2017 Lincoln Continental
Luxury Sedan Pampers Passengers
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- 02 May 2017
By James Park
Have you seen the 1994 remake of the ‘Angels in the Outfield’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt portraying the nerdy kid who wishes for a family? Look closely and there’s Matthew McConaughey playing one of the outfielders.
In that film, McConaughey—a minor character—looks almost wholesome with a kind of country-boy charm. Fast forward to the present and the pitchman for Lincoln is downright sleazy.
Is this the guy who best represents the brand’s appeal? Is Lincoln selling as many vehicles as it wants to?
Personal opinion on the actor aside, Lincoln seems to be sincere in trying to reach out to more consumers. New products like the MKZ sedan and the MKC crossover are great first steps to improve the brand’s image and kick-start the sales numbers.
These are, however, more or less light-infantry forays into the hostile market to establish useful footholds. The main assault starts with the heavy arsenal introduced last year as a 2017 model, namely the ‘Continental.’
Revived after fifteen years, this name instantly conjures up star-spangled vignettes of American luxury, pride and dominance. On the other hand, it also reminds many auto enthusiasts of stomach-lurching rides, cumbersome handling and faith-testing reliability.
Having been discontinued—after years of neglect—in 2002, the Continental unveiled during last year’s circuit of auto shows quickened a lot of people’s hearts. The car is suitably stylish, handsome and large.
The new front grill is more substantial than the ‘spread-wing’ motif of previous Lincoln products. The door handles are incorporated into the chrome accent running along the window sill. The car is large but not chunky, and the long hood and short rear deck makes it look aggressive. All in all, the designers did a fantastic job of recreating the legend in modern guise.
The new Continental does fall short of some expectations. Instead of all new rear-wheel drive platform many enthusiasts had hoped for, the car is still based on the front-drive Fusion platform (enlarged). Fortunately, it is equipped with sophisticated AWD system with torque-vectoring capability to overcome some of FWD’s limitations.
Also, Lincoln is not offering any V8 engines for now, but the optional three-litre twin-turbo V6 can muster maximum 400 horses and 400 lb-ft of torque. The base engine is 2.7 litre turbo-charged V6. Both mills are mated to smooth-shifting six-speed automatic. One wonders if the new ten-speed auto, co-developed by Ford and GM, might make it to the option list in near future.
When push comes to shove, the 3-litre V6 has enough get-up-and-go to leave many unsuspecting cars choking on its fumes. But during everyday situations, the Continental wants to be a docile sedan that cruises down the road in relaxed manner while pampering its occupants in the bosom of luxury.
Such purpose becomes apparent as soon as one steps inside the Continental. The leather seats are plush and comfortable and the materials used throughout the cabin are first rate. A plethora of options including seats with massage functions, a panoramic sunroof, a 19-speaker Revel premium audio system all contribute to a sophisticated, roomy and inviting interior where a CEO can get things done in comfort when not in his or her office.
As for the chauffer/driver, he or she needs to come to terms with the fact that the Continental is not a sports sedan designed to post new records at the Nurburgring. The car has power but it does not really want to be rushed. It handles quite well for its size but the body roll at the limits is not insignificant. The steering is accurate but the feel is distant.
The base model starts from $57,000 and the 3.0 V6 from $60,500. The tester with a long list of options manages to climb up to $77,850 before taxes and other extras. A Teutonic rival with equivalent amount of options may easily go over $100,000 threshold.
The Continental may be disappointing to some, but many well-to-do consumers would be fine with it. It is a stylish and sophisticated luxury vehicle that puts passengers first. For many people, nothing’s wrong with that.
James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.
2017 Lincoln Continental 3.0
As tested: $77,850
Engine: 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 400 hp/400 lb-ft
Transmission: 6 spd auto
Drive: Front biased AWD
Fuel: 14.4 litres per 100km (city), 9.7 litres (highway)
Best: quiet, roomy, sophisticated
Worst: brand recognition
Competition: Cadillac CT6, Genesis G90, Volvo S90