The 2017 Lincoln Continental and 2017 Genesis G90 are two different takes on flagship-level luxury. Each provides its own way of pampering the driver—and all passengers along for the ride. But there can only be one winner.
It's a close one, but in our eyes the Genesis G90 does the top-end luxury thing just a little better than the Continental. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Last year, neither the G90 nor the Continental existed—each has its own unique coming to fruition story.
Genesis is a new brand spawned by parent company Hyundai. Genesis takes its inspiration from Toyota's Lexus division as a high-end nameplate that places pampering above all else. Previously, the G90 was known as the Hyundai Equus, but the 2017 is an all-new evolution of the old Equus. Lincoln, on the other hand, is hardly a new arrival into the luxury space—but parent company Ford neglected the brand to the point of irrelevancy. But the Continental signals the beginning of a new era, with just a few cues to the brand's illustrious and nearly forgotten past lurking for those willing to take a look.
The look and feel of luxury
Both cars play up the luxury look well, with greenhouses—that is, the glass area—that could be facsimiles of one another. The G90's snub-nosed front end is almost anonymous, but its dramatically swept-back tail lamps convey more of a sense of purpose. The Continental is more visually intriguing with subtle bits like door handles just below the window sills and a finely detailed grille adding interest without coming across as gaudy.
Their differences mount inside. The Lincoln feels a little gauche to us on the priciest versions and a bit basic otherwise. It's all down to careful trim selection, but fortunately Lincoln has many choices on offer. The G90 is conventional but shows incredible attention to detail in its materials and button placement.
Neither is a slouch, but again there are some choices to be made in terms of performance. The Continental line starts with a fairly pedestrian 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6, but the optional, 335-hp 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 feels more at home here. The engine of choice, at least for us, is the 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. It's the strongest engine on offer and it sends power to all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox that feels down a cog or two by luxury grade standards.
On the G90, buyers get to pick between a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 365-hp or a strong, 420-hp V-8, both of which are mated to an 8-speed automatic with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. For the most part, it's the G90 that drives more like a true luxury car. It's as composed and refined as a Lexus LS or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but at a fraction of the price. The Continental reveals its lower-end front-drive roots too often, even with the big V-6 under its hood.
Features and safety
Neither wants for luxury or technology, but again the G90 acquits itself as a genuine luxury car ever so slightly better. The Continental offers a wider range of models, with a dizzying array of packages available for order. The base Continental Premiere is a bit more budget grade with vinyl upholstery, but the Select model ups the ante considerably with hide on its seats, power door closers, active noise cancelation, and adaptive shock absorbers, among other features. All told, a top-end Continental pushes $80,000 with every box ticked, but the mid-$60s buys you one with 400-hp and few missing items.
The G90's build walk is a lot simpler: Premium (V-6) and Ultimate (V-8) models are on offer with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. While there's not much customizability here, there's something to be said about finding the G90 you want without having to place an order or wait for one to come into inventory.
The Premium grade piles on nappa leather seats, 22-way power adjustability for the driver's throne, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, 17 Lexicon speakers, and way more. The Ultimate lives up to its name with power-adjustable and ventilated rear seats with memory, rear vanity mirrors, and LED headlights. It's basically long-haul business class in a G90 Ultimate's rear seating area, minus the flight attendant and warm towel service.
Safety regulators haven't had a chance to test out the Continental yet, but the Genesis G90 aced the IIHS' full barrage of tests. The G90 comes standard with every conceivable safety feature—forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, a forward-view cornering camera, a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warnings and lane keep assist, blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts and lane change assist, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, and nine airbags (including a driver knee bag).
The Continental isn't quite as comprehensive to start, but it can be upgraded with about the same level of tech if the right options boxes are selected on upper levels. Blind-spot monitors can't be had on the base Premiere; forward-collision warnings are an option, and only on the top Reserve and Black Label trims. It's part of a Technology package ($3,105), which adds surround-view cameras; active park assist; adaptive cruise control; lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist; and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. We wish Lincoln would democratize these features a little more.
In the end, it's all about choice. The Continental offers far more customizability, which should appeal to some buyers looking for something a little different in this luxury field. But the G90 makes everything easy and, at the end of the day, it comes across as better thought-out luxury sedan.