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The Lincoln Continental has accomplished its mission for 1999: That mission, according to Lincoln-Mercury, is to provide "exemplary comfort and ride quality in a highly maneuverable sedan with distinctive styling." The Continental does all that and does it with its own interpretation of what a luxury car should be.
That interpretation includes the latest in electronic technology: Suspension damping and steering effort are controlled electronically by the driver. A high-tech instrument panel provides improved legibility, while computer controls allows owners to tailor their Continentals to their driving style and environment. These whiz-bang electronics are not intrusive, however, as owners can choose to use them or ignore them, relax and enjoy the cruise. Either way, driving the Continental is a satisfying experience.
The Continental delivers on the promise of comfort, ride quality, handling-and performance. The 32-valve V8 provides plenty of power to move this 3,868-pound sedan with authority. Merging on to the freeway is easy. Passing on two-lane roads is never an issue. The Cadillac Seville still has an edge in the acceleration department, however, with 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque at 4400 rpm.
In spite of its size, the Continental does not feel heavy, unwieldy or sloppy when going down the road. And while it is roomy inside, the design of the instrument panel, the real wood accents, and the leather work together to provide an intimate interior that we found most pleasant.
The semi-active suspension with adjustable ride should appeal to owners who want more control and driving excitement. On the highway we preferred the firm setting for a more controlled feel. On rough roads we liked the plush setting for absorbing bumps, potholes and vibration. Adjusting the steering effort between high and low effort is most noticeable in tight maneuvering, such as turning into a driveway. On the highway, the speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering automatically increases steering effort for improved road feel.
Overall, the Continental is tuned toward traditional American tastes. It does not feel as taut as a BMW or Mercedes, but the adjustable steering and suspension allow an owner to dial in some of that European feel.
The Lincoln Continental is a luxury car in every sense of the word. It offers a distinctive exterior design and a cozy, integrated interior. There is plenty of power available and its over-the-road manners are impeccable.
If more luxury car shoppers would take a Continental for a test drive, Lincoln would sell more of these cars.