Time for some auto trivia: prior to the arrival of the tenth-generation last fall, when was the last time a car carrying the Continental name was in the Lincoln lineup?
After a 15-year absence, the Continental is back and has resumed its traditional place as Lincoln’s flagship sedan.
The new car shares a variant of Ford’s global mid-size (CD4) platform with the Lincoln MKZ and Ford Fusion, but rides on a longer wheelbase (144.8 mm). It’s also longer overall (190.5 mm), wider (226 mm), slightly taller (10 mm) and heavier (161.5 kg).
There’s also some overlap in the powertrain department with the MKZ – both cars are available with Lincoln’s 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 and six-speed automatic. Power output is the same in both cars (400 hp / 400 lb-ft.), and the gear ratios in the six-speed autobox are almost identical.
CD4 is a front-wheel drive platform, and this is where things differ a bit between how the cars are marketed in the U.S. and Canada.
In the U.S., both are available in either front or all-wheel drive, while in Canada (except for the MKZ hybrid which is a front-driver) it’s all-wheel drive only, a decision driven likely by the low take rate for FWD and our longer winters.
Another difference is the Continental is available with three V6 engines (3.7L, 2.7L twin turbo and 3.0L twin turbo) in the U.S., but Canada deletes the 3.7. Two trims are available, the Select which starts at $56,900, and the Reserve which has an MSRP of $60,500. Both trims come standard with the 2.7.
My tester, a jade green metallic Reserve with a jade gray interior, is loaded with a lot of optional equipment, beginning with the 3.0L twin turbo ($3,000).
Other significant add-ons included the luxury package ($5,500) which adds LED headlights, a 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio system, and the technology package ($3,000) which includes a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and active park assist among other features.
From a design perspective, the Continental has a face that is almost identical to that of the MKZ. This means a large, one-piece signature Lincoln grille featuring the brand’s ‘Star mesh’ design.
As mentioned, it is larger than the MKZ, but it doesn’t seem like it either inside or out. I think this is due in large measure to new Lincoln design language – and yes, I realize other carmakers do this too – that’s quite homogeneous. If you look closely, you will see the headlights are slightly different, as is the front fascia, but the differences are so minute that you’d not likely be able to tell them apart if they were side by side in a mall parking lot.
The Continental’s greater length becomes apparent from the side, as do the design differentiators (door handles located in the bottom of the window trim, unique wheels, fender badges, etc.), but these alterations are change by degree rather than a significant departure.
The one perspective that really encompasses a design separation is at the rear, where the Continental’s greater width is emphasized with a stretched Lincoln badge and a chrome strip that runs beneath the trunk lid and ties the tail lights together.
Some colleagues I’ve spoken to aren’t impressed with the Continental’s looks, but I like it, MKZ similarities notwithstanding.
With that said, the big design differences are on the inside where Lincoln designers have worked hard to set the Continental apart, and I think they’ve succeeded.
From the incredibly comfortable and adjustable (30-way!) heated and cooled leather seats ($750 and well worth it), to the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel, metal speaker covers and a good mix of plastics and soft-touch trim materials that likely aren’t the richest, but they are nice to look at, save for the fake wood grain inserts. Those should be deleted in future models.
In terms of room, the Continental has greater passenger volume (277.9 litres) over the MKZ, and I had no trouble fitting my 5-foot-11 frame into the back seat with plenty of room to spare. The trunk is similarly spacious with a capacity (472 litres) that is 36 litres bigger than the MKZ. It’s also bigger than the one found in the Cadillac CT6 and Genesis G90.
One other thing worth mentioning is the presence of E-latch (electronic latch) door handles. Instead of standard door pulls on the inside, there is a button that unlatches the door. A soft-closing or cinching feature, utilizes a motor that will close the door if it’s not completely shut.
Lincoln claims E-latch exists for aesthetic reasons as well as convenience. It enables the outboard door handles to be integrated into the window trim, which gives the Continental a sleeker profile, while also ensuring the doors are properly closed.
I fiddled with them a bit and found the auto closing to be useful – how often do we see doors that aren’t properly shut on moving vehicles? – but as an office colleague pointed out, you’d be wise to mind your fingers.
At any rate, on the road the Continental delivers a ride quality that one would expect in a large luxury sedan – quiet, comfortable and well-insulated.
A sport driving mode gets the most out of the 3.0L V6, with sharper throttle response, delayed shift points and a louder exhaust note, but I also found the car to be reasonably responsive in regular drive.
The steering felt direct and while the handling wasn’t the most neutral, it didn’t feel too soft or floaty either. The Continental is designed to make long-haul trips more comfortable, and I think the engineers have succeeded. It’s a car I wouldn’t hesitate to take on a road trip.
Overall, I think Lincoln has hit the mark with its latest addition to its Quiet Luxury portfolio. The Continental may not have the most exciting driving dynamics, but it’s got ample amounts of style, comfort and convenience and these are things that really matter in the luxury segment.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve AWD
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $60,500 / $76,950 (incl. $1,900 destination)
FINAL ASSEMBLY: Flat Rock, Michigan
ENGINE: 3.0L twin-turbo V6
HORSEPOWER: 400 hp @ 5,750 rpm
TORQUE: 400 lb-ft. @ 2,750 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 1,916 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 14.4 / 9.7 / 12.3
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000
ALTERNATIVES: Audi A8, Cadillac CT6, BMW 7-Series, Genesis G90, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Luxury Package ($5,500)
- premium LED headlamps
- Revel Ultima audio system w/ 19 speakers and CD player
Technology Package ($3,000)
- auto dimming rear view mirror
- active park assist
- adaptive cruise control
- 360-degree camera
- pre-collision assist w/ pedestrian detection
- lane keeping system
- rain-sensing wipers
- windshield wiper de-icer
Accessories and / or Stand Alone Options
3.0L twin-turbo V6 ($3,000)
Twin-panel moonroof w/ power shade ($2,200)
30-way power multi-contour front seats ($750)
Total – $14,550
Photography by Lee Bailie