Lincoln’s iconic flagship model returns after 14 years

Lincoln’s iconic flagship sedan, the Continental, is set to make to comeback in 2016, 14 years since the premium brand discontinued the nameplate for the third time in its history. The news came as Lincoln unveiled the Continental Concept at the 2015 New York Auto Show and confirmed that the legendary name is about to return on a production car. Less than a year has passed since the concept was unveiled, and the tenth-generation Continental broke cover at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

So let’s give a warm welcome back to the legendary Continental and wish it a long and prosperous fourth stint among luxury limousines.

After months of speculation and renderings based on the concept car, we can finally have a closer look at the vehicle we’ll see in showrooms by the end of the year. Lincoln didn’t say much about its new flagship, but there’s just enough info to figure out what the modern Continental will bring to the market in terms of luxury, technology, and output.

The all-new Continental will be produced at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan and will go on sale this fall as a 2017 model year vehicle. Find out more about it below.

Updated 04/14/2016: Lincoln announced prices for the new 2017 Continental. Check the "Prices" section to see how much it will cost when compared to competitors.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Lincoln Continental.

Exterior

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2017 Lincoln Continental High Resolution Exterior
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Not surprisingly, the production car is heavily based on the concept model, sporting the same subtle design and elegant stance. Changes are minor above the front bumper, where we can see a mildly revised grille, production-friendly headlamps (which are still very similar to the concept’s). It’s the bumper that got the most significant change, ditching the slender air vents in favor of larger openings. The latter is actually an improvement to the concept if you ask me, as they make the front fascia look more aggressive. Finally, Lincoln removed the chrome stripe from the apron to obtain a more homogeneous appearance. On the concept car, the stripe was present on the side skirts and rear apron too as a feature that paid homage to the Continentals of the 1960s.

Not surprisingly, the production car is heavily based on the concept model, sporting the same subtle design and elegant stance.

Changes are more noticeable around back, where Lincoln reworked almost every detail. For starters, the sedan gained a conventional trunk lid that goes all the way toward the bumper. On the concept, the lid opened just above the taillights. While that feature was definitely appealing to old-school enthusiasts, it was no longer practical for a production car. The taillights are also different, being significantly larger and having a new cluster layout. The good news is that the two units are still connected by a thin LED strip, which gives the sedan a more elegant stance. Furthermore, the lamps also received chrome inserts, a feature you don’t see too often nowadays. Other revisions include a deeper recess for the license plate, a subtle trunk lid spoiler, and an apron with dual exhaust outlets instead of the concept’s quad-pipe configuration.

When viewed from the side, the Continental remains true to the concept with minor exceptions. A quick looks reveals that the production model switched from chrome window trim to black detailing, received larger mirrors, a new fender badge with "Continental" lettering, revised skirts, and mildly altered multi-spoke rims. Surprisingly enough, Lincoln opted to keep the e-latch door handles rather than switch to production handles. These are discreetly integrated into the beltline, leaving the body side clean. The doors pop open at the touch of a button and then close and secure automatically using power-cinching technology.

To fancy things up even further, Lincoln added an exclusive lighting sequence to welcome owners to their cars.

To fancy things up even further, Lincoln added an exclusive lighting sequence to welcome owners to their cars. When the driver approaches, LED signature lighting in the lower front fascia and the taillights engage, while signature lighting in the headlamps light up in a fluid motion. The mat lights then brighten the pavement around the front doors.

Lincoln provided no details as to what exterior colors will become available for this limousine, but it would be cool if the concept’s Rhapsody Blue metallic paint will be offered, even at extra cost.

Interior

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While the exterior has lost of the concept’s pizzazz, the interior is definitely worthy of the Continental moniker. A quick glance is enough to notice that the brand has gone to great strides to deliver a luxurious and comfortable car that could rival with what the latest Cadillacs and Audis have to offer. The coolest part about the Continental’s cabin is that even though it’s a slightly toned-down version of the concept’s, it looks way better and feels welcoming rather than cold. I do miss the blue leather in the concept, but the lighter hues in the presentation model works way better with what this limousine wants to be. Also, the massive amount of chrome seen on the concept’s center console and dashboard has been replaced by genuine wood. Perfect!

the massive amount of chrome seen on the concept's center console and dashboard has been replaced by genuine wood

While the dash inserts, the A/C vents, the steering wheel, and the center console are different, the seats are almost identical to those seen in the concept, More importantly, the Continental is equipped with Lincoln’s new Perfect Position Seats, which are "inspired by private jets and high-end office furniture." That’s more than just PR talk, as the new design allows the seat to adjust to an individual’s body shape and weight for optimal stretch and comfort. They can also be adjusted up to 30 ways and can be optioned up with massage, heat, and cooling features.

The seats come wrapped in leather, as do the console and the instrument panel. The stitching on the seats is specified at six to seven stitches per inch for a couture-like appearance, while the slats of the door panels are laser-cut. Cleverly placed aluminum inserts brighten up the place.

The Continental is the kind of car you want to sit in and relax on your way to dinner or your next meeting.

Things get even better in the back, where occupants will benefit from the same comfortable seats in addition to enhanced legroom. The rear compartment is also fitted with audio and climate controls, as well as sunshades. Needless to say, the Continental is the kind of car you want to sit in and relax on your way to dinner or your next meeting.

Making the sedan that much more comfortable is the new Active Noise Control function and the laminated glass, which reduces noise and vibration. A panoramic sunroof that covers nearly the entire roof area if offered as an option. The front half slides up and over the rear, creating a large open-air driving experience for both the front and rear occupants.

Finally, the interior can be upgraded with Lincoln’s new Black Label designer themes. Although details are not yet available, the brand said customers will be able to choose between Chalet, Thoroughbred and Continental-exclusive Rhapsody. The latter is likely similar to the blue-themed interior of the concept car.

Drivetrain

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Fans of V-8 engines were probably disappointed to discover that the Continental Concept had a V-6 powerplant under the hood. My advice back than was to get used to the idea of the future Continental not having a V-8, as Lincoln dropped eight-cylinder engines altogether with the redesigned, 2015 Navigator SUV, and the brand’s press release confirmed just that.

Just like the concept, the production model uses a 3.0-liter V-6 with twin turbochargers. The unit is "all-new" and "Lincoln-exclusive" and is projected to pump out 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The "smooth, responsive, and quiet" powerplant mates to an all-wheel drive system paired with Dynamic Torque Vectoring for confident handling and stability. There’s no word on which transmission does the shifting, but the Continental should roll out with a nine-speed automatic.

The sedan’s Drive Control system comes with three settings –- comfort, normal and sport –- which adapt steering and suspension settings to the proper road and driving conditions. The new adaptive steering helps optimize steering response, providing a smoother and precise response to driver input. The adaptive cruise control function is optional.

The Continental will be offered with two more engines, a 3.7-liter V-6 and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Specs for these units aren’t yet available, but they will be placed under the 400-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6. The 3.7-liter will be standard on the base model, while the turbo 2.7-liter will be offered as an option on the cheaper trims and as standard on the more expensive models. The 3.0-liter V-6 will actually be optional for the range-topping trims, as will the all-wheel drive system.

Safety

Lincoln had very little to say about the Continental’s safety features, but we do know it will have Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and a new 360-degree camera system using cameras mounted in the grille, decklid, and side mirrors.

Prices

According to Autoblog, the Lincoln Continental will be offered in four trims, with a starting price set at $45,485, including destination. For that amount you’ll get the base Premiere model. The limousine is more affordable than expected, undercutting the entry-level Cadillac CT6 by a whopping $8,000. Next up is the Select trim, which retails from $48,440. This model will let you replace the base 3.7-liter V-6 with a turbocharged, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 for an extra $2,250.

To get the EcoBoost standard you’ll have to spend $54,840 for the Reserve trim. Obviously, the sticker includes more options as standard. Upgrading to the range-topping 3.0-liter V-6 will cost you another $3,265. Lastly, the top-of-the-league Black Label model starts from $63,840, about the same as the high-end Cadillac CT6. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option regardless of trim or engine.

Lincoln also offers five options packages. The Select Plus adds blind-spot monitoring and Sync 3 to the Select trim for an extra $1,255. There’s also the $695 Climate Pack with automatic high beams, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and rain sensing wipers, and the $3,105 Technology Pack with 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, Enhanced Active Park Assist, lane keeping assist, and forward collision warning. These two can be added to the Select, Reserve, and Black Label models.

Lastly, the Rear-Seat Pack costs $4,300 and adds heated, cooled, and multi-contour rear seats, inflatable rear seat belts, and a panoramic sunroof to the Reserve and Black Label trims.

Competition

Cadillac CT6

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The new 2016 Cadillac CT6 is the American luxury sedan to beat in its segment, at least from some rather major points of view. In other words, the Lincoln Continental will be forced to play catch up right from the start, and unless it sells like hot cakes in China, it won’t leave much of a mark in Lincoln’s future sales. Built on a new platform, the CT6 seems to tick all the right boxes. Rear-wheel drive with AWD as an option, Powerful V-6 and fuel-efficient four-cylinder units, efficient transmissions, etc. And, it won’t even be Cadillac’s true flagship model if recent sources are to be believed. Pricing for the CT6 starts from $53,495 for the base, four-pot model and from $64,395 for the twin-turbo, 400-horsepower V-6 version.

Find out more about the Cadillac CT6 here.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

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New for 2015, the S-Class ditched the boring styling cues of its predecessor in favor of a classy and elegant design, which puts both the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8 to shame. On top of being gorgeous to look at and carrying an interior than bests just about anything in this segment, the new S-Class is also a powerful machine. The 4.7-liter V-8 in the S550 cranks out 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to push it from 0 to 60 in five seconds. Definitely the kind of performance Lincoln won’t be able to squeeze from a 3.0-liter V-6. Then there’s the S600, which comes with a massive, 6.0-liter V-12 rated at 523 horses. On the other hand, with a sticker of $95,650 for the base model, the S-Class is way too expensive compared to the Continental.

Read more about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class here.

Conclusion

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While the nostalgic will probably jump for joy at the news that the Continental nameplate will return to the Lincoln stable, we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground and take a look at the bigger picture. The tenth-generation Conti is indeed a good looking flagship, has a luxurious and well-equipped interior, and a stout V-6, but things are far from perfect. Unfortunately, Ford did not invest in a new RWD platform that would be worthy of a true luxury brand, but used a derivation of the CD4 architecture, which also underpins the MKZ and the Fusion. Sure, the new Continental may very well be a great car, but it will find it rather difficult to compete against most of its rivals in the full-size luxury segment if under the skin it will be just an elongated Fusion with a fancier name. We will find out more about that as soon as Lincoln releases additional info, but, for now, the new Continental is far from being the iconic rear-wheel drive, V-8-powered land yacht we all adore.

  • Leave it
    • * No V-8 engine
    • * Rides on one of Ford’s older FWD platforms
    • * Scared to play in the big league

Updated History

Updated 10/09/2015: A new report indicates that the 2017 Continental will be unveiled in January 2016 at the Detroit Auto Show. The model will be initially offered as in front-wheel-drive configuration, while all-wheel-drive will be offered as an alternative. Lincoln has no plans for a hybrid version anytime soon.

Updated 04/01/2015: Lincoln unveiled the Continental concept at the 2015 New York Auto Show and announced a production version will follow in 2016. As expected, we used these information to create a rendering for the production version. You will notice that the production version will look pretty much identical to the concept, except some new wheels, new headlights, an updated front bumper and of course door handles and side mirrors.

Rendering

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Not much has been changed from the concept car, especially since recent Lincoln studies weren’t far off the production cars that followed. Not to mention I’m positive the production Continental will borrow more than 90 percent of the concept’s design. That said, the sedan in this rendering has a set of production-friendly headlamps, a slightly reshaped front bumper, and body-colored side skirts and aprons. Conventional door handles have also been added just in case Lincoln decides to ditch the fancy ones seen on the concept, as well as different wheels, and mirrors. The paint is a bit darker than the concept’s Rhapsody Blue.

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Now that we’ve seen the 2015 Continental Concept, it’s safe to say this rendering is miles away from the actual design, but you must take into consideration that it was created long before Lincoln unveiled the sedan.

Brief Continental History

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The Continental came to life in 1938 as a one-off, two-door convertible commissioned by Edsel Ford. Based on the gorgeous, streamlined Zephyr, the first Continental sported a long hood, long front fenders, and a short trunk lid with an externally mounted, covered spare tired, which soon became the series’ trademark. The convertible was powered by a 4.8-liter V-12 engine. Production of the first-generation model began for the 1940 model year and ended in 1948. The name was revived in late 1955, but this time as a separate division of Ford Motor Company. Known as the Continental Mark II, the second-gen coupe had a unique, elegant design and a never-before-seen level or luxury inside the cabin. Power was provided by a 6.0-liter V-8. Crafted with has become known as the highest quality control ever seen in the automobile industry, the Mark II was among the most expensive car in the world, fetching $10,000 at a time when Fords were sold for less than $2K. Despite its enormous price tag, Ford lost money on each Continental sold in 1956 and 1957.

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The redesign penned by John Najjar for 1958 saw the introduction of the four-door body style. Significantly larger than its predecessor, the Mark III came with a 7.0-liter V-8 under its hood. In 1961, the Continental was redesigned and rebranded as a Lincoln product. Now also available as a four-door convertible, the fourth-generation Continental became famous for its front-opening, rear "suicide doors" and for being used as a base for the SS-100-X limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Mark IV survived for nearly nine years on the market, until the fifth-gen model was launched for 1970. For this generation, unibody construction was replaced by body-on-frame, as the Conti shared, for the first time, a common platform with the Ford LTD. Two engines were offered in the firth-gen car, a 6.6-liter and a 7.5-liter V-8. Production came to a halt in 1979, when the nameplate was discontinued after a 24-year run.

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Revived for the second time in 1982 using the Mustang’s Fox platform, the Continental received, for the first time, a V-6 engine and an inline-six diesel mill. The 1988 redesign moved the model onto FoMoCo’s long-standing D186 platform (1986-2007), which it used for two generations until the Continental name was retired in 2002. A futuristic concept car was unveiled that year with a Continental badge, but it was never put into production.

Press Release

Lincoln Motor Company heralds the return of its flagship – the all-new Lincoln Continental – an elegant, effortlessly powerful, serene full-size sedan that delivers quiet luxury to the industry’s most discerning customers.

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Beginning this fall, Continental offers first-class travel for clients in America and China, bringing warm, human touches and a contemporary design.

The full-size sedan is designed to appeal to culturally progressive clients who define luxury on their own terms – craving superior quality, craftsmanship and safety.

“The Continental name has long been associated with the ultimate in Lincoln beauty and luxury,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln. “With the all-new model, we are focusing on creating more human, personally tailored experiences for our clients – providing what we call quiet luxury.”

All-new Continental design is thoroughly modern, with Lincoln’s new signature grille and an athletic profile that is dynamic and progressive.

Lincoln’s new flagship welcomes drivers with a brand-exclusive lighting sequence. As the driver approaches the car with the key, LED signature lighting in the lower front fascia and taillamps subtly engages, while signature lighting in the headlamps awakens in a fluid motion. Lincoln mat lights then brighten the pavement around the front doors, helping show any hazards, while select interior lights warmly illuminate the cabin.

Continental door handles are designed to offer elegant and effortless entry with new E-latch door release. The release is discreetly integrated within the beltline, leaving the body side clean. With the gentle touch of a button, the vehicle’s doors pop open, then use available power-cinching technology to automatically close and secure.

An elegant available panoramic sunroof covers nearly the entire roof area; the front half slides up and over the rear – creating a large open-air driving experience and an even greater feeling of spaciousness for up to five Continental occupants.

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Effortless power

Continental offers available technologies that help create better and safer drivers.

The all-new Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers that produces a projected 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque [1] is designed for smooth, responsive, yet quiet power.

Continental’s available all-wheel-drive system is paired with Dynamic Torque Vectoring that transfers torque on demand to the appropriate rear wheel when driving through corners – providing confident handling and stability.

Lincoln Drive Control provides the driver a choice of three settings – comfort, normal and sport – adapting steering and suspension settings to tailor ride and handling. Available adaptive steering helps optimize steering response, enabling the vehicle to react more smoothly and precisely to driver input.

Continental’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection is designed to enhance occupant safety. A system of cameras and sensors detects if a potential collision may occur, then automatically applies the brakes, bringing the vehicle to a full stop to help avoid or reduce impact. [2]

Effortless assistance for the daily commute is available with optional adaptive cruise control, which can automatically slow Continental in stop-and-go traffic – resuming speed when traffic clears.

To take the stress out of parallel and perpendicular parking, the new 360-degree camera system uses views from cameras mounted in the grille, decklid and 180-degree side mirrors, then seamlessly stitches these snapshots together to create an image in the screen so the driver can see around the car – as if a camera is overhead.

Serene interior

The all-new Continental interior is designed to help all occupants rejuvenate.

One highlight is Lincoln’s new Perfect Position Seats – inspired by private jets and high-end office furniture – that can be adjusted up to 30 ways. The patented design allows the seat to adjust to an individual’s body shape and weight for optimal stretch and comfort. Available features of these seats include massage, heat and cooling; and independent thigh extensions to provide support.

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Rear passengers can enjoy first-class travel amenities, too, with such available features as audio and climate controls, sunshades, and reclining, heated, cooled and massaging seats. The streamlined interior provides generous rear legroom.

Continental occupants also can enjoy an available Revel® audio system developed to work in concert with the interior design and acoustics, transforming the cabin into a personal amphitheater with three distinct listening modes – Stereo, Audience and On Stage. Use of the E-latch release enables optimal speaker positioning in the Continental doors, alongside the conveniently located seat controls.

Innovations in managing vehicle noise and vibration, including Active Noise Control and acoustic laminated glass create a quiet, comfortable environment conducive to conversation or contemplation.

For those seeking the highest expression of Lincoln luxury, three Lincoln Black Label designer themes are available – Chalet, Thoroughbred and Continental-exclusive Rhapsody.

Inside, opulent materials include leather seating, leather-wrapped console and instrument panel, unique stitching, genuine wood or aluminum appliqués.

All models feature new design details. Stitching on the seats is specified at six to seven stitches per inch for a couture-like appearance, and the slats of the center console door are laser-cut to maximize consistency of the grain pattern.

The all-new Lincoln Continental will be produced at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. The Lincoln flagship goes on sale this fall.

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