2018 Lincoln Continental ・ Photo by Lincoln
Before we dive into our 10 Lincoln Continental competitors to consider, let’s put our star car in the spotlight. The 2019 Lincoln Continental is a full-size luxury sedan starting at $47,140 (including destination charges). This new model year brings more safety features as standard, specifically automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and active lane-keeping assistance.
The price range tops out at $71,040 for the Black Label version, which has pretty much everything as standard (many items were optional in 2018), including the super-comfortable 30-way power-adjustable front seats. Naturally, luxury touches abound, such as fine leather upholstery, soft-closing doors, and audio systems to please Yo-Yo Ma and Garth Brooks alike. The competition, however, is daunting.
Few people are going to buy an Acura RLX with the intention of sitting in the back. Although rear legroom is a generous 38.8 inches, the Continental enjoys 41.3 inches. And anyway, the RLX is really one size down (think BMW 5 Series). But it’s the largest sedan from this particular luxury marque, it’s priced from around $56,000 and comes with a lot of standard equipment.
One intriguing choice, though, is the all-wheel-drive RLX Sport Hybrid because it includes a Krell audio setup. It’s hardly a household name, but Krell makes beautiful-sounding stuff, good enough to match the well-respected Revel system in the highest Continental trim. The RLX Sport Hybrid starts at about $63,000.
Photo by Acura
The Continental was already facing tough competition from fresh generations of luxury mainstays like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series when it launched as a 2017 model. But the all-new Audi A8 is the newest of the big flagship sedans, offering technology so serious that it’s moving the class into more rarefied air.
For example, if the car senses an imminent side impact (and there are many sensors in the A8), the air suspension raises that flank by about 3 inches (in less than a second) because the car’s lower frame is stronger than the doors. Where the Continental can preserve a little dignity is that its most expensive model is still more affordable than an entry-level A8, which starts at around $85,000.
Photo by Audi
Plenty of other luxury cars have front seats with multiple adjustments, even if they don’t add up to the Continental’s 30. If buttocks could dream, their night-time imaginings might feature the BMW 7 Series’ 20-way multi-contour front seats. These thrones are also heated and ventilated, and they offer eight massage programs.
The rest of the car is similarly superb. The 7 Series is for buyers wanting a full-on luxury vehicle, but still desire some driving thrills on occasion. The Continental doesn’t really try to exude any enthusiast appeal, but then it doesn’t start at approximately $85,000 like the 7 Series. The Continental can’t really compete with full-size European rivals on equipment and technology, but as a purchase for a limousine company, it makes a stronger argument.
Photo by BMW
Starting in the $51,500 region, the updated-for-2019 Cadillac CT6 is more of a direct rival to the Continental price-wise. From a technology standpoint, though, the CT6 has an edge: Super Cruise. Optional in the Premium Luxury trim and standard at the Platinum level, this is the first look-no-hands freeway driving technology available in a production car. The strange thing is how quickly the driver becomes accustomed to letting the CT6 do its Super Cruise thing. Although it’s hands-free, it still requires a driver’s eyes to remain alert (and it keeps checking).
In its other characteristics, the CT6 is roomy, classy, comfortable, and attractive. The entry level only has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but there are also V6 options.
Photo by Ron Sessions
Compare the Genesis G90 with the Black Label version of the Continental. The G90 starts at $69,325 and has almost every item imaginable as standard. The only way to spend more money on a G90 is to select the version with the V8 engine (a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 is the base unit) that also brings ventilated rear seats and a rear entertainment system. Then opt for all-wheel drive. Even then, the final bill wouldn’t be much over $75,000.
Genesis also seals the deal with three years’ subscription to SiriusXM real-time traffic updates, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (Lincoln: six years/70,000 miles), and three years free service valet (a feature Lincoln has discontinued). Incidentally, the Lexicon audio system sounds glorious.
Photo by Genesis
The Infiniti Q70L offers the option of a 416-hp 5.6-liter V8. This might seem a little old-fashioned now that many companies, including Lincoln, are going with turbocharged six-cylinder engines that can make just as much power (the Continental’s ceiling is 400 hp) yet return better fuel economy. But there’s still something about a V8, the way it serves up its energy and how it sounds in the process, that half a dozen cylinders can’t mimic.
We’re looking at the long-wheelbase version of the Q70 rather than the regular model because its rear legroom of 41.8 inches just beats the Continental. Its starting price is higher, though, at $52,795. Acquiring V8 power pushes that up to $66,045.
Photo by Infiniti
There’s no nice way of saying this, but the XJ is getting old. Most of us were expecting a new generation for 2019, but the current car hangs on for another trip around the sun. Then again, the XJ remains pretty darn fabulous.
Its aluminum-intensive construction doesn’t actually result in a light car, but it did give Jaguar some leeway in where to put the weight, so the XJ has a wonderful balance to it. As a driver’s choice among large luxury sedans, the XJ comes millimeter-close to the BMW 7 Series. And it has that Jaguar panache, not only in its driving experience but also in its styling, qualities that Lincoln sorely lacks. The 2019 XJ starts at $76,395.
Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
The most convincing luxury car to come from Japan is the recently redesigned Lexus LS. It has evolved from a keenly priced Mercedes-Benz imitator to carving its own special niche in the luxury sedan landscape through high-class craftsmanship, exemplary engineering, and incredible attention to detail.
The new LS offers an air suspension that lifts the car for easier entry and exit, as well as providing superb comfort and control on the move. The optional head-up display is also one of the largest available. The 2019 LS 500 starts at $76,225 and Lexus resale values are the envy of the industry, while Lincoln’s resale values have traditionally been average at best.
Photo by Lexus
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the most successful large flagship sedan ever. It’s the benchmark, the general public’s idea of what a Mercedes should be and of what a luxury car should be. This current generation is packed with so much cutting-edge technology but is also incredibly cosseting, reassuringly safe, and still able to achieve a stylish impact. Then again, so it should for a starting price of $92,245, more than twice the price of the entry-level Lincoln counterpart.
The thing is, it’s hard to imagine anyone saying to themselves: “I’ve now become rich and successful, I’m going to buy a Continental.” Substitute “S-Class” for “Continental” and that sentence sounds more feasible. Unless someone was thinking of a Bentley.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
Many of our Lincoln Continental competitors represent the best of what each company makes, just as the Continental should represent the best of Lincoln. But so many rivals are much more expensive. This creates some space just below the top rung where marques like Lincoln and Volvo can stake their claims.
Volvo makes its own special magic in the comfy chair department, creates elegant styling inside and out, and uses fine materials in the cabin. The S90 range starts at $49,095, which compares pretty well with the Lincoln, while equipment levels are also similar. And since its introduction for the 2017 model year, the S90 has been stretched to accommodate 40.4 inches of rear legroom.
Photo by Volvo