Resurrection—it’s a tricky business. Even more so when the object of your effort is one of America’s most iconic automotive brands.
The Lincoln Continental was sent to the great junkyard in the sky back in 2002, a victim of corporate neglect and consumer apathy. For years, Continentals were like prime rib and a baked potato at an old-school steakhouse: big and rich, and luxurious enough in a decidedly old-fashioned way—but also expected, uninspired, and wholly lacking in imagination or flair.
All that is about to change. After a break of over 10 years, Ford has brought the flagship Continental back to life, part of a larger reimagining, restyling, and rebranding effort for the entire Lincoln line. And from the looks of it, this effort was well worth it: the 2017 Continental is very full of life indeed.
There’s the look, for starters. Instead of a glammed-up taxi-cab profile and bland, father-knows-best styling, the Continental offers the most modern of design ideas: presence. The low profile, a wide wheelbase, and an aggressive grille provide a sense of “take-me-as-I am” confidence that manages to be both a little brash and a little understated at the same time.
Since its introduction in 1939, the Continental has always been a car for those who appreciate the finer things. The current iteration is no different. Up close, you notice the understated exterior design touches that help the Continental stand out from the crowd: door handles subtly integrated within the beltline; the bank of diamond-shaped lamps in the headlights; the easy-to-overlook upturn of the backend into the faintest hint of a faux-spoiler. On the inside, too, there are plenty of features that make driving a distinctly pleasurable experience: leather upholstery with seven stitches per inch; E-latch door handles; an expansive twin-panel moonroof; and artistic sunburst perforations on the brushed metal speakers.
On the technology front, the Continental offers a lot to geek out on, with plenty of driver assist technologies, along with a large centre console touchscreen that allows you to control almost every aspect of the driving experience. Even the Perfect Position Seats are a technological marvel, sporting a 30-way adjustment with built-in heating, cooling, and massaging.
But it is on the road where the Continental truly comes to life. The tested 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 is not exactly made for drag racing, but it’s definitely no slouch, giving you 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque’s worth of get-up-and-go when you need it. The steering feels natural and responsive, and the handling is a million miles away from the squishy, boat-like feel of yesterday’s Lincolns. Hit the Sport mode button, and the Continental will adjust steering and suspension for a livelier ride.
The Continental comes by its name honestly: this is a vehicle tailor-made for cruising—and the longer the cruise, the better. A criss-cross from coast to coast, for example. Or a road trip through wine country. Maybe a weekend run up to the cottage. Or simply a longer-than-usual commute. The Continental is neither a performance vehicle nor a comfort vehicle, but rather an attractive balance of the two—one that will satisfy both your inner Mario Andretti and your inner Sunday driver in equal measure, as well as any backseat drivers you may be carting around, with plenty of room for them to stretch out and make the rear into a personal oasis.
And that’s when you understand: this rebirth is not only a rebranding, but a rethinking of what we mean when we speak of luxury. The 2017 Continental is a shift away from the ostentatious, bigger-is-better statements; instead, this is a mature, almost quiet appreciation of how the little things can make a big difference—the kind of car you buy not to show people you’re going places, but to let them know you’ve already arrived.
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