After a 14 year hiatus, the Lincoln Continental is back in a big, big way. The Continental name became an American legend in the automotive realm, and one that was synonymous with flagship luxury. To say that Lincoln had their work cut out for them in reinventing the brand and resurrecting the Continental would be an understatement.

We are happy to report though that Lincoln has not only done the iconic Continental name justice with the 2017 Continental, but they might have reinvented the entire Lincoln brand in the process – in a very good way.

It is clear that Lincoln set out to build something that was truly a unique flagship to the brand. The 2017 Lincoln Continental is unlike anything we’ve seen out of the Ford Motor Company in a decade. Rather than rely on gimmicky styling like some of the Japanese competitors, or push the performance bahn-burner cred like the Germans, Lincoln pursued something called “quiet luxury” with the new Continental. That is, Lincoln took the subtle and understated approach to luxury, while focusing more on a personally tailored experience for what Lincoln hopes is a younger set of buyers.

Our tester was a Continental Black Label with the Chalet theme. Inspired by the coziness of an Alpine ski lodge, the Chalet themed Continental Black Label featured  30-way adjustable Alpine Venetian quilted leather with contrasting Alcantara headliner treatment on the inside, wrapped with gorgeous Ingot Silver paint on the outside.

The theme ties everything together with premium leather appointed surfaces, bright silverwork throughout the door cards and dashboard, and plush carpet mats. Even the grilles on the speakers are designed to specifically flow with the interior design of the Continental Black Label, but also to enhance the sound of the 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio system. The audio system in the Continental is truly one of the best I’ve ever heard in a factory sound system.

Lincoln calls the 30-way adjustable seats “Perfect Position Seats” which are inspired by seating found in private jets. The design allows the seats to truly contour to any body shape, and gives a bespoke driving feel rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to seating. The cherry on top is the massaging functionality.

If you really want a place to relax in the Continental Black Label though, the back seat is where you really want to be. Our test car came equipped with the $4,300 rear-seat package which includes a huge moonroof, heated and cooled power-reclining seats with massage, and a control center which can fully control the Sync3 entertainment system and HVAC systems.
Continuing the Continental’s attention to detail, Lincoln created new switchgear with unique metal controls on the steering wheel and HVAC system. Even the control stalks are unique to the Continental. The more time I spent with the Continental, the more I realized that Lincoln was very serious about building a truly special luxury sedan, rather than something build with a cornucopia of parts out of a shared bin to keep costs down.

Our loaded Continental Black Label test car came equipped with the awesome 3.0-liter Ecoboost twin-turbo engine producing 400-horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of pavement shredding torque. Power is delivered to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Even with a two-and-a-half-ton curb weight, the Continental manages to squat back on its rear haunches at wide open throttle and accelerate with a growl and that might make you feel like you are driving a sports car more than a luxury sedan designed with “quiet luxury” in mind. Lincoln says the Continental with the 3.0-liter Ecoboost will do 0-60 in about 5.5 seconds.

Despite its heft, the Continental displays wonderful road mannerisms. Steering is weighted well, and feedback felt adequate. The ride is damped nicely, and doesn’t float over bumps like the Lincolns of yesteryear. Put the Continental into Sport mode, and the steering and suspension systems tighten up providing a more engaged driving experience. All around, it’s a good balance between sport and luxury, erring a bit more on the side of luxury.

All around, the 2017 Lincoln Continental Black Label we experienced was a complete joy to drive. More importantly, the Continental is just a complete joy to sit in. Every occupant in the Continental Black Label gets treated to an extremely luxurious experience from headliner to carpet. It’s as much a car for the driver as it is for the passengers.

The Black Label program expands the Continental luxury experience by offering unique Black Label liason during the purchasing process, premium vehicle service and maintenance coverage during ownership, as well as special access to a curated list of noteworthy chef-driven restaurants. New Lincoln Black Label owners are even treated to a dinner for two at one of the Lincoln Culinary Collection restaurants.

It’s clear that Lincoln set out to build the best Lincoln ever with the 2017  Continental, and it deserves its place at  table with the rest of the competition in the pure luxury segment. With a price tag of $77,170 for our Black Label tester, the question remains – will enough buyers give the Lincoln Continental a chance to make it a success? We sure hope so, as we’d like the iconic Continental name to stick around for good this time.

Lincoln provided the 2017 Lincoln Continental to Speed:Sport:Life for the purpose of editorial review.

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Zerin Dube

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