2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve review: Channeling the Continentals of yore
This is a car I’ve been looking forward to driving since I saw the concept in — when was that, a couple years ago? Now I’ve driven it and, frankly, I don’t know what to think.
On the one hand, it’s elegantly good looking, has a high-quality interior, good grip and composure, and is nice and quiet going down the road. If that’s your thing, you should be pleased. It’s reasonably quick, too, and the switch from front- to all-wheel drive is invisible. No, it’s not a sports sedan, but soothes nicely.
A quick side note about the looks: I had a high school sophomore come up to me and tell me how much he loves the new Continental. I said “really?” He said, “Yeah, every kid in my school wants one.” So Lincoln might just have the coveted-but-illusive youth vote.
On the other, the steering feels overboosted (not that potential buyers care) and I couldn’t shake the feeling I was in a bigger, heavier Fusion. Maybe it’s because I went straight from a Fusion to this.
I appreciated that even with Sync 3 infotainment, there are good-looking knobs controlling things like fan speed and radio volume and tuning. On the other hand, adjusting the seats is overcomplicated, and while I found a comfortable setting, my 5-foot-2-inch wife never could. Adjusting the chassis settings from comfort to the other settings takes three button taps on the steering wheel. Or is it four?
Like I said, I don’t know what to think.
Lincoln sold 1,167 Continentals last month. I suppose one could argue that’s not bad considering the car is fresh out of the gate. The only Cadillac that sold better is the old XTS, and no Jaguar came close. The Infiniti Q70 wasn’t in the ballpark either, nor was any similarly sized Audi or Lexus.
If I ran a German automaker, I wouldn’t be too worried, but Infiniti, Lexus and Cadillac bosses should perhaps be concerned.
I calculated 12.3 mpg with the trip, but that’s way too low. The in-dash gauge said I was averaging about 18 mpg, which seems right.
–Wes Raynal, editor
All right, like Wes, I’ve been waiting awhile to drive this car, but I’m glad I finally got the chance. I want to complain that it’s not bigger, squarer and rear-wheel drive, but that’s the old way. This is about as big as a car can get these days without being offensive to most drivers. And it can’t be squarer because of wind resistance, and it can’t be rear-wheel drive because, well, I don’t know why it can’t be rear-wheel drive — I guess because they can sell front-drivers even in snowy states.
I think everyone agrees, it looks gorgeous. It lost some of the concept design through production, but I think this is about as close as it can get, safely. The front end looks like a Jaguar — no problem there — and the door handles are sweet. All you have to do is tap the button on the inside of the chrome oval and the door pops open. This blue is OK; I saw a black one that looked awesome on the expressway.
Inside, holy smokes these seats are … I’m not going to say amazing, but, complicated. First you have your normal fore and aft adjustments, then you have your up and down, then you have your lean in and out for both the lower back and upper back. There are six more adjustments in the nav screen and, of course, there is the requisite massage function. About that, I think this car and the Maybach are the only ones that massage your rear end AND your back. Very nice.
So those seats aren’t super-supple like a Lexus or Buick, but once you get them adjusted, which takes 20-30 minutes, give or take, you’ll be ready to go. The heating and cooling functions work great; the steering wheel is also heated.
The instrument panel and interior styling are a little busy for me. There are four or five different colors and materials. I’d like it a little more monochromatic. The materials are nice though, soft touches here and there, and the speakers look great in the doors. Sound is amazing from the Revel system.
I agree with Wes that having knobs for volume, tuning and climate control are great, even if redundant. My only problem with the radio/infotainment was that I couldn’t listen to my iPhone through Apple CarPlay and use the Lincoln navigation system. Apple Maps sucks — I only use Google — and there’s no way to do that in CarPlay here. The CT6 I was just in could do both. The push-button transmission is a little weird, but I got used to it quickly.
On the road, the Continental feels solid over imperfections. You can hear the bumps — the cabin is louder than I expected — but it feels very isolated from the movement. I wanted whisper quiet; this is not that. The steering is boosted, but it does make for a quick ratio and quick turning, which makes it easier to get in and out of tight spaces.
The twin-turbo V6 is powerful. It moves this car around with surprising quickness, especially off the line. I’d say it felt faster than the CT6, which has about the same horsepower. Shifts are quick too, though I didn’t really notice a change in sport mode. I don’t see any reason for an eight- or 10-speed except for mileage, and I doubt it’s as low as Wes calculated; it’s probably closer to the indicated number. There is a decent amount of noise through the firewall though — something I wouldn’t expect, or want, from a Lincoln. The company is definitely doing more to please American customers than Cadillac, but still, go all the way Lincoln!
I didn’t notice any lane departure warnings or interventions, which bothered me a bit. It does have forward collision warning that seems a bit too sensitive. This class of car should have those things engaged as default.
Overall, the price is right and I would have no problem driving this car on a weeklong road trip. I’d like a different interior option and maybe a professional ergonomicist (?) to set up the seats for me, but this is a good luxury car, if not up to S-Class standards. Looking at the sales numbers above, it seems like things are going well. I hope they stay that way. Out here in the Midwest we see a ton of these things, so our perception is skewed.
–Jake Lingeman, road test editor
As the name Continental approaches its centennial, it obviously carries some heft. Starting with the original Lincoln Continentals in 1939, and then evolving into its own separate marque in 1955, Continental represented the very best that Ford Motor Co. could offer. Ford was so invested in the second-generation Continental that despite a price tag hovering around $10K (around $90K today) Ford managed to lose money on each hand-built car. The Continental Division was folded back into Lincoln for the ever-popular fourth-generation suicide-door Lincoln Continental. Many more followed until the Continental stopped rolling off assembly lines in 2002.
Continental’s main competition used to be the upscale Cadillac, but Caddy spent a lot of time chasing German performance cars and left the boaty-luxe legacy behind. While Ford could have done something similar, it didn’t. This Lincoln, in either front- or all-wheel drive, is the spiritual successor of the second wave of Lincoln Continentals.
The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged mill offers decent fuel economy — I managed around 20 mpg — while being plenty fast enough for cruising. There does seem to be some engine noise in the cabin, and it feels piped in, but you don’t hear any exhaust noise. The six-speed automatic feels dated compared to the more sophisticated units found in Mercedes-Benz, but it is fairly smooth. The plastic push-button gear selection feels like a poor choice in an otherwise well-appointed interior. I understand Lincoln was probably going for a minimal look, but the buttons tend to blend into the center stack. I would have preferred a traditional shifter or some flashy chrome buttons. Or if it wanted to dig even deeper into the Ford vaults, it could have thrown the gear selector into the steering wheel, but we doubt NHTSA would be too happy with that.
The seats, too, could be better. While there are more adjustments than you can make on the three Weber carbs on a Jag XKE, that doesn’t mean they’re flawless. Between too many adjustments and too-stiff material, I couldn’t manage to find a position that was truly comfortable. I’m sure, with more time, I could have figured it out. There’s also massaging features built in, but instead of focusing just on your back, they also manage to massage your butt. It’s as weird as it sounds.
The ride, however, is perfect. It’s floaty and exactly what I expected from this Lincoln. It glazes over bumps and keeps you settled in the complicated leather seat.
–Wesley Wren, associate editor
Base Price: $56,840
As Tested Price: $72,155
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter DOHC twin-turbocharged V6, AWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 400 hp @ 5,750 rpm; 400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,547 lb
Fuel Economy: 16/24/19 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Observed Fuel Economy: 16.99 mpg
Options: Luxury Package ($5,000); 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine ($3,265); Continental Technology Package ($3,105); twin panel moonroof with power shade ($1,750); 30-way Perfect Position seating ($1,500); Continental Climate Package ($695)
Pros: Gorgeous, plush and floaty
Cons: Not as quiet as expected, need a degree in seat adjustment