How Lincoln Cars Work

By: the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

Lincoln Continental Revamped

The Lincoln Continental sedan carried through 1994 with considered yearly improvements but no great alterations to the successful front-drive formula of 1988. The base model was renamed Executive Series for '91, when the pushrod 3.8 V-6 gained standard dual exhausts and 10 bhp for 155 total. Another five bhp arrived the following year via internal engine changes.

Like Town Car, the Continental picked up electronic transmission control ('91), shift interlock ('92), the usual trim and appearance shuffles, and a few extra standard features, plus new optional items like front bucket seats (for Executive from '93) and remote keyless-entry system. Also prevailing here were spotty passenger-side airbag availability for 1990-92 models, and steady price escalation that lifted base stickers into the mid-$30,000 range by 1994. Production went the other way, falling to 26,798 by '93, less than half the 1990 total -- which made the '94 tally of more than 52,000 a real surprise.


An all-new Continental debuted for 1995, appearing just ahead of Lincoln's 75th birthday. Though still front-drive, it was rather like a Mark VIII in more conservative four-door dress. It even had the same twincam V-8, though transverse mounting and a more restrictive exhaust robbed 20 horses to leave "just" 260. Wheelbase was unchanged, and width and height were up only an inch apiece, but weight ballooned nearly 400 pounds despite the use of plasticlike sheet-molding compound to replace steel in the hood, trunklid, and fenders. Some of the extra weight reflected a stiffer unitized structure with more sound-deadening. Other pounds came from added standard features like the full automatic climate control with pollen microfilter. Dual airbags and ABS were again included, and there was a no-cost choice of front seating: three-place bench with column shift or buckets with console shift.

Trying more than most cars to be all things to all people, the '95 Continental came with a dazzling bit of electronic trickery called the Memory Profile System (MPS). This provided "his and her" adjustments for many functions including the position of the power mirrors, driver's seat, and steering wheel (the last an electric tilt/telescopic affair); as well as personalized radio presets, power window and alarm operation, and -- most novel of all -- suspension and steering calibrations.

Like its predecessor, the '95 Continental rode an all-independent air-spring suspension, but with a second, horizontal pair of shock absorbers added in back. All shocks were electronically controlled, like the air springs and now the steering, too. All this allowed rigging the system to allow choosing Firm, Normal, or Plush damping via the MPS control panel. Steering assist still decreased as road speed increased, but overall effort could be varied through Low, Medium, and High modes. Dear­born's computer nerds widely prohibited a combination of Plush damping and Low steering effort, but differences weren't that great among the many possible settings. In fact, the car felt best in the Normal/Medium "default" mode. Firm/High only made the ride more fidgety and helm work more tiring.

With all its new gadgetry, the '95 Continental cost a good $5000 more than the last of the V-6 generation, the lone sedan running higher in the "near-luxury" class at $40,750. Options were restricted to chrome wheels, voice-activated cell phone (complete with a dashboard display for signal strength and call duration), power moonroof, all-speed traction control, CD changer, and a novel wheeled "cart" that moved back and forth in the trunk and could be partitioned for carrying smaller items so they wouldn't tip over.

For more on the luxurious Lincoln, see:

  • Lincoln Used Car Reviews and Prices
  • Lincoln New Car Reviews and Prices