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The Lincoln Continental has been revived as the new flagship vehicle of the brand. Exclusive features such as Lincoln’s 30-way Perfect Position front seats, E-Latch door handles, and a 400-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that will be used only on Lincoln vehicles.
Originally a 1939 one-off vehicle, the Lincoln Continental eventually went into production as a large luxury car from 1939 to 1948. The first-generation Continental was one of the last mass produced American cars to feature a V-12 engine. A second-generation model didn’t appear until the late 1950s as part of a standalone Continental brand. Unlike the first generation, which was offered as a coupe or convertible, the second-generation Continental was only available as a coupe. The third-generation Continental gained additional body styles including a convertible, two coupe variants, two sedan styles, and a limousine.
From 1961 and onward, the Continental lineup was consolidated within the Lincoln lineup and was trimmed to three body styles: coupe, convertible, and sedan. Compared to the car it replaces, the fourth-generation Continental was much smaller and was now closely related to the Ford Thunderbird. The car’s most notable feature was its rear-hinged suicide doors. During its production run from 1961 to 1969, the fourth-generation Continental underwent multiple styling refreshes and after 1967, the convertible body style was officially discontinued. The convertible variant of the Continental was also used as a presidential vehicle during John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
Ford introduced the fifth-generation Lincoln Continental in 1970, and it shared its underpinnings with vehicles like the Mercury Grand Marquis. A coupe, four-door hardtop, and two-door hardtop were the three body styles offered for this generation. However, after its 1975 refresh, the Continental and Mercury Grand Marquis eventually ended up looking like clones. One year later, the Continental was restyled again to add distinguishing features, with the four-door variant gaining a different roofline and oval opera windows in the Town Car models.
With the implementation of new CAFE standards, the sixth-generation Continental shrunk in size but remained a full-size sedan and was underpinned by Ford’s Panther platform. Two unique features in this generation of the Continental were a digital instrument cluster and a trip computer. Production of the car lasted for a year before it was renamed to the Lincoln Town Car for 1981. The Continental name eventually returned for the seventh generation, which ran from 1982 to 1987. This time, the car was underpinned by the Fox platform, which was also used by the Mercury Cougar and Ford Thunderbird. While the Continental always had a V-8 under the hood for the past six generations, the seventh generation gained a 3.8-liter V-6 as its new base engine, but a V-8 remained optional. A diesel I-6 sourced from BMW was offered starting in 1984, but it was eventually discontinued due to slow sales.
The eighth-generation Continental saw a major change because the car moved from a rear-wheel-drive configuration to front-wheel drive. Its platform mates include the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable. Only one engine remained available, a 3.8-liter V-8 paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. Key features include the adaptive air-ride self leveling suspension, speed sensitive power steering, and a six-passenger seating configuration. Production lasted from 1988 to 1994. In 1995, the ninth-generation Continental appeared with a standard 260-hp 4.6-liter V-8. The air-ride suspension carried over until 1997 when a rear air suspension replaced it. The V-8 engine’s output was increased to 275 hp in 1999. Production ended in 2002 when the Continental was replaced by the Lincoln Town Car as the brand flagship until 2011 when the MKS took over.
The Lincoln MKS debuted at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show as a 2009 model, and it came with features such as the Sync infotainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, continuously controlled damping system, and an available all-wheel-drive system. Under the hood is either a 3.7-liter V-6 or a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 paired exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The MKS received a refresh for the 2013 model year and gained additional safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning with cross-traffic alert, and lane keeping assist.
The Latest Generation
The Lincoln Continental has been revived for the 2017 model year and will replace the MKS as the brand’s new flagship. Although front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive will be optional. A new 400-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 will be used exclusively for Lincoln and is available in all-wheel-drive-equipped Continentals. A 3.7-liter V-6 and a smaller EcoBoost 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 are also available. Other features include Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, massaging seats, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, and full LED headlights.
Why You’d Consider One
Compared to some of its competitors, the Lincoln Continental puts an emphasis on comfort and an upscale experience, meaning that it will make for a great long distance cruiser that can coddle its passengers in luxury.
Why You’d Look Elsewhere
Although the majority of midsize and full-size luxury cars are rear-wheel drive, the Lincoln Continental isn’t and comes standard with front-wheel drive. Additionally, a Lincoln badge doesn’t have the same level of prestige as some of its European and Japanese competitors, making it less desirable to the majority of the buying public.