Sunday, February 26, 2017 9:00 am ·  0 Comments
After a hiatus of 15 years, Lincoln fights back with the re-introduction of their flagship full size luxury “Continental”. Ford Motor Company first introduced the nameplate in 1939 and it has been used off and on since then. The last “Continental” was produced in 2002 after which company combined its sedan lines to the “Town Car” and “LS”.
In Canada, the 2017 Continental is available in two trim levels, “Select” and “Reserve”, in addition to a number of optional “packages”. My test vehicle was the top of the line all wheel drive Reserve with the optional 400 hp (400 lb ft of torque) 3.0L GTDI V6 engine matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition to a long list of standard equipment, the optional packages on this test vehicle included the upgraded engine ($3,000); the “Luxury” package ($5,000) adding premium LED headlamps, a Revel 19 speaker audio system and 30-way power multi-contour seats ($750); and finally, a $3,000 “Technology” package providing park assist, adaptive cruise control, 360 degree camera capability, lane departure, pre-collision and pedestrian detection/warning.
The all-new exterior
This all-new Lincoln has an impressive exterior with some pleasing and innovative design touches. It is a wider and longer vehicle than many of its direct competitors and yet presents itself with elegant and flowing lines that succeed in masking its 2,066kg weight. The front grill used by the MKZ line has been replaced by a newer modern looking “Bentley” type grill that if nothing else, will make cleaning off the variety of summer bugs, more of a chore. In my view, the best feature of the new design is the new door handle integrated into the beltline. You simply touch the inside surface of the door handle and a micro-switch activates the door to unlatch and spring pressure is used to start the door opening.
I really enjoyed driving this car. Lincoln has done a fine job of providing owners with the optional 3.0L V6 turbo charged engine that churns out a very decent 400 horsepower. You won’t be setting any 0-100 km/hr records with this but there is more than enough grunt to make the drive exciting. I especially liked the 6-speed transmission; smooth and timely up-shifts with no surprises at all. However, not the same can be said for downshifts. There seems to be some hesitancy in timely moving to a lower gear when slowing down. Even using the paddle to shift down gives you the sense that there is very little if any engine braking going on. Perhaps not a surprise is the sense of the car being comfortable and sure-footed on wet roads. The all wheel drive with “dynamic torque vectoring” provides plenty of traction and stability. For long distance highway driving, you can select a “comfort” drive mode that adjusts steering and suspension to give you the feeling of floating along the highway – like in the plush-mobiles of yesteryear. There is also a “normal” as well as “sport” setting providing the driver with some ride choice. With a car this heavy, braking distance and brake fade can be a concern. After more than a few repeated hard braking exercises, I did not notice any significant brake fade. The hard braking did point out that you need to allow for just a little more distance to come to a complete stop. At a speed of 100 km/hr it took about 50 meters.
Comfort and styling
This car is comfortable! The highlight of driver comfort is having the just about perfect 30-way front seat with heating, ventilation and massage functions. After a hard day on the racetrack or driving my “no suspension lower back jarring” truck, I’m happy to be pampered by soft leather, perfectly adjustable seating including the very useful independent thigh extenders. The massage function while not a new thing in many cars, just provides that added touch to settle you after a long day. The good news is that all of these comforts are also available to the front passenger. Rear passengers are not left out! The optional rear seat package gives you 4-way adjustable seats with lumbar control, recline function, heated and cooled, in a 40/20/40 configuration (no separate thigh adjustment though – but you get to remotely move the passenger seat forward to provide maximum leg room). This optional package also gets you the twin panel sunroof with power shades, a powered rear window shade and a set of useful controls in the armrest.
There are a multitude of excellent styling features in this car that make it a worthwhile trip to the dealer just to experience them all. There are a couple of standout features that are worth special mention. The first of these is the comprehensive set of door-mounted mini-switches, easy to reach and comprehendible. Perhaps a bit unusual and confounding for the first timer is the way to open the door from the inside. There is no “pull lever” on the interior of the door to be found– just a spot to touch the micro-switch to release the door latch. The door mounted speaker design deserves positive mention – sleek and elegant.
All of the vehicles’ interior controls are well positioned and of modern design. A bit unusual but very functional and pleasing are the chrome tipped toggle type switches on the steering wheel and center console – a bit similar to those found in the Mustang. Final mention goes to Ford’s SYNC 3 voice activated infotainment system that in my view is one of the better ones. This is combined with the Revel 19 speaker audio system – providing excellent sound.
There are always several things that after a week of driving, stand out as nuisances, albeit minor ones. The front storage bin on the center console contains the USB connection and is definitely large enough to hold your smartphone. However, you can’t keep the phone plugged in but outside of the bin if you want to close the bin door. The design did not make an accommodation for the power cord. Also, this same storage bin is not insulated – making it an excellent refrigerator when closed in cold weather – as well as providing a refreshing stream of cold air to the interior with the bin open. Finally, some comments on the rear seats. It is not possible to turn off the capability to remotely move the front passenger seat forward. This can provide some amusing entertainment option for your rear-seated youngster at the regret of the front passenger. Despite the ample leg room and adjustable reclining rear seat, headroom for taller folks is still at a premium.
As one would expect, this car has pretty well all the modern safety and security features as standard equipment found in a modern luxury vehicle. The optional packages available and included in my test vehicle provided active park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, 360-degree camera, pre-collision assist and pedestrian detection as well as inflatable safety belts for the rear passengers. One of the nicest features has to be the car’s welcome as you approach it in the dark. Some of the car’s lights activate and most importantly for both the driver and passenger, ground level lighting by the door.
Things to consider
Despite the fact that I like noisy, fast, low slung, tight handling, luxury level cars, there is something to be said for adding the comfort of your favourite massage chair in your well equipped living room. The 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve is definitely a comforting refuge from whatever you need to get away from and for wherever you need to get to. Most of the competitors in this class of car come with a stiffer price tag and not always with better style, comfort or performance. This car is worth a look if you are in that market. After a week of combined highway city driving, fuel economy was 14.2 L/100km.