2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Lincoln Continental

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Continental doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Continental doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Continental have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Continental’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Lincoln only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Continental.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 720-amp battery. The Continental’s 650-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Continental’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 12 places higher in reliability than Lincoln.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Continental:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Continental

FWD

3.7 DOHC V6

17 city/26 hwy

2.7 turbo V6

18 city/27 hwy

AWD

3.7 DOHC V6

16 city/24 hwy

2.7 turbo V6

17 city/25 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

16 city/24 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Continental doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 3 Series Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Continental.

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Continental doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Continental are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the Continental:

3 Series

Continental

70 to 0 MPH

165 feet

170 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Continental Standard’s standard 50 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the Continental Select/Reserve’s optional 40 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Continental doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Continental’s suspension doesn’t offer front gas-charged shocks.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the Continental’s (58.9% to 41.1%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 330i xDrive handles at .89 G’s, while the Continental Reserve AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is 4.4 feet tighter than the Continental’s (37.4 feet vs. 41.8 feet). The 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Continental’s (39.2 feet vs. 41.8 feet).

Chassis

The BMW 3 Series Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 600 to 650 pounds less than the Lincoln Continental.

The 3 Series Sedan is 1 foot, 3.7 inches shorter than the Continental, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series offers cargo security. The Continental’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Continental. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

When the 3 Series Sedan is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Continental’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 3 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Continental doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Lincoln Continental isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Lincoln Continental by over five to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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