Drive Time: Lincoln back in style with Continental | MyWindsorNow.com

Drive Time: Lincoln back in style with Continental

Bud Wells
For The Tribune

Settle into the "perfect position seats" finished in soft leather, close the car door, then note there is no interior door handle. Take a second look, maybe even a third – there it is, the button to push to open the door to exit the vehicle.

It's the 2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Black Label four-door, which has emerged this year as one of the finest-looking and most-comfortable luxury sedans in the country.

The Lincoln's relatively long name itself will challenge the alphanumeric crowd responsible for competitive models labeled S550, 550xi, A7, CT6, LS460 and XJ.

The new model is of an old name; the Continental, except for the early '50s, was a popular Lincoln almost yearly from 1939 to 2002.

Fifteen years later, it returns as flagship replacement for the Lincoln MKS, and it is a standout. The Continental I drove is finished in chroma elite copper hue, and its alpine venetian leather interior is as plush as anything offered in the luxury field.

The modern-designed seats, inspired by private jets, allow adjustment to individual body shapes and weights, and the knee cushions can be adjusted independently in order that one leg remains at rest as the other engages the pedals.

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The high-end Black Label version of the Continental is powered by a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 engine producing 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, with impressive midrange performance. Other lesser-priced models are the Premiere, Select and Reserve, and other engines are a 3.7-liter V-6 of 305 horsepower and a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 of 335 hp.

An electronic push-button shifter controls the 6-speed automatic transmission. The buttons, at first glance, might be mistaken for part of the infotainment center; they're positioned along the left edge of the infotainment display screen.

The luxury sedan probably deserves an 8-speed setup. The use of paddle shifters with the transmission in sport mode, however, gets some quick responses between the gears and firms the suspension. The paddles were effective in a drive toward Allenspark and, particularly, through the twisting narrow lanes of the Raymond community.

Much of the outstanding ride comes from an improved suspension system, replacing struts/multilinks of the MKS with continuously controlled damping with MacPherson strut and aluminum control arm and stabilizer bar at front and advanced integral-link with coils and stabilizer at the rear.

If the big car wanders near the edge of its driving lane without signaling, its lane-departure warning system will send shudders through the steering wheel. Eventually, the system will even guide the steering wheel back into the lane, though not as quickly or as effectively as several competitive makes.

Ultrasonic sensors at the front and rear of the Continental will assist in finding a parking space, and will guide the car into the space, with the driver operating only the brake and accelerator. The process is aided by a 360-degree camera system.

The new Lincoln, with a 117.9-inch wheelbase and 201.4-inch overall length, has a 5-inch longer wheelbase than the MKS, though is 4 inches shorter overall. The Continental's curb weight is 4,547 pounds, about 100 heavier than the MKS AWD.

Its EPA estimate is 16/24 miles per gallon; my overall average was 19.9. The Lincoln rode on Pirelli 245/40ZR20 tires.

The amenities and all-wheel drive associated with the Continental Black Label model pushed sticker price to $74,815, including adaptive cruise control, alcantra headliner, heated and cooled seats, remote start and automatic high-beam headlamps.

— Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at budwellscars@comcast.net.

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