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Down but not out, Lincoln will show the all-new 2017 Continental next year in Detroit

Ford-owned Lincoln has announced it will present the production version of the Continental concept (pictured) during next year’s edition of the Detroit Motor Show.

The monumentally important sedan will sit alongside the Navigator at the very top of the company’s lineup. Unsurprisingly, Lincoln will make another exception to its MK nomenclature system and retain the Continental nameplate because of the heritage that’s associated with it. First introduced in 1939, the Continental was positioned at or near the top of the Lincoln lineup for over six decades.

Although the concept’s design was publicly lambasted by former Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke, the Continental will be toned down only slightly in its transition from a show car to a production model. The upscale-looking front fascia will remain, and it is even expected that the grille will gradually replace the so-called “waterfall” grille on other members of the Lincoln lineup over the next few years.

Although many expected the production version of the Continental would be rear-wheel drive, Lincoln marketing manager Imran Jalal confirmed to Car & Driver that it will ride on a front-wheel drive platform. However, motorists who regularly tackle adverse conditions will be able to order all-wheel drive at an extra cost.

Technical details haven’t been released yet, but Jalal hinted Lincoln will stay true to tradition and offer only gasoline-powered engines. Executives have decided against launching a Continental powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, a turbodiesel engine, and even a performance-tuned engine. The flagship is being designed to be as comfortable and luxurious as possible, not to run alongside AMG- and M-badged sport sedans.

The Lincoln Continental will go on sale across the nation in time for the 2017 model year, and it will join the company’s lineup in China shortly after. However, Lincoln has ruled out following rival Cadillac’s expansion into the European market both because it doesn’t have access to a suitable turbodiesel engine, and because it completely lacks a brand image on the Old Continent.