A new year means a new you. Whether it is a physical or mental change, most of us try to improve ourselves, year after year. Every day brings its own challenges, but each new day also brings an opportunity for growth and development. 2017 will be no different in that aspect, and The Lincoln Motor Company is taking this fresh, innovative mindset very seriously.
2017 is going to be a big year for Lincoln. During the past few months, the brand has been revamping its entire lineup from the ground up, redefining their look and working to become synonymous with the modern definition of “luxury.” But, 2017 is the start of something new for a nameplate that is not a re-birth, if you will. 2002 was the last time we saw a Lincoln vehicle include the name “Continental.” A 15-year hiatus has caused what was once their flagship and genesis vehicle of the entire brand to be almost forgotten. Now, the vehicle is back on the streets, and the company did not take the task lightly.
Everything about the 2017 Continental is about quiet luxury. From the moment you approach the vehicle and it greets you with its impressive lighting, your comfortability seems to be the top priority. Then, when you reach for the discreet door handle, it pops open with a pleasing, muffled “thunk.” The fine leatherwork and metallic accents look as if they were taken out of a five-star hotel. The optional 30-way adjustable heated and ventilated seats support you everywhere, while delivering a relaxing massage. The greeting on the infotainment center welcomes you as you press the start button. Almost entirely secluded from the outside world, you barely hear the 3.0L GTDI engine come to life. As you set off, the vehicle continues to keep relaxation at an all-time high priority with its customizable ambient lighting, the tri-zone auto climate control and a whole host of driver-assist technologies.
Powering the Continental is an array of V-6 engines, including a naturally-aspirated 3.7L, a twin turbo 2.7L and a top-of-the-line 3.0L twin turbo, making 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. All those options are mated to a six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission with paddle shifters. From there, you choose whether you would like front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Continental is not about 0-60s and lap times, as you might have gathered, but it is capable enough to get out of its own way. Peak torque comes around 2,700 RPM, and is delivered progressively, riding a smooth surge all the way to the redline. This, combined with the all-wheel drive torque vectoring stability, makes passing and spritely cornering an absolute breeze.
The Continental is supported by electronically-adjusted conventional hydraulic dampers and springs. The chassis setup is fairly well-balanced. You can still feel the 4,200-pound curb weight of the vehicle in the corners, but there is minimal body roll for a full-size sedan. My only quarrel with the handling is that the Continental seems to have an additional reactive bounce. Allow me to explain … When you drive over a bump in the road, your shock absorbers compress as the wheel rolls over the bump, then they expand to get the wheel back in contact with the ground. As the weight of the vehicle comes back down onto the wheel, the damper compresses then reaches an equilibrium, ideally. What the Continental does is add another cycle of compression and expansion before reaching equilibrium, which provides more of a floating feeling than a settled feeling. This was especially apparent on less-than-perfect roads like Dallas Parkway, north of Panther Creek Road. It is not uncomfortable, but it has the potential to give the driver less of a “planted” feeling.
Inside, however, you have to look pretty hard to find something to complain about. Every surface is either covered in fine leather, aluminum or a classy wood finish. Lincoln designs interior “themes” for some of their Black Label Trim vehicles. The theme I was given is called “Chalet.” The inspiration comes from an après ski lodge atop a snow-covered peak. That may sound like a bunch of marketing hoopla, but the end result is fantastic. Sitting inside of this vehicle, you truly feel like something special. The soft white leather is a phenomenal canvas for the colorful ambient lighting to be painted on. The espresso leather adds a sense of warmth and richness to the contrasting cool white, and the Silverwood appliques tie the two tones together. After a bit of tampering, you will finally get the optional 30-way adjustable seats to cup and support your body perfectly. Then, you kick on the massaging seats and you are ready to tackle any journey with ease. The 19-speaker Revel Ultima® audio system will soothe your ears while placing you virtually in the middle of your favorite performances. Sitting in a rear seat, you are just a bottle of aged scotch and a bold cigar away from feeling like a fat cat executive. It is an amazing and relaxing place to be. One of my favorite things in life is relaxed driving in medium-light snow while the heated seats are on. I could not help but think how perfect it would be to take the Continental on a road trip through the Rockies. You would not freeze because just about everything in the car is heated, and the panoramic sunroof would allow some pretty amazing views from the bottom of the mountains.
Driving a full-size sedan requires a little more attention than something like a Mazda MX-5. First, it is huge. If you do not regularly drive a full-size sedan, it can be a little daunting because tight maneuvering and agility are not the class’ strong suits. Secondly, it is wide. It is just four inches narrower than a new Ford F-150, excluding the mirrors, so keeping it in the middle of the lane requires some brain re-training. Finally, full-size sedans are not exactly praised for their road feel. It is easy to find yourself swaying back and forth, trying to keep in the center, particularly on bumpy or uneven road surfaces. Thankfully, the Continental has you covered. When it comes to parking lot maneuverability, there is nothing more helpful than a 360-degree bird’s eye view. This is the second generation of this technology and it stitches together the four different cameras more smoothly than the previous generation. Navigating a tight drive through or complex driveways is a piece of cake. As for parking, do not worry about it. The Continental can parallel and perpendicular park itself. I tried the system out more than a few times, and every time, I was impressed with how easy and accurate it was. It will even get you out of a parallel parking spot if you need help. Once you are on the road, the car still has you covered. With lane-keep assist, radar cruise control, a blind spot information system (BLIS), pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection and active braking, it always keeps a watchful eye over you and those around you. With other helpful features like automatic wipers and automatic high beams, it is like having a co-pilot with you to take care of all the remedial tasks so you can focus on driving.
The Continental is an excellent revival of a legendary nameplate. It seems like Lincoln has pulled out all the stops to make this a special re-introduction. You can get the inside scoop on all of the other exciting things happening with this company by visiting a Lincoln Experience Center, one of which is coming to The Star in Frisco later this year!