When I first saw Lincoln’s new grille design I wondered how they’d graft it onto their smallest models so it wouldn’t look like the modern interpretation of a ‘70s VW Beetle with a faux Rolls-Royce…

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve Road Test

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The 2019 Lincoln MKC is an automotive anomaly, in that it added Lincoln’s new trademark grille onto an aging design for one single model year. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

When I first saw Lincoln’s new grille design I wondered how they’d graft it onto their smallest models so it wouldn’t look like the modern interpretation of a ‘70s VW Beetle with a faux Rolls-Royce chromed waterfall grille tacked onto its otherwise sloping hood, a semi-popular, somewhat humourous theme back in the day, that occasionally augmented into fake BMW twin-kidneys adorning the fronts of Lada Signets, but now that I’ve seen the renewed MKC in the metal I have to say it works well.

On that note I also need to eat some crow regarding the new Bentley-esque radiator-style grille itself? I initially criticized Lincoln for its seemingly never-ending identity quest, despite having created something truly original in its previous split-wing front-end design, but once again I need to submit to the fact that fewer folks buying luxury prefer subtle minimalism over glittering, chrome-laden bling, so the tastefully discrete previous grille design had to go, and I must simultaneously admit that Lincoln got this new grille right as well, and hope they don’t even consider changing it. It’s bold, ritzy and wholly Lincoln. The new chrome mesh design is at the very least as loud and proud as the numerous chromed grille designs from the domestic luxury brand’s glorious past, and it seems to be a relative hit with premium buyers too.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The LED taillights are standard, but most everything you can see, including the paint, was optional with our MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve tester. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I first fell for it on the soon-to-be-discontinued Continental (I’m plenty chuffed about losing this wonderful car, so don’t get me started) and warmed up to it on the MKZ as well (RIP—eventually—too). You can expect reviews of that MKZ as well as the updated Navigator and new Nautilus soon. They all look grand, but the current 2019 MKC, soon to be replaced by the 2020 Corsair as part of Lincoln’s much-appreciated renaming strategy that says goodbye to confusing alpha designations and hello to cool navy-themed flotilla (although the Vought F4U Corsair was actually a WWII fighter plane that first flew in the U.S. Navy, and the upcoming 2020 Aviator purely aeronautical), will soon become one of the rarest compact luxury utilities to ever be produced.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
Lincoln’s new radiator-style grille adds a new level of elegance to the compact SUV. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

In fact, this little utility has most of the markings of a future collectable, as long as compact luxury SUVs are considered more than disposable appliances by the time anyone thinks of restoring one. This 2019 model is one of a kind in that its new grille was attached to a mostly unchanged 2015-2018 MKC, and as just noted will soon be replaced by the entirely new 2020 Corsair, making it one of the shortest durations for a mid-cycle refresh in modern times. Fortunately Lincoln didn’t invest too much in the makeover, merely adding the redesigned front clip, which includes the new grille, a slightly freshened set of headlamps and a reworked lower front fascia, plus a chrome garnish splashed onto the rear hatch, but otherwise it’s an unchanged model. This said only the grille appears to carry over to the 2020 Corsair.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The 2019 mid-cycle update included modified headlamps, lower front fascia and wheels too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I won’t go into too much detail about the differences from 2019 MKC to 2020 Corsair, but suffice to say the old one is based on the outgoing 2019 Ford Escape and the new one rides on the all-new 2020 Escape, complete with revised 2.0- and 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines that make 250 and 280 horsepower respectively, which is five more and five less than this year’s MKC respectively, albeit torque is an identical 275 lb-ft for the former and five lb-ft more at 310 lb-ft for the latter, while providing expected thriftier fuel economy, partially due to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that’s controlled via new horizontally organized “piano key” shift toggles that replace this MKC’s vertical row of centre stack-mounted buttons. LEDs for the signature-enhanced headlamps, turn signal indicators and taillights continue to be standard, but the interior is now fully modernized with a digital gauge cluster and new fixed tablet-style centre touchscreen.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
These 20-inch alloys can only be had as an option with Reserve trim’s available 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Corsair’s $44,700 base price is only $550 more than the 2019 MKC’s $44,150 point of entry, while a 2018 MKC could be had for $43,950 when new (see all MKC and Corsair pricing at CarCostCanada, where you can also find out about manufacturer rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, CarCostCanada claiming up to $5,000 in additional incentives at the time of publishing this review). Interestingly, the MKC’s base price when it debuted in 2015 was just $39,940, which probably says as much about our Canadian dollar steadily losing its value over the past four years as it does about Lincoln having streamlined trim offerings by eliminating its former base Premier trim for 2017 and thus adding more standard features.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
Just like with Porsche, body-width taillights are part of Lincoln’s heritage. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The MKC is available in two trim levels for 2019, Select and Reserve, the latter model starting at $48,800 plus freight and fees. Choosing the top-line trim is the only way to qualify for the just-noted most potent engine, which makes a total of 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque, and added $2,150 to the price of my tester. Both 2019 models are two forward speeds shy of the new 2020 Corsair, leaving the MKC with FoMoCo’s tried and tested six-speed SelectShift automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters.

The 2.3-litre comes standard with idle start/stop that automatically shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling, and then immediately restarts it when lifting your foot from the brake pedal, whereas this feature is optional with the smaller 2.0-litre engine. The result at the pump is nominal for the latter, the non-idle start/stop base engine achieving a claimed Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 12.3 L/100km in the city, 9.3 on the highway and 11.0 combined, and idle-stop merely decreasing the combined rating by 0.1 L/100km to 10.9. Of course, local emissions are reduced so that’s a good thing, but the difference might only get you a few hundred feet farther down the road before needing to refuel.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The two-tone chocolate brown and beige interior worked well with this MKC’s metallic white exterior. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As for my tester’s 2.3-litre, it’s good for a claimed 13.1 L/100km city, 9.5 highway and 11.5 combined, which isn’t all that great as far as compact luxury utilities go, with the BMW X3 xDrive30i achieving a claimed 9.6 combined, the Audi Q5 estimated to get 9.9, and the M-B GLC 300 4Matic said to be good for a combined rating of 10.0. The 2020 Corsair should improve things, but I can’t see it getting dramatically better.

This in mind, I doubt many prospective compact luxury SUV buyers realize how much priority Lincoln has put on performance, but the MKC has long been a strong contender off the line and more than decent through a fast-paced set of curves or over a long stretch of highway, the MKC even sporting a standard adaptive suspension controlled by various Lincoln Drive Control systems including Normal, Sport or Comfort driving modes, while fairly precise electric power-assist steering joins grippy standard all-wheel drive. Its ride is smooth and inner sanctum quiet, of course, luxury being of the utmost importance and therefore laminated acoustic front door glass and active noise control coming standard, not to mention the just-noted adaptive suspension that also aids compliance, so there’s no need to compromise straight-line speed or handling when choosing a new Lincoln these days.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
MKC materials quality is excellent, and ergonomic layout mostly good. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

My tester’s sporty 20-inch alloy wheels make this reality easy to see even before experiencing the MKC Reserve’s performance firsthand, but then again it would be easy to continue the belief that Lincoln is only about luxury when climbing inside. The classy White Platinum exterior (a $700 option) turned to Espresso brown inside my tester (dark grey Ebony, creamy Cappuccino, and dark Rialto Green are alternative interior colourways), at least this was the case above the waistline and for the perforated Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather-upholstered seats, with a light beige getting used for the lower dash, centre console and lower door panels, plus the roofliner, pillars and carpets. It’s a rich looking interior, made even more so thanks to standard genuine hardwood inlays on the instrument panel and doors, the tasteful application of satin-finish aluminum accents elsewhere, plenty of aluminized and/or chrome trimmed switchgear, and other premium-level niceties.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
A conventional primary gauge cluster get a simple multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Possibly even better, Lincoln went to new levels of pampering when finishing off the dash top and door uppers, with these surfaces feeling like soft padded leather more than anything synthetic. There are plenty of pliable surfaces elsewhere as well, although they’re more obviously high-quality composites, while the ones used to cover the lower dash have more of a rubberized feeling. That rubbery surface treatment is likely used for protection from shoes and boots, while the fact soft-touch surfaces are even used on the lower portion of the dash at all is a major positive. This padded treatment flows down each side of the centre stack and lower console, so the inside knees of the driver and front passenger won’t chafe against a harder surface, and extends ahead of the front passenger including the glove box lid. Surfaces just above the driver’s knees and those over on the lower door panels are made from harder composites, which is par for the course in this compact luxury class.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
A well sorted 8-inch touchscreen is bookended by Lincoln’s exclusive pushbutton gear selector to the left and other controls on the right. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The top of the console is pretty minimalist thanks to the aforementioned gear selector buttons on the centre stack. It simply includes two cupholders and a little bin below the stack incorporating a 12-volt charger and two charged USB ports. It’s finished nicely inside with a sort of peach fuzz covering, but the lid itself feels cheap and rickety, not up to the class standards. It does push and close softly, but that’s about it for praise. I should also mention the same kind of velvety finish can be found inside the glove box as well, not to mention the centre console bin that includes a removable tray and another 12-volt charger, but there’s also a hole in the bottom that could easily lose smaller items forever, so I’m guessing there’s a piece missing from this particular vehicle as it makes absolutely no sense to have a hole there.

Also unusual, albeit entirely positive are fabric-wrapped A and B roof pillars, the practice of extending the roofliner downward more often than not kept to the two front pillars in this segment. In fact, I recently noted this shortcoming in a 2019 Acura RDX, a very good luxury SUV in most every other respect, other than its unorthodox gear selector, a foible it shares with this Lincoln.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The navigation system provided accurate route guidance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The two brands go about gear selection in different ways, the Acura providing a long, narrow vertical strip of complicated buttons and pull-tabs on the lower console that took me many test weeks to get used to, and this Lincoln including a simpler line of buttons on the left side of the centre stack that force the driver to lean forward in order to engage. Acura has a very short history so the brand came up with its design out of thin air, where it probably should’ve stayed, while Lincoln looked to its long and storied past for inspiration. As nifty as this looks I longed for a classic column shifter a la Mercedes, something Lincoln could’ve also dug up from its glory days, but as noted earlier, the brand provides a new approach to its button design in the upcoming Corsair, so they seem to agree that this MKC’s approach (shared with all other Lincoln models of the MKC’s generation prior to the brand’s newest additions) is less than ideal.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The MKC gets a large, bright backup camera with active guidelines. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I like how Lincoln integrates the “ENGINE START STOP” button and “S” sport mode button within the MKC’s regular “PRND” selections, however, but I’d rather stay comfortable planted in the SUV’s excellent driver’s seat and modulate something closer at hand. Along with an inherently good design and the usual fore/aft, up/down and recline power adjustments, both driver and front passenger receive four-way power lumbar support and four-way manual head restraints, resulting in 12-way adjustability apiece. They’re three-way heated in base trim too, and three-way ventilated when stepping up to this Reserve model, while both trims get driver’s seat memory.

Speaking of comfortable, the multifunctional steering wheel is nicely shaped for optimal 9 and 3 o’clock hand positioning, while its rim is wrapped in special Wollsdorf leather for a soft, high-quality feel. I should also mention the Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather noted earlier is standard across the MKC line, so no cheap corrected-grain, split-skin, synthetic polymer paint-coated hides with Lincoln (you’ll need to move up to a BMW for that). Instead, the MKC’s standard features list is replete with items you’d normally be asked to pay more for in this class, such as a powered tilt and telescopic steering column with memory, plus reverse parking sensors complementing auto-dimming centre and driver’s side mirrors, those outside power-folding with memory no less.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The dual-zone auto HVAC system benefits from a large, easy to use interface. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I’ve started listing standard Select features so I might as well continue with its 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, and Lincoln Embrace system that turns on the headlights when you approach at night, while simultaneously lighting up the door handles, interior lights and more. That’s even without using remote engine start and before unlocking via the MKC’s SecuriCode keyless entry keypad or proximity-sensing keyless access (or the remote key fob for that matter), while the standard menu continues with illuminated entry, ambient lighting, LED map lights, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, particulate-filtered dual-zone automatic climate control, an overhead console with handy sunglasses holder, and a universal garage door opener.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
Much of the switchgear is nicely detailed. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The centre stack is topped off with a large, easy to use 8.0-inch touchscreen (which incidentally is identically sized to the new Corsair’s 8.0-inch centre display) incorporating Lincoln’s impressive SYNC 3 infotainment interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a rearview camera with active guidelines, individual digital panels for the climate control system, the 10-speaker, subwoofer, satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming-capable audio system, phone functions, etcetera. The display is a bit smaller and not quite as high in definition as some of its competitors’ widescreen, high-definition infotainment systems, but it works quickly, is easy to navigate through, and has nice gold graphics.

The MKC also provides standard Lincoln Connect with a 4G LTE modem, the Lincoln Way App that lets you unlock, lock, start or find your modem-equipped MKC and much more from the convenience of your smartphone, two USB charging ports, four 12-volt power points, a powered rear liftgate, a retractable cargo cover, Ford/Lincoln’s Easy Fuel capless fuel filler, all the expected active and passive safety equipment including a driver’s knee airbag, plus SOS post crash alert, SecuriLock passive anti-theft system, a perimeter alarm, and more.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The hardwood inlays are genuine and very nicely done. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Base Select trim can be upgraded with a blind spot warning and cross-traffic alert system, that part of the $1,250 Select Plus package that also includes voice-activated navigation, and if you’re going to add that you might as well upgrade to the $675 Climate package with its automatic high beams, heatable steering wheel rim, rain-sensing wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, and heated rear seats, plus you can add a $2,200 panoramic Vista Roof with a powered sunshade.

All of the above comes standard with my as-tested MKC Reserve, although the 18-inch wheels normally found on this model improve from simple painted silver rims to sportier machine-finished alloys with painted pockets. The Reserve’s front seats feature forced ventilation, and the otherwise body-coloured door handles include bright chrome inserts, while the powered liftgate gets hands-free convenience, with the latter merely needing the wave of a foot under the back bumper from someone carrying the key fob.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The front seats are 12-way adjustable and very comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Choosing Reserve trim means you can upgrade the just-noted 18-inch aluminum wheels to $500 19-inch painted five-spoke alloys or the fabulous set of $750 20-inch machined rims with black painted pockets that underpinned my tester, but take note you’ll need to choose the more potent 2.3-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine in order to get the largest wheels, plus you can also ante up for $2,420 Technology Package that adds forward parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping warning and assist, and semi-autonomous active park assist.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
This large panoramic sunroof is optional. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Lastly, both Select and Reserve trims can be optioned out with alternative Sonata Spin aluminum trim on their doors and instrument panel, and upgraded further with a superb sounding $1,100 THX II audio system, included in my tester and well worth the money, plus a $500 Class II trailer towing package is also on the menu, which together with the 2.3-litre engine provides up to 1,360 kilos (3,000 lbs) of trailer hauling capability, not too shabby for a compact luxury utility. With most available options added to my tester its price popped up and over $55k, which sounds like a lot until compared against the similarly equipped BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC or Audi Q5, either of which would add at least $10k to your investment without packing in as many premium features and not providing as much straight-line performance.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The rear seating area is a bit cramped for the class, something that has hopefully been improved upon with the new 2020 Corsair. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As for daily practicality, the MKC is spacious enough for average-sized Canadian families and more than enough for most empty nesters. The previously noted power-adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel had ample reach so I could push the seat rearward far enough for my relatively long legs, without leaving my shorter than average upper body stretching awkwardly to grasp the steering wheel. As I’ve learned, not all of us were born with perfectly proportioned bodies, and this can cause problems when trying to set up an ideal driver’s position for optimal comfort and control. No such issues with the MKC, however, this SUV apparently designed to fit the majority of human frames.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
Oh who we wish Lincoln provided a centre pass-through. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

This said the MKC’s rear seating area is definitely not largest in class, so this may cause problem if your teens or grandkids are taller than average. I had the driver’s seat positioned for my just-noted long-legged, shorter torso five-foot-eight body, and when sitting just behind I was only left with three and half to four inches ahead of my knees, and I couldn’t stretch my legs out much at all. This is not as spacious as many subcompact SUVs, such as Volvo’s XC40 that I was testing during the same week. Likewise, the XC40 had more headroom, although approximately the same width side to side. The Swede also provided a wider, nicer armrest, the MKC’s armrest too small to rest an elbow on comfortably due to cupholders down the middle, which were also quite small.

On the positive, the MKC’s rear door panels are finished just as nicely as those up front, and on the backside of the centre console you’ll find a set of buttons for the two-way heated window seats, plus a three-prong household-style socket, and two USB charging ports.

2019 Lincoln MKC 2.3L EcoBoost AWD Reserve
The MKC certainly has a sizeable cargo hold with both rear seatbacks folded flat. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Also positive, the MKC provides loads of cargo capacity with 712 litres (25.2 cubic feet) when the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are upright and 1,505 litres (53.1 cubic feet) when they’re lowered. The compartment is nicely finished with plush but durable looking carpeting on the removable cargo floor, seatbacks and each sidewall, but Lincoln doesn’t include any levers for automatically lowering the rear seatbacks where that carpet ends, a common place to find them on competitors. I can live with this tiny bit of additional manual labour, but choosing not to include a centre pass-through or an even more flexible 40/20/40-split rear row may be a deal-breaker for those who want to keep their skis inside while transporting four in the most comfortable window seats, the 60/40-split also rendering one of the heated rear seats useless when it would be needed most, after a cold, wet day on the slopes.

All in all the 2019 Lincoln MKC misses the mark in some respects, but hits the bull’s-eye more often than not. It’s a strong performer, is nicely finished inside, comes well stocked with features, offers a wide variety of options, and provides better than average value. If its less than ideal fuel economy, smaller rear seating area, and less flexible cargo configuration don’t impinge too much on your lifestyle (you can buy a lot of gas for the initial money saved over its German competitors), consider it seriously.

Last year Lincoln Motor Company did something it’s never been able to do before, impress me. But alas, earlier this year they followed that momentous occasion up by once again letting me down with the…

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP Road Test

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Lincoln Continental is rolling artwork, surprisingly fun to drive and opulently attired inside in top-line Reserve trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Last year Lincoln Motor Company did something it’s never been able to do before, impress me. But alas, earlier this year they followed that momentous occasion up by once again letting me down with the announcement that the brilliant new Continental won’t be with us much longer. 

It came as part of parent Ford Motor Company’s decision to axe every single car in its North American lineup other than the Mustang, which will leave the two-door sports coupe and convertible running wild within an expanding lineup of SUVs and trucks, like the feral horse it was named after. When this happens sometime in 2020 the Lincoln brand will have four sport utilities to its name if everything (except the MKT) stays the same, including the compact Escape-based MKC (which will likely be renamed), the mid-size Edge-based Nautilus, the larger three-row Explorer-based Aviator (which replaces the MKT), and the full-size Expedition-based Navigator. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
The Continental combines plenty of design cues from the best years of Lincoln’s storied past, with all of today’s modernities. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At first glance this move away from cars makes sense. Like most competitors, Ford is experiencing a steady decline in car deliveries from both its blue-oval namesake brand and Lincoln, with the lovely Continental never finding much sales traction at all. Lincoln sold just 576 units in Canada throughout calendar year 2017, and just 369 over the first nine months of 2018. This said the Continental is nevertheless a stronger seller than the directly competitive Genesis G80 that found just 433 Canadian buyers last year and 289 over the same three quarters of 2018, or the Cadillac CT6 with only 352 deliveries in 2017 and 175 up until September 30, 2018 (while the Cadillac CTS’ 370 units just edged the Conti out), the Lexus GS with 328 and 163 sales respectively, the Jaguar XF with 494 and 133 (how great they fall), the Acura RLX with a mere 59 and 55, and finally the Infiniti Q70 with 66 and 44. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
A high level of performance-oriented elegance that measures up to the industry’s best. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Surprisingly, of the cars listed above only the two Cadillacs are scheduled for discontinuation (next year, along with the XTS and Buick LaCrosse), with all of the other models built by luxury brands dedicated to full model lineups and therefore willing to suffer through temporary pain in order to (theoretically) achieve long-term gain (when the market shifts back to cars). And herein lies the rub. Lincoln risks being relegated even further down the luxury brand desirability scale (I could add something snarky like “if that were even possible”, but against all odds Buick still exists), which is a shame after doing such an excellent job with this Continental, and then sharing much of its ritzy new styling with the smaller, slightly stronger selling MKZ (of which Lincoln sold 994 last year and 684 as of Q3 2018), which will also soon be eliminated. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
The door handles are beautifully artistic chromed metal sculpture. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also surprising, the Continental sold nearly as well as the Audi A6 and A7 over the past nine months, the German four- and five-door models finding 376 and 367 luxury buyers respectively, but Ingolstadt just redesigned these two and therefore isn’t calling for their resignation. 

Truth be told, Ford can’t be considered a particularly good steward of luxury brands since Lincoln’s heydays in the 1960s and early ‘70s. While it should receive kudos for making Jaguar reliable in the ‘80s, and arguably saving it and some other British brands from near certain extinction, Coventry and Solihull’s Land Rover, Newport Pagnell’s Aston Martin, and Gothenburg’s Volvo have enjoyed a lot more success since escaping the clutches of Dearborn. And as for Lincoln, it’s been looking for a wholly likeable and uniquely face since absconding with the Rolls-Royce waterfall grille in the ‘60s and ‘70s. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Of course these lovely taillights are filled with LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m talking about the bland, generic nothingness designs from the ‘90s, the BMW-like façade used for the early aughts’ LS, the early ’60s-era Continental-inspired grille used through the mid ‘00s and early teens (this probably my favourite), the split-wing grille design most recently abandoned, and what can arguably be deemed a take on the current Jaguar XJ’s front fascia now. Ford only need look at its own brand management to see why Lincoln has failed, but at least they’ve finally built a car that, while once again bearing a completely new visual identity, is worthy of careful consideration by serious luxury car buyers. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Big dual tailpipes hint at the 400-hp emanating from up front. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Last year I spent a week with a Continental 3.0 GTDI AWD Reserve, and as noted earlier was thoroughly impressed. It was painted a beautiful Burgundy Velvet hue and was stunning to look at, while inside it received Cappuccino leather-lined detailing that was downright opulent. This time around the exterior colour is Midnight Sapphire Blue and the cabin is once again finished in the rich Cappuccino theme, which is only a shame because I would have liked to try its saddle brown Terracotta leather, or maybe Jade Grey. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Our Reserve-trimmed example’s interior combined a frothy Cappuccino cream hue with milk chocolate mocha for an invitingly warm ambience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

More traditional luxury buyers can opt for Ebony black, but this ain’t no Town Car so why be normal? In fact, the new Continental is unlike anything Lincoln has ever produced before. Truly, I haven’t liked a Lincoln four-door as much since the opening scene of Thunderball, the Lehmann-Peterson crafted ‘64 Continental Executive Limousine being Albert R. Broccoli’s chosen ride of Colonel Jacques Bouvar’s bereaved widow (and Jacques/Spectre Number 6 himself, we’ll later learn), a car I could get used to having in my personal collection. The four-door ‘65 Continental Convertible that James pulled up to Emilio Largo’s Nassau waterfront estate halfway through the film was even prettier, although I like the original front end design of the version used to drop 007 off to Fort Knox in Goldfinger better. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Soft and pampering, all Continental surfaces are capable of satisfying the snobbiest of premium buyers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s how cool Lincoln used to be, and while we now know that a four-door phaeton (convertible) version of this new Continental won’t be forthcoming, I could certainly see the likes of modern-day Don Drapers pulling up to their wannabe Manhattan offices in one of the two new Continentals I recently drove. In fact, while feeling somewhat dapper behind the wheel of my latest Conti I found myself contemplating the purchase of a classic Brooks Brothers ‘60s-era styled suit of my own, and of course something along the lines of an Omega Seamaster Deville or Tudor Oyster Prince for the wrist. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
The primary gauge cluster is fully digital, as expected in this class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While sporting a vintage watch and classic styled suit won’t likely leave you stranded on the road or cause any bodily harm if you get in an accident (unless the watch makes you late), living with a classic car might. They’re just not good daily drivers, lacking the reliability, safety, comfort, performance, and technology of today’s machinery, but the new Continental combines all of the above in a respectful homage of the early-to-late ‘60s model that previously bore its name. 

Maybe homage isn’t the right word, as the new Continental’s chromed mesh grille, available bejeweled LED headlamps, single-piece LED taillight cluster, and many other finely crafted details are nothing like that early car, but its big blocky upright three-box luxury sedan lines and its commanding overall presence conjures the spirit of classic Lincolns better than anything in the brand’s recent past. In other words, I like it. I like it a lot. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
The centre stack design is simple and clean, and fortunately within easy reach. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Details worthy of closer attention include the artfully shaped metal side mirror posts that provide a perfectly flat base for the housings’ power-folding pirouette when approaching the car, the uniquely exposed hinge-like chrome fender/door trim just beneath, and the gorgeous chromed door handles that perfectly align with the side window beltline trim until protruding outward to meet your hand. It’s features like these that make this new Continental the Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface of cars. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Lincoln’s version of Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system was one of the best when it debuted, but is now being surpassed by the luxury sector’s loftier brands. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

OK, I’m having a little fun with this one, but that’s only because the new Continental makes me feel different than most others in this class. Maybe I’m a bit bored of the usual Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, etcetera, and want to spend time at the wheel of something with a little more majesty. If you feel the same, you should consider the Continental, as it pours on old world charm in similar fashion to a Bentley or Rolls-Royce, albeit with better electronics and a much more approachable price tag. 

The top-line Continental Reserve interior is fabulous, with equal parts elegance and technology. Most surfaces that aren’t genuine open-pore hardwood, chromed metal, or digital interfaces are soft to the touch, whether made from composites or supple leathers. Front and rear seat adjustability borders on the ridiculous, and they’re four of the most comfortable chairs in the industry. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Lincoln fits a lot of features into this compact interface. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those in the first row of my tester were Lincoln’s $750 optional 30-way powered multi-contour type. Yes, you read that right—30-way. Lincoln registered no less than 50 patents for these, whereas the two outboard passengers in back are treated to the $5,000 Rear-Seat Package (RSP) that includes 40/20/40-split folding/reclining via powered actuation, four-way powered lumbar support, airliner-style head restraints, heated and cooled cushions, side window sunshades, a twin-panel panoramic moonroof, rear-duct B-pillar registers, inflatable safety belts, and a flip-down centre armrest with an impressive set of integrated audio, climate, and sunshade controls, plus cupholders. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
That’s genuine matte-finished hardwood, incidentally, something the brand didn’t do in earlier years. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester also included the $5,500 Luxury Package boasting premium LED headlights and 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio, as well as a $4,000 Technology Package that added a 360-degree surround parking camera, active park assist semi-autonomous parking, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision alert and assist with pedestrian protection, active emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, a driver alert system, and more. 

By the way, I sourced all of the 2018 Lincoln Continental’s pricing from CarCostCanada, where you’ll find detailed information about all the trims, packages and standalone options, plus otherwise hard to find rebate info as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Don’t insult the Continental’s optional 30-way seats by saying they’re as good as first class airline chairs, because they’re a lot better than that. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Standard features on my $63,900 Continental Reserve 3.0L tester (the base model starts at $56,650) include most anything you can think of not yet mentioned, with some highlights being a beautiful set of machine-finished 19-inch alloys with black painted pockets, automatic high beams, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, ambient lighting, pushbutton ignition, power-cinching doors, a powered tilt/telescoping steering column with memory, a leather-wrapped heatable multifunction steering wheel, a fully configurable TFT colour gauge cluster, Lincoln’s trademark pushbutton gear selector, 24-way heated and cooled front seats with independent powered thigh extenders and driver’s side memory, Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather upholstery, tri-zone auto climate control with rear seat controls, heatable rear outboard seats, Sync 3 infotainment with an 8.0-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen featuring tap, swipe and pinch capability, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice-activated navigation, and a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
This panoramic sunroof really opens up the interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional Continental Reserve features include an embedded modem, Wi-Fi, 13-speaker Revel audio with HD and satellite radio, a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirrors, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, active noise cancellation, a powered rear window sunshade, power-folding rear headrests, a hands-free powered trunk lid, plus plenty of active and passive safety features. 

The standard V6 powertrain displaces 2.7 litres and gets twin-turbocharging for a formidable 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, so in other words there’s absolutely no reason to upgrade unless you simply must have the best. This said my tester’s twin-turbo V6 was bored out to 3.0 litres for 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, plus the same six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters and standard AWD were added, except for the inclusion of active torque vectoring. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Rear seat roominess is expansive, while the optional Rear-Seat Package makes the outboard positions amazingly comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If I hadn’t already spent a week in a near identically equipped Conti I might have made the mistake of driving it like a Town Car, but fortunately I was well versed in its wonderfully quick acceleration and surprisingly nimble chassis dynamics, resulting in my treating it with the same level of fast-paced nonchalance as I would an Audi A6 or one of its Teutonic competitors. Lincoln’s Canadian team conservatively claims 6.2 seconds from standstill to 100km/h, but south of the 49th their bragging about 5.5 seconds to 60 mph, which when converted into metric is closer to 5.7 seconds. That’s a more realistic seat-of-the-pants zero to 100km/h number, and making matters better the Conti’s straight-line performance is backed up by a fully independent suspension that’s as capable of zigging and zagging as it is zooming. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Why should those up front have all the fun. Check out the RSP’s upgraded folding centre armrest. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As usual I was tempted by a riverside drive on a quiet weekday afternoon, the winding two-lane roadway that courses along a local waterway being one of the only circuitous ribbons of pavement within close proximity to the otherwise squared grid of latticework streets near my home. Once again this hot rod Lincoln’s sharp reflexes surprised, a simple push of the big “S” on the brand’s dash-mounted pushbutton gear selector engaging Sport mode for quicker throttle response and a stiffer, more engaging chassis. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
A closer look shows rear climate controls and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The aforementioned paddles behind the otherwise luxe stitched leather and chrome-laden steering wheel prompted its automatic gearbox to shift through all six cogs with quicker precision than any previous Continental, but six forward gears is hardly state-of-the-art anymore. Still, each shift increment was faster than expected and I never really felt it needed more, the engine’s ultra-wide torque curve and gobs of power more than making up for any lack of forward gears. 

The Conti leans ever so slightly when pushed beyond reason, but once again it never had me feeling the least bit uncomfortable, but rather provided a smooth and compliant ride while maintaining complete control. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
Of course, pullout cupholders are included too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Considering its V8-like performance, sizeable heft and impressive load of features I can forgive its estimated 14.5 L/100km city, 9.8 highway and 12.3 combined fuel economy rating, and these numbers certainly don’t tax the environment much more than the less powerful engine’s claimed 14.0 city, 9.4 highway and 12.0 combined. Then again BMW’s 456 horsepower M550i gets a 14.3 city, 9.4 highway and 12.1 combined rating and sprints from zero to 100km/h a second and half faster, while Mercedes’ E43 AMG chops more than a second from the big Lincoln’s sprint time despite achieving 12.4 city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined, albeit at a price. 

2018 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD RSP
The trunk is large at 473 litres (16.7 cu ft), and even includes a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And therein lies the second rub, or alternatively an opportunity depending on how you look at it. Certainly most buyers capable of paying upwards of $80,400 for the E43 AMG or $83,000 for the M550i won’t even turn and glance at this top-line Continental that, with all options noted earlier retails for just under $80k before freight and fees. That’s lower than its German rivals’ entry points, with options driving their respective MSRPs into six-figure territory, making the Continental big-time value option. 

Making matters more interesting, 2018 models are still available as I pen this review in December. After all, Lincoln wouldn’t be cancelling it if Continentals weren’t just trickling off the showroom floor, a scenario that allows for a better than average opportunity to score a major discount, especially this time of year. So give yourself a big, beautiful Lincoln Continental for Christmas this year, or at least tease yourself by taking one for a ride. I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

Lincoln’s new Continental has all the makings of a true flagship luxury sedan, but will it find success among the sales-leading Mercedes and BMWs of the world? We review it in near-top-line Reserve…

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD Road Test

I have an admission. I'm thoroughly impressed by the new Lincoln Continental. Truly, I haven't been so fond of a domestic luxury sedan since Cadillac started getting things right with its CTS.

Full disclosure, I haven't yet tested the new Cadillac CT6, so I won't attempt to compare the two. Even if I did I can't see the Continental falling short, as it completely stands on its own merit. What I mean is, the new Conti isn't Lincoln trying to be something it's not, ironically a continental European. In fact, it's truer to American luxury ideals that any domestic car has been in some time, espousing a unique identity that should be openly celebrated rather than shied away from as if there's something wrong with big, pampering luxury sedans.

One glance is all that's needed to appreciate what Lincoln has done right. Initially eyeing it at an auto show, it seemed to have too much Jaguar XJ in the design, and I've heard others compare it to Bentley's Flying Spur, but now that Read Full Story
Is the new Continental a game changer for Lincoln? Ford’s luxury brand is hardly the first choice for most of today’s high-flying execs, but its new 2017 Continental could change market perceptions…

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD

Is the new Continental a game changer for Lincoln? Ford’s luxury brand is hardly the first choice for most of today’s high-flying execs, but its new 2017 Continental could change market perceptions as well as Lincoln’s fortunes.
2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
The Continental’s rear styling is even more distinctive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
How do we know? We’ve got a near top-line 400 horsepower 3.0-litre turbo V6 Reserve trimmed model in our garage this week and so far so good… or rather, so far so great! The Continental offers a brand new face in the luxury segment, which is nothing new for Lincoln that’s been changing up its design language every half decade in a seemingly never-ending quest for a new trademark look since the classic Rolls-Royce-like waterfall radiator went out of style back in the ‘90s, along with the last car to wear the Continental nameplate. Still, Lincoln may just be onto something that sticks with the new Continental.
2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Lincoln takes its interior refinement to a whole new level with the Continental. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
We weren’t first to question the new model’s familiarity to Jaguar, a brand Ford Motor used to own along with Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo within its now defunct Premiere Auto Group division. Ford has come under fire for unabashedly borrowing key design cues from these brands in past and current models, Land Rover styling purged for the Explorer, Aston Martin for the Fiesta, Focus and Fusion, and the Jaguar E-Type’s muse previously called upon for the big oval grilles in ‘90s Taurus and Contour models. Now that the Continental is parked in our driveway, however, it takes on a look all its own.
2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Check out these 30-way powered seats, the closest that car seats get to first-class airline perches. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Our Burgundy Velvet painted 3.0 GTDI AWD Reserve tester gets a Cappuccino luxury leather interior with (get this) 30-way powered multi-contour front seats! They look like they’re right out of a concept car, and are some of the most comfortable perches in the industry. Additional features include full LED headlamps with auto high beams, proximity keyless access, pushbutton start, a heatable steering wheel, a fully configurable TFT colour gauge cluster, Sync3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree surround parking monitor, sensational sounding 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio, heated rear outboard seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, plus a host of autonomous driving technologies like adaptive cruise control, self-parking, pre-collision assist, and more.
2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Rear seat legroom is Town Car like, but the seats are much more comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
We’ll leave the driving dynamics details for our upcoming road test review, but suffice to say that standard torque-vectoring AWD and electronically controlled damping makes sure this big sedan handles like Lincoln’s old LS without the ride harshness. Considering the new Continental sits on a stretched and otherwise modified version of the current mid-size MKZ platform architecture, that’s a sound bit of automotive engineering. Come back soon for a thorough road test review, when we’ll go over the Continental’s trim lines, standard and optional features, as well as the functionality and ease of use of those features, plus a whole lot more…
Lincoln once again redesigns its MKX CUV for 2016 in what seems like a desperate search for an identity (to be continued), yet the vehicle itself is a true step ahead thanks to a new optional 2.7L EcoBoost…

2016 Lincoln MKX 2.7 EcoBoost V6 AWD Reserve Road Test Review

If you want to know what a given luxury brand's best-selling vehicle is, more often than not it's their mid-size five-passenger crossover SUV, if they have one. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about Lexus, Cadillac, Porsche or no doubt Maserati when it's new Levante soon arrives on the market, and it has certainly been true for Lincoln and its MKX. That is until the MKC hit town.

The MKC is Lincoln's very competent compact crossover SUV based on the already excellent Ford Escape. Last year the MKC edged the MKX out to claim top spot in the luxury brand's pecking order with 2,970 delivered across Canada compared to 2,900 for the larger CUV, but this will likely settle back to status quo now that the all-new MKX is here and pent-up demand for a smaller Lincoln CUV is fulfilled. In fact, we've already seen signs of normalization with the MKX back in the lead after the first two months of 2016, with 433 down the road compared to 309 for the newer model.

Newer may Read Full Story