Lincoln, Road Test Reviews

2020 Lincoln Continental Reserve – Road Test

The Lincoln Continental is an iconic piece of American automotive history. Once upon a time, anyone that wanted to prove that they had “made it” would buy one (or the Cadillac Fleetwood). Presidents and dignitaries HAD to be seen in them, many were stretched even longer and bulletproofing them was a major industry too.  If you wanted a humongous status symbol with a floaty ride and zero cornering ability above 25 km/h – this was your car. But then people discovered the Europeans were building cars that were superior, could corner and handle in a way the Caddy and Lincoln could only dream about. By the mid-80’s only grandpas and stretch limo companies wanted these cars. So why are we testing one here? Why should anyone still be interested in a Lincoln Continental – especially in 2020? Well, believe-it-or-not the Continental is back – smaller, nimble, fast and yes… relevant in 2020. Put your preconceived notions aside and check it out…

What Is It?   

  • A Mid-size – “The Ultimate Luxury” – Car, with a ton of options available to the discerning buyer (it’s actually bigger than mid-size)
  • Generous legroom featured in both the front and back
  • Twin-turbocharged 3.0 Litre (400 hp/400 lb.-ft. torque)
  • 6-Speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shifters on all models
  • AWD with Dynamic Torque Vectoring – sends up to 100% of the available rear-axle torque to the outside rear wheel while cornering
  • Stuffed with safety and luxury features

Other V6 engine choices:

  • Twin-turbocharged 2.7 L (335 hp/380 lb.-ft. torque) and
  • 7 L Ti-VCT (305 hp/280 lb.-ft. torque)

How Does It Look?                              

  • I really like the look of the Continental – it’s not gaudy or ostentatious, but it still looks different enough that it’s not going to be mistaken for anything other than a Lincoln
  • Definitely longer than your average car, but nowhere as huge as Continentals of old
  • The chrome beltline that also incorporates the door handles ads a touch of class

What’s It Like Inside?       

  • Fully electronic dashboard in front of the driver
  • The Heads Up Display (HUD) is perfectly placed and bright enough to see clearly
  • Push-Button Gear Selection – this takes a bit of getting used to
  • The driver and front passenger get 24-Way Heated and Ventilated Seats.
  • The seats are extremely comfortable, very easy to set and forget. The seat controls are located high up on the door – that’s a bit of an adjustment when you’re used to them being on the lower part of the seat. All of the adjustments can also be made via the centre touchscreen. The test vehicle came with the 30-way seat with Active Motion (massage)
  • 3-Person Driver’s Seat & Mirror Memory – essential when more than one person drives it regularly
  • Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Tri-Zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control
  • 8″ LCD Capacitive Touchscreen in Centre Stack with Swipe Capability – if you need to adjust anything, from the cabin temperature to the seat adjustments to the massage levels – this does it all
  • Voice-Activated Navigation System
  • Lincoln is the only automaker to offer Revel® and Revel Ultima® audio systems. The standard models come with Revel Audio System with HD Radio with 13 Speakers
  • Test vehicle (Reserve) had the optional Revel Ultima featuring 19 speakers and patented Clari-Fi music restoration technology. It is phenomenal, crystal-clear with just the right amount of bass
  • Active Noise Cancellation – it’s whisper-quiet in the cabin at highway speeds
  • Active Noise Control – helps keep the cabin very quiet and hushed – perfect for conversing with rear occupants or enjoying the amazing stereo system while cranked up!
  • Powerfold Rear Headrest
  • Hands-Free Power Trunk Lid
  • Three people can easily fit in the rear, but when only two are present the centre armrest can be folded down, where the rear passengers have access to a plethora of creature comforts and adjustments just for them
  • There’s an abundance of rear legroom and knee space
  • Lots of tastefully placed chrome trim inside, but it gets VERY hot to the touch when it’s sitting in the sun and can also blind you as the sun bounces off the chrome

~ For a Plethora of Additional details about the Continental Reserve features, options and more, see below.

So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?                    

  • It’s very quick – I was expecting a somewhat lethargic increase in power, but nope – it just goes!
  • With 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, you just WANT to keep the right foot pressed a little bit more to feel the surge – it’s addictive
  • Lincoln Drive Control featuring Adaptive Suspension – isolates you from road imperfections using Comfort, Normal and Sport drive modes (I could only find Comfort and Sport – didn’t notice a whole lot of difference other than the sharpened steering input)
  • The Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) with Adaptive Steering is great – it’s nice and heavy without be annoying, but lightens up just enough while driving slowly in parking lots. Without a doubt one of the best – if not THE best electric steering systems I’ve ever used
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) was beyond irritating and 100% useless. Most of these systems are less than ideal, but have improved over the past 5 years or so. Not this one in the Continental. I set it to the smallest space between us and the vehicle in front and was rewarded with a buffer zone of 4-5 transport trucks!! If leaving a gap big enough to land a jumbo jet isn’t going to piss off the people behind you, they’ll have no trouble going around you or cutting you off – you’ll never get anywhere as the car backs up to allow more room – let’s hope this was a technical glitch on the test vehicle.

Horsepower:          400 @ 5,750 rpm
Torque (lb-ft):       400 @ 2,750 rpm
Top Speed:            250 km/h / 155 mph (limited)
0-60 mph (sec):     5.5

What Does It Cost? For up-to-date pricing and options visit:  LincolnCanada or Lincoln

To Buy…
Base price – Continental Reserve: $68,265
As Tested: $83,414

To Operate…

  • Rated at (L/100 km): City – 14.0 / Highway – 9.4
  • We averaged 10.3 L/100 km during our week with the Continental covering 615 kms on a mixture of highway/country/town driving. On the highway we got a constant 9.3 L/100 km at 120-130 km/h. Around town/city driving was consistently 10.5 L/100 km


  • Basic: 4 years/80,000 km
  • Powertrain: 6 years/110,000 km
  • Roadside Assistance: 5 years/160,000 km
  • The Lincoln Way – see details below

The Competition
Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Genesis G80, Jaguar XJ, Kia K900, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Tesla S

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  • The Good: Although initially the price seems steep – comparing it to the competition, the Continental is almost a bargain
  • The Good II: This car is a delight to drive on the highway – THE perfect long-distance cruiser
  • The Bad: Too many gremlins from the electronics (SatNav especially)
  • The Ugly: Adaptive Cruise Control is absolutely useless unless you’re on a completely empty highway (like I said – hopefully this is a techno-glitch)

 What’s The Verdict? 
I think Lincoln is one of those manufacturers that get seriously overlooked in the luxury category. Want horsepower and torque? They deliver. Want good fuel economy? They deliver. Want the ultimate in luxury at an almost bargain-price? Delivered. Would I buy the Continental Reserve? No. I liked it a lot and appreciated the many attributes it has, but I didn’t love it. To be honest I’d definitely buy the MKZ instead and have plenty of money for several nice holidays.

I last drove a Lincoln MKZ a few years ago and have been raving about it ever since. People just don’t believe me when I tell them it is superior to ANY vehicle in its size/luxury bracket, regardless of price. Save $15-25,000 over a comparably sized luxury car and buy/lease a Lincoln – YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! Unfortunately I feel I’m yelling into the wind.

Additional details, features and options…

  • SYNC3 AppLink links your favorite compatible mobile apps with your voice, giving you convenient control
  • FordPass Connect’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot lets passengers connect tablets, laptops and smartphones. It includes a complimentary 3-month or 3GB data trial
  • FordPass Connect allows you to remotely lock and unlock your vehicle, start your vehicle, remote start your vehicle on a schedule, and operate the climate control system using your smartphone or iPhone. Additionally, you can locate your vehicle, check for recalls, call roadside assistance and check approximate fuel range. FordPass also helps you find fuel and compare prices. Find, reserve and pre-pay for parking in select locations. Plus, get help 24/7 from a trained team of Ford Guides
  • iPhone – Apple CarPlay compatibility displays the iPhone interface on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Send and receive text messages by voice. Get directions. Access playlists from Apple Music. iPhone users can view the Waze app’s community-based navigation and traffic features
  • Android Auto compatibility displays the Android interface on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Get voice-guided navigation from Google Maps and Waze. Access your favorite music from your apps. Make calls. Send and receive messages. Just talk to Google Assistant and go. Amazon Alexa users can enjoy their Amazon Echo with the Ford+Alexa app

Noteworthy Standard Features

  • Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start
  • SecuriCode invisible keypad
  • SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System
  • Remote Start
  • Adaptive HID headlamps with LED signature lighting
  • Power-tilt/-telescoping steering column with memory
  • Power windows with one-touch-down front, one-touch-up/-down rear, and global open/close for all windows
  • Hill start assist
  • Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link
  • Heated Steering wheel
  • Windshield Wiper De-icer
  • Heated Rear Seats
  • Engine Block Heater

 Continental Reserve adds:

  • Dual-panel moonroof with power sunshade
  • Perfect Position (24-way) Heated/Ventilated front seats with power thigh extender and headrest restraints featuring a patented comfort-carrier design that flexes around you in a personalized embrace. Each thigh cushion extends and adjusts independently to help support both of your legs, the one at rest and the one engaging the pedals as you drive NOTE: Test vehicle had the optional 30-way seats
  • Bridge of Weir Deepsoft™ Leather-Trimmed Seats – created exclusively for Lincoln by the historic Scottish tannery and inspired by private aircrafts
  • Rear-window power sunshade
  • Revel audio system with 13 speakers
  • Tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control
  • Heated Rear Seats
  • Vivid head-up display – Customize the display by adjusting its position, level of brightness and selecting the details you want to see
  • E-Latch Power Door Cinch Closing – finish closing themselves

 The Lincoln Way app.

  • Features a Lincoln Concierge that can help you find and pre-pay for parking in select cities among other things
  • When it’s time for service, you can simply schedule a Lincoln Pickup & Delivery appointment with the Lincoln Way app or by phone. They pick up the vehicle and deliver it back washed and ready go when service is complete. In between, you’ll get a complimentary Lincoln loaner.
  • Lincoln + CLEAR® biometric technology (6-month complimentary membership) allows members to bypass security lines at 30+ of the busiest airports and sports stadiums across the nation, getting them through security in about 5 minutes or less

Noteworthy Options On Test Vehicle
3.0 L Twin-Turbocharged Engine – $3,000
Premium LED Headlamps – $2,800

  • At speeds between 1 and 56 km/h, the reflectors in the adaptive full-LED headlamps are slowly activated and deactivated to widen the low-beam pattern to help illuminate pedestrians or other roadside objects
  • The reflectors also adapt in relation to the steering wheel position, adding more light to the beam pattern in the direction of the turn

30-way Power Multi Contour Seat Package – $750

  • The Perfect Position 30-way Seat with Active Motion® features a range of adjustability, independent thigh extenders and Active Motion massage to comfort, support and rejuvenate. With in-door controls, the seats easily adjust for a uniquely comfortable position

Rear Seat Package – $5,000

  • Centre armrest with cup holders;
  • heated and ventilated seats with Active Motion® massage function plus power-adjustable lumbar support and power recline;
  • 40/20/40 seat structure;
  • Right Rear seatback control switch – move front passenger seat forward when it’s not occupied;
  • Power Sun blinds (both rear doors);
  • Rear duct B-Pillar registers;
  • Inflatable Safety Belt

20” Polished Aluminum Wheels – $750
Revel Ultima Audio with 19 speakers – $2,700
Floor Mats – $150

Who knew Steve Martin sang “Love Is In The Air?’

Safety Features (Standard)
Standard Lincoln Co-Pilot360 features:

  • Reverse Sensing System
  • Forward Sensing System
  • BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert – warns of vehicles detected in blind spots while going forward and when slowly backing up
  • Pre-Collision Assistance with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Pedestrian Detection
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop-and-Go – allows the vehicle to maintain a comfortable driving distance and helps reduce stress during longer drives.
  • Lane-Keeping System, which includes Lane-Keeping Alert, Lane-Keeping Aid and Driver Alert System – I liked this safety feature. The steering vibrates when you leave your lane, but not too much to make it annoying
  • Rearview camera
  • Auto High Beams
  • Rain-Sensing Wipers
  • Front Passenger Knee Airbag
  • AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
  • Side-curtain airbags

Continental Reserve adds the Technology Package:

  • Enhanced Active Parking Assist – parking aid for those that can’t
  • 360 Degree Camera – a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings and a 180-degree front or rear view (LOVE this feature – very helpful)
  • Heads-Up Display – includes forward-collision warning – gives you plenty of control over placement and what info you want to be displayed, never had a warning from the collision system so maybe it was switched off
  • Windshield Wiper De-Icer

Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Assist+

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering – lane-centering was just 2 green lines, it doesn’t actually keep you in the lane
  • Evasive Steering Assist – must have been switched off, I never experienced this
  • Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System with Pinch-to-Zoom Capability, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link – if you want to go somewhere then you can’t always rely on this system, always have a backup like Google handy. Used it once and got no response what so ever. Fortunately, my co-pilot has Waze and Google maps to get us there. On the return journey, it worked all of a sudden when we were 2 kms from our home!

Copyright © 2020 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland