Bravo to Ford Motor Company for creating a Lincoln Continental which deserves this name.
Back in the day they, and the Cadillac Eldorado, defined post-war luxury personal transportation.
They were also expensive enough that the wannabes really couldn’t afford them. But this 2017 Continental is relatively inexpensive among full-sized luxury competitors. More importantly it has what it takes to compete for buyers in the U.S.
First, it looks like a luxury car.
The Continental is big, the hood is long, so its proportions are correct. Its lines are elegant. It is graceful. This car looks modern, but in a very classic way.
The front end is perhaps the most sophisticated “face” Lincoln has put on a car in decades. The rear end is simple, but chic. Most importantly, it looks good in black — the proper color for a luxury car. Okay I know silver and white are the most popular, but that doesn’t make it right.
The interior is spacious and looks as good as it feels. It has been a long time since I could use the word elegant to describe an American-car’s interior. It has plenty of features, but none of them shout “look at me, ain’t I cool?”
From its real wood to its controls simplicity, this interior quietly tells you this is a modern luxury car. I really liked the transmission buttons, which both look good and communicate this mixture of classic and modern.
The front seats are seriously comfortable and can be adjusted in a myriad of ways to get it just the way the sitter wants it to be. Sitting in back you optionally have control of audio and climate control, and reclining heated and cooled seats.
The optional Revel audio system uses 19 speakers and Clari-Fi technology to manipulate the sound, letting you choose from the three modes — stereo, surround and concert. It sounds good blasting the Byrds or murmuring Mozart.
Second, it performs as a luxury car should.
That doesn’t mean its high performance, that’s not its job. What it does is carry people safely, comfortably, quietly. Its performance is that its performance rarely gets noticed, as its not supposed to.
There are three engines available on the Continental, as well as front- or all-wheel drive. That’s the reason why the price range runs from the low $40K to the high $70K. The base engine 3.7-liter V-6 generating 305-hp. And 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. This will adequately power the car and allows an EPA rating of 17-mpg in the city and 26-mpg on the highway.
Once you get to the mid-level trim you can opt for the 335-hp. 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-6. This develops 380 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Its EPA fuel rating is 18-mpg city and 27-mpg on the highway. If you want to push the envelope a bit, the top-end 3.0-liter V-6 uses twin-turbos and overhead cams to generate 400-hp. And 400 lb.-ft. of peak torque.
This is a thoroughly modern engine, one that you can raise the hood around your buddies with pride. The EPA says your powerplant is rated at 16-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. As if you care if you order this engine.
I am a bit surprised that all of these engines send the power through a six-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps there will be an update sometime in the next few model years, because the newer eight, and even ten-speed transmissions do have an impact of fuel efficiency.
You can get the Continental in AWD, and my guess is that, except in the South, most people will opt for it. The system uses torque vectoring to divide and send the proper power to the rear wheels when cornering, or in slippery conditions. Worth having.
You can change the ride and handling characteristics between Comfort, Normal and Sport to change the steering and suspension setups. No matter what you choose, the continuously controlled damping smooths things out.
Third, it’s got the gadgets.
For example, when you approach, the LED lamps glow and a pool of light forms beneath the front doors. Not unique, but cool. The telematics and infotainment are first rate, offering all it should.
Many of these provide more safety and driver assistance. These include radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead for the Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. It also is used by other systems, such as the adaptive cruise control, and emergency brake assist. The Pedestrian Detection feature help avoid folks in front of the car.
There is even an assist system for both parallel and perpendicular parking so the driver only has to control the brake and gas pedals. Personally, parallel parking is the test I use to determine whether I should still be driving. Finally, it’s got a market.
Granted, those who must have a Seven-Series or an S-Class won’t even bother to look. But one of the greatest group of potential customers will find this right up their alley. Who are they? Baby Boomers.
Think about it. They are well in their sixties. They are the generation who changed things. They bought VW Beetles and Honda’s early Civics. They are the customers who bought full-sized and flashy vans. They are the people who killed the station wagon, because they simply were not going to be like their parents.
Many of them are more affluent than they ever thought they’d be. Boomers will not be told what to do. So, if the guys in the golf club poo-poo anything but German iron or Japanese plush, these grumpy and contrarian boomers may turn to what might be called American pragmatic luxury. Just to be irritating, they may hike into their Lincoln dealerships.
When they get there, they can go cheap if they choose. The 2017 Continental starts at $44,500 for a front-wheel-drive model. Moving up the trim levels as well as adding the more powerful engines and all-wheel drive can get the final sticker price of a Continental to $77,170. But there are plenty of price, as well as equipment steps between those two extremes.
But the one thing Lincoln must not do is try to sell these to Gen-X and Millennials. Do that, and the old farts — of which I am one — will walk away.
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