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2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve AWD Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Lincoln, Test Drives

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The nameplate that has been synonymous with old school American automotive luxury, unique styling, and presidential transportation, has become emboldened to captivate and utilize today’s advancements in tech to create a new entry into the luxury car spectrum. The all-new Lincoln Continental has captured the attention of many onlookers that started with a stunning concept vehicle that retained many design aesthetics into production. Rightfully so, the new Continental is deserving of a close look, and I had the fortunate opportunity to do just that through a week-long and enjoyable test drive of Lincoln’s latest entry into the full-size luxury sedan segment.

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>> Get the best price on the Lincoln Continental from a network of local dealers now. <<

Whenever a luxury vehicle maker reintroduces a full-size iteration from their lineup, it automatically gets compared to the juggernauts of full-size luxury from the other side of the pond, which includes the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. There really isn’t any way of getting around such comparisons. Though, when it comes to the expectations of Lincoln, not much has been placed on a pedestal in recent years. Therefore, not much was expected to captivate a large audience or turn heads. In comes the new 2017 Continental, a vehicle poised to avoid shame when pitted against its German rivals even though it is based on a front-wheel-drive biased chassis.

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The new Continental embodies a unique principal that Lincoln is betting on. In that formula, at the upper echelon of the trim levels, a total of three plus a new Black Label edition, the Continental can be optioned with a 400-horsepower engine. The 400 horsepower goes a long way to keeping things on a literal pace to run close or next to the big dogs, depending on who’s keeping tally. The new engine, unique to the Lincoln brand and not out of the Ford parts bin, is a direct-injection 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. The engine is remarkable in its power output with minimal lag out of the hole. The midrange power, with a surging 400 lb-ft of torque that reaches its peak starting at 2,750 rpm comes on subtle but carries through the band until the horsepower takes charge at its peak around 5,750 rpm. In the all-wheel-drive configuration of my test vehicle, the Continental scoots along with authority to reach 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.1 seconds.

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Fuel economy could be better, but for the full-size luxury sedan segment the EPA-estimated 24 mpg highway, 16 mpg city, and 19 mpg combined is what’s expected for such. However, in my observation, fuel economy in the city varied from 15.4 mpg to about 18.1 mpg. On the highway, fuel economy was more consistent where I mostly matched the EPA figure getting about 23.8 mpg.

The overall driving character of the new Continental Reserve with all-wheel-drive is good with a couple of different personalities based on the vehicle settings. My Continental Reserve AWD gets equipped with remarkable continuous dampening control with three modes (comfort, normal, sport) accessed through a drive setting grouping deep in the vehicle settings menu, which is a confusing setup just to change the drive mode part from hitting the transmission’s “S” button. The comfort mode is very soft and permits a bit of lazy body roll but an ultra-smooth ride much like big luxury vehicles touting an air suspension system. While the suspension system utilizes coil springs, the adaptive dampers are what make the ride quality luxurious and supple. The overall handling inspires a bit of confidence considering how sharp the steering rack is -as much as you would want in a large luxury vehicle. Comfort mode permits a bit more body dive and roll than I would like but remains mostly composed as to avoid loss of control or an uneasy feeling when you have come into a sharp exit ramp too hot. The brakes appear to be up to the challenge as well to bring all of the 4,547 pounds to a stop – but not in record breaking time as there is a lot of weight to keep in check.

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Going into sport mode, by pressing the “S” gear selector button, tightens things up by default, including the steering effort. The 6-speed transmission then gets an aggressive mapping, and throttle response is advanced in sport mode. Probably the least desirable part of the Continental’s driving character is its use of what feels like an antiquated 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6-speed auto, shifted through a dash-mounted array of buttons, is somewhat lax in its shifts where they take a bit longer than I would expect. Moreover, the 400-horsepower engine would have even more performance if there were a couple extra gears combined with faster shifting. Otherwise, the 6-speed transmission feels mostly direct and tends to hold gears to take advantage of the mid-range torque of the turbocharged V6 engine, sometimes feeling like a torque-filled diesel engine.

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It’s evident that luxury is the forte of the new Continental. The interior is wrapped with soft touch surfaces in just about every area where there isn’t the textured wood or aluminum clad trim pieces. The unique seats in the Continental place it in a category of its own where Lincoln pulls off a stunt that is nearly duplicated from its concept car roots. The floating bolsters found on the front and rear outboard seats are not only unique, but they are functional in providing additional movements and adjustments. By having the unique design, the seats can provide additional support in new ways and at the same time provide a supple multi-zone massaging feature for the front seats and rear outboard seats without reducing comfort or the expected support that is warranted in a full-size luxury vehicle.

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Out back, the ample leg room is only part of the formula that permits a taste of rear executive seating sans any table tops or leg recliners. There is the ability to adjust the rear seat backs and access to move the front seat from the rear for added room in the back. The 30-way adjustable front seats with massaging have a remarkable way of power-adjusting the headrest up, down, forward, and aft. Additionally, the front seats have separate left and right power thigh support adjustments. The automatic climate control system, which has four zones in my test vehicle, is grouped with a small set of physical button and toggle switches in the center console. While some may find joy in the smallish stack of controls, others may find the spacing too tight and confined to one spot. Here, in my opinion, it’s mostly a preference but overall a short reach to the controls and nicely executed on the part of Lincoln with the physical button layout that has a bit of redundancy through the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen.

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Lincoln went the extra mile not only to create an inviting and ultra-quiet cabin. Engine noise does transmit into the cabin but as a pleasantly muffled growl serving as a reference for what the 400-horsepower engine is doing – I actually like it. The unique seating will pay dividends to garner attention where it would otherwise be overlooked in place of its German rivals. Overall, the interior doesn’t entirely live up to the high-end luxury competition expectations for those accustomed to a high-end Benz S-Class, but it’s almost there. Still, Lincoln has pulled off a completely different act in hopes that its uniqueness wins over newcomers to old-school luxury modernized with today’s technology. To sum it up, potential buyers will have to dig and search for the added appeal of luxury, some of which can be found in the 4-zone climate control system, unique seats, supple ride quality, user-friendly touchscreen Sync infotainment system, soft-close doors, attractive styling, and respectable power output.

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The exterior styling is somewhat contemporary. Most of the design aspects are pulled directly from the eye-catching Continental concept vehicle that won over many onlookers in past years car shows, which is a good thing. Up front is a design that is now shared on the new MKZ and expected to filter through the rest of the Lincoln lineup. The Continental gets unique-lensed LED headlights and a unique rear end that conforms to a classy, subdued look. The large 20-inch wheels and tires encompassing the far-arching wheel wells add a premium luxury aesthetic to the Continental as does the lower window trim door handles that give away to clean-sculpted door panels. Speaking of the door handles, the Continental’s door handles use an electronic pad for activation inside the unique window trim handles. Inside, the door handles using an electronic push-button to open instead of a pull lever, just like in the new Ford GT supercar. In the event of the electronic door handle failing to work, there is a manual pull-latch inside of the driver’s side door trim pocket. Also, the keyless entry and locking system has an exterior capacitive-touch padlock icon that lights to signal the doors being locked or unlocked.

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The new 2017 Lincoln Continental is undoubtedly giving the brand a lift in the luxury world. I don’t find much to fault in the new Continental, and I give praise to the complete package of it offering the best luxury from the brand yet. With that, the price of the Continental ranges greatly, from a starting point of $44,720 for the base Continental Premier, $47,675 for the Select trim, $54,075 for the Reserve trim, and $63,075 for the Black Label. For those prices, there is also access to an exclusive concierge program to schedule on-location pickup and delivery of your vehicle for service. There is a long list of optional features and a couple of select packages that can quickly drive up the Continental’s price, such as in the case of my Continental Reserve test vehicle loaded up with the optional 400 horsepower engine, Luxury Package, Rear Seat Package, Tech Package, 20-inch wheels, Climate Package, and 30-way power seat option. The as-tested price of my loaded-up test vehicle comes to $75,770, including a $925 destination and delivery charge. In all, the pricing structure stacks up well against the competition considering where the new Continental stacks up in such a coveted segment.

>> Get the best price on the Lincoln Continental from a network of local dealers now. <<

>> Get the best price on the Lincoln Continental from a network of local dealers now. <<

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Continental Premiere $44,720 /$75,770 As-Tested Continental Reserve AWD including $925 destination charges
  • Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC Twin-Turbocharged V6 400 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm / 400 lb.ft. of torque @ 2,750 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 117.9 inches
  • Total length: 201.4 inches
  • Total width: 75.3 inches
  • Total height: 58.5 inches
  • Track: f/r-63.2/64.1 inches
  • Headroom: 39.3/37.7 inches
  • Legroom: 44.4/41.3 inches
  • Fuel tank: 18.0 gallons
  • Curb weight: 4,547 pounds
  • Cargo volume: n/a cu.ft.
  • Passenger volume: 106.4 cu.ft.
  • EPA mileage: 16 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds

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