What's the inside of an $80,000 USD Lincoln sedan like?
Some consumers’ only experience with Lincoln is from the back seat of a chauffeur-driven airport shuttle, but the brand has been on a multiyear effort to change that. The MKS-replacing 2017 Lincoln Continental sedan is part of the plan to shift perception amongst those who might actually give a different luxury brand a change. To get their attention, Lincoln offers the Continental with three engines and a number of upscale options, and on the high-end Black Label trim, three available interior color schemes. We spent some quality time with a 400-hp, all-wheel-drive Continental to see how much of its $79,780 USD as-tested price tag is earned on the inside.
Generally, the materials quality inside our near-$80,000 USD Continental tester was very good. The Black Label model, which also includes free car washes, an annual detail, and four years or 50,000 miles (80,467 km) of complimentary maintenance, features an Alcantara headliner and Venetian leather with perforations that make the seats look like they have a repeating Lincoln star pattern. There’s also a leather or leatherlike pad on the side of the center console where your knee might rest. Even if the material itself could be softer, it looks and feels better than the alternative, which is just a hard black panel in other cars.
Move it Up!
Where the Continental loses some of its premium appeal is its central screen. The screen is only 8.0 inches, which would be adequate in an MKZ or compact luxury crossover but not so much on an $80,000 USD car. The screen wouldn’t look as small if it were tilted back for better visibility, filled out more of the center stack between the buttons on either side or, better yet, were pushed to the very top of the dash. Some won’t take any issue with the Continental’s screen size or placement, but spend some time inside the Genesis G90 or a higher-trim Lexus or BMW sedan, and you’ll see what a difference a bigger screen or a better placement can make.
Digitally Stylish, But…
The Continental features a completely digital instrument cluster, a great option that makes the car feel more contemporary. Its gold accent color reminded Motor Trend en Español editor Miguel Cortina of midcentury modern design. The clean, serifless font is cool, too. Although the display is appreciated, I wish it would fill out more of the entire instrument cluster area instead of leaving a decent amount of surrounding black plastic.
Shall I Meet You at the Chalet?
If you’re willing to spend $80,000 USD on a brand that’s not as well-respected as the usual names, the Black Label trim’s appeal centers on the three interior color themes. Our tester was outfitted in the Chalet style, which comes with Alpine and Espresso leather. I don’t normally like leather in such a light shade of beige, but I absolutely loved the two-tone steering wheel. It’s a great detail, though another editor and I were really intrigued by the Rhapsody Blue theme that’s also available. The third option on Continental Black Labels is the Thoroughbred theme, which combines saddle- and black-colored accents. None of these color schemes will fix the size or placement of that center-stack screen, but having those interior color options adds to the Continental’s luxury credentials.
Ahhhh … But What’s That Noise?
The Continental also makes available a pair of 30-way power seats with a massaging function for $1,500 USD. Having the ability to customize the seats so much is fantastic, as is the fact that the massage, heating, and ventilating functions have one-touch controls—surprisingly, that’s not the case for every car in this class. What would make this feature more of a value is if the massagers were quieter. On a near-$80,000 USD diesel-powered Ford F-250 King Ranch truck, you might not be able to hear the buzzing of a massaging seat, but it’s far more obvious on a luxury sedan.
What caused us a little concern about the 30-way seats is the fact that more than one editor noticed that the ones on our tester creaked a little. It’s unclear if this issue is unique to our test car.
Where’d You Hide My Handles?
The Continental’s exterior design has divided our staff. Where some see “anonymous styling,” others find the exterior design—especially with the Black Label’s 20-inch wheels—striking. It’s not often you can say your car offers a feature that is truly unique, but the Continental hides all four of its door handles on the bottom of the side window’s chrome trim. It’s a neat detail that, from the inside, requires you to hit a button before pushing the door open instead of pulling a door handle. Dip your fingers into the depressed area on the door that helps you close the door, and you’ll feel a high-quality, out-of-sight soft material.
As with other Lincolns, the Continental lacks a traditional gear selector stalk. Instead, after you press the start button, you’ll find buttons to the left of the center-stack screen to engage park, reverse, neutral, drive, or a sport mode. This system won’t be for everyone, and not having a gear stalk means you don’t have something to wrap your right hand around when you’re at a long red light or waiting in a loading zone.
The advantage of shifting the transmission controls to the center stack is increasing storage space in the center console, including a deep spot at the base of the center stack where you can charge your phone. One other helpful detail is that the HVAC and some audio controls are located on a slanted plane that feels more natural than having to tilt your hand to reach a knob or button on a nearly vertical plane, as in many other cars.
If You Press Them, Nothing Will Happen
The Lincoln Continental is offered with a great variety of options, and that’s a good thing. One industry-wide problem pops up sometimes when you don’t have a loaded version of a car that allows so much room for options-customization. In the Lincoln’s case, if you have a Continental without the 360-degree camera system or the “look what I can do” semi-automatic parking system, two buttons on the right side of the central screen go blank (our tester with the Technology package had those options), serving as a regular reminder that your car isn’t completely loaded.
The Continental’s rear seat is reasonably spacious, especially if you’re more accustomed to the cabin of the smaller MKZ sedan. Our Black Label model was equipped with a $4,300 USD executive rear-seat package that adds heated and ventilated seats, controls for the rear sunshade, four-way power lumbar, and massaging seats that can recline, too. There’s also a giant center armrest with controls, limited audio controls, a small info screen, two USBs, and cupholders. One editor found that the cupholders felt cheap, and we wish the two rear USBs were located in a more convenient spot in the center armrest instead of below the central rear air vents.
How you perceive the interior of a nearly $80,000 USD Lincoln depends on what brand loyalties you currently have. If you’ve been inside MKS or MKZ sedans recently but want something richer, the Continental will impress. Lincoln is carving out its own style niche among luxury cars, and we like what we see in the loaded Black Label car. If Lincoln can perfect more of the details, the Continental can be even more of a threat. As it is, a $79,780 USD Continental Black Label feels special and different, and it comes close to living up to its price tag.
Read more about the new Lincoln Continental:
- Lincoln Continental: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender
- 2017 Lincoln Continental Black Label 3.0 AWD First Drive: Worthy of its Nameplate?
- 2017 Lincoln Continental 3.0T AWD First Test: Quiet and Quick Luxury