For 1971, the Cougar was restyled, weighed less and had only a one-inch-longer wheelbase than its predecessors (112 vs. 111 - which was similar to GM's intermediate-sized two-door models such as the Olds Cutlass). The front end now featured four exposed headlights; the disappearing headlights were eliminated. The center grille piece was now larger. The rear featured a semi-fastback with a "flying buttress" sail-panel. The convertible returned, as did the XR-7 and the GT package. The Eliminator package was eliminated, but the Ram Air option remained. The engine lineup was revised for 1971 as well. Now only three engines were offered—the standard 240 hp (179 kW) 351 Windsor 2-barrel V8, the 285 hp (213 kW) 351 Cleveland 4-barrel V8 and the 370 hp (276 kW) 429 Super Cobra Jet 4-barrel V8.
By 1972, the climate had begun to change as the muscle car era ended. No longer able to use gross power numbers, the manufacturers had to use net power figures, which dropped the once mighty figures down substantially. Engines were shuffled around a bit. They were now the standard 163 hp (122 kW) 351 Cleveland 2-barrel V8, 262 hp (195 kW) 351 Cleveland 4-barrel V8, 266 hp (198 kW) 351 4-barrel Cobra Jet V8. Other than that, the Cougar remained a carryover from 1971. Only minor trim details were changed in 1972. The big blocks were gone for 1972 and 1973. The days of performance oriented muscle cars were coming to an end.
Aside from minor grille and taillight changes, 1973 would be largely a carryover year for the Cougar, but it would mark the last year of the Mustang-based Cougar, and the end of Cougar convertibles. Many changes were scheduled for the 1974 models. Power figures continued to change as new federal/EPA regulations began their stranglehold on the V8 engines. The new figures continued to fluctuate, but engine options remained unchanged from 1972. The standard engine continued to be the 168 hp (125 kW) 351 Cleveland 2-barrel V8. Optional was the 264 hp (197 kW) 351 Cobra Jet V8. The following years changed to the Thunderbird/Torino chassis.