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- Subtle shape wears big details well
- Cabin strikes in a glamorous direction
- Big thrust from its 400-hp twin-turbo V-6
- High-end leather, audio, and other features
- Lincoln brand all but unknown in this price class
- How will traditional luxury play in a Tesla era?
- Proportions give away front-wheel-drive origins
- Transmission needs more gears, smoother shifts
The 2017 Lincoln Continental is a pleasing, contradictory piece that drips with ornate trim, but drives like a more mature MKZ.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental wears a throwback name, and it wears it proudly.
Forget the wan-sounding, wan-looking MKS. "Continental" means big wheels, big chrome, big motor--and that's what the new version delivers.
Offered in Premier, Select, Reserve, and Black Label trim, the 2017 Continental pairs taut handling and a trio of V-6 engines with an opulent, oligarch-friendly cabin.
We give it a 7.7 out of 10, with high marks for features and comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Today's Continental lands in a thicket of luxury cars with little to no luxury pedigree, cars like the Volvo S90 and Genesis G90. It counterprograms its way into the group by reconstituting its traditional appeal. That means wide shoulders, a long wheelbase, emphatic details, and a formal silhouette. The shape itself isn't particularly expressive; it's more a canvas for a big mesh grille, chromed fender vents, slim LED taillamps, and lovely high-mounted door handles that grace the handsomely ordinary shape.
Like Volvo and Genesis, Lincoln puts its most convincing efforts into the Continental's cockpit. It's stocked with rich materials with a host of unusual touches, the most arresting of which is its heavy use of chrome and glossy surfaces.
A base 3.7-liter V-6 and a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 are offered in the Continental, as is front-wheel drive. We've only been able to sample the top version, which pairs a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine with a 6-speed paddle-shifted automatic and all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. The Continental feels like a scaled-up MKZ, and that's not a bad thing. Acceleration is quite brisk, though the transmission needs more gears and smoother shifts to match its rivals.
As for ride and handling, the Continental has a very firm feel. Top versions sport 20-inch wheels, adaptive shocks, and adaptive steering. Together they have a taut, sometimes tense driving feel that gives away the front-drive MKZ underpinnings. There's not enough suspension travel to soak up the biggest road flaws, but conversely the Conti steers very well for its size, and feels more nimble that it might.
Riding on a 117.9-inch wheelbase, the big Lincoln sedan squares off against its rivals with ample interior space, and some big comfort talking points. Opt for the 30-way power front seats and you're a half-dozen ways ahead of most other luxury sedans, lesser Continentals included. Dial those chairs in properly and the driving position and support amplify the Conti's sharp road feel. In back the Continental would do well as a livery car (as it will in China, where it'll be sold with a smaller turbo-4). Headroom isn't especially generous but Lincoln will stock it with massaging seats and USB ports and other swank touches. Weirdly, only the more expensive models can fold down their rear seats for access to the 17-cubic-foot trunk.
In addition to excellent crash-test scores, the Continental has standard knee airbags and a rearview camera. Reserve and Black Label cars are the only ones to offer today's most advanced safety technology, including forward-collision warnings, adaptive cruise control, surround-view cameras, and blind-spot monitors.
All models come with power features; cruise control; automatic climate control; AM/FM/XM audio; the Sync3 infotainment interface; and wood trim. Other features such as leather, high-end Revel audio, and a twin-panel sunroof come either as options or standard features on the pricey models. The base Continental Premiere's $45,485 sticker balloons to more than $80,000 in Black Label trim with all the boxes ticked, a price that overlaps the more satisfying versions of the Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6.
We can't imagine many shoppers crossing those streams, though.