Lincoln Continental panel (L to R): Eric Turner, Lincoln brand manager; Jeffrey Metz, QVM program coordinator; Craig Hall, Lincoln Limousine & Livery program coordinator and fleet marketing manager; Dan Johnson, Western region large fleet service team manager; and Kim Johnston, QVM marketing manager.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The 2017 Lincoln Continental
embodies new approaches in auto manufacturing and chauffeured amenities, while advancing an all-American luxury sedan legacy.
A team from Lincoln Motor Company detailed those attributes on March 1 for attendees of the International LCT Show in a session previewing the retro yet futuristic model. Lincoln officially introduced the fourth-generation Continental to the industry in the February issue of LCT Magazine in advance of the show floor debut Feb. 29.
“The Continental has a long rich history,” said Eric Turner, brand manager for the Lincoln Continental. “There was a time when Frank Lloyd Wright described the Continental as the ‘most beautiful car ever designed.’”
Legacy & Legroom
As part of the vehicle’s development, the Lincoln team consulted with livery, retail and fleet customers to find out what they collectively look for in a large sedan. One common preference was for elegance in design, which led to the signature grille and distinct side surfacing. They also wanted a car that looked athletic, so the final design included larger wheels and a 3.7-liter Ti-VCT, V6 engine with 6-speed automatic in FWD and AWD versions.
“The spirit of the Continental is what we thought about every single day, to harness that legacy and develop a product that honors that legacy,” Turner said. “We expect a long, rich future with this beautiful product.”
Exact specs on rear seat legroom, cargo space, wheelbase length, and fuel are not yet publicly available. However, since the print version of this article was prepared in the May issue, Lincoln has released pricing information.
“My overall feeling is you’ll be happy with legroom,” said Craig Hall, Lincoln’s limousine and livery fleet program marketing manager. “It’s better than anything we offer on the fleet. There’s a lot more than the MKS, but a little less than the old Town Car. I’m six feet tall, and when the front seat is [positioned] normally, there is a considerable gap. A tall person can get in and be comfortable.”
Models & Manufacturing
Turner and Hall with the new production model 2017 Lincoln-Continental sedan after the unveiling on the International LCT Show floor on Feb. 29 in Las Vegas.
Hall explained Lincoln had to cancel the larger Town Car L in 2011 because of federal requirements for average fuel economy for corporate fleets.
“We have to make do with smaller, lighter vehicles, with smaller displacement engines,” Hall said. “We had to downsize our cars, so we went from body on frame [construction] to unibody, which is lighter.”
As Hall explained, “Every time we invest in a new wheelbase, we have to invest in new crash tests. We wanted to have more rear seat legroom, but also offer a wheelbase the retail client is interested in as well.”
Because the Lincoln Continental is not on sale yet, the automaker still must devise a rebate program, to be released this fall. Production Job 1 starts in July, with the first Continentals shipped to dealerships in August.
The Lincoln-Continental will be built on one wheelbase only, and not be available for cutting and stretching under Ford’s high-quality QVM certification program, said Jeffrey Metz, QVM program coordinator. The MKT Town Car chassis will remain available for QVM stretch and hearse models at least through MY 2019, he added.
“We will still continue with the MKT Town Car and stretch,” Hall said. “It’s not going away. We have a nice set of customers who prefer the MKT because of various attributes such as a larger trunk.”
The Continental will come with Ford’s extended warranty of 4 years/150,000 miles and a livery warranty similar to other fleet vehicles. It will include premium care for 113 components. Fuel economy estimates will be available in the second half of the year, pending EPA certification.
Ford still needs to determine the exact number of retail and livery versions to be built, but Hall predicted the automaker will find the right balance and fill demand long term, even if the first release is limited in number. “This is a slam dunk; the car will sell well.”