It’s been 15 years since the last Lincoln Continental was built, but from every vantage point it appears the wait has been worth it.

Premium appointments, a spacious interior, distinct road presence, plush ride, ample power – these are just a few of the hallmarks of luxury cars that Ford’s upscale brand hopes to meet with the new ’17 Continental.

In addition, today’s top-shelf players must offer superior handling, superb audio and a cockpit chock-full of the latest high-end gadgetry, whether for entertainment, communication, safety or driving ease.

That’s a tall order, but one that Michael Celentino, chief engineer-Continental, attacked with a passion – and it shows in the product he and his team have put on the road.

“I have not felt so much support from the greater corporation to deliver a special product, starting with the moment when (Ford CEO) Mark Fields said, ‘We’re calling this the Continental and this is going to be the flagship,’” Celentino says. “We really had a lot of help and a lot of focus.”

Starting with a clean sheet – just the front floor substructure is derived from the Ford CD4 architecture family underpinning everything from the Ford Fusion midsize sedan to the Lincoln MKX CUV – the team built an all-new vehicle from the ground up, Celentino says.

“We developed the Continental – and nothing against the MKZ – as the best Lincoln has to offer,” Celentino says. “We told the team this has to be smoothest-riding, quietest, best flagship Lincoln we’ve done to date.

“So it’s not incremental over the MKZ. It was a ‘stop and do something all new that is expressive and delivers quiet luxury as a flagship and is worthy of the name Continental.’”
Compared with the CD4-based MKZ midsize sedan, the Continental is longer and wider, has a larger back seat (crucial for the key Chinese market) and rides on a unique suspension with two-stage, quick-reacting dampers capable of mitigating the impact of potholes.

Under the hood is a transverse-mounted 3.0L twin-turbocharged V-6 producing 400 hp and 400 lb.-ft. (295 Nm) of torque. The advanced DOHC engine features direct injection and twin independent variable cam timing.

The Lincoln-exclusive engine is shared with the MKZ, but is specifically tuned for the Continental’s weight, size and drivetrain characteristics and rides on 2-stage active engine mounts to ensure meeting the brand’s “Quiet Luxury” requirement.

Exterior styling, while not groundbreaking, is unique in its take on Lincoln cues such as the high beltline, strong rear haunches and fender kick. From behind the wheel, the broad expanse of the hood split by a subtle centerline crease provides a design element recalling some of the great Continentals past.

Extra attention went into the door handles, which are touch-sensitive pulls mounted at beltline level, making for clean door panels and a special take on the everyday task of simply opening the passenger compartment.

Up front, the prominent chrome-encircled one-piece grille eschews wings and waterfalls for the complex, interlocking pattern of chrome Lincoln-logo vertical outlines introduced on the MKZ.
The rear view features full-width, wraparound taillamps that share their modern appearance with other current Lincolns such as the MKX and MKC small CUV.