch.
3. Remove the 3 screws holding the latch in, may need an impact screwdriver for this.
4. Remove the 2 screws holding the exterior door handle. If you live in the rust belt these might be rusted and may break off.
5. Pull the door handle and latch mechanism out through the inside of the door.
6. This shows the white clip while still in the car DSC06480..JPG
7. This shows the white clip when the door handle and latch mechanism is removed from the car DSC06481..JPG
8. Now for the cheap method. Remove the clip, rotate 180 degrees and replace, this puts the unworn section into play. Reinstall and enjoy
9. The expensive way is to replace this clip (W702246-5300 about $22 each!!), btw this number has been superceded. ford contour latch assembly..pdf
Reinstall and enjoy