>Lincolns midsize four-door sedan is conservatively tailored and serves as one of two luxury models offered by the company. Like the rear-wheel-drive Town Car, the front-drive Continental uses a 4.6-liter V-8 engine. The Continental is different in size and configuration, but it appeals to the same sort of older buyer who might favor the full-size Town Car. The Continentals main competitor is the front-drive Cadillac DeVille.
The automaker now offers a Vehicle Communication System, which includes a voice-activated phone and a news and information service. An optional hands-free, voice-operated mobile phone provides 24-hour emergency service along with access to e-mail, stock quotes, news reports, weather and sports. Its similar to GMs satellite-based OnStar communication system.
Lincoln also offers Continental buyers free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles. Because of sluggish sales and the likely arrival of new products, the decision to stop production on the Continental may come before the 2002 model year ends.
Measuring a sizable 208.5 inches long but on a relatively short 109-inch wheelbase, the Continental falls into the same midsize league as the Buick Century, despite perceptions that its a bigger automobile. Modern aerodynamic-shaped headlights flank the near-classic waterfall-style grille. The Continental is 73.6 inches wide and stands 56 inches tall. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires.
Although front bucket seats are standard, consumers may request a bench seat as a no-cost option. That gives the Continental a traditional six-passenger seating capacity, which is available in only a modest number of models these days. Sitting three across can get snug, despite the Continentals ample exterior width.
Models with the standard front bucket seats may be equipped with an optional Driver Select System. This system lets the driver adjust suspension firmness and the amount of power steering assist, as well as control the seat and mirror positions and other personal preferences. A foursomes golf clubs can fit into the 18.4-cubic-foot trunk. Even better, a low liftover eases loading and unloading cargo.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, programmable variable-assist power steering, a tilt steering wheel, automatic climate control, six-way power front seats, seat and mirror memory, a cassette stereo and wood interior trim. Options include a six-CD changer, sunroof and heated front seats.
Under the Hood
A 4.6-liter V-8 engine produces the same output as the base engine in a Cadillac DeVille: 275 horsepower. The sole transmission is a four-speed automatic. Traction control, all-disc antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.