Lincoln – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:45:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Touring the Uncanny Valley in the 2017 Lincoln MKZ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/touring-uncanny-valley-2017-lincoln-mkz/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/touring-uncanny-valley-2017-lincoln-mkz/#respond Fri, 04 Aug 2017 14:44:44 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1180530 MANHATTAN BEACH, California — In aesthetics—the study of art, beauty, and taste—there’s a concept called the “uncanny valley.” It refers to a psychological phenomenon wherein humanoid replicas—robots, say—increase in appeal the more closely they resemble their meat-and-gristle overlords, right up to the point where it all falls apart and the almost-but-definitely-not-human just creeps us out....

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MANHATTAN BEACH, California — In aesthetics—the study of art, beauty, and taste—there’s a concept called the “uncanny valley.” It refers to a psychological phenomenon wherein humanoid replicas—robots, say—increase in appeal the more closely they resemble their meat-and-gristle overlords, right up to the point where it all falls apart and the almost-but-definitely-not-human just creeps us out.

As it turns out, this also holds true with luxury cars.

Give yourself a few minutes to appreciate the deceptively simple and unassuming cabin of a new Honda Civic, Ford Focus, or Chevrolet Bolt and you’ll find plenty of hard plastics, some oddball design, and a flourish or two that might have been considered luxurious 10, 20, or 30 years ago. But they’re all comfortably economical at heart and it’s easy for an occupant to spot the cues; there’s no danger of entering the uncanny valley.

On the other side of the valley are the replicants—humanoids so close to the real thing, they may not be differentiable at all. Entrants to this category in the luxury car world are few; the Genesis G90 comes to mind, but there are others.

Swap that entry econobox or upstart executive for a 2017 Lincoln MKZ, however, and you’re ticketed for a one-way trip to the Uncanny Valley of Luxury.

First, let’s get familiar with our would-be interloper. The base price of the car I drove, a 2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve AWD, is $41,400 plus $925 delivery for a total of $42,325. That’s before you add the $4,000 twin-turbocharged V-6, the $2,395 technology package (driver aids), the $4,400 luxury package (adaptive LED headlamps and Revel Ultima 20-speaker audio system), the $3,395 driver’s package (torque vectoring, continuous active damping, sport suspension, and a cabin scheme with carbon fiber), the $695 climate control package, the $195 summer tires, and the $195 inflatable rear seat belts. With those extras, the total sticker price on this MKZ is $57,600.

Nearly sixty large is a not-inconsequential pile of smackeroos. Heck, it’s a decent salary. But is it a decent luxury car?

Not quite.

The MKZ is, of course, a fine car. It’s perfectly nice. It’s even sort of plush in its way. But as a luxury offering—one that starts at the top of the range and stacks on all the extras—it falls well short of competitive offerings from BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, and Lexus—brands that have all lived on the far slope of the uncanny valley for years or decades.

It does have its strengths. The MKZ, like the Lincoln brand, is a bit like oatmeal with raisins: there are some sweet little bits here and there, but it’s mostly just blah. The exterior styling isn’t everyone’s ideal, but it’s a handsome car at the very least. Though it’s no magic carpet, ride quality is pretty good, especially if you opt for the 19-inch wheels and summer sport tires. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 is good for 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, and it feels like it. Paired with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, the MKZ hustles up to freeway speeds and makes two-lane passes with ease.

It also got a mere 11.6 mpg average over several days of my four-mile surface street commute in Los Angeles’ South Bay region. That’s about 5 mpg fewer than I recorded in a 2017 GMC Yukon Denali XL, which boasts a 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter V-8, an eight-speed automatic, and 7,900 pounds of towing capacity. That the MKZ can’t approach the Yukon Denali’s capability, let alone its luxury, given its $69,960 base price, is to be expected. But surely the 1,400-plus-pound-lighter and much smaller-engined MKZ should have the edge on fuel economy, no? Well, the MKZ is only rated at 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined by the EPA, so even the best case isn’t that good.

A punchy engine and a decent ride aren’t enough to drive the MKZ up out of the valley on their own. There needs to be something more. The dull sheen of low-grade textured plastic and the glint of cheap metallized trim do nothing to complement leather so processed it’s only technically leather, or the Pep Boys-grade gloss-finished carbon-fiber trim.

Ebony and white leather wrap a fair portion of the cabin thanks to the Driver’s Package, but the look and feel is no more special than what you’d find in an up-market mainstream car from Honda, Chevy, or Mazda, and markedly less so than some of what you’d find there. Same for the switches, handles, and trims. It’s not just that the interior materials and design aren’t as nice as they could be, it’s that they’re an obviously failed attempt at mimicking those of a real luxury sedan, and that visible, obvious shortfall is worse than an honestly cheap interior. It’s why the Ford version of this cabin, in the Fusion, is just fine, despite sharing much with the MKZ.

Materials and design are just two of the MKZ’s weaknesses. Fit and finish are two more. The dashboard, like many cars these days, attempts a sort of wrap-around layout where it ties in with the curves and lines of the doors. But where Audi, Cadillac, and Mercedes pay close attention to matching these joints so the lines flow smoothly, and BMW and Lexus design around them, the MKZ I tested hangs the joint right out there, almost a half inch out of alignment. Acceptable on an inexpensive appliance? Yes, but still annoying. On a luxury car? Not even a little.

Now, the MKZ is a “tweener” luxury car, like the Cadillac CTS was until its most recent generation. The MKZ’s price is more like that of a 3 Series- or C-Class-equivalent, while its size is more in line with a 5 Series- or E-Class-equivalent. But even given its segment-straddling nature, the MKZ comes up short on features for its price. Semi-autonomous driving assistance? Not available at any price, but you can at least get adaptive cruise with stop-and-go ability, lane-keep assist, a parking assist system, as well as blind spot alert, pedestrian detection, and pre-collision assist, as extras. And yes, that’s the end of the list of advanced technologies offered. If they sound like the technologies luxury manufacturers were bragging about the better part of a decade ago, that’s because, mostly, they are. In fact, all of these features are offered in mainstream products, including Ford’s own cars.

Ford’s SYNC 3 handles the entertainment and information functions, but, again, there’s nothing unique to Lincoln once you dig beyond the graphic scheme. It works well enough, but the only part of the experience that isn’t delivered by a Fusion is the (very good) sound quality of the Revel sound system.

It may be that this “tweener” positioning is what’s damning the MKZ: It straddles not just segments, but sectors, going beyond the top of the mainstream car field but falling short of the luxury market. This no-car’s land stymied Cadillac, too.

Even within the Lincoln brand, the MKZ isn’t faring well. The brand as a whole is up almost 6 percent year-on-year against 2016, thanks mostly to the ongoing success of the MKC and MKX, and the introduction of the new Continental. The MKZ? It’s down almost 19 percent in June, and 2.4 percent year-on-year.

“Our customers are looking for three attributes in a luxury midsize sedan—technologies that ease their everyday experience, a beautiful design that is crafted with attention to detail, and a vehicle with impressive power that makes it a pleasure to drive,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, upon the unveiling of the facelifted MKZ.

Unfortunately, Lincoln fell short of the mark on two-thirds of the MKZ’s mission. The problem isn’t just what it doesn’t do, but rather what it doesn’t do well enough. And in today’s competitive luxury landscape, as in the uncanny valley, not doing it well is worse than not doing it at all.

2017 Lincoln MKZ Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $57,600 (as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L twin-turbocharged DOHC V6/400 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 17/26 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 193.9 x 73.4 x 58.1 in
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
WEIGHT 4,191 lb (est)
0-60 MPH 5.2 sec
TOP SPEED N/A

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Avalon, Continental, and E-Class Nab IIHS Award, Tesla Model S Falls Short http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-gets-iihs-award-tesla-model-s-falls-short/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-gets-iihs-award-tesla-model-s-falls-short/#respond Sat, 08 Jul 2017 20:29:47 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1174627 In its latest round of crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined six large cars and gave three of them a Top Safety Pick+ award. The Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, and Toyota Avalon nabbed top honors from the agency. All three vehicles earned “Good” scores in all crash categories and “Superior” ratings in...

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In its latest round of crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined six large cars and gave three of them a Top Safety Pick+ award.

The Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, and Toyota Avalon nabbed top honors from the agency. All three vehicles earned “Good” scores in all crash categories and “Superior” ratings in front crash prevention technology.

Thanks to automatic braking, the three vehicles were able to avoid collisions at test speeds of 12 mph and 25 mph. The E-Class and Continental earned “Good” headlight scores with optional equipment, while the Avalon received an “Acceptable” score in this category.

The Tesla Model S and Chevrolet Impala fell short of earning an award from IIHS because they received “Acceptable” scores in the small overlap test. This evaluation replicates what happens when the front corner of a car hits a tree, pole, or another vehicle at 40 mph. In the Impala, the vehicle structure was well maintained, but the dummy’s head hit the front airbag and slid off the left side, leaving the head partially unprotected.

Tesla’s problem, which the automaker said it had fixed in models built after January, lies with the seat belt. Despite the attempt at improvement, the seat belt still allowed the dummy’s torso to move too far forward, resulting in the head striking the steering wheel hard through the airbag. Both the Model S and Impala also have headlights rated “Poor.”

Similarly, the Ford Taurus received an “Acceptable” score in the small overlap test and a “Poor” headlight rating that prevented it from joining the Continental, E-Class, and Avalon. It also received a “Basic” rating in front crash prevention because it doesn’t have automatic braking technology.

After running the small overlap test on the Taurus, IIHS concluded that a driver may injure the left lower leg in a real-world crash of the same severity.

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Long-Wheelbase 2018 Lincoln Navigator Offers Extra 15 Cubic Feet of Cargo Space http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-long-wheelbase-15-cubic-feet-cargo/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-long-wheelbase-15-cubic-feet-cargo/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:01:09 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1170753 For those that believe bigger is better, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator already fits the bill. But an extended-wheelbase version, which made its debut this week, is nearly a foot longer and offers even more storage space in the rear. The extended-wheelbase Navigator features an additional 15 cubic feet behind the third row. Here, you’ll also find...

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For those that believe bigger is better, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator already fits the bill. But an extended-wheelbase version, which made its debut this week, is nearly a foot longer and offers even more storage space in the rear.

The extended-wheelbase Navigator features an additional 15 cubic feet behind the third row. Here, you’ll also find a storage compartment underneath the floor for extra utility. Meanwhile, the second-row door is bigger to allow passengers to enter and exit the vehicle more easily.

Both the standard and long-wheelbase versions of the Navigator go on sale this fall. As revealed on Lincoln’s configurator site, the Navigator starts at $73,250 with the standard wheelbase and $81,945 for the extended wheelbase. They’re both available in the same trim level scheme, excepting the base Premiere model that’s offered only on the standard-wheelbase Navigator.

Buyers can select the Black Label treatment on either model. This top-trim model comes with one of three different interior design themes — Destination, Chalet, and Yacht Club — as well as a standard Technology package boasting a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation, and active park assist.

All Navigators come with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 making up to 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.

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2018 Lincoln Navigator Starts at $73,250, Configurator Now Available http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-priced-73250-build-site-live/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-priced-73250-build-site-live/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:00:43 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1170340 The 2018 Lincoln Navigator doesn’t head to dealerships until the fall, but in the meantime, you can build your very own version on the official configurator site. Prices for the SUV start at $73,250. The starting price is over $8,500 higher than that of the 2017 version, and we’re talking before available incentives on the old model. At the very top...

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The 2018 Lincoln Navigator doesn’t head to dealerships until the fall, but in the meantime, you can build your very own version on the official configurator site. Prices for the SUV start at $73,250.

The starting price is over $8,500 higher than that of the 2017 version, and we’re talking before available incentives on the old model. At the very top of the range, the 2018 Navigator Black Label will set you back $94,900. Those who opt for this model benefit from a standard Technology package that includes a head-up display, active park assist, and adaptive cruise control as well as special services such as complimentary car washes and remote servicing pickup and delivery. The configurator allows you to choose between different interior themes such as “Chalet,” “Destination,” and “Yacht Club” for this top-tier model.

Buyers can choose between different paint colors, wheels, interior options, and accessories across the range. An extended-wheelbase version is also available, starting from $81,945 for the base version and topping out at $98,100 for the Black Label.

Despite the high prices, the Navigator has a lot more to offer in its new generation. On the list of features, look for front heated and cooled 30-way power seats with memory and massage settings. Welcome puddle lamps, a wireless charging tray for phones, seat belt buckle LEDs, a 12.0-inch digital dash cluster, and a rear seat entertainment system with live TV streaming capability are some of the other amenities offered on the model.

All Navigators come with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making up to 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox.

Check out the 2018 Lincoln Navigator configurator here.

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2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label is a Huge, Three-Row Leap in the Right Direction http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-black-label-huge-three-row-leap-right-direction/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-lincoln-navigator-black-label-huge-three-row-leap-right-direction/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 04:01:51 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1150384 Almost one year after the New York debut of the wild Lincoln Navigator Concept, the automaker unveiled the all-new Navigator at the 2017 New York auto show. The Lincoln Navigator is redesigned from the ground up for 2018, wearing a fresh new face and stunning interior lifted from the brand-leading Continental. Moving away from the...

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Almost one year after the New York debut of the wild Lincoln Navigator Concept, the automaker unveiled the all-new Navigator at the 2017 New York auto show. The Lincoln Navigator is redesigned from the ground up for 2018, wearing a fresh new face and stunning interior lifted from the brand-leading Continental. Moving away from the outgoing Navigator’s dated styling, the new three-row SUV is the third model in Lincoln’s lineup to incorporate the Conti’s design language.

Visually, the new Navigator remains refreshingly true to the 2016 concept. Unsurprisingly, the production Navigator loses the concept’s insane gullwing doors, but happily retains its sleek, smooth profile. Both the front grille design and rear light bar is yanked straight from the Conti’s playbook, giving the SUV a profile that’s distinctly Lincoln. It’s not just a pretty face, either — the new aluminum body helps shed 200 pounds when compared with the old SUV.

Underneath the fancy new skin beats a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, returning 450 hp and a tremendous 510 lb-ft of torque. This substantial power is managed by Ford’s new ten-speed automatic transmission. No word yet on if the SUV is rear- or all-wheel-drive, but it’s safe to assume both drivetrain configurations will be available.

It’s a whole new SUV on the inside, as well. It’s a cabin awash in metal, glossy wood, leather, and shiny black surfaces, similar to the Continental’s cockpit. Everything is reworked when compared with the outgoing car’s gussied-up Expedition interior. Lincoln’s worked hard to differentiate itself from Ford’s product lineup, and this is a very big step in the right direction.

Even the halo sedan’s signature seats made their way into the Black Label SUV. It’s a clean and uncluttered space, incorporating bespoke design touches like the “piano key” shift buttons and divided center storage area.

It's a bigun, but the @lincolnmotorco Navigator is a pretty tight looking ride, inside and out #lincolnnavigator #nyias2017

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It’s loaded with all manner of infotainment tech, too. The driver interacts with a high-definition LCD display in place of a traditional gauge cluster, allowing customization and displaying in-depth vehicle information. Can’t be bothered to look down? No problem — Lincoln claims the Navigator’s optional HUD is the largest and most visible in the segment.

The Navigator’s SYNC 3 system comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, accessible on the sizable center screen. Don’t worry, audiophiles — Lincoln’s popular 20-speaker Revel sound system is available on some of the higher trim levels. Rear passengers aren’t left out, either. Along with six USB ports scattered around the cabin, anyone with an Android device and stream media onto the optional rear-seat infotainment screens.

Crucial numbers like performance, fuel economy, and tow rating aren’t available yet, but we’ll check back later when Lincoln releases the full specifications.

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Lincoln Continental Goes Big with All-New Head-Up Display http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-goes-big-with-all-new-head-up-display/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-goes-big-with-all-new-head-up-display/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:20:16 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1140994 To help drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, Lincoln is introducing a fancy head-up display for the Continental. The Motor Company claims it will be the biggest and brightest display size in its class. Lincoln says it’s the first to use Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology, the same tech employed at...

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To help drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, Lincoln is introducing a fancy head-up display for the Continental. The Motor Company claims it will be the biggest and brightest display size in its class.

Lincoln says it’s the first to use Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology, the same tech employed at your local cinema. We are excited to give it a look when it rolls out next month.

Digital displays that are projected on the windshield of your vehicle have been around for many years, but they have experienced a recent Renaissance among a number of manufacturers.

Some simply project your speed before you in the lower windshield that hovers slightly above the hood. Others can tell you the local speed limits and warn you of other vehicles approaching you from behind in your blind spots.

Lincoln’s system is centered on the windshield above the steering wheel and is customizable to allow the driver to select the information they want to see in the head-up display.

Thanks to its DLP tech, the display is visible in more ambient lighting conditions even while the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses Lincoln claims.

“We’ll be using a DLP chip from Texas Instruments, while many other automakers use a different technology that doesn’t get quite as bright,” said Anthony King, Lincoln product design engineer in a statement, adding, “That’s what sets us apart.”

Everything in the display can be controlled by the steering wheel in order to achieve the perfect viewing position. Drivers can choose to see every available component, choose what they want, or here’s the best part — turn the damn thing off completely.

Only the phone and navigation system information automatically will appear in the display when in use. Outside temperature, lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, fuel level, and the time can be turned on or off.

Sounds good to us, but we’d like to know when we can get our baseball scores and stock market reports on it too.

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve AWD Front 01

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2017 All-Stars Contender: Lincoln Continental http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-stars-contender-lincoln-continental/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-stars-contender-lincoln-continental/#respond Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1125969 Say what you will about the 2017 Lincoln Continental, one thing it isn’t is your grandfather’s Lincoln. You see, grandpa never had the option of a twin-turbo V-6 that makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque and provides the ability to hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. That alone warranted sending Lincoln an All-Stars...

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Say what you will about the 2017 Lincoln Continental, one thing it isn’t is your grandfather’s Lincoln. You see, grandpa never had the option of a twin-turbo V-6 that makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque and provides the ability to hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. That alone warranted sending Lincoln an All-Stars invitation.

Yet, the new Continental does share some things with the old man’s ride, such as the quiet interior and smooth suspension.

“Very pleasant, classy on the inside, soft driving, and comfy,” noted contributor Ronald Ahrens, while fellow contributor Michael Jordan aptly described it as a “a straightforward American luxury car.”

Part of that luxury comes from a hefty stack of options. For $3,105, the Continental Technology Package adds just about every active and passive safety feature on the market, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, active braking, and a 360-degree camera. Then there’s the $5,000 Luxury Package, which consists of the 19-speaker Revel audio system and LED headlamps. The best part is probably the $1,500 30-way adjustable front seats that offer a massage function.

Lincoln Continental 2017 All Stars Contender Front Three Quarter 01

“Was I sitting in a recliner or in a Continental driver’s seat?” noted production editor Eleonor Segura.

Senior digital editor Kirill Ougarov, who is far from a geriatric, commented, “This car is exactly what it needed to be: quiet, smooth, and comfortable, with ample power and an excellent stereo. No buyer will ever hustle this car through a canyon, but they’ll appreciate its passing ability.”

At least some people were pleased with the Continental, but is this “straightforward” luxury car an AUTOMOBILE All-Star? Come back on March 11 to find out.

2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $56,840/$70,900 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
400 hp @ 5,750 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 16/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 201.4 x 78.1 x 58.5 in
WHEELBASE 117.9 in
WEIGHT 4,224 lb
0-60 MPH 5.4 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph

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Lincoln Looks Ahead, Impatiently http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-looks-ahead-impatiently/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-looks-ahead-impatiently/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:30:12 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1045667 Have you ever been on the cusp of doing something you think could be great, but you need more time or resources to make it happen? That’s basically the position Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra is in as he attempts to guide the once-proud American luxury brand back to prominence on the automotive stage. “The frustrating...

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Have you ever been on the cusp of doing something you think could be great, but you need more time or resources to make it happen?

That’s basically the position Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra is in as he attempts to guide the once-proud American luxury brand back to prominence on the automotive stage.

“The frustrating part is that we can’t make things happen quickly enough,” said Galhotra, who stopped by our Los Angeles HQ during the press launch of the all-new 2017 Lincoln Continental in Bel-Air. It’s a car that graces the cover of this issue.

I was there when Galhotra and Ford CEO Mark Fields took the wraps off the Lincoln Continental Concept at the 2015 New York auto show. There were gasps from the crowd, stunned by what was under the sheet. This was the kind of car that could help revive Lincoln, which had fallen dangerously close to irrelevance. So far, in fact, rumors of its impending demise were rampant (former Ford CEO Alan Mulally reportedly wanted it gone), with many believing it would follow Mercury into the dustbin of history. But now Lincoln was finally showing a pulse, a direction to the world. The world (mostly) approved.

Sure, the concept had more than a little bit of Bentley in its overall presence — something Bentley’s design team took umbrage with at the time. But the Continental Concept had more than enough presence of its own. It was a vision for a true flagship luxury sedan befitting a brand that had created iconic cars throughout its storied history, including the 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental cabriolet you’ll see featured in our cover story.

While it doesn’t quite have the same wow factor as the New York concept, the production version of the Continental “is pretty close” to that car in its overall exterior design, Galhotra assured me. There are those, including some of us on this staff, who disagree. They aren’t in love with its front-drive proportions, its behind-the-curve six-speed automatic transmission, or ele-ments of its interior trim. But there has been praise for the Lincoln-exclusive, 400-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo six (we found the 2.7-liter EcoBoost six with 335 hp capable as well), the fabulous front seats, and its Revel sound system. It looks like a competitive effort, but the Continental will need another generation of refinement before it potentially achieves greatness.

Lincoln critics decry the brand’s lack of a rear-wheel-drive platform, but all Continental models are available with all-wheel drive and its accompanying torque-vectoring differential, which given who the brand is going after—people more concerned with the experience of how to get somewhere rather than how fast they do—should be more than enough. You want an American car with German-challenging dynamics and mind-blowing performance? Google your nearest Cadillac dealer.

Galhotra says customers desire a quiet ride at speed and “smooth, effortless performance” when they hit the gas. They want technology that works seamlessly, like the parking assist feature Galhotra is particularly proud of: It parks both in parallel and perpendicular spaces. He also challenged his team to make the adaptive cruise control as smooth as possible.

Lincoln knows it needs to expose more potential customers to the marque’s new approach. To that end it’s rolling out its Lincoln Experience Centers in high-end areas like Newport Beach, California, and the soon-to-open Dallas-area location. It’s a no-sell approach to showcasing what Lincoln has to offer in an upscale venue. “The dealers absolutely love it,” Galhotra said, because they are directed to people truly interested in purchasing a Lincoln.

There are challengers aplenty, including Hyundai’s emerging Genesis brand, Lexus, Cadillac in some segments, and others, but so far only Lincoln is staying away from developing focused performance cars and taking more of a true luxury approach.

Lincoln is embracing, like every other mainstream automaker, crossovers and SUVs like the new Navigator, due to arrive next year. And while it was never going to have the concept’s gullwing doors, those doors better exposed the Navigator’s impressive interior trim, which Galhotra said will be very close to the production version’s. Lincoln needs to improve interiors across its lineup, and the Navigator will lead the way.

And then there’s China, always China. Lincoln’s nascent operations there went from more than 11,000 sales in its first full year in 2015 to likely doubling that this year. It’s a good start, but again, it will take time to grow into big numbers. Not surprisingly, the MKC and MKX crossovers are leading the way. “If you ever get to Shanghai, you have to go to our dealership there, it’s amazing!” Galhotra said. Consider it on the to-do list.

So while Lincoln still has a ways to go before getting to where it truly wants to be, Galhotra can see it out in the distance, and he’s antsy to arrive. Maybe Matthew McConaughey can drive him there in a Continental.

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Form, Function, the New 2017 Lincoln Continental, and Frank Lloyd Wright http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-lincoln-continental-reserve-1940-lincoln-zephyr-cabriolet/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-lincoln-continental-reserve-1940-lincoln-zephyr-cabriolet/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1048016 Sitting alongside the leaf-strewn footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Palmer House, the 1940 Lincoln Continental soaks in this moment of belonging. More than 75 years have rolled past since Wright proclaimed Edsel Ford’s pet project “the most beautiful car ever designed.” Yet, in the shadow of one of Wright’s homes, the car still pulls his...

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Sitting alongside the leaf-strewn footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Palmer House, the 1940 Lincoln Continental soaks in this moment of belonging. More than 75 years have rolled past since Wright proclaimed Edsel Ford’s pet project “the most beautiful car ever designed.” Yet, in the shadow of one of Wright’s homes, the car still pulls his world-famous ideals of style and form clearly into the present.

A 2017 Lincoln Continental, parked next to one of the architect’s trademark carports, looks somewhat uncomfortable in this otherwise harmonious continuum. Where the 1940 Continental is brassy and exuberant, today’s David Woodhouse-designed car is subtle and reserved. Gone is the split-wing grille Lincoln tried to resurrect on more recent sedans, replaced by a squared-off, Bentley-like nose. The ruby-red sedan’s short overhangs and otherwise orderly appearance stand in stark contrast against the original Continental’s sweeping, confident lines. Palmer House’s sprawling geometric layout, boldly integrated into the knoll-dotted landscape of suburban Ann Arbor, Michigan, certainly seems a more fitting home for the old car than the new.

2017 Lincoln Continental front three quarter in motion 01

But those who have ever visited a Frank Lloyd Wright building, be it a large-scale structure like the Guggenheim Museum in New York or a more intimate home such as Fallingwater outside of Pittsburgh, know that the experience of a Wright design is what makes it special. Lincoln points to an experience of “quiet luxury” as a guiding philosophy behind the development of the 2017 Continental, one that echoes Wright’s own views on automotive design as well as architectural design. “The car is architecture,” said Wright. “I am interested in buildings, in the quiet beauty of environment.” Perhaps by spending a few nights in Palmer House with both Continentals on hand, we’ll be able to make out the invisible strings that tie the car and architecture together.

“Complete mobilization of our American people is one natural asset of the machine, fast approaching.”

Wright, who bought both a 1940 Continental cabriolet as well as a ’41 coupe in his signature Cherokee Red paint, was one of the original Continental’s most high-profile owners. (He idiosyncratically redesigned his cabrio’s rear section after a dramatic crash.) Big names like Rita Hayworth, Babe Ruth, Jackie Cooper, and fellow designer Raymond Loewy were also among the early adopters. (Now there’s just Matthew McConaughey.) These magnates of the early 1940s were all drawn to the Continental’s undeniable presence and style.

Based on a modified Lincoln-Zephyr body with a design penned by E.T. “Bob” Gregorie, the prototype for the first Continental was built originally as a one-off, European-style cabriolet for the aging Edsel Ford’s personal use. Edsel’s friends, however, quickly started clamoring for one of their own after seeing it strut around his Florida vacation home in 1939.

1940 Lincoln Zephyr Continental Cabriolet front three quarter
Art Deco design and a hand-built interior still dazzle after all these years. Every moment behind the wheel of the 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr is like a night at the opera.

The 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental was 3 inches lower than the Lincoln-Zephyr, with a hood that was 7 inches longer and featured unique cues ranging from the hood ornament to the instrument panel, dials, and gauges. Mechanically, it relied on the Zephyr’s 4.8-liter flathead V-12, which made 120 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque directed to the rear wheels using a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission. Lincoln built just 25 units in 1939, with 400 following the next year. By 1941 the car would simply become known as the Lincoln Continental and continue as its own model line. Lincoln had struggled to keep pace with its competition at the time, and the niche Continental became a critical halo for the brand, one with hand-built elegance and luxurious character that defined the nameplate for decades to come.

While best known for his love of the Continental, Wright’s appreciation for and fascination with the automobile was broad reaching and career defining. He was born in 1867, and by the early 1900s his architectural career was blossoming in parallel with the auto industry’s growth. Many of his clients were weal-thy progressives with the means to buy a car, and his designs can now be seen as artifacts of the automobile’s arrival and integration into American society.

2017 Lincoln Continental front end

Chicago’s famous Robie House of 1909 features one of the earliest documented uses of an attached garage, and Wright’s own Oak Park home incorporated a gas pump into the garage. Later designs for car dealerships, gas stations, and even the parking structure-style ramp of the Guggenheim show how deeply the automobile influenced Wright’s view of the American architectural landscape. For much of his later life he bet so heavily on the automobile’s proliferation that in the 1930s he devised ambitious plans for the so-called Broadacre City, an urban concept centered on people owning cars.

“Complete mobilization of our American people is one natural asset of the machine, fast approaching,” said Wright in 1943. “As a consequence of the motor car … the horizon of the individual has immeasurably widened. … If he has the means to go, he goes. And he has his means: the car.”

Wright had been exercising those means himself as early as 1909, menacing his Oak Park neighborhood with regular top-speed runs in his first car, a yellow Stoddard-Dayton roadster that could hit 60 mph. His love affair with the automobile was so deep-seated that his own son suspected that its promise of freedom inspired Wright to leave his family for Germany in 1909 to have a real-life affair with another woman. While he would eventually return to the States, his obsession with the car was far from over, amassing a collection that included a Cadillac, a Packard, two Dodges, a Ford, a Phaeton, a Cord, and a Knox Roadster.

The carport (a term Wright coined) would remain a frequent player in his designs over the years, as it does in Palmer House, finished in 1952. Palmer House is one of his so-called Usonian homes, which is what he dubbed his approach to the affordable and utilitarian design ethos of American homes in the years after World War II, when houses were being quickly and cheaply built for returning soldiers. Wright wanted to show that good design could be simple and practical while maintaining a personal, human, and organic aesthetic.

Frank Lloyd Wright Palmer House 01
Like most Wright houses, Palmer House isn’t without quirks. Chairs that tip forward and oddly shaped beds are, after all, part of the experience.

That sense of warmth and welcoming so essential to Wright’s homes starts with the driveway. Palmer House itself is hidden from view until you pull up the snaking path toward its carport. Park on the terra-cotta-colored concrete slab and follow it to a series of gentle steps, leading you past a pair of brick walls that guide you to the front door. Upon entering you notice the concrete floor continues seamlessly through the glass entryway, smoothing the transition between interior and exterior space. The sensation is again reflected in floor-to-ceiling living room windows along the back wall, which during the day serve up a living wallpaper of sunlight, birds, and forest.

Look around and you’ll find the house doesn’t contain a single right angle, giving it a very natural sort of harmony compared to the harsh regularity of most interiors. The house’s basic motif is the equilateral triangle, appearing everywhere from the floor to the built-in furniture to the origami crane-shaped interior windows that invite natural light throughout the house. Oil-finished cypress is used on the walls and ceiling. As unique and complex as it all feels initially, you warm quickly to its clever delineations of space and intended use. The kitchen is almost entirely separated from the central living space and its gigantic fireplace with a wall; a narrow hallway lined with books takes you to the bedrooms and study, intentionally offset from the more open, social part of the house.

Each room is designed with practicality in mind as well as thoughtful consideration for the people that lived there, providing a special and unmistakably personal touch. “Human use and comfort should not be taxed to pay dividends on any designer’s idiosyncracy,” said Wright. Original owners Mary and Billy Palmer agreed, and the sensation was not lost on their granddaughter: “There was so much to be discovered everywhere. Every single room held a little surprise. … Nothing about it was normal, nothing was conventional … the different angles and the different furniture.”

“The sensibilities change over time, but the Continental is rooted in a real American-ness, a certain exuberance.”

When you step outside and approach the 2017 Lincoln Continental, the car’s similarly human-centric virtues start to take shape. A sequence of LEDs flows from the lower fascia to the headlights, while the taillights glow like neon through a tube. An illuminated welcome mat appears by the front doors, projecting the Lincoln logo as the interior softly lights up. Gimmicky? Absolutely. Effective? You bet. At the end of a long day, there is something satisfying and endearing about the Continental inviting you to relax and take a drive.

Helping smooth the transition from exterior to interior are the Continental’s new electronic-latch door handles, neatly integrated into the beltline. A light press is all it takes for the doors to quietly pop open, and a power-cinch system takes care of closing with a friendly electronic thrum. Once inside, flip on the massage function included with Lincoln’s optional 30-way “Perfect Position” seats; for long road trips you’ll love the individual thigh adjustments, which stave off nasty leg cramps. The standard leather and open-pore wood trim are handsome, enjoyed best in the cavernous back seat. A full-length panoramic sunroof helps dissolve the separation between cabin and sky.

In the mind of Lincoln design chief David Woodhouse, the Continental through the ages has always been a reflection of the zeitgeist of its time. “The sensibilities change over time, but the Continental is rooted in a real American-ness, a certain exuberance,” he notes. He points to the brightwork—a brassy tone for the 1940 car’s interior compared to generous chrome on the new Continental—as an expression of how an American flagship should set itself apart from German luxury.

Whether it’s the old car or the new, the Continental’s personality is bolstered by a sense of length and substance. “We actually had photos of Wright’s Fallingwater hanging all around the design studio,” Woodhouse continues. “Both in architecture and automobiles, there’s something in the American psyche about the horizon, about life in widescreen.”

On the road, the Continental is exactly the kind of cruiser Wright would have relished on his frequent journeys between Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like the 1940 car, it’s comfortable and composed at speed and is unconcerned with brute performance, despite its top-spec, 400-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. Only the overly boosted electric steering distances you from the calm fluidity of the Continental driving experience. But with a warm personal approach distinct from its rivals, the new Continental should meet the needs and tastes of its intended clientele, many of whom are in China as well as in the United States.

2017 Lincoln Continental front three quarter in motion 02
More so than any Lincoln available, the Continental wrests free from the clutches of Ford badge engineering.

Would Wright, who died in 1959 at the age of 91, love the 2017 Lincoln Continental? On the surface probably not, owing to his famous vanity and flamboyant tastes. The modern sedan would most likely be too plain and unoriginal for him. After all, his affection for the 1940 Continental had quite a bit to do with what being seen in one represented. If he drove the new car, though, we bet he’d be impressed.

Either way, Wright’s legacy as bannerman for and an avid enthusiast of the automobile live on. His predictions that the automobile would become more integrated and connected with everyday life came true, likely beyond his wildest imagination. As for Lincoln and its new Continental flagship? These next few years will tell us whether the world thinks of Lincoln as any old house or a place to call home.

1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental Cabriolet Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price When New: $2,840
Engine: 4.8L SV 24-valve V-12/120 hp @ 3,500 rpm, 220 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible
EPA: N/A
L x W x H: 209.8 x 73.4 x 62.0 in
Wheelbase: 125.0 in
Weight: 3,615 lb
0-60 MPH: N/A
Top Speed: N/A

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $56,840/$75,320 (base/as tested)
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/400 hp @ 5,750 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Layout:  4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA: 16/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 201.4 x 82.3 x 58.5 in
Wheelbase: 117.9 in
Weight: 4,547 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.4 sec
Top Speed: N/A

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Matthew McConaughey Returns for 2017 Lincoln Continental Advertisement http://www.automobilemag.com/news/matthew-mcconaughey-returns-2017-lincoln-continental-advertisement/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/matthew-mcconaughey-returns-2017-lincoln-continental-advertisement/#respond Mon, 19 Dec 2016 22:00:55 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1046078 Just when you thought Lincoln was finished with the esoteric commercial spots, Matthew McConaughey returns for a new Continental commercial. As we’ve come to expect from this collaboration, the commercial is an abstract take on the new full-size luxury sedan. The new spot, “Crafted,” kicks off with McConaughey and the Continental staring each other down...

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Just when you thought Lincoln was finished with the esoteric commercial spots, Matthew McConaughey returns for a new Continental commercial. As we’ve come to expect from this collaboration, the commercial is an abstract take on the new full-size luxury sedan.

The new spot, “Crafted,” kicks off with McConaughey and the Continental staring each other down in the middle of an expansive stretch of shallow water. It’s a gorgeous setting, a glacial plain Lincoln says is just 160 miles from Reykjavik, Iceland. McConaughey first stands outside the Continental, admiring the proportions. Inside, he remarks on how the owner “might never sit in the rear seat” and “what a shame” that would be. Cue the requisite dynamic shots of the Continental sluicing its way through the wet landscape, and the shot ends with the phrase, “That is Continental/This is Lincoln.”

Like all other McConaughey Lincoln ads, this is beautifully shot. It’s no surprise, seeing as cinematographer Wally Pfister serves as the lead director. Pfister is known for his work on the recent Christopher Nolan Batman films, as well as winning an award for his cinematography in “Inception.”

Take a look at the new 2017 Lincoln Continental commercial in the video below.

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