There's a small but vocal group of enthusiasts who still haven't gotten over the passing of the Town Car. Well, with all their caterwauling about the death of the last old-fashioned domestic luxury chariot, it's clear they haven't spent time in the recently-reborn Lincoln Continental. It's in every way a traditional American luxury car, taking inspiration not from German barnstormers but rather from the annals of Lincoln's own history books. Performance is suggested with a whisper; it's elegant rather than ostentatious. The 2018 Lincoln Continental is wholly modern and wholly unique, and is a worthy successor to the venerable Town Car.

Best Value

With 69 different features and a base price that sneaks in at just under $50,000, the Select trim offers the best value for buyers looking for luxury without doling out a hefty sum of money for it. The Select ups the ante over the base Premium with genuine leather seats, 19-inch wheels, a hands-free trunk lid, and auto-folding mirrors. More importantly, the Select unlocks access to worthwhile options such as the incredible 30-way power seats, the 2.7-liter twin-turbo motor, and the Technology Package that bundles numerous active safety features. With this equipment, the Continental will feel like an S-Class that happens to have a Lincoln star on the hood rather than a Mercedes one – and at a significant discount compared to the stalwart German. Here's what our Continental would look like:

  • Model: 2018 Lincoln Continental Select
  • Engine: Twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6
  • Output: 335 hp / 380 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 17 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options: Twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 ($2,250), AWD ($2,000), Technology Package ($4,215, park assist, 360-degree camera, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, pre-collision warning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, windshield-wiper de-icer), 30-way power front seats ($1,500)
  • Base Price:
  • Best Value Price:$60,260

Performance

Lincoln Continental

Out on the road, the old land yachts once peddled by Lincoln and Cadillac had rides so soft and floaty that they inspired the term "land yacht" in the first place. The 2018 Continental, however, deftly sidesteps this bit of ancestry, managing to balance ride and comfort with response and even a bit of feedback. Roads heavily pockmarked with imperfections will strain the underpinnings somewhat, but even in that scenario, passengers will be only vaguely aware of the drama going on under the car.

Under the hood, buyers can pick from the base 3.7-liter V6, a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6, and a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6. Horsepower ranges from 280 for the base engine to an impressive 400 ponies in the 3.0-liter. That latter motor allows 60 miles an hour to comes in six seconds from a standstill, and the 400 lb-ft of torque effortlessly propels the big Continental forward. The 335-hp 2.7-liter powerplant lies between those two bookends, and is a nice compromise between fuel economy, power, and performance.

Traditionalists might turn their noses up at the fact that all Continentals come standard with front-wheel drive, but AWD is a $2,000 option for all models, and is mandatory upgrade when checking the box for the 400-hp engine.

Style

While the mechanical hardware is what motivates the Continental, it's ultimately the interior that motivates customers to take one of these sedans home. The appointments are rich and include tastefully-placed brightwork and genuine wood – a welcome upgrade from the plastiwood stuff that Town Car owners would be familiar with. Ford's Sync3 infotainment software hides within the 8.0-inch touchscreen that comes with all models. It offers a built-in WiFi hotspot that allows up to 10 devices to connect, and the system will also automatically update itself as Ford releases new, improved versions of the Sync software; no need to be inconvenienced with a dealer visit.

The available 30-way seats steal the show with their limitless combinations of positions, but even the base 10-way seats are supportive and comfortable. Stretch-out room both front and back is ample, and there's plenty of storage for stashing whatever needs to be stashed.

It's under the Black Label banner where the interiors becomes truly spectacular. Three highfalutin themes are available, and recall the old Designer trims found on Marks and Town Cars. The classic Bill Blass nautical flavor, for instance, returns with a modern twist under the Rhapsody moniker. Chalet and Thoroughbred also come with bespoke color and trim combinations, making it easier for buyers to match their new Lincoln with the color schemes of their dockside Chris Craft or stable of Arabians.

Outside, the styling is reserved. Some will call it boring, while others will call it traditional. Either way, it's not going to drop jaws as the seminal 1961 Continental did. The door handles positioned just below the windows are a great detail, but otherwise there's nothing about the shape that is especially distinctive. Still, it works with the "quiet luxury" philosophy that Lincoln has adopted.

The Best and Worst Things

The interiors are a home run, especially the Black Label trims. Don't call it retro – that word is too kitschy for what the Continental has pulled off. Instead, the copious amounts of leather, wood, and chrome is a great homage to the sort of style that's so iconic and so unabashedly American.

It's disappointing that the Continental rides on a lengthened version of a FWD chassis that underpins Ford's Fusion and Lincoln's own MKZ. This translates to a design that's forced to work around the aesthetically awkward proportion of FWD, and also saddles the car with the "glorified Ford" stigma that still keeps luxury buyers from fully embracing the Blue Oval's luxury arm. A distinct Lincoln platform would go a long way in showing Ford's commitment to the brand and their desire to have it taken seriously in the marketplace.

Right For? Wrong For?

Lincoln Continental

Buyers who appreciate the traditional luxury car values of a quiet, comfortable, and cossetting ride would be right at home in the confines of the 2018 Continental. Those who want performance of any sort should look elsewhere, as Lincoln has specifically refrained from making this a sporty sedan.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Lincoln Continental is the first great sedan from the automaker in years. It offers the market something it hasn't seen for a long time: a competitive full-size American luxury car that prioritizes a serene driving experience over one that ballyhoos cornering and quarter-mile times. It may not have the bench seat, RWD, and body-on-frame construction that the Town Car did, but this Continental is an excellent interpretation of what a luxury car should be.