Ford’s Lincoln division as of late has undergone a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. First attempts with the MKS, and MKT felt like the brand had two broken wings. Follow up efforts with the MKZ and MKC resulted in more widespread acceptance, but the brand still lacked a flagship. That was until the appearance of the 2017 Lincoln Continental.
A few Lincoln Continental concept cars had appeared through the years, and some were actually handsome. In 2015, Lincoln introduced a Continental concept that made the rounds at all the auto shows to great acclaim. The future looked bright. Eventually the concept was green-lighted, which caused Town Car fans and limo operators alike to rejoice. Production of the new Lincoln Continental began in 2016 as a 2017 model.
It is a gorgeous car. But sadly it looked as though something was lost in translation from concept to production car.
Not a large barge.
Borrowing design cues of land yachts like Bentley and Rolls-Royce, among others, the 2017 Continental does not appear very big. Still, the EPA tags it a full-size luxury sedan. So large, it does match the wheelbase of the late and lamented 1980-era Continentals. Yes, the ones with the velour interiors. The only thing missing are suicide rear doors. Oh don’t get us wrong, there’s a few other things missing as well, but we’ll get to that later.
Built utilizing the Ford CD4 platform, which it shares with the Fusion and MKZ, the base Continental is powered by a buyer’s choice of 3.7-liter Cyclone V6, a 2.7 liter EcoBoost twin turbo V6, or in the case of our top-line AWD Reserve model, the 3.0-liter EcoBoost twin turbo V6 that makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to a six-speed Selectshift automatic transmission with gear selection buttons located to the left of the Lincoln Sync3 audio system. We are chuffed by the 3.0-liter EcoBoost, but wonder where the missing eight-speed automatic transmission is. Six-speed just seems so 2002 these days.
Our Continental received its motivation from a transverse-mounted and compressed V6 engine sending power to all four wheels. The rear wheels feature a torque vectoring function that speeds up the outside wheel in a turn, which shortens the car’s turning radius, for tighter cornering. Continuously controlled dampers allowed for on the fly suspension adjustments, which varied ride quality over the roads of South Florida. The ride was not too far off from Town Cars of old.
The Lincoln Continental competes directly against such segment stars as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-series and the Lexus LS. We’d say it has a bit of catching up to do, but with a few tweaks, it will be off to a good start.
The Continental was gorgeous to look at, except for the rubberized leather stretched across the dashboard. Shortcomings like that manage to kill a brand’s return to glory and in this case, Lincoln can’t afford a misstep. In Reserve trim it has virtually the entire Lincoln parts catalog in place, for the full E-ticket experience. Our tester featured the 30-way Perfect Position seating system in front with articulated seatbacks and massage functions for the upper and lower parts of the human body. There’s nothing quite like getting your back and butt massaged while doing 80 mph.
Controls throughout are a bit understated, clearly from the less-is-more school of interior design. Although they have been around for a few years, the PRNDS buttons are a still not doing it for us. Add to that the excessive use of bright chrome inside, that to our eyes appears a bit over done. Perhaps it would be wise for them to use the brushed aluminum as seen around the Revel audio system, instead.
As Matthew McConaughey so aptly demonstrated in those commercials where he goes swimming in a tuxedo, the back seat is really where you want to sit in this car. With the Lincoln Continental preparing to make waves in China, it is truly the car that we would love to be chauffeured in. With the fold-down center console, and reclining rear seat, it’s a place that allows occupants the ability to decide everything from which Sirius XM channel to listen to and at what temperature.
Amazing and adjustable massaging seats aside, there are other cool bits including slick electric pushbuttons on the door that make for a simple push to exit. Conversely, if you don’t use enough force to close the doors, the Lincoln will cinch them shut for you. That’s it. The outside placement of the door handles are high along the Conti’s beltline, as well as attention grabbing. Still, we miss having the suicide doors that would have made us feel like part of the cast of Entourage.
Gorgeous open-pore wood veneer accents are simply beautiful to look at and touch. If you came to this hotrod Lincoln in hopes of seeing the same glossy plasticized faux wood trim pieces that you grew up with in Mom’s old Country Squire, you are sadly in the wrong place.
This Lincoln does snap your neck with power on demand from the twin turbo EcoBoost V6. It is a great performer that actually belongs in many of the other cars in the Ford and Lincoln portfolio. Despite its head snapping abilities, it still managed to deliver a 24.3 mpg average on a trip to Marathon in the Florida Keys, without even breaking a sweat. Now if we could only convince Ford to put this engine in the Fusion and Mustang…
Overall the Lincoln presents with a nice grunt coming from the engine compartment. Ride quality is admittedly floaty-boaty, but after all, isn’t that the reason you’d buy such a rig in the first place? Mind you, this is not a corner carving track car. Instead, consider it a boulevardier that will cruise you across country leaving you refreshed and fatigue-free at the same time.
This is full-blown luxury from Lincoln.
Story and Photos by Mark Elias
2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve
Base MSRP: $56,075 As Tested: $75,770
3.0-liter Twin Turbo EcoBoost engine, $3,265; Luxury Package, $5,000; PerfectPosition Seating, $1,500; Rear Seat Package, $4,300; Continental Technology Package, $3,105; 20-inch Polished wheels, $750; Continental Climate Control, $850; Destination Fee, $925.
Displacement: 3.0-liter Twin Turbocharged V6
Power: 400 hp @ 5,750 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
Fuel System: Gasoline Direct Injection
Drive Type AWD
Unladen Weight: 4,547-pounds
Width: 82.3-inches w/mirrors
Cargo Volume: 16.7-cubic feet
Fuel Economy 16 city/24 highway/19 combined