The Lincoln Continental, flagship of Ford’s luxury brand, takes its role seriously, offering creature comforts and impressive technology throughout.

It’s a wonderful mix that earns the fullsize sedan a Wards 10 Best User Experiences spot this year.

Great UX goes two ways – in the front and rear seats – and the Continental has both sides covered.

Let’s start at the back, getting the opinion of a young rear-seat rider. “Do you know what I like about this car?” says 7-year-old Nick Amend, son of WardsAuto Senior Editor James Amend.

No, what?

“The controls in the back seat.” (His father attests to that, at first wondering while driving why the climate controls and sound-system volume settings seemingly had minds of their own.)

Quality time in the back seat is important, especially in the Continental.

That’s because the big sedan was developed in part for the luxury market in China, where people with the wherewithal to buy a posh car (our “Black Label-edition” test model stickered at $79,780) often ride in the rear seat, letting the chauffeur ply the likes of the Jingjintang Expressway.

The Continental’s “wow” factor kicks in even before you get in. The vehicle comes to life as the driver nears. Approach detection activates soft interior and exterior lighting and casts an illuminated Lincoln logo “welcome mat” on the pavement below.

“From the approach ‘wake up’ lighting and puddle lamps to the illuminated threshold to the unique ‘starry’ startup visuals, the Continental does everything to create a special connection,” says UX judge Bob Gritzinger. Let the UX begin.

Occupants can use the infotainment screen to pick from a color-coded selection of ambient lighting: white, amber, teal, red, blue, green or lilac.

After enjoying the light shows, settle into the Perfect Position front seats, inspired by private jets and high-end office furniture. UX judge Tom Murphy says, “Comfort is unavoidable in a 30-way power seat” that also gives free back massages.

To get moving, push the “D” or “R” button next to the infotainment screen. Shift-by-button isn’t new (some cars of the 1950s had it), but it is convenient and eliminates the need for a shifter hogging prime real estate on the center console. Welcome back.

Lincoln isn’t going as far as to say, “Leave the driving to us,” but the Continental comes with assorted driver-assist systems that bring it to a state of semi-autonomy and work fine enough to instill plenty of confidence in them.

 

Adaptive cruise control automatically slows and accelerates. The Continental’s system operates smoothly and confidently. It’s especially useful in stop-and-go traffic.

Employing ultrasonic sensors, Lincoln’s Active Park Assist makes it easy for even the most challenged parallel parkers to squeeze into a space.

We didn’t test it to the fullest (thankfully) but Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection relies on radar and camera technology to apply full-force emergency braking. Drivers, passengers and pedestrians should rejoice.

On a different note, Continental occupants might want to listen to a recording of the Hallelujah choir to truly appreciate the 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. It uses patented Clari-Fi music reconstruction technology to achieve amazing sound quality. Think of it as your personal concert hall.

Near-instantaneous Bluetooth phone pairing impressed the UX judges. They also liked the voice-activation system’s communication skills and an infotainment screen that shows crisp graphics and mapping, yet in an uncluttered way.

The verdict from UX judges and at least one of their offspring: No matter where one sits in the Continental, it’s a remarkable experience.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com