Detroit News

2017 Lincoln Continental’s Detroit Debut Marks New Chapter for the Brand

The Continental is officially back.

The Continental is officially back.

Even before Lincoln officially pulled the sheets off the 2017 Continental at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the brand set an upscale mood on the show floor. Unfolding (and refolding) Hoberman sphere sculptures on either side of the stage, fancy Voss water in sleek cylindrical bottles, plus jazz musiciansand a white grand piano make an impression, as does the subtle Lincoln pattern on the sheet covering the brand’s next flagship sedan.Even though Lincoln is about to offer a full-size, 400-hp sedan at the price of a decently equipped midsize German or Japanese luxury sedan, it’ll need all the help it can get to continue convincing media and consumers the brand is worth consideration.

The 2017 Continental doesn’t exactly have the appeal in person that the concept did, but the all-wheel-drive production car still has real presence despite the length of the front overhang. And those cool door handles mounted at the base of the side windows form a design feature you won’t find anywhere else and, to me, looks great. We’re eager to discover how easily the E-latch door release and power-cinching closure works on a daily basis. Carrying over to the Continental from the MKC and MKZ are the brand’s highly entertaining – or highly gimmicky, depending on your view – welcome dynamics, including subtly illuminating headlights, taillights, and a light projection from the side view mirrors as the driver walks to the car. Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra noted at the press conference that the Continental’s driver seat cushion will deflate a little to make getting in easier. Once you’re situated, Lincoln offers another feature we haven’t seen across all of its luxury competitors: power thigh extension functions for the left and right side of the driver’s seat.

Seat massagers for the rear seats, Ford/Lincoln’s self-parking system (with help for parallel and perpendicular spots), a full suite of active safety tech, and an available panoramic sunroof are some feature highlights for a car that, despite its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, never pretends to be sporty. If you’re thinking that’s a mistake, consider the success Lexus has had with the front-drive ES sedan.

“Lincoln’s journey is one of steady progress,” said Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields at the press conference. The brand still has a long way to go in the U.S., but a large sedan like the Continental should help luxury sedan buyers willing to look beyond the alphanumerically named German and Japanese brands to one of three 2016 Detroit debuts: the 2017 Lincoln Continental, 2017 Volvo S90, and 2017 Genesis G90.