The Continental nameplate has a lot of history for Lincoln. At its inception in the 1930s, it was intended to emulate the sleeker European design language of the day. While the 2018 Lincoln Continental is a far cry from the curvaceous coupe of the art deco era, its mission remains much the same: compete with European rivals.
Lincoln introduced its new Continental just last year. The result is an undeniably handsome car with expansive rear legroom, a full suite of optional technology upgrades and a quiet, comfortable interior. Unfortunately, the Continental straddles a price range where it has trouble competing. In lower trims, the rather unimpressive standard engine and lack of certain standard features make the Continental a slightly less appealing value. In higher trims — which can get up to almost double the Continental's base price, at least from an as-new MSRP perspective — the Lincoln is priced against some of the best luxury sedans on the market, and simply can't match their refinement.
In its absolute base trim, the Continental faces pressure from downmarket options that are fully loaded. Cars such as the Buick LaCrosse, Kia Cadenza or Toyota Avalon offer similar comfort and quiet (although less presence), and significantly more content for the money. Other luxury marques avoid this sort of comparison thanks to their higher starting prices and distinct driving dynamics, but the base Continental is priced similarly and features a similar powertrain and similar performance numbers to these near-luxury full-size sedans.
Loaded up with all the bells and whistles, the Continental is priced against heavy hitters like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. While you're getting the upgraded engine and more rear-seat room with the Continental, all three of the Germans offer similar acceleration from their base engines, and all three still offer generous rear passenger space. Moreover, the Continental simply can't match the execution of the Germans' technology, or the level of refinement and engagement found in their driving experiences. Even the Genesis G90, Hyundai's recent luxury spinoff, is a more refined luxury car that competes directly with the Continental in terms of rear passenger space and comfort, and offers more room up front for the driver.
Standing next to the 2018 Continental, it's easy to see its appeal. It's a car that makes an impression, and the experience of sitting in and driving the Continental is one of comfort and authority. The problem is that in choosing the Continental, you have to accept that you're going to get a little less for your money than what competitors have to offer.
trim levels & features
Three engines are available for the Continental. The base engine is a 3.7-liter V6 (305 hp, 280 lb-ft of torque), which comes standard on the Premiere and Select trims. A turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 (335 hp, 380 lb-ft of torque) is optional on the Select and standard on the Reserve and Black Label Trims. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and can be had in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations.
The third engine option is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (400 hp, 400 lb-ft of torque) that's optional on the Reserve and Black Label trims. To manage this engine's power, Lincoln bundles it with a torque-vectoring AWD system. This engine also uses a six-speed automatic transmission.
Beyond the 3.7-liter V6, the Premiere trim receives 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and taillights, power-folding side mirrors (driver-side auto dimming), front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, hill-start assist, adaptive suspension and steering, and keyless entry.
Inside, you get dual-zone climate control with a rear-seat air vents, heated 10-way power-adjustable driver and passenger seats, simulated leather upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear bench and push-button start. Infotainment duties are handled by Ford's Sync 3 system, which comes with an 8-inch touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, satellite radio, two USB ports, and a 10-speaker sound system.
The base Premiere also comes with Lincoln Connect, which allows you to use an app to remotely start the car, lock and unlock it, or locate it via GPS, among other features.
Moving up to the Select trim adds 19-inch wheels, power-operated soft-close doors, a hands-free trunklid opener, leather upholstery and rear-seat USB ports. Beyond the engine choices, several options packages are available.
The Climate Package adds automatic high beams, automatic wipers, a windshield-wiper de-icer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package includes the auto wipers, windshield wiper de-icer and auto-dimming rearview mirror, as well as a head-up display and a suite of driver aids: a top-down parking camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitoring is a stand-alone option.
Other options include navigation, a 13-speaker Revel stereo, Lincoln's 30-way power-adjustable "Perfect Position" seats, 20-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof.
The Continental's Reserve trim, on top of starting with the turbocharged 2.7-liter V6, gets blind-spot monitoring, the 13-speaker Revel stereo and navigation standard. It also upgrades to 24-way power-adjustable front seats that are heated and ventilated, three-zone automatic climate control with separate rear-seat controls, and a power rear-window sunshade.
The Climate and Technology packages are available for the Reserve, as are two more major packages. The Rear Seat package adds upgraded outboard rear seating (four-way power lumbar, reclining, heating and ventilation), rear side-window sunshades and the panoramic sunroof. The Luxury package adds LED headlights, upgrades the stereo to Revel's 19-speaker system and adds a CD player. The sunroof, 30-way power-adjustable front seats and 20-inch wheels are available as stand-alone options.
At the top of the range, and nearly doubling the Premiere's starting price, is the Continental Black Label. This trim comes standard with 20-inch wheels, the panoramic moonroof and both the Luxury and Technology packages. It also benefits from unique interior trims that combine bold colors and trims with lots of extra premium materials draped over many of the interior plastics. The 30-way seats and Technology and Climate packages are available as upgrades.
Buying a Black Label car also gets the buyer access to Lincoln's lifestyle and concierge service. Lincoln will wash your car for free, pick it up from you for service and book you reservations (and even buy you a dinner), among other services. Black Label Continentals are also covered by a four-year/50,000-mile that covers services and wear items.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve (turbo 3.0L V6 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Lincoln Continental has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Lincoln Continental.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.