2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve: Luxury, American Style

The new Continental. I like it. So many don’t. At least, on social media. I am co-admin on a Facebook Lincoln and Continental group, and whenever someone posts a 2017-present Continental, the whining commences. Oh yes.

Continental

How so Klockau, you may ask. Well, you see, a lot of angry folks on social media tend to foam at the mouth whenever someone, like your author, posts a new Lincoln Continental. “Dagnabit, that’s NOT a Lincoln! A Lincoln should have suicide doors, a stand-up hood ornament, and crushed velour!

Well. Here’s the thing. Most of the folks who love to bitch about new Lincolns with front wheel drive and turbo fours or V6s-basically anything that is newer than a 2003-11 Town Car-have never, NEVER, purchased a new Lincoln. Late model, perhaps. Certified, pre-owned, perhaps. But new? Brand new? Special ordered at the dealer, new? Nope! Never.

Ford Motor Company knows this. So they ignored the angry old folks who have never bought a new Lincoln in their life, and did modern luxury the way they wanted to. And let me tell you, the results are nice. Last Thursday, after work, I drove over to Strieter Lincoln, my local dealer, who has most satisfactorily maintained my two Town Cars since 2013, and asked to try out a new Continental. And Peter Clarke, my favorite salesman, a veteran of Brougham sales for nigh on thirty years, happily acquiesced.

True, I had previously driven a Continental at Napleton Lincoln at an LCOC event in October 2016, with a friendly salesman and my Brougham partner in crime, Jim Smith, in Chicagoland. But it was one of those fun but short drives, with a chaperone and no real chance to floor it and have some fun. It was fun, but, ya know, not FUN.

My short test of the 2017 Continental, though, was positive. Was it a Town Car? No. But it was nice. Silent, smooth, and nary a squeak from it while driving over railroad tracks at 40 mph. But I wanted more. I wanted some time. And I got it.

2018 Continental

My local dealer, Strieter Lincoln of Davenport, Iowa, has been great to my Town Cars. And I’ve tested several cars there that have appeared on this fine site. So last Thursday, after work, I drove over there and asked my favorite salesman, Peter Clarke, to try out a new 2018 Continental thoroughly before the snow entered stage left.

He delivered in spades, handing me the keys to the showgirl of the lot.

stare

Sitting right out front on Kimberly Road, a Ruby Red metallic Continental Reserve with every option, stickered at $67,995. And with a mere 9.3 miles on the clock.

I hopped in and fired it up. Gold-toned gauges appeared on the LCD cluster. It took a moment for me to find the parking brake release (automatic, no lever, sitting on the instrument panel to the left and below the steering wheel), but once I did I pressed ‘D’ on the push button transmission adjacent to the radio/GPS screen and got underway.

It was smooth. Quiet. The 2.7L twin-turbo V6 advanced the new Continental with authority. My test car was an AWD Reserve, with 17 city and 25 highway mpg ratings. Said mill produces 335 hp at 5700 rpm and has 380 lb-ft of torque.

2018 Continental

I found acceleration to be very good. Also available on new Continentals is a 3.7L Ti-VCT V6, with 305 hp. Or if you really want some motor-vation, the twin-turbo 3.0 V6, with 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Yes, really. All those angry old folks who want Lincoln to bring back the 2011 Town Car will easily have their doors sucked off by one of these Connies!

How was it? It was nice. Definitely a top-tier luxury car. Smooth. Silent. Plenty of oomph from the V6 under the mill, though you will understand I didn’t step on it too hard, as it was a brand-new car. I may review new cars for fun, but I’m not one of those free-trip shrimp-gulping fools who fly in on the manufacturer’s dime and wrap their great new car around a tree or retaining wall.

I did see a wreck almost after it happened though. There I was, rolling east on 53rd in Davenport, when at a light I saw a fresh accident. The Ford 500 was under the chassis of the Subie. The Subie’s front wheel was still rotating. It must have happened in the previous minute or so; no traffic was backed up yet. I moved my ruby red luxocruiser into the turn lane and got the hell out of there, posthaste.

And this really is a modern American luxocruiser. Is it a 1961 Continental? No. Is it a 1975 Continental? No. And it shouldn’t be. For all the old-timers on social media bitching about no rear-wheel drive, no suicide doors, no velour trim and no coach lamps on the current Lincoln Continental, it means nothing.

2018 Continental

How so? Easy. All those old folks who want a new old Lincoln never buy new. Hey, I love old Lincolns. My grandfather, Bob Klockau, had a 1966 Continental sedan, a Mark III, Mark IV and Mark V. I love ’em. But you know what would happen if Lincoln did a retro Connie?

2018 Continental

All the folks with money they were willing to plunk down would turn away and buy an LS460 or Cadillac CT6, and those aforementioned old folks would happily snap up the retro Connies-five years later, when they’ve depreciated 65% from their original MSRP. Now why in the heck would Ford Motor Company want to do that?

Okay, okay, maybe I wouldn’t mind a few nods to earlier Continentals. A four-pointed star on the C-pillar. Perhaps a ‘Continental’ script on the fine wood trim above the glove compartment. But overall, I like the new Continental as she sits.

2018 Continental

It’s a large, comfortable and classy sedan. I had ample room up front, and although I didn’t sit in the back seat, it appeared to be even more roomy than the thrones up front.

About those front seat thrones: I loved them. This Continental was a Reserve, and as such, she was loaded. As my buddy Matt Smith up in Boston would say, fackin loaded, kehd!

How so? Well, how about 30-way-yes, that’s correct, 30-WAY power seats? With left and right side, individually adjustable thigh bolsters?

2018 Continental

But wait, there’s even more! In addition to the 30-way seats, there were massaging seats. With several settings, driver and passenger, hi or low. I turned them on, and immediately was feeling no pain, was very happy, and accidentally drove the car an extra five miles north just to luxuriate in their most excellent rhythms.

2018 Continental

So many buttons. And the chrome-rimmed knobs had a great tactile feel. Heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel. It was excellent.

2018 Continental

So, what was my most favorite thing about the 2018 Lincoln Continental? Simple. It was a real American luxury car. No faux Autobahnen pretensions. Just smooth, quiet and comfortable. Was it as smooth and quiet and boulevardier-preferred as my Town Cars? Well, perhaps not. But it was unapologetically American.

the old and the new

It was plush. Smooth. Quiet. A dream to drive. Author-induced hyperbole? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I truly enjoyed my time behind the new Continental. It was a great car. Now I want one. I want those massaging seats! I want the silence, comfort and painless driving. Lincoln has a winner. Ignore the old folks who want a 2019 Town Car, identical to the long-lost 2011 TC. I want one. I will have one. Eventually…

I love my Town Cars, but ya know, there’s something to be said for keeping current. Try a new Connie, I guarantee you will like it! Those massaging seats, ohhhh man! Heaven. Check one out.

25 Replies to “2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve: Luxury, American Style”

  1. Avatarstingray65

    Good commentary Tom, and your test-drive illustrates the problem facing Lincoln. The old Lincoln buyers want lots of chrome, fake wire wheels, simulated convertible roofs, perhaps a Continental kit hanging off the back bumper, and Lexus/BMW/MB/Audi/Jaguar owners find most of those things hideous and wouldn’t consider buying even a clean, uncluttered version. So to hopefully attract new clientele they make the Connie you test drove, which probably isn’t perceived to be hard core German autobahn crusher enough or Japanese reliable enough to attract the rapidly declining number of foreign luxury sedan buyers, but is still too “foreign” to attract the old Lincoln crowd. Perhaps they might have more success if they tried to put in a few more tastefully presented “Lincoln” design traits (or at least offer them as a decor option). I also think they would do themselves no harm by making suicide doors a key Lincoln design feature – put it on all the “big” ones including the Navigator.

    Reply
  2. AvatarScottS

    Thanks for a great review, Tom. I got a close up look at the new Continental at the auto show earlier this year and I have to say I was greatly impressed with the execution of the interior. If I have one criticism it is with the overly lavish use of chrome and this goes double for the Navigator. All that bling looks good on a brand new car in the showroom but the super-gloss surfaces are going to be a nightmare in daily life.

    I think Ford stills struggles on build quality, and especially with the fit and gaps of the body panels and fixed glass. Thinking about the numerous Expedition/Navigators I have rented in past years and some of the horrifying panel and glass gaps on those vehicles, I would be hard pressed to cough up the coin for a new navigator or Continental. I’m currently checking out new cars (cars not SUVs) thanks in no small part to Jack Baruth’s cajoling, and I’m leaning towards another Lexus. I like some of the Audi models, but I don’t think I can suffer the “German Quality” after the warranty period. With Lexus, you can sleep like a baby when you away on business secure in the comfort that your wife won’t be left stranded at a really inconvenient time. And Cadillac? I would SO buy a new ATS coupe if it were available with the LT1, a TR6070 manual transmission, and Lexus torque vectoring rear differential. But no, all we will get is turbo blown I4 and V6 engines.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      ScottS – you bring up a great point. The Germans offer “crazy” engine options (i.e. turbo V-8s, V-12s) even though their turbo 4s and 6s are plenty powerful for license losing autobahn cruising speeds and quick acceleration from the stop-light, and as a consequence the big engine take-rate is very low. I think the availability of powerful engines with more that 6 cylinders provide status and bragging rights to the Germans, but American beancounters won’t let the American luxury brands offer such options, probably for fear of offending the CAFE people at the EPA.

      Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      You know there is an ATS with twin turbo V6 with a 6speed manual or an auto? But we’ll gloss over that………………….

      Reply
  3. AvatarC deZev.

    I was going to chime in that the Continental always looked small to me, so I compared dimensions to a ’17 LS460 and the base dimensions appear to be very similar. So strictly from a measurements standpoint I am of course wrong. That being said every time I see a Continental my gut tells me that I wish the car were larger and had more of a presence. It does not say luxury to me, it says that the designers were limited to the size available by the CD4 platform it shares and some of the hard points were set in stone. Have not driven it, no doubt it is nice, but the appearance does not appear to be at the right scale for me.

    Reply
    • AvatarJim Dreyer

      You know, C deZev, I think the same thing about the size of the Continental when I see it, but I also was wrong in it’s dimensions. I believe it is even a couple of inches longer than my MKT. I’m sure it is “big enough” for 99% of buyers but it seems to lack just a bit in the “presence” department. I’ve ridden in one but have not yet test drove one. It’s next on my list.

      Reply
    • Avatartresmonos

      You’re right. This has been expected and talked about in countless circles. The reason it’s not available online for consumption is that any remaining auto journalism has no teeth and generally sucks. It’s a great time to be in marketing for OEM’s as product releases will be complied with the bribed journalism industry.

      Reply
  4. AvatarJohn C.

    What a great Chinese limo this would make. The shape looks like a 2001 Hyundai XG300 that even more chrome has been slathered upon to better please our new betters in the far east. I hope Ford sells a lot to them before their currency collapses and they have to fire their limo drivers. The world is now too small for Chinese luxury to emanate from China’s own carmakers and reflect their own unique ideas. Germany now builds for China as well and Japan gave in to the international ideal when they sent the benchmarked LS400 abroad and kept the Century for themselves. If only America could have kept a luxury car just for itself. If just one had survived, when America became great again, a new generation of 30 something up and comers could be enjoying their commutes in the kind of glorious cocoon only America could make. They would discover them the way they have phonograph records.

    Reply
  5. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    Tom,
    You hit the nail on the head! I remember writing up a report on the rollout of the MKS for LCOCs “Comments” and saying the same thing. The Continental is contemporary and wonderfully executed. It’s attacking a market that may be shrinking but is certainly more current than the “Old” Lincoln offerings. If I had any issues with the Continental, it would be that the design is derivative, it would have been nice to see some more brand identification, it’s pretty anonymous. But, drive one and you’ll come away impressed!

    Reply
  6. AvatarBarry Wolk

    Anachronisms will always be. They can be ignored easier than dealing with them. Why should Ford care what used car buyers think.

    Reply
  7. AvatarCarmine

    My main problem with these is that while they really look nice, they don’t look special enough to be the flasgship sedan for the Lincoln line up, to me this not only gets outshown by the CT6, even the 4 year old XTS and CTS manage to look more impressive too.

    If you told me it was the entry-level or mid-line Lincoln I would believe it. Lots of people were gushing over the return of the Continental name when this came back, hoping that it would connect Lincoln too the cool Mad Men Kennedy era vibe of the suicide door 1961-1969 cars, but in reality, Continental makes buyers think more of Nana and Pepops fake rag-top covered Boca Raton cruiser than the cool 60’s Continentals. If Ford would have really wanted to solidify that connection they would have really needed to make a Continental that made a statement, where this is a nice looking car, that really could have come from any luxury car maker.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      I stumbled upon this 1964 UK review of a Cadillac. It really makes you wonder what might have been possible if GM hadn’t decided to cut costs in the name of short term profits. https://www.flickr.com/photos/triggerscarstuff/albums/72157644226707618

      A decade later, they included the Seville in a comparison test with a Rolls-Royce, a Daimler Double Six(think Jaguar XJ12), and a Mercedes-Benz 6.9. It was practically comic relief. https://www.flickr.com/photos/triggerscarstuff/albums/72157628810974261

      Reply
      • AvatarCarmine

        I take any review of an American car from a British magazine with a grain of salt the size of Gibraltar……especially after their industry really started going down the toilet in the 70’s………

        Reply
      • AvatarCarmine

        I also find it mildly amusing that 2 out of the 3 other cars in that test had to buy air conditioners and automatic transmissions from the “comic relief” company too……..

        Reply
        • AvatarCJinSD

          I get that, but too much of what they criticized rings true of my own observations. I’ve seen early to mid ’60s Cadillacs that have nicer interiors than new ones do. The Seville was diminished by close examination. The 1964 Cadillac had a legitimate claim as the best and most modern luxury car in the world, and Cadillac sold 165,000 of them. That didn’t leave much time for cataloguing burl walnut repair panels for each car’s dashboard, but it didn’t stop them from being beautifully built, state of the art, and authentic. A dozen years later and they had a car with many fake details, inferior performance, and derivative design. They sold their best features to their competition, which seems to have freed up their international competitors to focus on developing advancements in the areas of engines and chassis.

          I thought the CAR article was pretty fair in this case. You can’t say they piled untempered praise on anything. They were more critical of their preferred Daimler than Car and Driver has been of anything in production over the past five years. Those S-class Mercedes did have hard back seats. The Rolls Royce required much of its driver to deliver smooth operation with its stupid Citroen technology. Jaguar/Daimlers didn’t bear close examination any better than Carter era Cadillacs did.

          Reply
  8. AvatarGeorge Denzinger

    I’m slowly becoming a fan of these cars. It was cemented for me when I saw the concept car at Gilmore a couple of months ago, although I love a boxy car in dark Presidential blue paint. I guess I still have some old notions about the Taurus based Connies from years past; and a few more recent ones that had less than acceptable assembly quality. But, I think I could like this car. (Too bad I can’t afford this car…)

    I think there’s a lot of “oldthink” leftover from the Brougham days. Lincoln was rather successful with the long-running, long-lived Panther based cars, but there’s not been a coherent transition to the “new” cars. I don’t know what it will take for US consumers to consider US luxury cars again; the current cars are probably the best ones designed and assembled to date. But the prestige has been lost, I suspect it may never come back.

    Maybe with enough time and a consistent execution Lincoln (and Ford) can change attitudes, I hope.

    Reply
  9. AvatarPaul M.

    If you want a old Lincoln reincarnated as a new modern 21st century vehicle, buy either the Genesis G90 or G80. This so called Continental is just a Ford Fusion on steroid, and like that dead vehicle, this Continental will soon stop being produced.

    Reply
  10. AvatarKlondike Kat

    Well done Tom. Respect the past, and embrace the future. Other noteworthy examples of this are the Camaro, Challenger, and Mustang. Based on your test drive and review it took a lot of Cajones for Ford to create the next generation Continental. A good car is a good car regardless of parentage-except the Mustang II, now that one was a bastard child. I know- I was Ford dealer lot boy when they came out. Hey..how about stepping out of your Brougham wheelhouse and test drive the last Beetle?

    Reply

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