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Waiting for the return of the Lincoln Continental

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Talk about class! Landing at Dulles International Airport (IAD) to visit my ailing brother Eddie in Gaithersburg, Maryland, I was picked up by an airport limousine sent by my sister-in-law Rorie. The limo was a black Lincoln Continental driven and owned by Liz Reynolds.

The long drive to the Asbury retirement community in Gaithersburg gave me the opportunity to interview Liz about her car. She said that from the start 30 years ago, she has always acquired a Lincoln Continental, brand new or almost (meaning one or two years old) new for her car-for-hire business because of its huge passenger and luggage capacity and its smooth, quiet, comfortable ride. She charges $70 per one-way trip to or from the airport to Washington D.C. and/or environs. During the Christmas season and summer vacation when many people travel, she sometimes gets as many as eight passengers a day.

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Liz, who is the sole proprietor and manager of her business, claimed that she has driven Lincoln Continentals for as much as 500,000 miles each and never had to change the engine. I asked her why not get a minivan or a sport utility vehicle instead which can seat seven.  But she replied that nothing can beat a Lincoln Continental for luxury, ride quality, reliability and handling.  Even today, the Cadillac STS is no competition.

Ensconced in the luxuriously overstuffed, black leather back seat surrounded by generous headroom (enough for 6-footers) and leg room, I tended to agree.  The Lincoln Continental is one of the smoothest riding cars, if not the smoothest, with plenty of leg space front and rear.  Its V8 engine offers superb acceleration and as I observed with Liz at the wheel, it handles very well and is a pleasure to drive.

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Liz said that the car averages 21 miles per gallon, which is not bad for a big car although premium gasoline is recommended and the turning radius is quite wide because of the Continental’s length. The Lincoln Continental is roomy enough to carry an entire family while its wide, deep and long trunk can swallow their luggage and gear.  The high-tech electronic suspension has three driving modes: the high mode makes the steering stiffer, while the low mode makes it light and vague.  The suspension works best in normal mode.

Although the Lincoln Continental has traditionally been a distinctively platformed and styled, highly equipped luxury car and has been the US President’s official ride,  its production ended in July 2002, due to slumping sales and the shift in consumer preference away from large, front-wheel-drive luxury cars to more fuel-efficient vehicles plus advancements in traction control, ABS and skid control technology.  It has been replaced by the rear-wheel-drive, full-size Lincoln Town Car and MKS and the mid-size Lincoln LS.

The model that Liz was driving was probably the last generation, the  2002 model, considered by many as Lincoln’s best Continental yet with styling that keeps up to 2012 design trends.  Many Lincoln Continental owners like Liz Reynolds think that the Continental should be a member of the Lincoln family again and soon.  I think so, too.

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TAGS: Aida Sevilla-Mendoza, column, Lincoln continental, Motoring
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