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Lincoln Continental delivers comfort and technology in a stylish, full-size package. Packed with technology, computer electronics are applied to nearly every facet of the driving experience.
Advanced electronics allow Continental drivers to tailor suspension dampening and steering effort to their personal taste and driving style. An optional Memory Profile System allows two drivers to personalize settings for eleven features. A few of its appointments may be perceived as mere gadgets, but many represent genuine innovations. The sum total is a thoroughly modern luxury sedan that's quick and maneuverable yet supremely plush.
The Lincoln Continental costs considerably less than Cadillac and Lexus luxury sedans and it compares well with the Buick Park Avenue. The design of the front-wheel-drive Continental is dated, however. It will be phased out in the fall, at the end of the 2002 model year. Incentives may be available.
The Continental delivers on the promise of comfort, ride quality, handling and performance.
The 32-valve V8 provides plenty of power to move this big sedan with authority. Merging on to the freeway is easy. Passing on two-lane roads is never an issue. The double overhead-cam engine produces 275 horsepower and 275 pounds-feet of torque. The ignition system has a coil for each plug for reduced maintenance and a cleaner appearance. Knock sensors mean premium fuel is no longer required, although it is still recommended for maximum performance.
The engine drives the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission linked electronically and mechanically to the engine. A constant dialogue between engine and transmission means shifts are remarkably smooth. Traction control and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard.
In spite of its size, the Continental does not feel heavy, unwieldy or sloppy going down the road. The semi-active suspension should appeal to owners who want more control and driving excitement. The driver can select soft, normal or firm settings for the rear shocks. 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. The front suspension is independent with MacPherson struts. Ford's short- and long-arm independent rear suspension is designed to maximize control of wheel movement for better ride and handling.
Speed-sensitive power steering offers driver-selectable settings for low, normal and high effort. The change in effort is most noticeable in tight maneuvering, such as turning into a driveway. On the highway, the steering automatically increases 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-Benz. Nor does it offer the responsiveness of a Cadillac DeVille. But it costs less than any of these.
Flat tires are less of a concern with the Personal Security Package, which equips the Continental with run-flat tires and an air pressure alert system. The system will tell you when you've lost air, and you can continue home even if you've put a hole in your tire the size of a golf ball. A lamp on the overhead console alerts the driver when the pressure in any tire drops below 18 psi; at 10psi it starts to flash.
Lincoln Continental offers distinctive exterior design and a cozy, integrated interior. It offers plenty of power and nice road manners. The Lincoln Continental is priced lower than the Cadillac DeVille and Seville and large import luxury cars and it compares well with the Buick Park Avenue Ultra.
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