The Continental is a conservatively tailored midsize sedan that appeals to the same older crowd as the full-size Town Car. Other than size, the main difference between the two is their drivelines: the Continental has front-wheel drive, and the Town Car has rear-wheel drive. Both use 4.6-liter V-8 engines.
Lincoln tries to connect with Web-savvy buyers this year by offering advanced telematics and communication capability in all its models. A hands-free, voice-operated mobile phone available as a factory option provides 24-hour emergency service and access to e-mail, stock quotes, news, weather and sports (similar to General Motors OnStar satellite/cellular system).
All 2001 Lincoln models also get free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles, matching a benefit some luxury import brands provide. While there are no major changes this year, the Continental is due for a redesign in 2002 or 2003. Its main rival is the front-drive Cadillac DeVille.
The Continental is nearly 209 inches long but rides a relatively modest 109-inch wheelbase (the same as the Buick Century), putting it in the midsize category. The front has a classic waterfall-style grille flanked by modern aerodynamic headlights.
Front bucket seats are standard, but a bench seat is a no-cost option that gives the Continental traditional six-passenger seating. However, the Continental isnt wide enough to fit three across without cramping everyones style.
Models with the front bucket seats can be equipped with the optional Driver Select System, which lets the driver adjust suspension firmness, the amount of power steering assist, seat and mirror positions, and other personal preferences.
The 18-cubic-foot trunk is big enough to hold a foursomes golf clubs, and a low liftover makes loading and unloading easier.
Under the Hood
The Continental comes with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine with 275 horsepower, matching the specs of the Cadillac DeVilles base engine. The V-8 teams with a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard traction control helps get the power to the pavement. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes also are standard.