It surpasses anything the division has built in the past.The company really shifted gears in creating a luxury automobile surpassing anything the division has built in the past.Virtually a technological revolution on wheels, the list of innovative features is virtually unending. Computerized electronics play a strong role, with a transmitter that that can unlock doors and adjust seats, mirrors and radio stations for individual drivers.And under the hood lies a change that should have been made earlier.Nestled in a transverse position between the front driving wheels lurks a V8 with four overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. The 4.6-liter (281-cubic-inch) engine replaces the rocker arm/push rod 3.8-liter V6 used previously.Driving the Continental that Ford's Bill Carroll provided for a test car was like affirming that everything is right with the world.This luxury sedan qualifies as a world-class automobile with virtually every feature you ever wanted in a motor car as standard equipment. The electronics almost require filing an airliner flight plan on first encounter, and when all else failed we read the owner's manual for directions.After a short time behind the wheel, the controls become familiar. It's almost like pushing a button and making a wish.The driver's seat slid forward to a predetermined position on entrance, and retracted when the engine was turned off and the key removed.Pushing a button selects low, normal or high steering effort. The same applies to soft, normal or firm ride.I can't say there was any real major change between these selections, so we just left everything in normal.If you feel the need, you can check all the car's systems via digital readouts on the information panel. Being a trusting soul, I just assumed everything was okay and took off.At this point, the 32- valve V8 made the difference between what a Continental should be and what it used to be.The engine was incredibly smooth, whisper quiet, and the power made itself known. Two hundred sixty horses got to shuffling and a moderately heavy luxury sedan went forth.Mated to this engine is the Continental's AX4N automatic four-speed transaxle, redesigned to accommodate the higher torque of the V8.The Continental isn't meant to be road- racing machine, so if you go into a sharp corner rather hot, the front end would push on you. But that takes sort of a running-on-the-edge style of motoring.Driving fast without trying to look like Mario Andretti, the car felt secure at all times and gave no indication of playing tricks.The air suspension provided the expected luxury-car ride. Over uneven pavement, the tires go "thumpy-thump," and that's about it.On the interstate, the body's aerodynamic configuration kept wind noise at a minimum. And it felt like you could ride all day without fatigue.?The exterior styling is a matter of personal taste. I got the impression that the Continental was styled to fit the requir ements of a wind tunnel, so its lines follow a rather bland theme.The interior is much more distinctive. Here the sedan reeks of class, with leather and the accouterments of comfort and convenience.There was a plethora of leg and headroom. Seating was spacious and comfortable. Ducting carried the air conditioning (in the winter, heat) to the rear seats.There's an overhead-console-mounted microphone for a voice-actuated cellular phone. And there are instrument- panel readouts for the phone's status.Last but not least, there's a storage compartment for a Lincoln umbrella. After all, there's nothing quite like spending almost $43,000 to get an umbrella. 1995 Lincoln ContinentalBase price: $40,750.As tested: $42,885.Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive, five- passenger, luxury sedan.Engine: 4.6-liters, DOHC V-8, 32 valves, fuel injected, 260-horsepower, 265 foot-pounds of torque..Transmission: Four-speed automatic.Accelerati on: 0-60 mph, 7.7 seconds.Mileage: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway.Wheelbase: 109.0 inches.Length: 206.3 inches.Width: 73.3 inches.Height: 55.9 inches.Curb weight: 3,969 pounds.Options: Traction control, heated seats, double window chrome wheels. Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury Division opened a whole new world with its 1995 Lincoln Continental.
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