2017 Lincoln Continental 3.0T AWD First Test: Quiet And Quick Luxury

The 2017 Lincoln Continental might be labeled as quiet luxury, but even the timid ones have a wild side. And how could it not with two turbos and 400 horses under its hood?

2017 Lincoln

The big Lincoln returns after a 14-year hiatus, and the automaker set out to make its comeback something special. And that’s certainly the case with one of the sedan’s engine choices—a Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 churning out 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque that’s been paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard fare, but our test car was equipped with an all-wheel-drive system.

Four hundred horses and four wheels clawing at the asphalt sounds like a recipe for explosive acceleration, but the Continental is more of a swift and controlled sprinter. Our tester recorded 060 mph in 5.4 seconds, slightly better than Lincoln’s estimate (5.5 seconds) and respectable considering its 4,550-pound curb weight. Beyond 60 mph, the Continental eagerly charges ahead to the quarter-mile mark in 13.8 seconds at 101.3 mph.

The Continental fares well against some of its competition in straight-line performance, including a few bogies that also pack twin-turbo six-cylinders. Cross-town rival Cadillac offers its CT6 with a 404-hp 3.0-liter V-6 and AWD, and a look back at our test of that vehicle revealed a slightly quicker 060 time of 5.1 seconds, likely because it weighs less (by 161 pounds) and is equipped with a quick-shifting eight-speed auto. The 2017 Genesis G90 is another competitor, offering 3.3 liters of displacement, an eight-speed auto, and all-wheel drive. Although the G90 has 35 fewer horses than the Lincoln, it was 0.1 second quicker to 60 mph. The Caddy’s and Genesis’ quarter-mile times of 13.6 and 13.9 seconds, respectively, were also right there with the Continental.

Despite having 59 percent of its weight hanging over the front wheels, the Continental is relatively poised going through the corners. The body will lean a bit, but it remains surprisingly neutral and controlled. Overall chassis tuning is polished, even more so than the MKZ. Perhaps some of the credit goes to the all-wheel-drive hardware featuring a sophisticated torque-vectoring system that can vary torque at each individual wheel (as opposed to a rudimentary brake-based system). The Continental is also quick to respond to steering inputs, and its stopping power is acceptable, needing 120 feet to halt from 60 mph.

In real-world driving situations, the 2017 Continental does a mostly good job of living up to its quiet luxury moniker. The engine is imperceptible most of the time, but it emits a nice and muted growl at wide-open throttle. The six-speed automatic proved to be the powertrain’s weak link, at times hesitant with the downshifts. The big Lincoln eats up highway miles like a proper large sedan, though the suspension occasionally struggled to soak up sharp bumps in the road. Our test car was fitted with 19-inch wheels, so expect increased harshness if you opt for 20-inch wheels.

Outside, the door handles integrated with the lower window trim are special and substantial—an outstanding first impression before entering the sedan. Lincoln apparently spent a lot of time developing the seats, and it shows. Comfortable yet supportive, the seats offer a multitude of adjustments bordering on overkill thanks to capability to adjust individual thigh supports. The wood grain in our test car looked premium, as did the leather covering the seats and dashboard.

There are a few nitpicks. The climate control stack is functional but visually jarring due to the number of switchgear crammed into a relatively small space. Our Lincoln Reserve test car came with a standard cloth headliner, which occasionally triggered visions of Blue Ovals—Lincoln should consider making the Alcantara headliner (currently exclusive to the top-spec Black Label model) standard across the board. The speaker covers are a riff on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class but fall short on execution.

At $70,900, the price of our 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve AWD test car was quite a jump from the sedan’s base MSRP of $45,485. A big chunk of that went to the 400-hp beast under the hood ($3,265) and a pricey Luxury package, which combines LED headlights, a Revel audio system, and a CD player (yes, really) for $5,000. The Continental Technology package was another $3,105 but bundles a long list of advanced driver assistance tech, including adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, and lane departure warning.

The Continental nameplate has some work to do to regain the glamour it once had in the 1960s, but it appears to be off to a decent start. Lincoln wisely prioritized comfort above all else (again, those seats), and its wild yet composed engine is an added bonus.

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