Premium midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,600 – $4,400*

1996 Lincoln Continental

1995 Lincoln Continental

1995 Lincoln Continental

1995 Lincoln Continental interior

1995 Lincoln Continental interior

  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes
  • Instruments/controls
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Climate controls
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise
  • Electronic steering and suspension

Lincoln evidently attempted to make the Continental both a sports sedan and a traditional luxury car. It’s not quite either, but worth a look anyway. Because sales have been tepid, used-car prices may be appealing.


Still front-wheel drive, a redesigned Continental 4-door sedan debuted late in 1994, featuring a new V8 engine with dual-overhead camshafts. Less-conservative, contemporary styling now resembled the Mark VIII coupe. Developing 260 horsepower, the 4.6-liter V8 drove a new electronic 4-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment included dual airbags, antilock braking, automatic climate control, and an air-filtration system to trap dust and pollen. A redesigned instrument panel displayed virtual-image graphics. The driver could adjust ride quality and steering assist from dashboard buttons.

Yearly Updates

1996 Continental
Continental’s formerly optional antitheft alarm became standard for 1996, and a Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit (dubbed RESCU) became optional. It consisted of a voice-activated cellular phone, two emergency buttons mounted in the overhead console, plus a global-positioning satellite receiver in the car’s trunk. One button summoned roadside assistance; the other, police or medial assistance.
1997 Continental
Traction control (formerly optional) became standard. Lincoln abandoned the front air springs in favor of ordinary steel-coil springs.
1998 Continental
Continental gets a minor restyling but continues with the same mechanicals. It’s almost exactly the same size as the model it replaces, but new proportions give the ’98 Continental a shorter nose and longer tail. The restyled cabin has bird’s-eye maple trim and one inch less rear leg room.
1999 Continental
Changes for ’99 included standard front side airbags and a 15-horsepower boost, to 275, for the 4.6-liter engine. Additionally, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, 10-spoke alloy wheels, and a 2-tone leather interior were new options.
2000 Continental
Three new safety features went into 2000 models: rear child-seat anchors; a manual emergency release inside the trunk; and Belt Minder, a chime and warning light to encourage buckling up.
2001 Continental
All Lincoln’s got free regularly scheduled maintenance for the first three years/36,000 miles starting in 2001. Discontinued was RESCU, Lincoln’s satellite/cell-phone-based emergency assistance service.
2002 Continental
Lincoln announced that 2002 was to be Continental’s final model year and did not make public any plans for a direct replacement. Added midyear was a special-trim Collector’s Edition option for Driver Select models.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Continentals had the same powertrain: a 260-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine with dual-overhead camshafts, driving a 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1999, engine revisions netted an addition 15 horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 260-275
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 265-275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Helped by its new V8 engine, this Continental is a lot quicker, a bit more agile–and loaded with electronic gadgetry. In acceleration, the newly energetic Continental can match a Cadillac Seville SLS. At 16.3 mpg, gas mileage has not improved and premium fuel is recommended.

Despite its multiple adjustments, Lincoln’s high-tech electronic suspension/steering fails to succeed fully. High mode makes the steering stiffer, without increasing feel; Low mode leaves the steering rather light and vague. The suspension also works best in Normal, as the other two modes have little effect on absorption of bumps.

Interior space is great. Occupants have plenty of leg space front and rear, while head room is adequate for 6-footers, even with the optional moonroof. Storage space is fine. The Continental’s trunk is wide, deep, and long.

Reflecting off a mirror above the instrument cluster, the dramatic virtual image gauges are strikingly bright at night, but hard to read in bright sunlight. Controls are plentiful, and most are handy, but climate controls and seat heaters are recessed into the dashboard and hard to reach.


Model Tested: 1996 Lincoln Continental

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 5

Total: 49


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.0 206.3 73.3 55.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
18.1 18.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 39.0 41.8 39.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Continental 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 86
Injury 56
Theft 93

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Air conditioner output may be low or nonexistent because of a problem with the compressor clutch. (1995)
Hard starting
Description: The engine may be hard to start or may stall after hot soak due to the idle-air control valve sticking (1995-96), or a poor connection at the crank position sensor. (1995-97)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (1995-2002)
Steering noise
Description: The steering grunts or groans after making right hand turns, requiring replacement of the steering gear. (1995-97)
Suspension noise
Description: Clunking from the front end may be due to premature wear of the sway-bar links. (1995-97)

Recall History

Description: “Autolamp” control module may fail.
Description: Vehicle can move even though indicator shows Park.
Description: Text and/or graphics for headlamp aiming instructions, provided in owner guides, are not sufficiently clear.
Description: Fuel-rail crossover hose was damaged during assembly, allowing fuel leakage.
Description: Due to defective airbag sensors, the driver and/or passenger airbag might deploy as a result of minor bumps in the road and such. Dealer will inspect and recalibrate all defective sensors.
Description: Due to incorrectly formed pin shaft in seatbelt retractor, switching mechanism could become nonfunctional in some circumstances, preventing seatbelt webbing from being extracted.
Description: A switch located in the plastic cover of the wiper-motor gear case could malfunction and overheat, potentially resulting in loss of wiper function or fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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