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SEE ALSO:Lincoln Buyer's Guide

The Lincoln Continental is a quintessential American luxury car for today's world. It utilizes all of the contemporary automotive engineering technology but still manages to exude tradition and luxury in the finest American manner.

In keeping with today's trends towards downsizing, the current Continental is somewhat smaller, lighter and more efficient than its predecessor. It's power source has changed with the mainstream of American automotive technology. No longer is the Continental powered by a huge, hungry V8 driving the rear wheels. It now utilizes front wheel drive and a V6 engine.

The Continental is still a car for the mature generation, and is still at home at a Palm Springs luxury hotel or as transportation to an Ivy League college reunion. A busy week behind the wheel of the 1994 Signature Series Continental that included my West Coast college reunion, a trip to a BIG college football game and a drive to and through the Sierra Nevada mountains left these impressions:

APPEARANCE: With its new monochrome finish the 1994 Lincoln Continental displays the smooth flowing body styling that started with the Taurus and Sable. The front end treatment is accented by a revamped wide shiny grille surrounded by broad headlamps, the Lincoln logo hood ornament and restyled bumper covers. In back the taillights also wrap-around the nearly vertical rounded long rear decklid. A spacious four-door cabin sits between the long hood and trunk area. Its slightly sculptured sides are protected by new body-colored side moldings and highlighted with geometric spoke alloy wheels and P205/70R15 black-wall tires.

COMFORT: The Signature Series Continental is outfitted in a sumptuous manner that includes the latest in comfort and convenience features which befit a large luxury sedan. The soft leather power adjustable seats are comfortably contoured for four, but when the front and rear center arm rests are folded up six adults can be accommodated. There are two memory settings for the drivers' seat, plus an automatic Remote Recall mode. The electronic instrument panel is easy to read, and the message center keeps the driver advised of the status of the car's major functions. The AM /FM/CD/cassette sound system fills the large cabin with clear tone and high fidelity, while the automatic climate control system quietly maintains the pre-set temperature. The large trunk features a cargo net and an automatic pull down for easy closure. Naturally the windows and mirrors are powered, and the locks for the doors and trunk can be remotely controlled.

ROADABILITY: For 1994 Lincoln's sophisticated suspension system has been updated to provide a smoother and more stable ride. This has been accomplished by adding rebound springs to the front and rear struts of the four-wheel independent suspension system. This system features four adjustable air bladders that automatically control the ride height according to load and road conditions. It also reduces rebounding or "floating" when driving on bumpy roads. In my drives around the city and especially on twisty and rough mountain roads I found that the Signature Continental handled like a lighter and smaller car. Variable assist power steering was tight enough to provide positive road feedback, while the four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes insured quick straight and safe stopping. Additional safety is enhanced by the installation of dual front seat airbags, three-point seat belts, front and rear crush zones and side-impact door beams.

PERFORMANCE: The Continental's well-proven 3.8 liter V-6 engine now produces 160 horsepower and 225 foot pounds of torque, and delivers this power to the front wheels via an electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission. This combination allows for quick pickup for safe merging and passing, as well as economical fuel usage at highway cruising speeds. A counter-rotating balance shaft minimizes engine vibration, while the microprocessor controlled engine management system ensures improved performance and fuel economy plus reduced emissions.

CONCLUSIONS: Even though several overseas auto manufacturers have recently entered the U.S. luxury car market American auto makers still maintain an edge in the traditional large size luxury class where the Continental Signature fits well. It delivers what the buyers in this segment desire - smoothness and comfort. With the 1994 model, Lincoln has provided all of the creature comforts that transform a passenger car into luxury means of transportation.


           Base Price              $  35,750
           Price As Tested         $  37,988
           Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod,  smpfi
           Engine Size             3.8 liter/232 cid
           Horsepower              160 @ 4400
           Torque (ft/lbs)         225 @ 3000
           Wheelbase/Length        109"/206"
           Transmission            four speed automatic w/od 
           Curb Weight             3630
           Pounds per Horsepower   23
           Fuel Capacity           18
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
           Tires                   Firestone FR4A P205/70R15  M+S
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard   disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/front drive 
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed      18/26/22.3
           0 to 60 mph                  9.6 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.4 sec 
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .34