2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Lincoln newly revived Continental has big shoes to fill
Words by: Adam Allen
Lincoln’s resurgence is going swimmingly, isn’t it?
The few cars we’ve tested from the brand recently (MKZ and MKX) certainly communicate the feeling that Lincoln is shaking off the doldrums of years shrouded in complacency while marching a determined path back to greatness. Interior quality is markedly better that what we have been used to in years past, there are new powertrains exclusive to Lincoln products and the differentiation between them and the Fords on which they’re based is appreciably widening. When the announcement came that they revived the hallowed Continental nameplate, we immediately signed up for a Road Test to see what’s what with the new flagship.
Even something as simple as climbing into the Continental is an experience to be savored.
If it’s nighttime, LED lights fore and aft slowly awaken from their slumber to full brightness as you approach while the Lincoln logo is projected onto the tarmac below the doors. It’s those doors that have been re-imagined to great effect; your hand fits perfectly on polished silver handles that integrate neatly into the beltline. There’s a capacitive switch on the inside that releases the doors from their latch position electronically with the help of a gently calibrated spring loaded mechanism. Swing the door open and you’ll notice a commodious opening allowing for effortless ingress while the scent of buttery leather hits your nostrils. Your eyes sweep over the inside of the door panels which are expertly finished in contrasting leather hides and absolutely gorgeous steampunk inspired metal speaker grilles covering the Revel speakers we have come to love each time we’ve experienced it. Settle into the 30 (!) way power seats and pull the door closed- the same electronics that assist in opening the door ensure they latch snugly during the last few inches of its travel. Once that process is complete, the mirrors unfold silently perched on their delicate chrome pedestals. It’s a good sign of things to come and we never tired of it.
Once your settled inside, does it still feel special?
The roster of vehicles the Continental will compete against is a lengthy one, running the gamut from the Hyundai Genesis G90 to the Audi A7 and many more in between. Going toe-to-toe with the established players in the category means that the Continental had better be equipped for battle in order to stand out among some seriously good cars. We think Lincoln has endowed the Conti with the right tools to achieve success, and it starts with the seats. They’re trimmed in fragrant, supple leather as you’d expect. Our tester had the Perfect Position 30-way power seat option, which offers a staggering amount of customization for any body type imaginable. It’s pretty much impossible that you won’t be able to find a comfortable position in these thrones. Feeling stressed after a long day? They’ll knead your back and butt as vigorously as you like so you arrive at your destination feeling loose and refreshed. There’s also the marvelous Revel stereo we’ve raved about in other Lincolns, and most of the cars functions are controlled by the excellent Sync3 infotainment system which means that the majority of Continental owners might never consult their owner’s manual to figure out how to use it. The example you see here also had the Rear Seat Package ($5,000.) If someone takes care of driving duties for you, this pricey option makes a lot of sense. It allows for incredible comfort and gargantuan amounts of leg and foot room that will help any CEO decompress after a long day at the salt mines and it comes with its own folding control panel that allows for audio sources and climate control settings to be manipulated according to the occupant’s taste. Everything is tied together by thoughtful trim materials, outstanding build quality and a sense of elegance. It certainly makes for a nice place to while away the kilometers and is certainly a welcome change from the austere, coal bin inspired interiors we’ve become accustomed to from some of its German competition. And, nothing from those Germans imparts a feeling of old school grandeur the way the Conti does. Our Midnight Blue Sapphire on Cappuccino leather tester lent a sense of occasion every time we pulled up somewhere, making us feel a little dignitary-like. Some people even remarked how they presumed it was a Rolls Royce before they saw the badging, a comment that will make those toiling in Lincoln’s marketing department swoon in appreciation.
What about the oily bits?
All Lincoln’s efforts to polish up the stuff you see and touch would have been for naught if the car drove sloppily. Luckily the engineers brought their A-game to setting up the chassis and drivetrain, too. Although the Continental rides on the same CD4 platform as the Ford Fusion, it sure feels more upscale than the family sedan on which it’s based. The suspension has been artfully tuned for comfort- there are few cars that can match its delicious ride- and yet there’s none of the marshmallow softness or nautical body roll that used to define Lincoln’s flagships. Most impacts don’t upset the car whatsoever as it discreetly sops up the nastiness from the lumpy tarmac we drove it on. Under the hood is a twice turbocharged 3.0 litre V6 that makes an equal 400 horsepower and pounds feet of torque. While it’s extremely hard to fault an engine that churns out 400 horsepower, especially as smoothly as it does in the Continental, but the effortless waft provided by a big displacement V8 just isn’t the same as even the most muscular 6-cylinder mills. The 6-speed transmission is a good match for the blown six, but we’d notice a sort of strain followed by a surge in power delivery when called upon to perform a pass on a two-lane road. Nothing overtly off-putting, but a bit strange nonetheless. All-wheel drive keeps everything nice and secure.
What might go wrong?
While we do applaud Lincoln for a solid effort in making a car worthy of carrying the Continental name, there are a few issues we wouldn’t mind seeing addressed as the car winds is way throughout the first few years of production. First, we’d like to see the throttle calibration softened just a bit. A car like this should never feel rushed or edgy, but there were times where the Continental surged forward when we only asked for a graceful creep. Also, where the drivetrain is concerned, we wonder if it might be wise for Lincoln to abandon its 6-speed gearbox in favor of the peerless ZF 8-speeder you see so widely used across the luxury car space. The last gripe we have is a very minor nit to pick, and it’s the plainness of the digital dash. It shows the driver all the information he or she would ever need concisely, it’s just that when you see what’s possible from other manufactures and their digital displays- vibrant colors and crisp resolution, for starters- we wonder if Lincoln might have missed an opportunity to jazz up the instrument panel, something an owner’s eyes will pass over each time they drive their Continental.
Should I buy a Lincoln Continental?
Are you one of those people who wistfully recalls piling into their father’s Continental and every journey felt special? We have no doubt that more than a few of Continental buyers will be at least somewhat motivated by nostalgia when they head to their local dealership for a test drive. There are also going to be those that are just tired of the predictability of the usual suspects that the Continental will compete against and want something that isn’t the same as all the other cars parked in the office parking lot. For those who couldn’t fathom putting a Lincoln in their driveway, much less a Continental, ought to give it a closer look. After returning the Continental upon completion of our Road Test, we can confidently conclude that Lincoln has done a fine job of filling those big shoes nicely.
2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve- Specifications
- Price as tested: $79,650
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0 litre twin turbocharged V6, 24 valves, DOHC
- Horsepower: 400 @ 5,760 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 400 @ 2,750 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,916 kg (4,224 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.3L/100km (16 mpg)