- 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.
2017 Lincoln Continental
The 2017 Lincoln Continental is a return to form for the brand, which is to say it's smart, but familiar.
Lincoln's attempts at a daring look for the latest Continental haven't gone for naught. It's attractive and balanced, with a dose of glitz that suits its proportions.
We give it a 7 out of 10 for styling. It's above average inside and out; we hedge on whether the exterior is distinctive enough, given that its proportions and details aren't breaking any new styling ground. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Take a look at designs from Volvo and Mercedes in this price class and you might be vexed, too. Those cars have expressive, sensual appeal beyond their more elaborate details. For the Continental, it's the details that liven up a broad-shouldered and good-looking skin that's a bit above generic. Erase the Conti's mesh grille, fender vents, slim rear lamps, and lovely high-mounted door handles, and what's left is handsome but familiar.
Lincoln's struggled for a decade or more, veering between huge winged grilles and globally anonymous looks; it's better off striking back in its traditional direction, as it does here, but the proportions of this car are a dead giveaway for its front-drive origins.
The cabin sticks its landing, though it's sensitive to trim-package choices. Premiere and Select models don't have the same degree of trim contrast or the same fine hides and stitching, and look more pedestrian. They do have the artsy typefaces and black-screen gauges as higher-end versions, but there's nothing here as stark as a lower-end CT6.
Opulence is back in vogue on the most expensive Continentals. Black Label version unleash the chrome and brightly finished, highly grained wood trim that's been hidden in a back room in Dearborn for most of the past two decades. (It's fascinating to watch the German brands aiming for a similar look, Mercedes in particular.)
Choose the Chalet look and go full oligarch if you must—we're more fans of the subdued Rhapsody theme. No matter which you pick, the Continental is less a place for reflection than for reflectivity, what with all its glassy digital displays, glossy wood panels and shiny metal flourishes.
2017 Lincoln Continental
The 2017 Lincoln Continental leaves the sleepy cruisers of yesteryear in the rearview mirror.
The Continental straddles the performance border between luxury liner and even-tempered sedan. It's no 60s-style classic cruiser. Temperamentally, its closest kin is the Continental Lincoln used to sell in the 1990s, the Taurus-based front-driver.
We give it a 7 out of 10 for performance. After long drives in the top-flight model, we award it extra points above our median for its high-output engine (we haven't driven the others yet) and its steering. We deduct a point for its 6-speed transmission that's simply behind the times. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The new Continental draws power from one of three engines. A base 3.7-liter V-6 puts out 305 hp; a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 is rated at 335 hp. Both come with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive; both mate to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The strongest Continentals get their pull from a 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine that powers all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. It spools out quiet performance at top of the range, in an unexpectedly powerful rush. We'd estimate its 0-60 mph runs at 6 seconds or less, tremendous power that's pinned a little to the mat by the Continental's heft, somewhere north of 4,250 pounds.
Its push-button automatic doesn't do it many favors, either. Shifts aren't always as smooth as the luxurious surroundings would suggest, and though there are paddle shift controls, there are fewer gears than almost every main rival--G90, CT6, LS460. (The Black Label models have a real shift lever, but it's an electronically controlled hollaback to an era gone by.)
Today's Conti is taut, firmly suspended, and quick to steer like the smaller Fusion/MKZ that share its fundamentals. Ford's adaptive steering uses motor assist at the steering wheel to make parking-lot maneuvers a single-finger affair (not that one), while boost at speed feels about as natural as that on the MKZ and Fusion—good, according to our paws. The top Conti's all-wheel-drive system has simulated torque vectoring; it clamps an anti-lock sensor on an outside front wheel to tighten its cornering line. Despite its heft and long wheelbase, the Continental feeds back lots of useful driving information.
It doesn't offer a hugely cosseting ride, but we still like the Lincoln's very firm ride. The Continental's suspension design slots in adaptive dampers on most models--not magnetic or air shocks, but a simpler type that gives it a reasonably wide range in ride quality. It's not blessed with a lot of travel. On poorly surfaced Michigan roads, the Conti ran out of damping range and passed lots of big-bump ride motions into the cabin. Toggling the Conti through its Comfort and Sport driving modes, it was able to deal with smaller bumps with lots of loose shock control--and on well-maintained roads, Sport mode aided and abetted its somewhat salty demeanor. It's by no means the plushest boulevardier on the block. Its somewhat tense demeanor feels far more like Cadillac's CT6 than it does the plush Genesis G90.
2017 Lincoln Continental
Comfort & Quality
An almost unbelievable back seat in some models propels the Continental toward perfection.
With the Continental, Lincoln would have you believe that size and comfort are just as important to some luxury buyers as sport-sedan bona fides are to others. They're correct, and the Continental feels every bit a luxury car—a traditional one, with lay-about room weighted toward the rear quarters.
We give it a 9 out of 10, with extra points above our median for front seat comfort, rear seat comfort, real-world seating capacity, and storage space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
By the numbers, the Continental is 201.4 inches long, with a 117.9-inch wheelbase and 109 cubic feet of interior space. It's a large car, one that's slightly bigger than a short-wheelbase Lexus LS, but a half-foot less between the wheels than the long LS or the Cadillac CT6, even shorter than the Genesis G90. The MKZ on which it's based, for what it's worth, has a 112.2-inch wheelbase, some 5.7 inches shorter.
Front-seat accommodations come more from the sport-sedan realm than from the yacht-rock school of thought. Lincoln offers multi-adjustable front seats in every Continental, but the big story is the $1,500 chairs with 30-way adjustment. They're beautifully shaped, and can be adjusted at the upper seat back to boost support against shoulders and neck, as well as at the thighs, which have individual adjustment. These chairs have a firm, commanding feel that amplifies the Continental's road manners. Feel sorry for the rubes who can only afford the Continental's 24-way seats.
There's room in every direction in front, and copious amounts of small-item storage, too.
In the back seat, the added wheelbase translates into lots of leg room. The seats aren't plush, per se, but the ample knee space means the Continental's bound to be a livery-car favorite; it's superior to the Cadillac XTS that patrols airport Uber and black-car lanes. Rear-seat head room isn't exceptional, but it's fine for anyone at or below the 6-foot hashmark.
Back-seat accommodations can get quite plush, though a fold-down rear seat doesn't even come into play until the upper trim levels. The rear bench can be fitted with heated and cooled seats that recline and massage, with sunshades to cut the glare and an armrest with USB ports and temperature controls. The back passengers will bathe in sunlight from the two-pane sunroof.
The whole interior is intended to cosset those inside, with both acoustic laminated glass and active noise control to hush the cabin, as well as foam-insulated tires on some models. The Continental's quality feel goes beyond that. It's made great strides in fit and finish, though the Chalet interior theme on our test car tested the waters between adventurous and garish colors and chrome trim.
2017 Lincoln Continental
The 2017 Lincoln Continental has scored well in crash-testing.
The Continental is new for 2017, so we're not too surprised that it has performed well in the latest crash tests.
It's a 9 out of 10 on our scale, with the caveat that Lincoln reserves the most advanced safety tech only for high-spec models. That's a shame. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
All Continentals come with front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as knee airbags for the front passengers. A pair of inflatable rear-seatbelt airbag is a $225 option.
Lincoln offers lots of optional safety technology, most of it only on upper trim 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.
The IIHS says the Continental is a Top Safety Pick+ when ordered with the Technology Package and fitted with LED headlights. The standard HID units are "Poor," however.
Federal testers rate the Continental at five stars overall, albeit with a four-star rollover rating. The rollover test is the only one that's calculated rather than actually performed, however.
2017 Lincoln Continental
It's lush, plush, and costs much for top-trimmed cars outfitted with all the features.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental has been priced from $45,485, including a $925 destination charge.
We give it a 9 out of 10 for lush standard and optional equipment, for its infotainment system, and for its custom interior treatments. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The $45,485 starting price gets you a Continental Premiere with the 3.7-liter V-6 and front-wheel drive.The figure is several thousand dollars higher than the starting price of the MKS, which the Continental replaces, though it’s less than some rivals.
Buyers can choose between the 3.7-liter V-6 and a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6, both with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 comes only with all-wheel drive.
The Continental can be configured in one of four trim levels: Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label.
The base Continental Premiere comes with standard power features; cruise control; automatic climate control; an AM/FM/XM audio system with 10 speakers; an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Ford's new and much improved Sync3 infotainment interface; synthetic leather upholstery; 10-way power front seats; reverse parking sensors; a rearview camera; ambient lighting; wood trim; a power tilt/telescope steering wheel; remote start; keyless ignition; and 18-inch wheels.
The Continental Select adds leather seats; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; a power trunklid; power door closers; active noise cancellation; rear-seat USB charging ports; adaptive steering; adaptive shocks; and 19-inch wheels.
The Continental Reserve adds 24-way power ventilated front seats; navigation with real-time traffic data; blind-spot monitors; three-zone climate control; and the twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 as standard.
On Black Label Continentals, Lincoln fits an Alcantara headliner; a console-mounter shifter; app-driven concierge service; more powerpoints; a rear-seat armrest with climate controls and storage; heated and cooled front seats; fold-down rear seats; a hands-free trunk lid; the 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system; HD Radio; a CD player; 20-inch wheels; and Lincoln Drive Control, which governs the adaptive shocks, steering, and active noise control.
Option packages include:
- 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.
- A $695 Climate package, which adds automatic high beams; heated rear seats; and a heated steering wheel.
- A $5,000 Luxury package, which adds LED headlights and 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio.
- A $4,300 Rear-Seat Package, which adds a power-recline rear seat; heated and cooled rear seats; rear-seat lumbar controls; a twin-panel sunroof; inflatable rear-seat belts; and a rear center armrest.
Inflatable rear belts are a $225 option; for $1,500, the 30-way power front seats can be added to the Continental. A 13-speak Revel audio system is an option for $1,130, and a CD player is a $335 stand-alone option. The twin-panel sunroof is a stand-alone, $1,750 option.
All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on the Premiere and Select.
Click every option, and the 2017 Continental becomes an $80,000 affair—deep into E-Class and approaching S-Class territory.
2017 Lincoln Continental
The 2017 Lincoln Continental is missing fuel-saving tech—for now.
While other Ford and Lincoln vehicles have adopted transmissions with more speeds, even hybrid gas-electric drivetrains, the brand-new Continental skips those fuel-saving measures. For now, at least.
We give it a green score of 5 out of 10, based on its EPA ratings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Those official numbers break down by 6-cylinder engine and by driven wheels. Front-drive Continentals with the base 3.7-liter V-6 earn EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined. With the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 we've yet to drive, the Conti earns ratings of 17/26/20 mpg.
Adding all-wheel drive shifts those numbers into a lower gear. The base V-6 checks in at 16/24/19mpg; the 2.7-liter V-6, at 17/25/20 mpg; and the powerful twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, at 16/24/19 mpg.