Lincoln’s new Continental, its first since 2002, has the type of curb appeal that will instantly allow it entry into the country club parking lot. It looks luxurious and that big chrome grille lets you know it’s a Continental.
For those interested in making a luxury statement, but really only hoping for that big mellow Continental ride, relax. The 2017 iteration delivers on the boulevard ride. Thankfully it’s simply pleasant, not floaty as in model years past.
Lincoln uses a long 117.9-inch wheelbase, multi-link suspension front and rear and continuously controlled damping to ensure a ride worthy of yourself and three or four of your country club friends. And yes, there’s plenty of room in the trunk for a couple golf bags.
So with distinguished looks and supple ride you may consider the Continental right on target for its audience. Except, like Cadillac, Lincoln is hoping to lure the 45-55-year old luxury sedan buyer, not senior citizens. For middle-aged luxury buyers power and handling also play a big role in brand selection.
Power is no problem here. The base Premium model features a 3.7-liter V6 making 305 horsepower, while the Select and Reserve models boast a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 that creates 365 horses and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. Turbos always deliver more oomph than naturally aspirated engines.
Ah, but the silver test car added (for $3,265) the upper crust 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that cranks an impressive 400 horsepower, with an equal torque rating. This turbo empowered beast is standard on the top level Black Label edition too.
In standard mode this horsy V6 delivers strong acceleration, certainly sufficient for city driving. Need a little more oomph and you can press a large button labeled “S” on the dash next to the touchscreen and bingo, you’re in Sport mode with more aggressive shifting and slightly firmer steering effort.
In either mode Continental is easy to control and tracks well with no lane wander as in earlier years. Steering effort in Sport is not too heavy, so if you prefer more acceleration, you can leave the car in Sport mode all the time, although it likely will drink a bit more premium fuel that way. Your call.
I managed 22.3 mpg, a reasonable figure for a full-size luxury car with turbo power. Mine was a relatively even mix of city and highway driving. The EPA says to expect 16 mpg city and 24 highway, so I felt my mileage was good, considering.
Continental is certainly not a sport sedan, so cornering is not as precise as in sportier models. But the car handles fine with only modest body lean on fast curves. Plus this one came with all-wheel-drive, a plus in the northern climes where sloppy roads can be a concern at least half the year.
I liked the car’s performance, but inside, while it looks luxurious, things just didn’t mesh for me.
It started with the seats, which to Lincoln’s credit are highly adjustable. In fact, the test car included Lincoln’s 30-way Perfect Position seating, a $1,500 option. Maybe it was that promise of Perfect that threw me. Multiple controls are mounted high on the front doors for easy access. That’s fine. But I simply could not get the seats to a position that suited me.
Every time I got in the car I found myself futzing with the buttons to raise the seat or power it closer to the powered tilt/telescope steering wheel. There are three memory setting buttons on the door and I just kept putting new positions in place.
Add to that Lincoln’s massage function for the seats, which was annoying, not relaxing. Note too that the Continental’s front seats feature a hard plastic base structure as in an airliner, but with soft padded leather covering. They always felt hard, and a bit tight to me.
On the plus side, the front seats are heated and cooled and the steering wheel also is heated. The heated wheel and heated rear seats are part of a $695 climate package that adds automatic high beam headlights, windshield wiper deicer and rain-sensing wipers. It seems a modest cost for all that.
Not so modest is the $5,000 luxury package that primarily is a stereo upgrade. Granted the stereo was nice, a Harmon Revel Ultima audio system with 19 speakers. Other package add-ons include LED headlights and a CD player. Like I said, the price tag seems a bit rich on this.
Standard though is a fine 8-inch capacitive touchscreen with Sync3 system that will work with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Capacitive means it works like a smart phone with a slight tap of the screen to engage a function.
There’s plenty of other techy stuff too, thanks to a $3,105 technology package. It includes auto-dimming rearview mirror, active park assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. I like the 360-degree camera that comes with the package too, a help in parking lots.
The Continental also features a push-button transmission (remember those?) with big buttons next to the touchscreen. But the climate control buttons below the screen are small.
Lincoln also incorporates its smart E-latch doors here. That means you press only a button inside to release the door, and its snazzy chrome door handles that are built into the lower edge of the window frames require only a tap of a button to open the door from outside. They worked great but raised a question of safety if the car’s electronics fail. Well, the driver gets a backup release handle lower down on the door to allow it to be opened manually. However, the other three doors do not include that feature.
Outside there are small exterior mirrors that again look sharp and fit the car’s styling. But I would rather have larger mirrors that provide better rear views. Obviously the 360-degree camera helps at low speeds, but not on the highway.
Pricing for the luxury sedan starts attractively at about $46 grand, but again that’s with a smaller engine, front-wheel drive and “just” 10-way power seats. The Select model begins at $48,600 and the tested Reserve with AWD at $55,915. Add $925 for delivery and this one ladled on $13,565 of options to hit $70,405. A Black Label (which sounds like an old beer brand to me) runs about $80 grand.
There are a lot of fine luxury sedans in this price range, and lower than the top trim level Lincolns. Consider the Acura RDX or RLX, the Volvo S90, Lexus GS (very sporty), BWM 5 Series and Audi A6 for comparisons.
Then again, the Continental nameplate has some history. It was first introduced as a 1939 model and set the car design world on its ear. Thank goodness though today’s designers left the spare tire shell off its rear-end.
FAST STATS: 2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve
Misses: Small mirrors, over-complicated and hard seats, only manual door release is on driver’s door, small climate control buttons.
Made in: Flat Rock, Mich.
Engine: 2.7-liter, twin-turbo, V6, 365 hp
Transmission: 6-speed Selectshift automatic
Weight: 4,547 lbs.
Length: 201.4 in.
Wheelbase: 117.9 in.
MPG: 16/24 (EPA)
MPG: 22.3 (tested)
Base Price: $55,915
Invoice: $53,765 (includes delivery)
3.0-liter, twin-turbo, 400 hp V6, $3,265
Luxury package (LED headlights, CD player, Revel Ultima audio system w/19 speakers), $5,000
30-way Perfect Position seating, $1,500
Technology package (auto-dimming rearview mirror, active park assist, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, pre-collision assist w/pedestrian detection, lane departure warning), $3,105
Climate package (automatic high beams, heated rear seats and steering wheel, windshield wiper deicer, rain-sensing wipers), $695
Test vehicle: $70,405
Sources: Lincoln, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage