For me, this is the most anticipated new product by Ford in a very long time.
To make that distinction, there is some qualification needed here. By specifically naming Ford is to look beyond its most popular and important products. The F-150 and F-Series Super Duty are indeed important, thanks to its new construction composition of aluminum cabs and boxes, installed on top of a stronger rolled steel frame. The Ford Mustang with its global aspirations achieved by providing a wider choice of performance to fit everyone’s tastes. Plus, all of the OneFord products that have engaged customers the world over with a singular alignment of design and engineering. Let’s not forget the successful transition of commercial buyers from the old E-Series to the Transit van – a huge win for Ford’s North American operations.
However, the discussion turns to Lincoln. The luxury brand had its bouts of lost customers with its indifferent product lineup. We can sift out the gems, such as the Navigator, to keep Lincoln in the game through the worst of times. However, when the European and Japanese premium brands start luring customers away with the promise of better engineering, design and levels of service, the talk of eliminating Lincoln grew louder.
Luckily, Ford did not pull the plug on Lincoln. Instead, they introduced a new set of customers to the four-pointed star – the Chinese. By adding China to its sales portfolio, it gave new life for Lincoln. It also gave license for Lincoln to start doing their own thing – including product development.
For example, the 2017 Lincoln Continental.
I know that I have been covering the Continental’s return for the last year or so. It has become reality. They are at the dealerships as we speak. And, everyone is rejoicing!
Including me. In fact, I got to drive one briefly recently. Want to know what I thought of it?
It's good. It's really, really good.
How good? Let me say that seeing it in production trim, with all of the innovations in design in place, it looks much better out on the road. It is distinctive, even with the new front end design has already been applied to the 2017 MKZ. Yet, this is the original application – and it looks spectacular. The lighting is also amazing, with a greater beam emitted from these small LED units inside of each headlamp unit.
Going rearward, the new door latches will take some time getting used to. The light-touch technology has always been there, but not to the extent seen on the Continental. I still think it looks great right on the belt line. The roofline is great, which leads to a rear end that had much discussion from afar. When you see it up close, you do get to the see the three-dimensional design of the tail lamps and LED strips in a better light. In all, the Continental is handsome with its fusion of heritage and modern highlights.
The interior might seal the deal, but I assure you that there is more to the Continental than its cabin. However, Lincoln put out all of the stops in this Reserve trim interior. The 30-way power seating up front actually works. It provided a balance between comfort and support through on-door and on-screen adjustments. Even with push-button transmission switches, the entire Continental instrument panel is an excellent mix of heritage design with the latest technology – including a very dynamic TFT instrument cluster. SYNC3 dominates the infotainment suite for the Continental, which is an excellent system combined with greater connective options.
For rear seat passengers, one thing to look out for the panoramic moonroof. If it is equipped as such, headroom for very tall people might be compromised. I’m actually OK in the rear seat – perhaps better without the moonroof. However, legroom is tremendous. I would even equal it to the legroom of ye ole Town Car.
The tester I drove had what will be the most desirable powertrain setup for the Continental. It is a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. The engine alone puts out 400 horsepower. Add Advanced Dynamic Torque Vectoring, and you get the ultimate in power transfer and balance for its class. The result is a quick, smooth and fantastic driveline.
Another option to consider for the Continental is the Lincoln Drive Control. What it does is enable the driver to change the way the Continental drives through settings involving suspension feel, steering feel and throttle/transmission response. This sounds familiar with a lot of products I worked with, however to feel it in action with the Continental is indeed a huge change in the brand’s image. How so? Imagine driving a Lincoln devoid of roll and lean through the turns, while maintaining a level smooth ride throughout. This is absolutely remarkable and a fresh change for this kind of automobile.
For a base price of $44,560, Lincoln can get you going on creating a Continental to fit your needs and desires. For me, that would be a Reserve with the twin-turbo V6, all-wheel drive and Lincoln Drive Control. Oh, did I mention the Revel Ultima 19-speaker audio system? Great sound, by the way! Configured, the sticker price of the Continental of my dreams would rack up to $71,155.
This is where I have to be careful about ordaining the Continental to a new pedestal in its class. There is plenty of company surrounding it – the Cadillac CT6, the Volvo S90 and Genesis G90. These newer products are a part of this new wave of big luxury sedans that the Continental will have to work hard to distinguish itself from the pack. If that is not enough, Lincoln must also contend with the European and Japanese luxury car brands, too.
To ask the question: Does the 2017 Lincoln Continental have a chance in moving the brand forward? With all of the dealer post-sales initiatives taking place, along with a swath of new product forthcoming, I believe it will do well in the marketplace. All it takes is awareness. I believe customers will see the Continental as a leader in its class, not just another lower tier contender.
This is indeed good news for Ford.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Apple Ford Lincoln, Apple Valley, MN
All photos by Randy Stern