What can I say about a car that’s on its deathbed, and minimizing trim and powertrain offerings as it quietly fades into history? Get it while you can. Despite having been announced for cancellation,…

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD Road Test

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The elegant MKZ is even nicer in upscale Reserve 3.0L AWD trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

What can I say about a car that’s on its deathbed, and minimizing trim and powertrain offerings as it quietly fades into history? Get it while you can.

Despite having been announced for cancellation, the MKZ wears Lincoln’s newest design language from the outside in. It took on the domestic luxury brand’s much more upscale chrome-laden frontal design for 2017, and blended it with rear styling that was already very unique and attractive. It even looks kind of aggressive with its optional dark grey matte-metallic 19-inch alloys wrapped in 245/40 Michelin rubber, although an upward glance reminds that the MKZ is mostly about artful elegance.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
Even after all these years the MKZ’s rear design remains fresh and original. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

For those still enamoured with four-door mid-size luxury, and your numbers have been steadily shrinking across the entire Canadian market, now is the time to act before more good cars like the MKZ whither away into oblivion. Lincoln Canada has done fairly well with this model, achieving a sales high of 1,732 units in calendar year 2006, although after a lull to accommodate the 2007/2008 financial crisis and another drop in 2012, it’s been a gradual downward slide from 1,625 units in 2013 to 1,445 in 2014, 1,130 in 2015, 1,120 in 2016, 994 in 2017, 833 in 2018, and finally 367 examples sold last year, the latter number representing a 55.9-percent year-over-year plunge. No doubt other factors have played into the MKZ’s most recent downturn, parent company Ford’s announcement of the model’s demise last year potentially doing the most damage, but none of this takes away from the essence of the car itself. 

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
Some of the MKZ’s details are actually quite sporty. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

New for 2018 was the very same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 that wowed me in the larger, heavier Continental, which means the 400 horsepower velvety smooth beast of an engine, making an equally impressive 400 lb-ft of torque, hustles down the road even quicker. With this much thrust and twist on tap, there’s really no need for an eight-, nine- or 10-speed automatic, so Lincoln was content to leave its smooth and reliable six-speed transmission in place, complete with paddles to extract as much sport out of the potent drivetrain as possible.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
One of the most artful side mirror designs in the industry. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Like all Lincolns the MKZ uses a pushbutton gear selector located on the dash, this one on left side of the centre stack beside the centre touchscreen. The vertical row of buttons incorporates the usual PRND controls sandwiched between an engine start/stop button up top and an “S” or sport mode button at the bottom. Once acclimatized to the layout it’s as easy as any other type of gear selector to use.

The smooth gearbox is more engaging in sport mode, particularly when the just-noted steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are employed, but even so I found upshifts took about two seconds and downshifts about a second and a half to complete, which isn’t quick enough to call it a sport sedan, but the well-proven transmission was very smooth and should be reliable. The MKZ was never designed to be a sport sedan anyway. It’s certainly capable when called upon, with loads of power off the line, real automatic feel when pulling its paddles, and capable control around tight, quick corners, but this car was primarily designed for comfort.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
Nothing looks like an MKZ from the rear. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

That means it’s wonderfully quiet and blissfully smooth riding. Still, when making serious speed down a winding rural road near my home, the midsize sedan provided good grip and capable control, as long as you don’t temporarily lose your sense of reality by thinking it has Mercedes-AMG-, BMW M- or Audi RS-like handling chops. Its advanced electronics and as-tested torque-vectoring AWD make it stable in slippery conditions nonetheless, while it comes well loaded with additional safety features.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The MKZ Reserve’s interior is impressive in every respect. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As well as it drives, and as attractive as its exterior styling is, the MKZ’s best asset is the interior. It really can’t be faulted, other than sharing some design elements, switchgear and underlying equipment with the Ford Fusion it’s based upon. This is most noticeable with the steering wheel, IP/dash and centre stack, with respect to their design layout, as well as the door panels regarding handles and switchgear. Lincoln takes the MKZ’s finishings up a considerable notch from the Ford, of course, with a completely soft-touch instrument hood and dash-top that even extends all the way down to the lower knee area, plus pliable composites down each side of the centre stack and along the lower console, even including each side portion of the floating bottom section.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
High-quality materials, a good layout, excellent electronics and more make the MKZ a great luxury car. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

While I’m nowhere near finished extolling the merits of this interior, storage space is another MKZ attribute. That floating centre console is home to a large area for stowing smartphones, tablets, or what-have-you, while Lincoln also provides a large glove box, a big bin under the centre armrest, another smaller bin integrated within the folding rear armrest, most of these lined with a rich velvety material no less, and bottle holders in each lower door panel, plus a large trunk measuring 436 litres that’s expandable via 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks or alternatively a handy centre pass-through.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
This mostly digital gauge cluster is wholly advanced, modernizing the MKZ driving experience. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The MKZ Hybrid model’s trunk is just 314 litres, by the way, and that’s the only model available for 2020. Yes, the fabulously fast V6 is now history, or at least you can’t buy a 2020 MKZ with this ultra-potent engine, but some 2019s are still available, so make haste to your local Lincoln retailer if you want serious performance as part of your luxury experience, while saving up to $7,500 in additional incentives according to CarCostCanada’s 2019 Lincoln MKZ Canada Prices page. Lincoln is offering up to $1,500 in additional incentives for the 2020 MKZ, incidentally, and up to $13,000 in additional incentives on a 2018 model if you can possibly find a new one that meets your requirements (there probably is one out there).

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
To the left of the infotainment touchscreen is a row of buttons for starting the engine, selecting gears and choosing sport mode. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Model year changes in mind, the move from 2018 to 2019 left mid-range Select trim behind in the non-hybrid car, leaving only Reserve trim with the base 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, this engine good for a spirited 245-horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, plus the Reserve model as-tested with the 3.0-litre V6. The hybrid’s combustion engine makes 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque, but its net output is much stronger at 188 horsepower combined, the electric motor making 118 horsepower (88 kW) and 177 lb-ft of torque (don’t try to add them up, because quantifying hybrid output figures is not so easy).

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The infotainment touchscreen is easy to use and filled with features. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

More easily calibrated is fuel economy, and considering constantly fluctuating Canadian gasoline prices, which will no doubt be affected by our government’s unwillingness to enforce trespassing, jaywalking and now arson regulations, amongst others, in our evermore lawlessly protesting nation, pump prices could skyrocket like they did last year, so choosing a more fuel-friendly car isn’t a bad idea. To that end the MKZ Hybrid’s 5.7 L/100km city, 6.2 highway and 5.9 combined rating is twice as efficient as the performance variant being reviewed here, the hybrid model’s continuously variable transmission aiding efficiencies, albeit not as much as the electrified powertrain. As it is the MKZ 3.0-litre V6 AWD is good for 14.0 city, 9.2 highway and 11.8 combined, whereas the same car with the non-hybrid 2.0-litre four manages a slightly more efficient 12.1, 8.4 and 10.4 respectively.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The centre stack provides all the hands-on switchgear you’ll need via high-quality buttons and knobs. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I previously mentioned not being finished with my MKZ interior accolades, as it truly is impressive for its modest $47,000 to $53,150 price range (the Reserve AWD starts at $52,500, by the way, with the 3.0-litre V6 adding $6,500 to the window sticker). Like the instrument panel, the door panels receive high-quality stitched composite door uppers, inserts and armrests, while the lower panels are also soft to the touch. You could compare the MKZ directly against some of the much higher priced compact-to-midsize segments’ German rivals and they won’t improve on its level of fine detailing, not to mention the Lincoln’s real hardwood trim and beautiful perforated aluminum speaker grilles that feature a lovely spiral pattern, while the quality of the car’s switchgear matches many in the premium sector too, this also praising Ford that often punches above its weight in the mainstream sector.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
This two-tiered shelf below the centre console provides a lot of useful storage. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The same is true for in-car electronics, specifically the beautiful new mostly digital gauge cluster that includes the usual two circular primary dials with a multi-information display at centre, or at least that’s what it initially looks like. To be clear it’s not so simple. Instead of a big screen with all dials and other functions shown graphically, Lincoln houses the digital interface within gauge-like frames, the left side showing an analogue-style tachometer around the outer edge and multi-info display within, or alternatively a much larger MID. The speedometer on the right side of the cluster features a digital needle and dial markers, plus other gauges. This gives the MKZ a modern up-to-date look that’s complemented by a centre stack-mounted infotainment touchscreen that was already very good.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The multi-contour seats are fabulous, even boasting massage function. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The MKZ uses Lincoln’s version of Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment interface, with an earthy brown and gold colour treatment in place of the mainstream brand’s sky blue and white design. It’s an excellent system in both brands, and needs no updating in the MKZ. It features full audio controls, a dual-zone automatic climate control interface with three-way front heated/cooled seat controls (that are duplicated within a separate set of analogue HVAC controls lower down the centre stack), Bluetooth phone/audio streaming connectivity via Sync, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, an easy-to-use navigation system with good accuracy, an app menu that comes stock with Sirius Travel Link and allows you to download additional mobile apps as well, plus a comprehensive car settings menu with two full panels of functions as well as a third panel boasting ambient lighting choices and multi-contour seat controls.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The panoramic sunroof really opens up the cabin. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

On that note, the driver’s seat is extremely comfortable and provides excellent support, even laterally, which takes us back to the MKZ’s performance mentioned earlier. My favourite seat feature, however, is its four-way lumbar support, a good reason to consider this Lincoln over the Lexus ES, which only provided two-way powered lumbar (in and out) in the 2019 model I recently tested. Then again, before I committed to four-way lumbar as my favourite MKZ feature, I probably should’ve mentioned the little button at the centre of the lumbar controller that turns on the massage feature. Pressing it immediately pulls up a panel within the centre display to customize the multi-contour seat controls, some of which allow for a relaxing massage that’s especially soothing on a long drive or when stuck in traffic.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The rear seating area is spacious, comfortable, and finished as nicely as the first row. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

This said you’d be comfortable no matter where you’re seated. The rear passenger area is finished just as nicely as the one up front too, with the same high quality, soft touch door panels, including their beautifully finished aluminum speaker grilles. Of course, the folding centre armrest includes the usual dual cupholders, while Lincoln also supplies rear air vents on the backside of the front centre console, plus buttons for two-way heatable outboard cushions, two USB-A charger points and a three-prong 110-volt household-style plug.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
Heated seats plus dual USB ports and a three-prong household-style power outlet make for a well stocked rear passenger compartment. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The aforementioned trunk is accessible via a powered lid, and it’s nicely finished with carpeting on the cargo floor as well as the sidewalls, plus under the bulkhead and of course on the backsides of the rear folding seatbacks. Unfortunately they’re divided 60/40, which isn’t the most convenient compared to the 40/20/40-split European models, but Lincoln does provide a centre pass-through for loading longer items like skis. Still, you’ll probably be limited to one set of skis as it’s a fairly small enclosure.

You certainly won’t be limited when it comes to features, mind you, the MKZ Reserve standard with the aforementioned multi-contour front seats for 2019, plus rear window sunshades, active motion and adaptive cruise with stop-and-go, and 19-inch satin-finish alloy wheels. What’s more, Lincoln added a windshield wiper de-icer as standard on all trims, plus standard rain-sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring, and lane keeping assist, while the options list grows to include a new package featuring premium LED headlamps, a panoramic glass sunroof, and a 20-speaker audio system.

2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 3.0L AWD
The rear seatbacks fold 60/40, but Lincoln also provides a small pass-through. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

In the end, the only issue standing in the way of purchasing a Lincoln MKZ instead of its the most common competitor, the Lexus ES noted earlier, or another large family sedan from a non-premium maker like Toyota and its Avalon, Nissan and the Maxima, or Chrysler and its 300, is the fact that it’s already slated for cancellation, as noted earlier. It’s not alone, of course, as a host of large sedans have recently been kicked to the curb as well, including Lincoln’s own Continental (a car I like a lot) and Ford’s Taurus, plus a couple of Buicks and Chevys, so it’s possible that any new sedan you choose could get the boot in the near future if Canadian consumers’ lack of interest continues and/or the economy goes south. So, like I said at the beginning of this review, get it while you can.

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.