2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve Review

Lincoln Motor Company gambles by redefining its flagship

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Incredibly powerful, more than respectable handling, innovative interior and exterior door handles, high-end soft close doors are a bonus, great infotainment system, roomy as all hell.
Negatives: Transmission buttons are too different and not intuitive, strange looking seat backs, some derivative exterior styling elements, too many disparate materials inside, firmer than cushy luxury car customers would like.
Bottom Line: The Continental redefines itself in a big way, but we imagine Lincoln could've done more with the front and rear of the car, as well as the interior. The great thing is the way the big Lincoln drives, because it's surprisingly thrilling. The fact that you can get this thing in all-wheel drive means it's four-seasons ready without any changes.
 View Our 2017 Lincoln Continental Overview
The last Lincoln Continental rolled off the assembly lines way back in 2002, if you can even remember that far back. It was a luxobarge whose reputation needed no introduction. The new car takes all that and flushes it down the proverbial toilet, not just by designing it more like a European car than something with nearly interminable front and rear overhangs. It's clear that Lincoln Motor Company wants an image change while still holding onto an easily recognizable nameplate. The fact that the Continental pretty much undercuts every single one of its competitors in terms of price makes it an attractive option for the sport-luxury set. The question remains as to whether the combination of fresh styling, power and relative affordability equates to a recipe for success. We took the Continental out for a week-long spin to see if it warrants a closer look from shoppers. Read on for the full review.

Driving Experience



Though we could easily tell that this Continental would be different from its predecessors just from looking at it is an understatement. It looks nothing like the old car, and the driving experience even more so. When we got behind the wheel, we were astounded at how entertaining it was to drive. It was fast and composed, and it only made us want to drive it harder in spite of the size and weight of the car. The fact that it was also truly great to ride in as a passenger properly kept its connection to the past.

Ride Quality: Definitely firmer than typical geriatric Continental loyalists would like, but we enjoyed it. A fine combination of sport and comfort. No too tart and not too sweet.

Acceleration: The thrust in the back from the 400 hp V6 is easily our favorite part of the new Continental. 0-60 in five seconds means it's slower than the Audi A8L 4.0T but faster than the Lexus LS. Not too shabby. We just loathe the pushbutton transmission. An idea that never should've seen the light of day.

Braking: Strong brakes bring the big Lincoln to a stop well. No dead spots and good pedal feel combine with a potent engine for a great driving experience.

Steering: Good steering for a luxury car but not exactly precise. It's not as firm as we'd like, but the turn-in is good and placing the car at the apex never presents a problem.

Handling: The Continental corners well and keeps the body roll well in check. We had no problem making quick directional changes and turns without feeling the least bit unsettled.




We're thrilled with Lincoln/Ford's tech changes that finally bring their models into the 21st century. Overall, using the system in the Continental was a pleasure. We just wish there were more physical buttons instead of sub-menus.

Infotainment System: The screen is vivid and nicely Lincoln-colored with gold and black. The responsiveness of the system is remarkable, rivalling pretty much everybody. Great legibility, too.

Controls: The physical climate and audio buttons and switches are a nice touch. They are a bit cramped, though, and take some getting used to.

Bluetooth Pairing: Quick and seamless. No problem pairing our Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Voice Call Quality: Loud and clear with no transmission problems.




To call the Continental derivative isn't wrong but also isn't totally accurate, either. It looks far better in person than it does in photos, and in Reserve Trim, it's actually quite fetching. Overall, we think the design works well in establishing a new flavor in Lincoln's flagship sedan. The original touches work well to add spice and innovation, and the muscularity of the car gives it a solid presence on the road. People notice it a lot more than Audis, Mercs, Lexuses and BMWs that seem ubiquitous in our neck of the woods.

Front: The Bentley/Jaguar-like grille is bold and noticeable. Though it might not be the most original aspect, it is well-done with the Lincoln badge pattern strewn across it. The LED headlights and foglights are perfectly matched and help unify the face.

Rear: Overall very nice with no overstyling. We just think a gussied up version of the Dodge Durango's taillights might not have been the best choice. The wide "Lincoln" lettering across the back is a nice touch, as are the flush-mounted exhaust ports.

Profile: Clean and uncluttered with a nice sloping roofline. Though we don't like fender trim, the chrome bars here look pretty good. We just wish the body crease was longer and deeper to break up the thickness of the car.

Cabin: An amalgam of shapes and materials that's a bit too busy for us. The center stack and console are too disjointed for our tastes and the odd look of the space-shuttle like front seat backs looks more amusement park than luxury cruiser.




Whatever the driving dynamics are of any new Lincoln Continental it must be a comfortable environment or the name loses all meaning. Lincoln does a fine job of creating seating that works well for everyone, and the feel of the interior, though not up to par with the Germans, is right for the price. We feel they could've simplified the look of the cabin because it seems to have to many disjointed elements.

Front Seats: Well-cushioned with excellent support and near infinite adjustability. The independent left and right thigh bolsters are something we've never seen before on a production car, and they're a boon for the driver. Heating, cooling and massage features are top notch and remind us of the Mercedes-Benz S Class sedan.

Rear Seats: Acres of legroom and good cushioning for rear occupants. Heating, cooling and massage make the back even better.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Good interior quietness with no vibration to speak of.

Visibility: Good front and side visibility, but the big C-pillars and tall rear shelf make backing up less than simple. The 360 camera and rearview camera work well to mitigate this.

Climate: The system worked very well during cold weather and provided ample heat via the vents, heated steering wheel, and heated seats.




The 2017 Lincoln Continental has no IIHS or NHSTA crash safety ratings, but our model came with a strong set of standard and optional safety features that should help avoid and mitigate an accident.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Reserve model comes with BLIS with cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, and an SOS post crash system

Optional Tech: Our tester came outfitted with an excellent set that includes active park assist, adaptive crusie control, a 360-degree camera, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and lane depature warning.




Unlike many luxury cars, the Continental does a more than respectable job of providing storage options in the cabin. Not only are they easy to access, they're well-placed and spacious.

Storage Space: The large compartment at the base of the center stack is deep and large, and we love its retractable door that keeps items out of sight. The two cupholders are deep and large with excellent placement. The armrest is also spacious and perfect for keeping gear secure and out of the way.

Cargo Room: The Continental has 16.7 cubic feet of trunk capacity, which isn't big for a luxury car this size. At least the space is accessible thanks to a wide opening at the base, but the trunk isn't that deep. It's good for luggage and gear in general but can't take larger items.

Fuel Economy



We definitely can't say that turbocharging helps the Continental's efficiency while boosting the power output. With power oftentimes comes bad efficiency, and that's what happens with the Continental's 400 hp turbo six. We can't imagine that anyone who buys something this luxurious and quick will care all that much about fuel consumption, but we could be wrong.

Observed: 15.8 mpg in combined city and highway driving. We didn't even hit the city number.

Distance Driven: 238 miles.

Driving Factors: We drove the Continental in Sport mode for about 75 percent of the time, not focused on netting top mileage. We're estimating in more conservative driving to get about 20 mpg combined. Any way you slice it, the Continental is not what you'd call efficient, but the competition doesn't do that much better, and that's expected.




The 19-speaker Revel Ultima premium sounds system sounds fantastic and fills the cabin with rich, full sound. It also very much looks the part with numerous metal mesh speaker covers strewn throughout the cabin a-la Mercedes S Class and Genesis G90. The fact that you have to tack on $5,000 for the Luxury Package in order to get the upgraded sound system, however, is a bit painful to stomach.

Final Thoughts

Lincoln Motor Company isn't stupid. They needed a flagship sedan and what better way to do it than revive a classic name? And then they decided to redefine what the Continental means. The result, in our opinion, is a success but not an outright homerun. The the new Continental eschews the "luxobargeness" of old but may have gone a bit too far in terms of the firmness of the car's ride. The interior level of comfort is excellent, but the overall feel of the cabin in terms of design and materials quality needs a bit of work to be more convincing and less weird in order to really compete in this segment. That being said, this generation of Continental will be remembered as a huge departure from the past. The question remains as to whether it's convincing enough for customers to flock to it.
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