When thinking of Ford and Lincoln’s lineup, it is easy to quickly place a few vehicles in the spot of ‘halo car’. The Mustang GT350R, F-150 Raptor, and Focus RS will quickly come to mind, and while they are their segments halo car from the brand, they aren’t the most expensive, most technology demonstrater-y cars Ford makes: that honor goes to the Lincoln brand in the form of their new Continental luxury sedan. Ranging from the mid $40k to the mid $70k, Lincoln certainly charges like it is the company’s flagship, but the question remains: are they justified in their price tag?
Luckily, to judge their efforts, I have the top trim level to assess, a Black Label, which dramatically swells the price tag—from the mid–$50k’s to the mid $60k’s between the next highest trim beneath Black Label—in their efforts to add enough gizmos and niceties to compete with the big three from Germany and their luxo-barges. This trim level features the same driveline options as the regular Continentals, with a 3.7L naturally aspirated V6 on offer as the base engine, and a pair of twin-turbocharged V6 engines placed above, of 2.7L and 3.0L of displacement. As the car is built on the same corporate CD4 platform as the Ford Fusion—albeit stretched 5.7in—front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive are the name of the game. As of now, power is sent from the engine to the wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox, although the thought of Ford’s 10-speed automatic finding its way into the car is not a surprising one.
My cars driveline consists of the 2.7L twin turbocharged V6 powering the front wheels through the six-speed automatic. While we—my employer leased this car, with my inputs heavily involved in the shopping process—wanted the Focus RS-esque torque-vectoring AWD, with either of the turbocharged engines, we did not want to wait the 16 weeks that came with ordering one from the factory. Rather, there was a 2.7L equipped Black Label with all the options we wanted—more on those options in a second—on the lot. After giving the dealership a call and providing a few minutes’ worth of information, the Black Label was set up for delivery; you can read all about the leasing delivery process provided as a Black Label benefit HERE.
I assumed that the FWD and 335hp, 380lb-ft of torque producing-V6 would equate to constant torque steer and ruined front tires. However, through the use of boost-by-gear controls and smart traction control, the downsides of FWD and gobs of power are contained, while not hurting acceleration too much. Accelerating from a stop light or into the flow of traffic is quick, snappy, and somewhat smooth. I am forced to use the word somewhat because while the engine feels refined, quiet, powerful and fits the vehicle and price-point, the gearbox does not. In a world where pickups have anywhere from 8 to 10 gears in their automatics, the 6-speed automatic Lincoln chose to employ here feels like a relic of a soon-to-be bygone age. As Ford has been busy fitting there shiny new 10-speed automatic into anything that will fit it, I expect to see it in the Continental as soon as they can make it fit the CD4 platform, or make the platform fit it. Once that gearbox arrives, the Continentals driveline will feel as premium as the price tag should suggest, especially in torque-vectoring AWD mode; however, until then the car is left feeling slightly behind competitors in the drivetrain department.
Where the Black Label does not feel behind its competitors is in the styling department, both interior and exterior. The exterior’s appeal is of course subjective; however I feel the proper color has to be chosen to really get the full effect of the design. In black, the sedan’s styling is oddly reminiscent of a Chrysler 300, a definite downwards step for the Lincoln. In lighter colors, such as white or silver, the more subtle aspects of the cars design are allowed to take a step forward, such as the (somewhat) tasteful chrome, and door handle-less design. This lack of door handles is achieved through Ford’s first ever use of electronically-latched doors Lincoln calls “E-Latch” that pull shut if the door isn’t completely closed. One simply opens the door to the interior by inserting your hand into a styled, silver/chrome door pull integrated into the window trim and gently pulling. On the interior, a button is used on the arm rest/door handle, with an emergency, manual latch provided for the driver.
When one does open the door, it quickly becomes apparent that the interior is trying its hardest to feel worthy of its price tag; and then some. The Black Label package grants access to three unique full-leather interiors, which also upgrades other sensory experiences, such as changing the headliner to Alcantra material and providing sun shades for the rear passengers. The Harman-developed stereo is also bumped up to the maximum configuration, featuring 19 speakers in rather handsome metal fittings throughout the cabin. The sound the system provides is, as the kids say these days, pretty bumpin’.
At this point it is important that I address why I have been referring to this Lincoln Continental variously as a Continental and a Black Label. The Black Label denotes the highest trim level of the Continental, yet is so transformative to the car, goes a bit beyond that. In simple terms, it is best to think of the Lincoln Continental Black Label like a Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s a Golf, but it also sort of isn’t, being a bit more. The Lincoln can safely be viewed the same way.
Going back to the interior, our Black Label is equipped with various further options, including:
- 30-way adjustable ‘Perfect Position’ front seats
- Rear Seat Package (Includes Panoramic Moon Roof)
- Technology Package
- Cold Weather Package
Those options essentially include everything but AWD and the top-dog engine. None of the above options actually matter however, if the Lincoln doesn’t fulfill its purpose: is it comfortable?
In a word: Very.
In more than a word: the Lincoln feels like a six-figure car, especially when optioned to the hilt like ours is. When it is, the dawning moment of just how comfortable a cruiser the Lincoln is occurs while settling in for a long drive for the first time. We all have our routine: set the cruise control, find some good tunes, set the volume just right, and drive on. In the Black Label, it is a bit more involved: after you set the volume on your 19-speaker system just so, and finish adjusting the 30 parameters you can change on your seat, you then have to decide if you want to heat your hands, cool or heat your butt, and whether a massage would feel nice. All are available at the touch of a button, to all four of the passengers—except the heated steering wheel of course.
Keen Lincoln fans—do you exist?—may have noticed I said four passengers in a five-person car. That is because with the rear-seat package selected, Lincoln has gone to as great a length as possible to make rear-seat occupants not feel bad about missing out on the magic front seats. Towards this goal, the middle seat has been replaced with a flowing island, which contains essentially total control of the cars infotainment and climate control, for the passengers in the back. Rear-seat occupants also have reclining seats, with all the comfort-gizmos of the front included.
The Lincoln looks great, it drives alright, and it costs a lot for a Ford, but noticeably less than competitors; is it a value? Is it worth it? While it may seem strange to look at value when looking at $70k vehicles, there is certainly a difference between various models. Where the Lincoln really shines is its placement; a middling German cruiser—think 5-Series or E-Class—can’t really come close to the comfort/value quotient of the Black Label, and the real Luxo-Barges like the S-Class and the 7-Series start tens of thousands of dollars higher. Sure, the engine is shared with a pick-up truck that your plumber can show up in, and the gearbox in his truck would be better, but for people who only care about comfort, the Lincoln should be near the top of the shopping list.
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For some fun cross-shopping between cars at the Lincolns price, click HERE.
I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.