Ford resurrected a storied luxury nameplate with the 2017 Lincoln Continental. It didn’t happen without controversy.
When the concept was introduced, the chief designer at Great Britain’s Bentley accused Lincoln of copycatting the Bentley Flying Spur, a luxury sedan which, curiously enough, was built off the same platform as Bentley’s own Continental, a high-performance coupe and convertible.
But Bentley could not gripe about the name because Lincoln had an unassailable prior claim, having introduced its Continental in 1939 – also as a coupe and convertible. It carried on through 10 generations of sedans, coupes, and convertibles, with arguably its most beautiful and famous the Continental coupe of 1956-57.
Lincoln discontinued the Continental in 2002 as superfluous because it already had the big Town Car and the LS model, which did double duty as the British Jaguar S-Type at a time when Ford owned Jaguar.
Regardless of any resemblance to the Bentley Flying Spur, the new Continental looks the part of a classic luxury car, though it sells for less money than most of its competitors, some of which break into six figures. The model tested for this review, the top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive Reserve came with a starting price of $57,000 and – with full safety equipment and a complement of optional convenience and luxury features – topped out at $75,020.
Continental has a comfortable, even cushy, ride without inducing motion sickness like some of the big luxury sedans of yore. The tested Continental even had built-in massage therapy for the driver and front passenger, including settings to knead both the back and buttocks.
Three engines are available, each linked to a six-speed automatic transmission:
245-horsepower twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6, a 305-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and the top-of-the-line 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 on the tested Reserve model.
Though the Continental is nearly 17 feet long and weighs 4,547 pounds, it is not a slug in urban traffic and exhibits relatively nimble handling. The all-wheel drive incorporates dynamic torque vectoring — a system that selectively applies the rear-wheel brakes to ease handling around corners. Yet it’s not the sort of car you’d use to chase sports cars or even small sports sedans on curving mountain roads.
As a premier luxury car, the Continental comes with state-of-the art safety and convenience equipment. They include a twin-panel glass sunroof, backup camera with a 360-degree overhead view, pre-collision detection and warning, three-zone automatic climate control, and electronic door latching and opening. Inside or outside, merely touching the button opens the door.
One caution: Don’t mess with the entertainment and information systems, including the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, without a thorough briefing or detailed reading of the owner’s manual. Trying to access some of the obtuse functions without instructions can be infuriating.
The Continental’s forte is as a boulevardier around the city and suburbs, and as a long-distance road car. Settle into the soft leather seats, tune in the satellite radio or your choice of music from your own smart phone, set the adaptive cruise control, and make sure the lane departure warning is activated. You’re in for a pleasant, quiet trip without fatigue.