2017-18 Lincoln Continental Podcast Cover Image

2017-18 Lincoln Continental True Luxury is Not Just 'Stuff'

Lincoln is the top Ford nameplate, and the Continental is the top Lincoln. Remember the long, elegant, black Continentals of the early 1960s? Ford has been trying to push Lincoln back up to that level ever since, and this new Continental is the company’s latest attempt.

Our car is the Reserve trim level, with all-wheel drive, a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine and a pushbutton gear selector. For such a big, heavy car, it’s quite quick and it handles surprisingly well. It’s quiet and comfortable too, with a yugeback seat and trunk. Our example is also packed with $14,000 worth of options, which brings its sticker price up to 71 grand. (With even more add-ons, it could exceed $80,000.)

These options include a 360-degree backup camera and adaptive cruise control, 19 speakers, all the modern safety aids like pedestrian detection and brake assist, etc., etc. Not to mention the darnedest front seats I’ve ever seen—these things adjust in, count ‘em, 30 different directions. (So why can’t I get comfortable?) The seats massage, too.

But, but . . . today carmakers have to offer navigation and cameras and emergency braking and all that, and we can get all this on the lowliest Kia or Toyota. So along with sheer size Lincoln added even more stuff, like electric door latches and the unique seats.

No, no, no. Real luxury isn’t just stuff. That’s how Cadillac got in trouble back in the ‘70s—they figured they could take an ordinary Chevy, slather it with stuff, add a fancy badge and presto! The Standard of the World! Not hardly.

Here’s the problem: Detroit builds cars—even its best cars—to a price. The Germans and the Brits and the Italians build their top cars to a standard, and then figure people will pay whatever it takes. And we do, pretty much. But I ask you: What kind of a standard gives us a keyfob where the chrome is already flaking off, as it’s doing on this Lincoln?

If your other ride is a pickup truck, and if you must buy domestic, and if you can spend the not-inconsiderable money, you should be happy with this car. But if you’ve been infected by Mercedes or Audis or Jaguars . . . not so much, I’m afraid.