The 2017 Lincoln Continental is a rare throwback luxury car

This comfortable sedan re-asserts the notion of American luxury.

The 2017 Lincoln Continental strikes a dramatic pose across the Boston skyline.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental strikes a dramatic pose across the Boston skyline. –George Kennedy

The 2017 Lincoln Continental is one of the few — if only — cars on the road that stays true to the ideals of an American luxury sedan.

At one time, “American Luxury” was easily defined. It referred to big, beamy cars with plush leather seating and a ride that seemed to float over the roadway. Much of the luxury car sector has pivoted toward the European model of luxury, which is embodied by sharp handling, cold interiors, and the latest technologies.

The Continental is a breath of fresh air in a lineup of generally overlooked, forgotten Lincoln automobiles. There’s no way you can overlook the Continental as it makes a visual statement as strong as any Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Part of that presence is its size: the Continental is long and wide, but its features are simple and clean. That simplicity allows the Continental to wear its size with confidence.

The cabin is upscale and well-equipped, but the layout is complicated. —George Kennedy
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By comparison, the cabin of the Continental is far busier and lacks the visual cohesion of the exterior. In fairness, Lincoln is trying to accomplish a lot in here, but the aesthetic suffers in order for the cabin to be crammed with creature comforts.

The first thing you’ll notice while sliding into any seat is the cushioning, which is impossibly supple. The only issue is adjusting those seats. Press any of the toggles, and a menu pops up on the touchscreen. With the available 30-way seats, it offers over five adjustments for bolstering alone. That’s before the actual position adjustment and massaging toggles. This is fantastic customization, but it will also be a quagmire for ease-of-use for any level of tech savvy. Attempting such adjustment while driving could be problematic or unsafe. If you’re lucky enough to be driven around, take your time enjoying the spacious rear seat. It has an insane amount of legroom, and can even adjust the seats to extend the leg panels for a near-recliner experience.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:
The Continental has a floating suspension, but handles well. —George Kennedy

The Continental comes with SYNC 3 infotainment, which is easy to use and very intuitive. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and while it’s not the best system on the market, it is certainly above average. But it is just a re-skinned version of Ford’s SYNC, which is fine on many levels, but it is one of the few areas where the Continental feels cheap. It would have been nice to see a more differentiated version for Lincoln to set the Continental apart.

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Three engines are available on the Continental, and they’re dependent on the three trims available. The Premiere comes with a 3.7-liter V6 out of the Ford Mustang, making 305 horsepower. The Select comes standard with the 3.7-liter, but is available with a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6, making 335 horsepower. The range-topping Reserve comes standard with that 2.7-liter engine, but is available with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that makes an impressive 400 horsepower. Power is sent to the front wheels or available all-wheel drive. AWD is standard if you opt for the 3.0-liter V6.

The best performer for fuel economy is the 2.7-liter V6 with front-wheel drive. It returns 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway, and 21 combined. Both AWD versions of the 3.7-liter V6 and 3.0-liter turbo V6 return fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon city, 24 on the highway, and 19 combined.

The 2017 Lincoln Continental makes an arrival like few other American cars. —George Kennedy

Technology has made it possible for larger SUVs to handle more like svelte cars, but the Continental feels like a throwback. It can sit into a turn, but you still feel its heft. Few modern cars feel this heavy, but with the push of the Sport button, the steering stiffens up and the throttle response quickens.

Base MSRP for the 2017 Lincoln Continental is $44,720. A Select trim starts at $47,675, and a Reserve starts at $54,075. Our Reserve 3.0-liter V6 test model with options and packages clocked in at $70,945.

That’s a steep price, but the only other place where you can find this level of space, comfort, tech, and performance is with the big American luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln’s own Navigator. These have become the de facto American luxury chariots, but if you prefer the elegance of a four-door sedan — and want it upscale and American — the Continental is one of the last places you can find it.

Under the Hood:

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Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Power: 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined): 16 / 24 / 19
Also Consider: Cadillac CT6, Buick LaCrosse, Genesis G90, Kia K900

George Kennedy is a freelance automotive journalist and automotive expert. You can reach him aGeorge.h.kennedy.iii@gmail.com and on Twitter @GKenns101.