With the new Continental, Lincoln has recreated the Great American Car

Lincoln ContinentalSmooth.Matthew DeBord/BI

The Lincoln Continental is just one of those cars. It really isn't even a car — it's an ideal, a dream, an evocation.

In many ways, the Great American Car.

Ford introduced the Continental in the late 1930s, and over the decades it was conjoined with American history, most tragically in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas while riding in a 1961 Continental limousine.

Ford discontinued the Continental as its flagship Lincoln luxury sedan in 2002, but the nameplate never really went away. You could say that it haunted Ford.

And then, in 2015, a new Continental concept car took the New York auto show by storm. Ford had considered killing off Lincoln after the financial crisis but decided against it and put billions into a revival of the brand. By 2016 we saw the production version of the big new sedan as it hit the car-show circuit.

More recently, as autumn settled in the Northeast, we finally found ourselves behind the wheel of a 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve with all-wheel drive, stickered at $56,000 but then benefitting from about $20,000 worth of options, taking the final price up to $76,000.

Does the new Continental live up to expectations — not to mention the lofty reputation of its name? Read on to find out:

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