Little has changed for the 2002 Lincoln Continental. In fact, this will be the last year of production for Lincoln’s Long time Luxury sedan. Changing times and more affordable choices from luxury import brands have finally forced Ford to kill the aging Continental. Luxury cars have not only become more luxurious in recent years, but many luxury brands offer more for less in terms of value per dollar. But it’s not all bad news for Lincoln. The current Continental offers a long list of standard features and is packed with enough gee-wiz gadgets to make even Maxwell Smart feel right at home.
While not dramatically different from Continentals of previous years,
the 2002 model is still a good looking car. Sleek lines, and the traditional Lincoln “waterfall” grille give the car an aire of distinction. Large Chrome wheels lend a sporty flair to the stately Continental.
Inside you’ll be treat to soft, two-tone leather seats, wood trim and an Alpine audio system that really sounds great. Eletroluminescient gauges and a comprehensive trip computer/information center that will display engine functions, miles per gallon, and distance to empty round out the interior.
At first glance the Continental’s interior seems rather bland. There is a non-descript quality that reminds one of a rental car. Now that is the first impression, after a few days it becomes quite obvious that the Continental is the type of car one can feel at home in. True, it is not sporty or flashy or ultra luxurious, but the Continental just seems to “fit” - perhaps because it doesn’t call attention to itself. As you would expect, the Continental is very roomy, with lots of leg, hip, shoulder and head room no matter where you sit.
This is the kind of car that does not require a PhD just to figure out how to operate the climate control. Everything is just where it should be. Yes, that does mean the dash looks rather straightforward, but haven’t we learned that simple is better. Simple is also safer. Aesthetics aside, isn’t it ultimately better for the driver not to be distracted by complicated radio buttons, or LED screens that look like a dash mounted video game?
On the road the Continental is equal to many other luxury sedans, and while it does lack the silky smooth perfection of the Lexus ES300 or Infiniti I35 it still has a rich quality that you’d expect from Lincoln. The suspension is soft and smoothes out even the roughest of roads. While the Continental’s ride is smooth, it can border on “floaty” at times and lacks the refined feel of its European counterparts. Owners used to large American sedans will feel right at home, but Lexus and BMW owners may find the ride strays too far from the well controlled luxury they have come to expect. Sharp cornering results in lots of body roll. This is not a sports car. In fact, it is not even a sporty sedan. A car like the Buick Park Avenue Ultra is sportier than the Continental.
The Continental has an adjustable air-suspension system that allows the driver to choose between “normal” “firm” or “plush” ride quality. It does work, but even in the so called “firm” mode, the ride still feels a bit soft.
The 32 valve, 275 hp, In-tech V8 provides adequate, if not brisk, acceleration. There is little engine noise, and even less exhaust noise. Seems like a V8 powered luxury sedan should have a bit of an exhaust note, but the Conti opts for a whisper quiet cabin. The Continental places comfort over all-out performance - it’s a worth while trade off, but some may find it a bit disappointing. Not to beat a dead horse, but a car like the Lexus GS430 delivers muscle car performance without compromising comfort or luxury. If you’re not the least bit concerned about quick acceleration or sharp cornering, the Continental is probably for you.
Overall, the Continental is an above average car. Like so many other cars on the market today, it is a perfectly fine automobile when judged on its own merits. However, once a consumer drives other mid-size luxury cars from brands such as Lexus, Infiniti, and even Cadillac, it’s easy to understand why the Continental will not live to see 2003.
Priced with options, the 2002 Continental can easily top $40,000. That will buy you a lot of car these days. Brands such as Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and Buick offer cars that are superior in many ways, but cost a little less money.
If you equate luxury with size, then the Continental has you covered – it is spacious, but it’s no bargain. Since this is the last year of production for the middle Lincoln, maybe a bargain will be easier to strike. On the other your local dealer may not be above using the “get ‘em while they last” routine. The bottom line: The Lincoln Continental is a really great $33,000 car.
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