Back in 2015, we saw the Lincoln Continental Concept, an ambitious sedan that was pretending to be the spearhead of the brand’s reborn. Most people were excited about the announcement, including those who already lost any hope on this carmaker, one that left its glorious days far behind.
That concept called the Continental wanted to innovate in terms of luxury, bringing a solid option to the mid-level market. Experts thought that this car would be competing with the CT6 from Cadillac, another sedan that was planning to revitalize its brand. Back then, Lincoln made very clear its intentions of making the Continental Concept a reality; a fully operative production model.
Now in 2017, the 2017 Continental is available in many markets worldwide and the brand is pushing forward big efforts to give notoriety to its name, in many cases by using the feeling from the brand’s old days. American consumers seem to forget (or ignore due to current circumstances) that Lincoln was the carmaker that provided presidential cars. Once again, those days were left behind.
The 2017 Continental faces many challenges, some of them based on the customers’ prejudices, those that believe that Lincoln, as a carmaker, is old and weak. This mid-level sedan is ready to offer a remarkable experience to those who are willing to take it and enjoy it. However, the brand seems to have a plan B, having in mind the problems at home.
China’s Path of Salvation
Many carmakers have found their salvation in China. This is no longer surprising as people know that the most populated country in the world has now a relevant purchasing power, something that allowed its citizens to access luxury items. Chinese customers want American products, representing some kind of retribution; a payback after decades of being the world’s factory.
Chinese customers are buying the biggest amount of luxury cars in the last few years, reflecting their fast-growing purchasing power. One of the brands related to Lincoln that exploited this opportunity was Buick, a carmaker that had a great run in America but faced important struggles with the arrival of the new century.
Carmakers like Lincoln and Buick could be on the technological revolution’s vanguard, the one that greatly influenced the automotive industry. Because of this, they were quickly left behind. They stayed classy and genuine to their spirit, something that the customers didn’t care. All the way around, the market punished these brands harshly. They were neglected.
After a few years of struggle, the main target changed. As an early example of this, Buick changed its course and chose China to invest their efforts. Presenting a classy, American-inspired product, Chinese customers were delighted. That’s exactly what they were looking for. Affordable yet genuine luxury, to describe the offer somehow.
This is successful formula at sight and free to make the most of, Lincoln chose to move to China as well. As a result, the 2017 Continental is already gaining some relevant ground among Chinese customers. The carmaker cannot claim victory yet. Nevertheless, the brand’s cultural baggage may do all the heavy work for them.
Now, is the 2017 Continental up to the challenge? This luxury sedan has both perks and problems to highlight. At the same time, it is facing world-class competitors in the American market, creating a tough panorama. In China, things are a little bit promising and the brand is basically putting all the eggs in that basket. What will happen? That’s hard to tell. In the meanwhile, we can only talk about what this sedan has to offer.
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The 2017 Continental, as a proud American, has a lot of muscle to boast about. There are multiple configurations available in terms of powertrain. Customers can choose one of the following options:
- DOHC 24-valve 3.7-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of maximum torque.
- Turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 24-valve 2.7-liter V6 that produces 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of maximum torque.
- Turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 3.0-liter V6 that produces 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of maximum torque.
To complete the setup, Lincoln is adding a 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifting mode, trying to not neglect the sports spirit that every mainstream sedan is now providing. Yet, this configuration along with other aspects of the 2017 Continental don’t meet the expectations in terms of performance.
While enjoying a decent amount of horsepower and torque, the 2017 Continental continues to be somehow sluggish and very slow, at least in comparison with the most powerful rivals in its segment. Estimated times show how this luxury sedan takes almost 6 seconds to reach the 60-mph-mark (100 km/h). Getting to 100 mph can even take 14 seconds. Top speed is limited to 130 mph (210 km/h), which is disappointing.
It seems like Lincoln didn’t care too much about speed and power, two demanded items in today’s automotive industry, even in the sedan market. The 2017 Continental weighs around 4300 lb (1950 kg), something we could consider excessive.
However, performance isn’t completely disappointing. There are some things that continue to surprise us. Lincoln put in place a very aggressive throttle. Even on the standard drive mode, the 2017 Continental can create some excitement in the take-off. This may sound fantastic but can represent a problem for those who prefer a stealth beast, one that unleashes the power when wanted, not in an uncontrolled fashion.
The 2017 Continental features an all-wheel-drive layout with torque-vectoring function, something that has massive influence in its performance. Most experts agree that handling is okay for a first release but it needs to be revised in the near future. On the road, this luxury sedan enjoys different alternatives in terms of rubber. Two of those alternatives are Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season tires and Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric all-season tires.
Looks and Feels
Indeed, the 2017 Continental delivers a regal feeling. It looks outstanding inside and out. The design form follows a constant pattern in the Lincoln lineup: soft and bold edges, very long lines, and LED lights where needed. The wheels are as massive as they can be, complementing its royal looks.
At the front fascia, we cannot deny some similitudes with Jaguar high-end sedans, which may be considered into the same segment. Sexy running lights complement the headlights, an element that ensures elegance. At the rear end, the same Lincoln style is there. We dare to say that the wide LED-and-chrome panel in the rear need updates as it seems from another era.
Getting inside is easy and comfortable thanks to massive portals, another key aspect of its elegance. Inside, everything is top-notch, upholstered in the very best material we could expect in this segment. If we have to highlight something in the 2017 Continental’s interior, that would be the seats’ adjustments, something that guarantees the maximum comfort possible. The happy owners will also get an optimum spinal alignment after a few weeks of use.
Inside, worlds seem to collide. Lincoln added veneer wood and other classy elements along with cutting-edge equipment, like a digital speedometer. Among the techy features, the 2017 Continental features self-clinching doors, blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems, 30-way power seats, and much more.
The Bottom Line
The 2017 Continental wants to dominate a very tough segment, one that is conquered by the finest German sedans. That could be done? In the current terms, the Lincoln sedan is unable to meet the market’s standard. However, people understand that this model has a long way ahead, one that will offer further opportunities for development and growth.
With German competitors in the horizon and more opportunities in the Far East, the most likely scenario tells us that Lincoln will move all its efforts to China, a fertile land where the brand has higher chances to find success in its own terms, without changing what the name means.
The 2017 Continental is available in a very complex structure of levels and models, just like its German competitors do. Yet, Lincoln may aim to a simpler structure with a wide array of options. That may be an effective more to simplify the offer and have a longer reach in commercial terms.
The base price is US$46,645, which is significantly lower than some of its main rivals.