Lincoln's front-wheel-drive luxury sedan is a carryover except for two new safety features, a child-seat anchor bracket in the rear seat and an emergency release inside the trunk that glows in the dark.
Continental's direct rival is the full-size Cadillac DeVille, which is redesigned for 2000. Continental is due for a makeover in 2002, though it is uncertain whether the next version will continue on the same traditional luxury path. Lincoln also serves its older clientele with the rear-drive Town Car, while the new LS rear-drive sedan is aimed at younger, import-oriented buyers.
Continental is nearly 209 inches long but rides a relatively modest 109-inch wheelbase (same as the Buick Century). When Lincoln redesigned the Continental for 1995, it hoped the more contemporary look would attract younger buyers. That hasn't been the case, and sales have declined since.
Front bucket seats are standard, but a bench seat is a no-cost option that gives the Continental traditional six-passenger seating. However, Continental isn't wide enough to fit three across without cramping everyone's style. The 18-cubic-foot trunk is big enough to hold a foursome's golf clubs, and a low liftover makes loading and unloading easier.
Under the Hood
Continental comes with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine with 275 horsepower, matching the specs of the DeVille's base engine. The V-8 teams with a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard traction control helps get the power to the pavement, and standard anti-lock brakes help corral those 275 horses.
Technology abounds in the Continental. Run-flat tires and a satellite cellular-based emergency service (called RESCU) are optional. Also available is the Driver Select System, which adjusts steering and suspension firmness to three levels.