2017 is the year of Lincoln Motor Company. The all-new 2017 Continental marks a turning point for the Lincoln Motor Company: with a clean sheet of paper, the engineers in Dearborn, MI set out to create the best Lincoln ever built, with all the style and substance Lincoln used to be known for, while also including all of the latest technology that most discerning luxury car buyers have come to expect. And if that’s not enough to get you excited, the all-new Navigator hot on its heels that should be hitting showrooms in the very near future. Both of these vehicles have exactly what’s needed to take Lincoln Motor Company to new heights as a luxury brand.
Although the front end styling of the Continental makes it almost indistinguishable from the midsize MKZ, the side profile and rear of Lincoln’s flagship vehicle carry an elegance and grace that will turn heads and garner praise anywhere it goes. Even though there may have been some controversy at the unveiling of the Continental from other designers saying Lincoln’s designers had ripped off other automakers’ designs, I can’t say that I agree. While the design isn’t traditional Lincoln, it’s a cohesive example of their new design language, with a mix of soft curves and sharp creases. The LED headlights, especially on the high trim levels have a jewel-like quality to them, while the taillights frame the rear of the car in one continuous beam of red light that looks like Lincoln borrowed a prop from the latest Tron movie. Perhaps the most entrancing feature is the streamlined door handles that gently curve out from the chrome window trim and hide door actuators within. Lincoln also offers a range of stylish wheels ranging from 18- to 20-inches that all pair beautifully with the Continental’s shape.
Just as stylish and modern as the outside, the cabin of the Continental is a big step forward for Lincoln. With high-quality leather and real wood covering most of the interior surfaces, the cabin of the Continental has a light, airy feeling that reminded me of a premium airport lounge. It seems that nearly everywhere you look, Lincoln has put some thought into everything you see or touch. A perfect example of this is the simple turn signal stalk. While Lincoln could’ve very easily just pilfered the Fiesta or F-150 parts bin for the cheapest turn signal stalk they could find, they instead used a color-matched soft-touch indicator with one of the nicest actuations I’ve ever experienced. Sure, it’s probably not worth getting excited about on its own, but it shows that Lincoln is focused on quality here.
One of the big headlines inside the new Continental is the new 30-way adjustable Perfect Positions Seating for the driver and front seat passenger. The 14 door-mounted switches can adjust just about every conceivable motion of the seat, including the individual thigh bolsters to promote circulation. Unfortunately, the standard seats – which share their amazing looks with the Perfect Position seats – offer significantly less adjustability and comfort. The seating position itself is great, but I had difficulty finding a comfortable setting for the driver’s seat. Move to the rear seats and passengers will be given a true luxury experience with an elevated seating position, no shortage of leg room, and beautiful views out of the large side windows and available panoramic sunroof. Although the standard 10-speaker audio system is certainly sufficient, Lincoln has partnered with Harmon to create two specialized stereos specifically for the Continental: a 13-speaker Revel audio system and a 19-speaker Revel Ultima system that offers three different listening modes to fine-tune the listening experience to your music of choice. Adding a further touch of class to the interior, both Revel systems come with beautiful, milled aluminum speaker grilles.
Lincoln has taken a lot of flack over their unconventional approach to transmission controls in recent models by replacing a physical lever with dash-mounted buttons in an effort to increase interior space. While this has been hit-or-miss in some of other models, the push-buttons for the transmission just to the left of the 8-inch infotainment screen seemed easier to get used to than they have been in other Lincoln vehicles. As does the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which takes on a classy brown and tan hue to better fit the upscale interior of the Continental instead of the traditional bright blue and white theme you see in Fords. The SYNC3 touchscreen isn’t the only big screen in the car. The Continental also features a large digital screen that replaces more traditional dials. Not only does it allow the Continental to display more useful information to the driver, but it adds a touch of class and sophistication to the driver’s line of sight. For instance, although the speedometer mimics the look of a traditional round dial, as your speed increases, the MPH indices change color as the needle on the screen sweeps past. It’s a small touch, but again, it’s nice to see Lincoln thought to do it.
There are three different V6 engines available depending on whether you select your Continental in Premiere, Select, Reserve, or Black Label trim. The largest engine, a naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter V6, comes standard on Premiere and Select models where it provides 305-hp. Although the interior of the Continental is a quiet and serene place to be, I appreciated the 3.7’s subtle growl every time I dipped my foot into the throttle a bit. The other two engines, both turbocharged, provide more power and significantly more torque than the big 3.7. The 2.7-liter GTDI engine has 335-hp on tap while also returning slightly better fuel economy while the 3.0-liter GTDI V6 packs a whopping 400-hp and 400 lb-ft as well as a torque vectoring AWD system, transforming the Continental Reserve trim into a subtle freeway rocket ship.
To truly get the ultimate experience from your Continental, the Black Label trim is as good as it gets. It’s about as close to custom-tailoring a car you can get without spending six figures. Offering four exclusive shades of paint, as well as three separate interior design themes with upgraded materials and special stitching, the Black Label Continental is the crown jewel in Lincoln’s lineup for the moment, at least until the all-new Navigator comes out. This is Lincoln’s testbed for all of their new technology as well as how they want the brand to be perceived in the future. With a concierge service, a new Lincoln experience center being built in St Louis Park, and even special Black Label owner experiences ranging from personal shoppers to exclusive tasting menus with world-class chefs. The new Lincoln is nearly indistinguishable from the brand we knew just five years ago. Lincoln is making good on its plan to redefine luxury.