Searching for Brougham in 2021 Part II: 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve

As previously related, about a month ago I drove a 2018 Cadillac CTS. The short, short version for those who haven’t read it: it had the 2.0T instead of the 3.6 six cylinder, so no sale.

But last Saturday, Peter Clarke left me a voicemail to tell me they’d just gotten in a green 2017 Continental with 35,000 miles. That day, and for several days after, the weather sucked. But Wednesday, it finally started getting nicer, so I headed over to check it out.

The color, Jade Green, was available only in 2017. It was available on the MKZ as well, though I’ve never seen one of those in the metal. As expected in the current love fest of the bland, boring world of silver silvermist, dark black and gutless gray, any color with some flair, other than red, dies a quick death.

This is not the rich, deep emerald green so popular on Ford products from the ’70s, but it looks good, and my favorite color is green. It had the light Cappuccino interior as well, instead of black, another plus. One thing that surprised me was that there was no sunroof. This was the first 2017-2020 Continental I had seen without one.

According to Peter it had navigation and the weather package, so it had heated seats and steering wheel, but no cooled or massaging seats. The original owner had traded it in because he knew 2020 was the last year for the Continental and he wanted one last new Lincoln sedan while they could still be had.

I sympathize. I have incredible disdain for the ‘combover’ phenomenon, rolling bar stools (and they handle just about as well), potato shaped, depressing and ugly. Usually going 20 under in the passing lane, driving off cliffs or backing into trees, Dollar Generals, parked mopeds and unwary pedestrians. But I digress.

Peter was just about to leave for lunch, but he said there was no rush, take an hour if I want, and have fun. I took him at his word and moved on out.

Love the V6. It’s the tried and true 3.7L engine, with no turbos attached like remoras. Excellent. And runs fine on regular 87 octane. Even better.

I’ve driven several MKZs, both just for fun and also as loaners when my car is in for service. Including a hybrid version a few years ago. And I like them a lot. But the Continental reminded me more of my Town Cars. A little more elegant. A little more smooth. More refined.

And also closer in size. It’s definitely bigger than the Z. The front doors, at least from in the cabin, almost look like coupe doors, and there was enough space between the back of the front passenger seat and the rear seat to put one of those mini coolers so popular with boaters.

And I can hear the persnickety sorts talking to themselves now. “Of course you like it, it’s a Lincoln, it’s a domestic, whyn’t you get an aardvark nosed Lexus or Korean Brougham like a G80 Klockau? You like all these US Caddys and Lincolns, you’ve told us 42,000 times!” Yes. I have. I used to like Lexus. When I worked at the bank, the chief credit officer, my boss’s boss, got a new GS, likely a 2005-06 model, and I liked it. Then things changed. Let’s say, 2008-2010? Then the Tortured Sheetmetal Era began…

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t annoying things about the Lincoln. Or the CTS I drove for that matter. I liked both cars. Would consider both cars (well, if the Caddy had the six, that is), but here’s the part certain folks will happily read: the stuff I didn’t like!

Caddy: Had the stupid aluminum trim instead of the wood. I realize it’s supposed to be sporty, but it just looks like silver plastic to me, and cheap. Biggest thing: the 2.0T. How about designing a base engine that doesn’t require premium, hmm GM? Especially when the optional and far superior V6 runs fine on 87 octane? Or how about not putting that engine in a luxury car and making them all have the 3.6, like the XTS? Hmm? No? OK then…

Lincoln: I do like the looks, but from some angles it does look derivative. I drove its main competitor, the CT6, a couple years ago and you could easily identify it as a Cadillac, especially from up front. The Continental looks like a luxury car, it has the heft, the size and the chrome, but if you’re just an average non-car guy on the street, it’s hard to tell exactly which luxury car it is. The MKZ is far more distinctive, with its rear light bar and side styling.

One other thing that bugged me as I piloted the Connie through greater Davenport and across I-80: it has dinky side view mirrors. I didn’t trust them. When passing on the interstate, I actually turned around to look before changing lanes, it felt more certain relying on that than looking in the mirrors. And I do not like the electric solenoid-powered interior and exterior door handles and releases. Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be ‘cool’ or ‘techy’ or something, but my German cheapskate blood could only make me ponder the likelihood of their failing. And the replacement cost.

But overall I really liked the car. It felt closer to my Town Car, had a more luxy interior, and was silent. Odds are I’ll wind up with one of these or an MKZ. Time will tell! I have the luxury of being in no rush. And I’m having fun in the meantime!

36 Replies to “Searching for Brougham in 2021 Part II: 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve”

  1. John C.

    Thanks for picturing the Conti in that nice neighborhood with the1920s houses with the big yards and great craftsman styled and applied details. It is an interesting backdrop as things become generic.

    I like the color and that the front buckets had a slight affectation of loose pillow cushion. Interesting it did not extend to the rear bench. The older 4 door Broughams made a great show of fancy in the back to hint to the owner that he is only a half step from the world of limousines. Meanwhile the kids loved it and it was first choice for extended family events. I am surprised they didn’t bring the limo stuff back, it is my understanding that China was a big part of the plan for this car.

  2. Carmine

    I’ve always wanted to ask a Ford designer who was responsible for gluing a butter knife to the front fenders but last time I talked to one they got their panties in a bunch when I said “Lincolns were just Fords in a wedding dress….”

    I’m more in the Cadillac camp, I just though this was way to bland and it doesn’t really look impressive for a luxury car…..

    • hank chinaski

      That’s pretty funny. What does that make Mercury then? A Ford in drag?

      Just buy the damn thing, or else keep driving the Town Car until the wheels fall off of it (or you). You probably won’t find another non-greyscale (well, that green is also greyscale). Designs are getting blander and more derivative by the second and as for breakable gadgetry and inevitable gremlins, that cancer will be with us forever.

    • NoID

      About that butter knife: The last two Continentals I’ve seen in the wild had a severe misalignment between the fender-side and door-side on the driver side of the car. It might have been as bad as a quarter inch.

    • LynnG

      Carmine, funny, Fords in a wedding dress. Lincolns for the last 30 years have all been dressed up Fords. Tom’s Town Car is just a LTD/Crown Vic in suit. But Tom knows that. Even the great Town Cars of the 1970’s by 1978 ended up with LTD dashs…. Though from reading the reviews the Town Car that Tom test drove, they seems highly though of, I think Jack was impressed with the Black Label (is that politically correct, discussion for another day). However, I agree with Tom that the electronics on the high end models will be an issue in the future but they are hard to avoid. I still would recommend that Tom find a well maintained 1978 Town Coupe, no major electonics, last year of the 460, car has presence (that coming from a Cadillac person), and just two huge doors, and Tom could use is back up Town Car for winter driving leaving the Town Coupe for motoring on salt free highways. Just a thought.

    • Athos

      “Lincolns were just Fords in a wedding dress….”

      That’s no no. Never criticize the product in front of the company’s employees. Plus, you did it all wrong! This is how you do it: GM’s X is better than Ford’s Y.

      • Carmine

        To be fair it wasn’t in person, and the person was kinda talking out of their ass and deserving of snap back……

  3. Mik

    Love that color, I’m a fan of green, too. The interior looks comfortable. Good review- esp touching on some of the finer details, like the small side view mirrors.

    If only the car were available with a V8…

    My mom had a Caddy- the CTS, if I’m not mistaken. Red, with the V6. Nice car, but she started having occassional trouble with it, little fiddly crap started giving out, at about 70,000 miles. She’s since traded it for GMC Acadia, her first ever CUV/SUV. Another sedan buyer crosses over…

    I will say, the paint on the Caddy I felt left a LOT to be desired. The orange peel was readily apparent, to my bespectacled eye, at 10 feet away.

  4. Hammond Egger, Esq.

    I’m with you. The Continental is just more of an American-style luxury car. To me, that’s A Good Thing. The Korean Broughams are runners-up, though. I remember sitting in an Equus at the auto show and thinking that in an alternate universe it would be the 2009 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special.

    And Lexus? Fugheddaboudit. The first generation LS 400 is still a car I lust after.

  5. John C.

    I noticed the designer of this Conti is Australian Max Wolff. He also did the MKZ and the XTS during an earlier stint at Cadillac. He currently lives in India offering his design services.

    I know Australia did a few half way Broughams in the 1970s that looked okay if you only compared them to Japanese Broughams. The idea that both Ford and Cadillac would trust what really were last chance conservative sedans to an Australian they plucked from Daewoo makes you wonder where their head was at.

  6. NoID

    It’s more “premium” than “luxury”, but have you looked at a Chrysler 300S with all the trimmings? I’ve spent a little bit of time in the export-only SRT version, and that’s basically the same thing with MOAR POWAR and a firmer ride. Meanwhile I’ve found the 3.6L in my Challenger to be more than adequate for getting me out of my own way, and if that’s not enough for you there’s a HEMI waiting in the wings (both of which take 87 octane).

    And best of all, it comes in COLORS, all of which are zero-dollar options!

    • NoID

      Or a Buick Lacrosse for that matter? In the era of “That’s not a Buick!”, it’s probably the most Buicky vehicle left in their portfolio.

      Or it was, until they decided to stop making cars altogether. I’m still holding out hope that the PSA/FCA marriage gives the USA a badge-engineered Opel Insignia/Buick Regal. That would be absolutely Stellar.

      • benjohnson

        I have a Rüsselsheim Buick – they’re good, and I like them a lot, but you’re not missing on some sublime forbidden fruit. In my very amateur opinion, they do make good family cars that hold their own on Track Night In America when driven with the understanding that you’re burning up tires and breaks a bit faster than a light-spec sports car.

          • benjohnson

            Sadly, no. They didn’t make the GS for importation (as far as I know) in Germany – but when they moved production to Canada a year later. they did a fine job of it so I can’t really recommend taking the effort to get the German-made ar. The 2019 GS went back to being made in Germany – and with a rather nice GM V6. No manual, however.

          • Carmine

            Yeah the GS were Canadian, I didn’t know if yours was a 100% German or “Canadian German”, LOL.

  7. Ken

    I was hoping to get to the end and see that you bought it Tom!

    As a new Conti owner I can attest to a few of your nits and nags as well. The electronic door locks are a bit superfluous – and I would worry about their longevity (there was also a recall on earlier models). That said, having toddlers who don’t always close the door all the way, the fact that they suck themselves closed fully is a nice feature.

    The side mirrors did take some time for me to get used to too, as well as properly adjusted; at first I too thought they were undersized, but now I feel they are fine. I have it adjusted to where once no longer in the rear view, the side mirror picks up and there’s a minimal blind spot – covered by the blind spot detection system / a short look over my shoulder as well. Blind spot detection on this car; I find is helpful, but I still want to look over my shoulder. Once the system says a car is in your blind spot, it seems that the passing car’s nose is already on the side of the Conti’s trunk.

    If you can spring for the tech package; the adaptive cruise and 360 camera are both nice features. Makes for an even more enjoyable highway cruiser and easier to park.

    I gave Jack a bit of a follow-up on the car to his Hagerty article a few days ago. If your interested in more details happy to share.

    I also like to join (and lurk) on Facebook car groups on anything I’m interested in buying (or end up owning). They are nice data points for issues or feedback from owners. The 10th gen Continental Group is a pretty good resource.

    • Ken

      Also we cross shopped Cadillac too. The CT6 was a contender. My Wife found the interior of the Lincoln superior (mostly the seats and the center console). I don’t believe the Caddy had massaging seats (which was really a bonus, in fairness to the Caddy there are options, like night vision that Lincoln doesn’t have). The CT6 we test drove, did have the higher end V6 option (and not the 4 banger) but was still not as responsive as either of Lincoln’s turbo 6s. The particular CT6 we drove (a 2018 w/~22k miles) also was a bit jerky in shifts between 1 and 2. Not sure if that’s normal or that car.

      Lastly, looks was a factor. In person she felt the earlier CT6 noses to look cheap in person. I kinda liked them, but could see what she meant. They did look a little plasticy – and GM may have noticed too as they refreshed the front in 2019.

      We also looked at the CT5, which is a pretty good value, a decently loaded new one could be had for the low to mid-40s… but after driving the CT6 and the Continental it just felt, well cheap by comparison, as did the TLX we looked at too.

  8. Gary

    That Continental interior benefits greatly from not having the gloss wood trim that I see in a lot of them.

    What was the asking price for this Continental?

  9. gtem

    “When passing on the interstate, I actually turned around to look before changing lanes”

    To be honest I do this anyways, especially on busy multi-lane beltways

    I have a used Continental on the test drive list for my wife’s next car, along with a Chrysler 300 and some others. Like you, I prefer the relative simplicity of the NA 3.7L V6, but my wife and I both strongly prefer the look of the walnut+black leather interior.

    If it isn’t a secret how much were they asking for this ’17?

    • Tom Klockau

      33k. That was about five grand above my comfort level. At least for a fwd one with no sunroof. Same car, same price, but with panorama roof, cooling/massaging seats and awd? Maybe.

      • Ken

        Tom, being in the market for months and watching Continental prices, you are correct – that’s $5k high (and then some). An FWD 2017, with the base engine, and no pano / upgraded seats, with even low miles (i’d say under 20k) should be mid-20s.

        The 2017 Reserve, AWD, 3.0TT, rear seat package, tech package car we bought w/17,000 miles two weeks ago was $36k. Also test drove a 2018 similarly equipped for $38k.

        • gtem

          I was gonna say, $33k? Woof. Yeah the market has gotten that much crazier since I last looked, but a ’17 in a fairly basic trim? That’s a $25k car at best IMO.

  10. CJinSD

    I’ve noticed the three of these that I’ve seen in the past five years because of the distinctive exterior door handles. There’s nothing else like them that’s been sold since the early seventies.

  11. John

    I love the Contis so much. I almost bought one, but I’m still just young enough to not be able to take myself seriously in such a stately machine, so I bought a Stinger GT instead. Coming from a handful of Mustangs and an F-150, the Korean Charger, as my friends and I call it, is the best and most satisfying daily-driver I’ve ever owned.

    I really do hope that you buy one, though; and sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I spent the next few years behind the wheel of the last dying gasp of true American luxury. I’m eternally grateful that the Koreans have picked up where Ford left off, and I pray that they continue to keep the brougham dream alive.

    • CJinSD

      My father was born before the US officially entered WWII, but he said that he could never see himself as old enough to drive a Cadillac back when he was buying German premium cars serially. He’s as conservative as the days of the Biden Harris regime are long too.

      Was the last Fusion that the Continental is based on really an American platform? I think it was a development of the EUCD platform, whose origin is given away by its name. Are the Cadillacs actually American? It seems like the Wikipedia page claims Alpha and Omega platforms were created for near-still-born Cadillacs rather than being spun off of DOA Australian cars. Is that true? I’ve seen people claim the Chrysler LH was a Renault 25, although I’m dubious. The LX is definitely an amalgamation of convenient recycled Mercedes-Benz component designs, so that would make the K-car that last in-house Chrysler sedan family.

  12. Sigivald

    Is it more green in person? In the photos it looks mostly grey.

    Never driven one, but I did see a modern Conti on the freeway and was very impressed by its looks.

    • gtem

      IMO they look most impressive/imposing from a rear 3/4 view. They have a satisfyingly low and long trunk for a modern car, and I really like the rear tail lamps. Stately. The Chrysler 300 has a very high/abbreviated rump by comparison, my least favorite part of that car.

  13. benjohnson

    I will say the small mirrors will force you to adjust them so you’re not looking at your own vehicle. A few of my fellow Americans like seeing a bit of their own car in the side mirrors to make orientation easy – and small mirrors force you to move the view outward to cover the lanes that are next to you. It took me a few months to get used to it – but now that I have, I won’t go back.

  14. George Denzinger

    “but my German cheapskate blood could only make me ponder the likelihood of their failing. And the replacement cost.”

    Ich auch.

  15. Tony LaHood

    As a sedan guy I so wanted this car to succeed. Let’s just face the fact that Cadillac and Lincoln have become truck builders. And soon, they will be builders of electric trucks exclusively.

  16. Athos

    I have not seen this car in the flesh but have seen it’s platform cousin, the China market Taurus. I wish they put the Lincoln badge and styling to that one. The rear seat area was LAVISH, with the armrest filled with toyZ and buttons, the seats had quilted leather IIRC.

    This car would gave benefited immensely if they had used the interior that was on the concept car and used a RWD platform. Alas, CD6 wasn’t even probably in the oven yet. Still, looks like a lovely car. Nowadays the equivalent Town Car or Continental is the Navigator and man does that truck have a hot interior. The previous gen Escalade couldn’t hold a candle to it.


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