2017 Lincoln Continental Review

To Lincoln, the word Continental means something. It’s an iconic nameplate that should be held in high regard alongside other nameplates within Ford, like F-150 and Mustang. To Lincoln, it means the best that Ford and Lincoln have to offer.

How do you showcase that without a unique platform? How can you convince luxury car buyers that Lincoln has what it takes? Well, the Continental is designed to handle those kinds of questions and the brand has a very interesting strategy in place that will put customers in full control of the car-buying process, being courted and wowed much in the way a star athlete would be when deciding on a new team to choose in free agency.

Quietly Pretty

The Continental isn’t flashy, but it doesn’t need to be. Using a design strategy that’s reined in and reserved, the Continental is the polar opposite of aggressively designed cars like those found in Lexus dealerships. Lincoln calls it “quiet luxury,” and that’s a good two-word description of it. The body flows elegantly, thanks to trick door handles that are integrated into the window frame. There’s a crease in the hood that mimics what you’d find on a freshly pressed pair of pants. The wheels look fitted to their arches in a way that looks trim and proper, and the rear wheels flare with a sexy yet subtle bulge.

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In our opinion, the rear end is the Continental’s least attractive angle, the contrast of the large white reversing lights and the tail lamps that extend the whole width of the car. It looks a bit like a kayak paddle back there. It’s the only blemish in an otherwise reserved but good-looking exterior that will catch buyers’ eyes, without blinding them with bling or overtly aggressive angles.

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Details are key with the Continental’s exterior. The side-view mirror has this beautiful art-deco look, perched on a platform that then wraps a chrome spar around and through the body-color housing. The exhaust exits are nicely framed. The headlights bring to mind the Swarovski headlights found on the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. The way those door handles operate, with an electronic click, and the way the doors close softly, gently pulled shut automatically, add to this whole “quiet luxury” theme.

Impressive Interior

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Swing open one of the big doors and slide into the driver’s seat and you’re treated to Lincoln’s impressive 30-way adjustable seats. Lumbar, bolstering and headrest adjustments are all here, in addition to thigh support that can be set for each leg. Our Reserve models also featured heated, ventilated and massaging seats. While getting comfortable in the adjustable seats takes some time, you can’t adjust your settings at the same time as your passenger. In fact, seat adjustments take up the entire infotainment system, so you can’t see information like navigation and maps while getting comfy in your seat. The seats are plush though, especially the headrests, and the rest of the cabin is well appointed.

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Our tester featured open-pore wood on the dash and gorgeous looking speakers that draw the eye and deliver an excellent sound experience. Harmon/Kardon touts the available 19-speaker Revel Ultima system as the best in class. While tunes from XM radio stations weren’t much better than usual, songs played off local devices sounded rich and full, pumping out authentically high fidelity sound reproduction.

Drivers are treated to a nice digital gauge cluster, and the infotainment system uses Sync 3, which features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. There’s also ambient lighting, and a nice light show when drivers enter and exit the vehicle, helping to provide a warmer cabin.

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Don’t forget about the rear seats, though. They too can be equipped with heating, cooling and massage functions. They can also be reclined and the headrests have little flaps like you’d find on the seats of an airplane. There are two USB ports for charging and a 12V plug back there, too. Of course, there are also audio and climate controls available in the back. The rear cabin space is accommodating with tons of legroom, although headroom isn’t as generous. The rear cabin is plush and comfortable, with the option for inflatable seat belts available to increase the safety.

Serene is an excellent way to describe the cabin environment. Generous acoustic laminate glass and active noise cancellation helps to keep things extremely quiet and calm in the car. Vibrations are also kept in check; I actually didn’t believe the car was on when I first fired it up, it’s that quiet.

Power and Poise

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The drive selector a column of buttons on the left of the infotainment screen. Press D, and the big Continental gets ready to go. We tested models with the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine, which is exclusive to the Lincoln lineup. With 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, this model can certainly sprint off the line. Also available is a 3.7-liter V6 and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. Canadian customers don’t get offered the base 3.7-liter V6, and can only get all-wheel-drive Continentals like the ones we tested. That all-wheel-drive system is related to the one you’ll find in the sporty Ford Focus RS, which means it uses torque vectoring and can send torque to individual wheels on the rear axle to improve cornering and stability. All engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

In motion, the Continental is a pleasure to drive. It feels like a luxury car, not like a dolled-up Ford. It might look imposing and big, but the Lincoln measures out to be about the same size as an Audi A6. Easy to place on the road, the biggest issue was how wide it felt. The 3.0L delivers more than enough power, and the transmission can keep up with the demands. Sure, the steering features limited feedback and the available speed-adaptive steering rack takes some getting used to, but the car drives and handles well for what it is. I particularly appreciated the suspension, which was soft, yet settled. The car handles bumps easily, with barely any disruptions to the driver and passengers. For a more linear and engaging drive, you can put it into Sport mode, where the steering and suspension is a bit more direct. This is thanks to something called Lincoln Drive Control, which monitors the road 23,000 times per second and automatically adjusts the suspension to accommodate a smooth drive.

Driving Technology

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As the flagship sedan in the Lincoln lineup, the car is loaded with technology. While the infotainment system, rear seat content and impressive speaker array is one thing, the driver assistance features are a whole other beast entirely.

The technology package includes items like a 360-degree camera and active park assist that will make parking this big vehicle easier. The same package also includes a very good adaptive cruise control system, and a less-than-stellar lane-keep-assist feature. The latter feature doesn’t do much to keep the car in your lane, or even notify you significantly when you’re drifting out of your lane. Don’t expect semi-autonomous tech here. The package also includes forward-collision warning with automatic braking and a pedestrian detection system. Rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors and a wiper de-icer are also included. Standard equipment in the Lincoln Continental includes leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker sound system, adaptive headlights and rear parking sensors.

Pricing

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Price wise, the Continental is competitive and versatile. In the U.S., you can get the Premier model, which uses a 3.7-liter V6 and makes do with front-wheel drive for $45,485. Base models in Canada are the higher Select trim and come with all-wheel drive, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and a price tag of CAD$58,900. The models we tested were the all-wheel drive Reserve trim with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and all the packages. It would cost $74,705 in the U.S., or CAD$79,750. If you want a more bespoke Continental, the U.S. market gets the unique Black Label models, which feature higher end, exclusive materials for the interior and exterior. It obviously comes at an extra cost, but they certainly are eye-catching.

Lincoln aims to revive the Continental nameplate with more than this excellent car. New Lincoln “studios” are being set up around the U.S. and potential customers can even order a date night with the car company, where Lincoln will send them a car and a free dinner to experience the lifestyle associated with being a Lincoln owner. Expect another Matthew McConaughey ad spot to make its rounds, while iconic American photographer Annie Leibovitz has shot and published a number of photos of the Continental bringing to mind the many memorable U.S. road trips available to drivers. The automaker has even partnered up with Tasting Table to be a part of a unique culinary series of web videos called “I Know a Place” that will introduce the Continental in upscale venues throughout the United States.

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The Verdict: 2017 Lincoln Continental Review

Time will tell if it all works. Lincoln has a solid stable of cars now, and while most of them are viewed as dressed up Fords, the Continental is nothing of the sort. It’s unique all the way around, and there’s nothing in the Ford lineup that does what this car does. If Continental means the best that the company has to offer, this seems to fit the bill.