CARS.COM — Lincoln has a new flagship model, but you’d never know it. After much hoopla and publicity at the Continental’s unveiling at various auto shows over the last two years, Ford’s luxury brand has put the car on sale without a formal media launch. This is practically unheard of when dealing with a new luxury car, especially one as critical to Lincoln’s rebirth as the Continental. But there they were, 10 of them sitting on the lot of my local Lincoln dealer, shiny and resplendent in their chrome trim. I had to wonder: Is Lincoln embarrassed about the new Continental? Is it not up to the promises that the brand made at its unveiling?
I had to know why we haven’t heard anything from Lincoln about its new flagship sedan. Instead of waiting for a press vehicle evaluation, I popped into Sesi Lincoln in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spoke with Ricky “Raccoon” Foresi, a 38-year sales veteran of Lincoln vehicles. He was only too happy to let me take a brand new 2017 Lincoln Continental Select for a spin.
It Doesn’t Look Bad
Few things about the new Continental have been as polarizing as the styling. The resemblance to other cars is undeniable — it looks as if it could be the next-generation Audi A8 from some angles, like it’s a Bentley Flying Spur from others. But taken all together, by itself, sitting in a showroom, there’s no denying that it has presence. The blunt front end sweeps back over a long hood, with character lines along the car’s smooth flanks rising to incorporate the door handles into the window-sill trim. The overall look is understated, a little boring, but frankly it’s meant to appeal more to Chinese buyers than Americans — Lincoln’s growth prospects are far greater overseas than they are at home, with a much bigger market to conquer and with buyers who don’t have preconceived notions about the brand. Chinese luxury buyers don’t like bold or angular; they like smooth and innocuous, and the Continental certainly delivers on that front.