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By Jim Mateja
June 1, 1997
Ivory soap and the Lincoln Continental. Both float. Those looking for a soft, highly cushioned ride will want to check out the'97 Continental. The price you pay, of course, is soft, cushy handling andwide roundhouse turns and corners, but if
pampering is more important thanperformance, Continental delivers. Continental offers three suspensions (firm, normal and plush) and threesteering settings (high-, normal- and low-effort). The differences in road holding and comfort levels
among suspensionsettings probably will seem imperceptible to most motorists. The big difference in steering comes when you opt for low effort, thechoice for those with muscles of mush. Ever watch those old movies in whichthe driver is moving the
wheel wildly side to side while talking to hisfront-seat companion? Move the wheel that much with Continental's low-effortsteering setting and you'll swing from culvert to culvert across six lanes oftraffic. If you drive aggressively and still have
nerve endings in your body, setthe suspension on firm, steering on high effort and never touch them again. Ifyour hair is gray and teeth are bought, go "plush" and "low." Continental is blessed with a host of standard safety features-- dual
airbags, four-wheel ABS and traction control. And it offers special options--RESCU and SecuriTires. RESCU is akin to General Motors' OnStar in that it employs your car phoneand global positioning satellites to send for help and ensure the
rescuers(from tow truck to ambulance) can pinpoint your location when dispatched. The Michelin SecuriTires can run without pressure--zilch--for 50 miles. RESCU runs $2,750 with a voice-activated cellular phone, along with a FordJBL sound
system and a garage-door opener. The SecuriTires are part of a $925personal security package with a tire-pressure warning system. Some might not consider it a safety system, but the 4.6-liter, 260-h.p.,32-valve V-8 powering Continental can get you
out of tight spots in a hurry.It's nice to have under the hood. Continental starts at $37,280. RESCU and SecuriTires put the sticker over$40,000. Other than a $595 compact-disc player, you don't need to add anythingelse. This fall, for the
1998 model year, Continental gets an extensive facelift,including new grille, facia, hood, fenders and headlamps /taillamps, decklidand rear bumper (as does the Lincoln Town Car, but not the Mark VIII), a yearahead of the launch of the baby Lincoln, an
entry-level sedan being developedwith Jaguar, which also gets a version for 1999. The new Lincoln will compete against the Cadillac Catera.