LOOKS . Soggy
HANDLING . Isolated
COMFORT . Sublime
QUALITY . Best American
STEREO . Solid
FUN TO DRIVE . Somewhat
EMOTION . Noncommittal
CACHET . Overdone


Sticker . $45,015
Power . 260 horsepower
0 to 60 . 7 to 8 sec.
Test Mileage . 14.3 mpg
Seating . 5
Trunk . 18.1 cubic feet
Parking . Big Spots


I'm an oddball, but I really loved the previous generation Continental; a subtle balance of American style luxury minus excess. It was compact, nimble and very frugal for a luxury sedan. Oh well. Driven by the frantic pace of competition in the luxury segment, they decided to "improve it". The new Continental is bigger, faster, plusher, stuffed full of every techno-do-dad ever invented and, for me, a big disappointment.

Let's take it from the curbside first. It looks funny. Big overhangs, graceless lines and a sucked in waist just don't gel into a very artful form. Gaudy chrome wheels added a sort of automotive pinkie ring effect. Whoa.

Let's look inside. The weirdness continues with an oddly shaped steering wheel. Mixing fake wood that looked real with real wood that looked fake jumbled my senses and wigged out the quality meter. Otherwise the interior is not unattractive and the seats were truly comfortable, long haul no exception. The gadgetry is awesome. Air suspension offered 3 ride settings (floaty, soggy & thumpy) and the computers serve up 3 steering feels (non-existent, vague and leaden). A schizophrenic "Memory Profile System" is supposed to retain settings for several different drivers in regard to seating, mirrors, ride and steering settings. I never figured it out, but it insisted on changing everything at random to someone else's preferences. Unusable ashtray, invisible controls and bewildering complexity set new ergonomic lows. Whoa.

Gee, I hate too be so picky, so I'll mention a few appealing points. The V8 lacked a bit of low end, but sure ran like a rhino on top. It was quiet. The stereo had some serious ability. Trunk was salesman size and featured a nifty drawer thingie that slid to and fro while keeping small loads organized. The back seat was big enough for a spirited frolic with a very cute blonde. And I did love the "virtual instrument cluster".

Bottom line -this hulk goes for serious green and they just did not get the looks nor the details right. Unless you just love floating down the freeway, there are better cars for the money.