The uncontested star of the Lincoln booth at this year’s Detroit Auto Show is the all-new 2017 Continental. Monumentally important, the flagship sedan announces a new beginning for Ford’s oft-neglected premium brand.
Unsurprisingly, the Continental is nearly identical to the Continental concept that was presented last year at the New York International Auto Show. Keen-eyed observers will notice the production model features fewer chromed surfaces and smaller wheels, but key styling cues such as the bold, arch-shaped grille, the futuristic headlights, and the door handles integrated into the belt line have been retained.
The front passengers are coddled by Perfect Position Seats inspired by the world of high-end office furniture. The seats can be adjusted up to 30 ways, and they can heat, cool, and massage the occupants riding in the front. The Continental plays the luxury card by offering posh leather upholstery on the seats, the center console, and the dashboard, and either real wood or aluminum trim. Lincoln designers have paid more attention to details than ever before; notably, the company points out the stitching on the seats is limited to just six or seven stitches per inch to obtain a couture-like appearance.
The only engine announced so far is a new, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque in its most powerful state of tune. The six-cylinder spins all four wheels via an automatic transmission, and Lincoln’s Drive Control technology lets the driver choose one of three driving modes called comfort, normal, and sport, respectively. A torque vectoring system helps deliver a more precise handling on windy roads.
Less powerful engines will be added later in the production run, but Imran Jalal, Lincoln’s marketing manager, recently confirmed the car maker has decided against launching a Continental powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, a turbodiesel engine, or even a performance-tuned engine. The flagship was designed to be as comfortable, quiet, and luxurious as possible, not to run alongside AMG- and M-badged sport sedans.
Built in Michigan, the 2017 Lincoln Continental will go on sale nationwide this fall. It will also be offered in China, where Lincoln is trying hard to obtain a bigger slice of the lucrative premium segment.