Lincoln’s iconic Continental badge is reborn. And it’s not what you expect.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
The storied Continental name goes back quite a ways. I remember Continentals were humungous machines when I was a kid, and they were always compared to one Cadillac model or another. There was prestige attached to the name. But as I grew up, it became a watered-down nameplate, and frankly what I remember most about the Continental is that it just wasn’t a very exciting car in its last few iterations. Lincoln put it to rest some years ago now, but it’s back – and Lincoln has done some amazing things with it.
Lincoln has come up with a very sleek and expensive-looking automobile and I’ll get this out of the way – this car gets a lot of looks. It was funny to see a dozen pedestrians’ heads swivel to watch us drive by the sidewalk corner they were waiting on. You almost feel like a celebrity, but it’s the car.
I love what Lincoln has done with the grille – it’s very expressive and the mesh features the Lincoln Star. This is a big departure from the split-wing look, and it is very welcome. The wide rear flanks give the Continental a look as though it was carved out of a solid ingot of something. Lighting is bright and modern – you get LED headlights and driving lights and sweet LED ribbon tail lights.
We enjoyed the cool styling touches like the raised “rib” in the middle of the hood, the eye-catching Continental badging that stretches from behind the front wheel well to the door and beautifully integrated exhaust tips. And filling the wheel wells are very nice 19-inch wheels that bridge the gap between luxury and sport – they wear massive 255/45 tires.
I think without exception everyone who experienced this car immediately commented on the cool door handles. They are integrated into the chrome beltline trim and are electronic (Lincoln calls them E-Latch). Which means you’re actually grabbing a button inside there, which unlatches your door. It feels very luxurious and advanced.
Inside the Continental, it is apparent that Lincoln took the level of craftsmanship to a new level, and their choices of materials are stunning – flawless stitching is evident everywhere, and striking genuine wood and sumptuous leather trim surrounds every passenger. Ahead of the driver is an all-digital “gauge” cluster with very convincing instrument faces and beautiful graphics. It’s also completely customizable, so you can see which gauges and displays you want. Lincoln created a beautiful steering wheel and we really enjoyed the seamless centre console design, including the scrolling tambour lid over the cupholders.
The MultiContour seats are ridiculous. They look amazing, they are incredibly comfortable – I would say the most comfortable car seats I’ve ever experienced, they’re heated and ventilated, they are 30-way adjustable and they have massaging functions. The perforated leather comes from Scotland’s Bridge of Weir. The only thing missing is a function that makes you a fresh cappuccino.
The dash houses an 8-inch touchscreen running Lincoln’s version of the new SYNC 3. It’s simple and it works quite well, although I thought a car this luxurious and full of technology would sport a larger screen. The upgraded 19(!)-speaker Revel Ultima audio system is great and has some of the nicest speaker grilles I’ve ever seen in a car – but it’s not the best system I’ve heard. A huge sunroof overhead makes the whole cabin feel airy and bright.
Lincoln has stuffed the Continental (particularly in this upper trim level) with all sorts of driver assistance technology – active park assist, adaptive cruise control (with start/stop technology), 360-degree camera with parking sensors, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning system and lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. Everything worked very well for us, and nothing seemed intrusive.
Lincoln certainly got it right back here. Every single passenger in the back (and we had quite a few during this week) commented that these were the greatest back seats they’d ever sat in and I agree with this assessment. The seats are heated and exceedingly comfortable.
Rear passengers get a household plug and two USB plugs, as well as their own climate control panel. There is a ludicrous amount of headroom, and the legroom is certainly adequate. The middle seat back folds down to become a luxurious armrest with storage, a tray and dual cupholders.
There are plenty of little nooks and crannies around the cockpit to put your stuff, and once you pop the power trunk lid, you’ll be taken aback by the size of the huge trunk. I mean, it is epic. I hope Goodfellas 2 comes out soon, and they use the Continental because Joe Pesci could put a record number of capos in the trunk to drive them out to the countryside. Not sure if that’s important to you, but it’s worth noting.
Under the Hood
Here lurks an all-new 3.0L turbocharged V6 mated to a 6-speed transmission and an all-wheel drive system. Horsepower and torque are both rated at 400. It’s a thirsty car, and we averaged 13.8 L/100 km (17 US mpg) during our week with it.
If the numbers don’t make this obvious, the Continental with this optional engine has a tremendous amount of power. Not only that, but it is available immediately. It goes like stink when you put the hammer down.
The ride, while super-duper smooth nearly all the time, surprised us on a couple of occasions where it felt a bit too firm over some road harshness – I wonder if the low profile tires aren’t partially to blame there though. Overall, it was a very comfortable car to drive and to ride along in.
actually handles quite well and stays surprisingly flat in the corners, thanks to the continuously variable suspension and the dynamic torque vectoring.
I loved that the all-wheel drive system was highly effective, and in the snow, it even let me kick the rear end out a bit before the electronic grannies stepped in. The Continental is extremely quiet although you do get to hear the engine when you step on it – and that’s a good thing.
The Continental isn’t perfect, but I have to say, it is a very, very good start for Lincoln’s rebirth. For the amount of money they’re asking, you certainly get a car that offers everything the competition offers. It looks fantastic, it’s luxurious and appears to be built very well, it’s loaded with tech, comfort and power. Obviously a 6-speed transmission in this class and for this money is laughable, so hopefully that gets addressed sooner than later if they want to be taken seriously.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was pretty high, but she thought it was a bit big for her taste. She said it was definitely one of the nicest cars we’ve ever reviewed and felt that it might be the best road-tripper that’s been in our garage yet – I’m guessing the massaging seats were partially to blame for her not wanting to get out.
Lincoln has built a great car here, but now they will need to set about convincing the buying public why they should plop down 80 grand for a Continental. The last Continental was not a great car, and the last few Lincolns to market haven’t set the industry on fire. If this brand is to survive, they’ll need to keep improving, and they’ll need to keep showing us that they mean business. This was a darn good start.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Lincoln Canada.
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Pricing: 2017 Lincoln Continental
Base price ( Reserve AWD trim): $60,500
Options: $3,000 3.0L GTDI engine; $5,500 Luxury Package; $2,200 twin-panel moonroof with electric sunshade; $750 30-way adjustable MultiContour seats; $3,000 Technology Package;
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $76,950