Lincoln Continental: Standard Front-Wheel Drive

The 2017 Lincoln Continental will come with standard front-wheel drive. That fact was discovered by Auto Trends in May and confirmed last week by Automotive News.

Specifically, the Continental will be based on an extended version of the platform underpinning the midsize Ford Fusion and Lincoln’s MKZ. The Continental will replace the Lincoln MKS, itself based on the platform underpinning the Ford Taurus.

Available All-Wheel Drive

A concept of the upcoming Lincoln Continental was on display at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, but Ford was mum about the technical details other than to confirm that a Lincoln-dedicated twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 engine was planned. That engine matches the displacement of one of the engines powering the 2016 Cadillac CT6, an all-new model coming to the market later this year.

Lincoln Continental

The Lincoln Continental concept.

While Lincoln may have several competitors in mind, including Cadillac, the front-wheel drive platform with available all-wheel drive may disappoint some fans. Rear-wheel drive models are more evenly weighted and provide better handling according to discriminating drivers.

But technological and engineering enhancements can mitigate some of those concerns. Indeed, torque vectoring control can manage understeer; depending on the all-wheel drive system used, that’s an option that could prove suitable. And that’s the approach Audi has successfully taken as its large A8 sedan is based on a front-wheel drive platform, but available in all-wheel drive only.

Continental to Flat Rock?

Automotive News also says that production of the Lincoln Continental will be handled at a different plant. Currently, the Chicago Assembly Plant builds the Lincoln MKS, but Ford needs to free more space to keep up with Explorer demand.

Likely, that means the Lincoln Continental will be built in Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside the Ford Fusion. The Ford Mustang is also handled by Flat Rock.

On the other hand, the Lincoln MKZ is assembled at the Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico. That same plant also handles a portion of the Ford Fusion capacity.

Ford EcoSport

The Indian-built Ford EcoSport.

Future Lincoln Product Plans

Notwithstanding the potential importance and success of the Lincoln Continental, the Ford Motor Company may be eyeing the top of the luxury heap with an even larger sedan. At the same time, Lincoln is enjoying a sales boost this year due in large part to its compact MKC crossover and its traditional, full-size Navigator SUV.

The next generation of the Lincoln MKX, a five-passenger midsize utility vehicle will arrive this September. At the same time, interest in the Lincoln MKT, a wagon-like utility vehicle continues to fall. As it stands right now, the marque will be hard-pressed to sell 4,000 units this year as sales are down by more than 20 percent over last year.

And that leads to the question routinely asked about this time every year: will the Ford Motor Company cancel the Lincoln MKT and its sister, the Ford Flex? Perhaps not immediately, but most likely in about a year.

That thinking is based on what Ford did earlier this year — the company filed trademark applications for Aviator and AV8R, the former representing a nameplate used briefly at the beginning of the century. The original Aviator was based on the Ford Explorer and a new seven-passenger model could be too. With the MKC, MKZ, Aviator and Navigator, Lincoln’s SUV line up would be formidable.

Future Ford Product Plans

As for Ford, the brand has a subcompact SUV waiting in the wings to slot below the Escape. It is called the EcoSport and it is built in India.

Just this past week news surfaced that Ford was studying exporting the EcoSport to North America, a model that would battle the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X and the Mazda CX-3. It is a volume segment and Ford has no representation. That could change quickly if the blue oval decides to import the EcoSport.

See AlsoBlack Label: 2017 Lincoln Continental

Ford EcoSport photo copyright Ford India.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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