The 2017 Lincoln Continental is the renaissance of an iconic nameplate of the past, but the auto industry and its luxury cars are wildly different today than the last time Lincoln had the Continental on the market. To see how good the latest version is, there's really no better way than to compare it to a real heavyweight large luxury sedan rival. Let's see how the new Lincoln Continental measures up to the Audi A7.
Lincoln had to know it would be making a statement with the reintroduction of the Continental, and the new car certainly looks like a worthy successor to the name. The new version is attractive, well-balanced, and glitzy enough to justify its luxury billing without going overboard. Lincoln's gone for a distinctly European look, understandable when you think about who its main rivals are.
The Audi A7 is a handsome car, probably the best looking sedan in the company's current lineup. That's not the biggest compliment in the world, though, as many Audis are a long way from being exciting.
The interior of the 2017 Lincoln Continental feels like a tale of two, with the front seats feeling more like a sport sedan and the rear feeling every inch like an upscale executive lounge. This is a pretty big car, and the comfort afforded by so much real estate is matched by the opulence of the design, the materials, and the overall build quality.
The Audi A7 is a relatively new model, designed to fit between the existing A6 and A8 models--which means it's not a midsize and not a full-size either. There's more room and therefore more comfort for passengers in the Lincoln, so this section goes to the Continental.
Three impressive engines adorn the new Lincoln Continental lineup. All three are V-6s and they come in 3.7, 2.7 turbo, and 3.0-liter twin-turbo flavors with 305, 335, and 400 horsepower respectively. The ride can be a touch firmer than some of the softer-riding luxury sedans out there, but that's because the driving experience of the Continental is more engaging and enjoyable than many of its direct competitors.
The A7 doesn't mess around with puny four-pots either. In fact, the engine lineup and the power and performance on offer from the Audi A7 range is quite formidable. The least powerful six-cylinder in the standard A7 models develops 333 horsepower, and at the other end of the spectrum, the 4.0-liter eight-cylinder in the RS 7 Performance delivers a real killer punch to the Lincoln here with its 553 horsepower. However, the S and RS versions of the A7 should really be seen as separate performance models in their own right, so it's another round here to the Lincoln.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental doesn't bother yet with fancy fuel-saving technologies like eight or nine-speed transmissions, hybrid propulsion systems, or cylinder de-activation, so EPA-estimated fuel-efficiency ratings are on the low side with a best of 18 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined.
The 3.0-liter V-6 in the regular Audi A7 models is a little more impressive with ratings of 20 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined, although whether that's enough to sway buyers is doubtful. Even so, it's a victory for the Audi over the Lincoln.
The Audi A7 is a truly great car, even if it does suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. The fact that there's not much distinction between these two luxury sedans is a great credit to the 2017 Lincoln Continental, though, especially because of the price difference. You may be happy to pay a little more for an Audi badge, but it's hard to justify the $24K difference between the entry level models of the two cars here. All in all, the Lincoln Continental is the smarter, better buy.