Welcome to a future where the Lincoln Continental has the grace of a Bentley. It has cabin comfort worthy of a private jet and a backseat to shame most Mercedes.
Impressive? That barely does the Continental’s first impression justice.
We spent a week getting to know the machine inside and out. Learning the delights of cooled and massaged comfort in all four corners of the machine. And flinging the Continental out of corners with unreal speed thanks to the Focus RS-style torque vectoring AWD system. Of course, the whole time, surfing full throttle of 400HP/400 pound-feet of torque from the potent V6TT up front.
Is Continental perfect as a replacement for a 740i or an Audi A8, at a $30k discount? Or is it still focused on a livery mission – lacking the handling poise of the top Cadillac CT6?
Spoiler alert: this new Continental Black Label is the most sumptuously plush American car we’ve ever driven.
Two HD videos and some photo highlights on this page, with the full photoset on its own over here.
Knees weak. Palms and brow sweating. Touchable metal beauty – a rolling masterpiece!
The big tentpoles in the Continental design assessment are:
- that its long, cab-backward proportions are seriously lux
- and that its details are unique, sexy and satisfying all around
Continental is indeed gorgeous for this all-new 2017 model. The fairly conservative new oval grille replaces the old flying wings of recent Lincolns. But nothing derivative here: all-new meshes and blocky weaves for the inner grille create just the right level of modernity and luxury.
The big grille leads to a raised central hood above the soft, rounded fendertops and front bumper. Five-LED low and highbeams have visible lenses that are diamond shaped and three-dimentional even when off. When lit, all five have a dot glow in lowbeams and a full white light shape for highbeams.
The daytime running LEDs are also futuristic. Crisp line of white light across the lower edge of the lamps with a J-shaped kick at the end. Somehow, it does look unique on the road even with this popular LED shape. That whole LED flips amber for some of the sexiest turn signals on the road.
Triple LED fogs are a detail touch to wrap the lighting up front. All the LEDs on Continental have a secret treat: they never come on and off harshly. There is a phased intro cascade of light when they sense you approaching.
In profile, the Continental dazzles with its details. The C-pillar rake is fresh, the glasshouse shape is fresh, the chopped and blocky trunk also looks very new.
By placing the door handles so elegantly in the chrome lower edge of the windows, Continental has tons of door and tumbehome shape to make its own. Organic, strong and clean looks for the bodysides keep it clean.
Machine-polished 20-inch alloys have black inner fanblades and a posh turbine look. They fill the arches well, even if short hood does betray Continental’s transverse engine layout.
In the tail, the Continental again sets a 2020 design feel. The slim double rectangle of LED brake lights, connected by a horizontal lightbar, is a look Audi imitates for its 2019 A8. Lincoln the trendsetter!
The tail is most notable for sharp corners and flatter surfacing than the nose of Continental. The broad LINCOLN letters across the trunk face have a cool detail on the Black Label test car: they are black versus bright on other trims.
It all works in the flesh. A-plus for design!
We do wish to see one with less brightwork, perhaps. Chrome does bring those doorhandles the praise they deserve. A nice flowing line with the power-folding side mirrors is icing on the cake.
Doorhandles on the top of the doors, just below glass? How?
E-latches. The main units are fixed in position, with just a button inside to open the lock. We have hated electronic doors forever but these are lightning fast and intuitive. The door shuts with a solid thunk (as demonstrated on video here!) and even has soft-close all around to make it that much easier.
Inside Continental is a sensory overload. I ask that you click a pic below for a lightbox slider of some cabin photos before continuing.
Back? Are you floored?
This Black Label is the ‘Thoroughbred’ theme and rocks venetian leather, saddle accents and Chilean maple woods. The entire center stack and huge slabs of the red candy paneling wraps the dash and doors in a jaw-dropping way. (Wood is a bit too glossy possibly but somehow fits in this application.)
We’re used to Lincoln’s being very nice but also sharing far too much with Fords. This Continental puts that to bed with unique luxury switchgear, controls and touchpoints. Wow. Examples of the lovliness?
The black alcantara headliner and moonroof cover are tactile delights. The panoramic glass roof is also dreamy day and night.
Overall controls for little things like windows and mirrors are Bentley-tastic, while the center stack is wide and tall like Panamera. New full-leather dash has prominent start button and new Park-RNDL buttons beside the touchscreen. This is Sync3 unit has custom Lincoln graphics and is now angled vertically – avoiding glare much better than before.
Continental adds a huge new HVAC suite in physical buttons below the touchscreen for air and seat temps. Three levels of cooling are heavenly up front. As is the massage and heat, of course. Just up front, right? Nope. Rear is cooled and massaged too, with 8-way recline back there. More on seats in a moment.
Extra vents in the B-pillars and a dedicated climate setup in rear armrest make Continental worldclass for air comfort.
The seats. These are as incredible as it gets for a car tester. 24-way “perfect position” power seats are a Lincoln world exclusive. They have a central hard-backed spine with floating panels. This allows a level of adjustment and fit that is simply incredible. Even the seat base squab extension is customizable – left and right leg each get a support pad. Amazing to see and sit in. This is a gift for normal drivers, but a godsend for professionals in the car for hours on end. The massage is nice, if a bit noisy, as the segments inflate and deflate to sooth tired backs and buns.
Overall the Continental inside has huge core upgrades to its luxury experience versus any Lincoln before. All of Continental’s new cabin tech is expected on the upcoming Navigator too.
BACK SEAT BALLIN’
Special shout-out for the back seats here. The Continental has HUGE doors and makes entry/exit flawless. This is big advantage over CT6. Next is the legroom, shoulder room and head room. Nobody gets close for less than $100k. Huge back there.
And next its materials/tech. So many USBs, plugs and buttons. Then you put down the armrest – for the display panel of the kings. The $4.3k rear seat package brings high-res display screen to adjust seat lumbar, massage and recline settings, as well as audio and entertainment. Incredibly comfy and silent in back is taken for granted.
Final touch for a snooze? The headrests are elegant slim leather pillows at first sight. But they bend at the edges to hold your head like an airplane seat. Smart Lincoln.
This part of the lovefest has to start with the one disappointment of Continental. There are times when its driveline feels a little too ‘loose.’ This is mostly down to the legacy six-speed automatic, which is almost too Ford-normal for this application. This thought it fleeting, but must be said.
Beyond slight sloppiness coming out of Park and on throttle, Continental drives like a dream. There is real heft to the machine’s steering and moves as you set off. Three suspension modes and a dedicated “S” transmission mode vary the shift and throttle routines from lax to max.
Our drive was definitely in the MAX mode. After loving Continental’s loping, relaxed feel around town and on the highway, it was time to see if she could dance!
On twisty roads, we worried the big AWD sedan might suffer yowling tires and understeer like Lincolns of yore. We had no idea what was to follow!
The Continental’s all-new twin turbo is smaller than the 3.5-liter before, yet much more power dense. It has much, much more low-end torque than before, and snappier top end. As a result, Continental is a madcap riot on full throttle! This is a 5.5-second car to 60-mph and feels FAST low-down and in passing.
Next, the shift paddles are useful and snappy. The brand-new AWD system takes most of the credit for balance around corners like an Audi. This AWD with twin-clutch rear engagement sings like an AMG at the apex, though.
You can literally feel the outside rear wheel get 200% power. It flattens the nose on corner exit, neuters understeer throughout the bend, and makes the front drive almost irrelevant.
As a result, the Lincoln is genuinely fast around corners. More meaty than Volvo S90 or Jag XF. Lincoln Continental really engages its driver. The car that comes to mind… is the Bentley Continental GT V8S. They share a name a similar corner attitude.
Big achievement for Lincoln. A B+ for handling.
Is the 3.0T engine, as the 400HP EcoBoost is badged, worth upgrading over the base motors? At $3265 it is a pricey option, but does chop about 2.5 seconds off the relaxed sprint pace of most Continentals on the road.
Here is another pill to swallow. All this best-Ford-ever from Lincoln in 2017 does not come free. The Continental starts from the low 40s, but our AWD Black Label beauty has a base sticker of about $66k. Adding the top motor, tech, climate and rear-seat packs adds thousands. We’d skip the pricey $1750 chroma caviar paint if feeling frugal.
All told, the Continental test car tallied $78,920. This is about $10k less than the top Cadillac CT6, but also is missing the blu-ray rear monitors of that Cadillac.
All told, Lincoln has built itself into a luxury powerhouse! Materials, assembly quality, design and technology make this the fanciest American car imaginable.
Black Label benefits help make the price worthwhile: they deliver the car when you buy it, pick it up for service and even detail it annually for you.
There is so much stunningly good in the Continental. It must be experienced to let you go through the surprises and delights for yourself.
In this way, the 2017 Continental is even more impressive than the S-Class or A8. For owners, the trick will be balancing how much speed is worth the cash.
Thrilled to say Continental is a Best of 2017 Award winner at Car-Revs-Daily.com.