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Lincoln hopes to reinvent itself with the new Continental executive sedan

Lincoln unveiled the production version of its Continental executive sedan at the Detroit Auto Show this morning. The presentation was heavily focused on lifestyle and the experience of driving the car, rather than on performance specs and niggling details like the price.

It all started with a jazz band featuring a truly stunning female vocalist who, rather unexpectedly, blew the doors off the joint. Tech companies take note, it was a massive improvement over the dub wub wub wub wub that infects the press conferences of CES.

Lincoln then spent most of the press conference showcasing the interior — especially the technological bits. The Continental is filled with luxury features like soft-closing doors, nifty electric door handles, and massaging, 30-way adjustable power seats. It's aimed squarely at the ever-growing Chinese market, where chauffeurs are much more common than in the States. A Lincoln exec told me that it has comparable rear seat legroom to the enormous and executive-friendly BMW 750iL, while having a smaller trunk and wheelbase more similar to the slightly smaller BMW 5 Series.

The competition is fierce

We don't know pricing yet, but it seems Lincoln has built a perfectly decent executive sedan. It's a historic brand and a historic nameplate, but the competition in this segment is fierce. The Continental has some clever technological bits but much of it feels like mere table stakes to compete.

To be fair, fiddling with the car on the show floor for 10 minutes isn't a comprehensive review, but when you're comparing it to the best that Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have to offer — not to mention new cars from Volvo and Hyundai/Genesis — I don't know that this Lincoln Continental is enough to win.

It should be enough to get Lincoln in the game, though, which will do for now.

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