The Lincoln Motor Company is no Lexus

The 2013 MKZ is Lincoln’s valiant attempt to create a better Lexus. Like the brand-new Toyota luxury division 20 years ago, Lincoln management hopes to redefine luxury. Its first effort, the 2013 MKZ, is quite good. It’s not enough though, because Ford Motor Company is not willing to give its remaining premium division adequate cash and resources.

Lincoln needs more than its own design studio – it should have a bespoke engineering team, at least one exclusive platform (preferably rear-wheel drive), and potentially its own manufacturing space. Toyota pumped resources into its secret project F1, and the 1989 Lexus LS400 that resulted blew away the competition with its competency. Even the entry-level ES250, despite humble Camry roots, stood apart from its more plebian Camry relative. The LS that established Lexus’ reputation was unrelated to any Toyota. Lincoln needs a model like this to sit atop its range.

Radically different sheetmetal and unique interior design doesn’t adequately distinguish the MKZ from the Ford Fusion on which it is based. The MKZ’s standard engines are the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four and a version of the hybrid powertrain available in the Fusion, though the Lincoln offers an optional V-6 you can’t have in the Ford. Some of the Lincoln-only content, like dynamic chassis control, doesn't improve enough on the Fusion.

In August, we reported that Lincoln would focus only on high-volume luxury segments. There will be no halo car for the brand. The segments are just too small to rationalize production of such a model for Lincoln alone. But Lexus’ prestige didn’t come from its bestsellers, the RX crossover and the ES. It came from the LS, a model not duplicated in the Toyota range that put sheen on the less-expensive, Toyota-based models, plus the effortless dealership experience and the luxury of starting with no reputation at all. Lincoln’s 95 years of history can either boost its image or hold it back.

Ford’s latest last-ditch attempt to save Lincoln was to reintroduce the company’s old name. Corporate marketing gurus are trying to recapture the glory and the spirit of the brand at its high point, but instead this reminds consumers of how good Lincoln was, and how lost it is now. I have sat in classic Continentals with their palpable mid-century luxury. I’ve run my fingers across the sinewy lines of an early Zephyr and understood how tracing these lines were like tracing muscles under human skin. While the MKZ is a stunning looker, it’s missing that certain something that comes when the design team is allowed to roam free with ideas.

Lincoln’s future models will mimic the MKZ’s formula. A Ford Escape-based crossover comes next. New versions of the MKX and MKT crossovers, and the MKS sedan are also in the works. Don’t expect anything revolutionary from these models. I doubt that Ford will spend the money or create the models necessary for Lincoln to be more than a branding exercise.

jazzy2945
When I think about luxury cars, the brands that come to my mind are: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, Lexus and Infiniti.  No Lincoln in that line up.  For me Lincoln and the dead Mercury was a different grill to a Ford car and a overprice bill.  There is nothing to make you think it's a luxury car.  What is a luxury car?  A/C, power windows, leather seats and nice stereo?  No!  All cars have that now  Even a Fiat 500, Hyundai and Kia cars have those features and more.  Lincoln cars must offer something more than that.  For example, the Chevy Cruz is a compact car that is quite well appointed and at the same time Buick Verano is the same chassis but I feel is a more luxury compact car.  A car that I will compare to an Audi A3 or A4.  You  will not find a Cadillac with a Chevy version any more.  Even the new Cadillac ATS is totally different from the Verano and Cruz, but uses the same chassis.  Engine, interior is totally different from each other.  You can tell there is a luxury car here, but in Lincoln, they think a higher price makes it a luxury car.
Joseph R Sprague
Ive been a die hard Ford owner since I bought my first vehicle at the age of 14, but I have to agree with the author.  Lincoln is about as exciting as sugar free vanilla ice cream.  When the LS came out in, I believe 99 or 2000, that was cool that was exciting.  The design was unlike anything else in the Ford line up-it was rear wheel drive and could be had with a stick! That was a car that I, a young mustang driving 20 something at the time, would have drove.  Today, however, if I were to sell my F150 to get a luxury car Lincoln would not be my first stop-despite the loyalty I feel towards the blue oval.  The cars are too closely related to Ford and even this new car screams rebadged Fusion.  If you look at what you can get from BMW and M-Benz...exciting sedans with manual transmissions, rear wheel drive, 2 doors, convertibles, etc.  Lincoln offers zero excitement and the Lincoln name just doesnt carry the prestige that the others do.  If Lincoln wants to reinvent itself, it needs to create exciting cars...not a history-of-lincoln-ad campaign. 
SubGothius
While they're rebranding the marque, they should also take this opportunity to rebrand their model nomenclature. They used to have great names like Continental and Zephyr, but now I can never keep straight which model is which among the MKZ, MKX, MKT, and MKS. Even switching to Mark Z, Mark X, etc. would be a nominal improvement, putting more emphasis on the most significant component of the name.
tkotte
Obviously   DONNY BOY eats to much SUSSHI and obvioulsy has an Impacted bowel becuase of hie Dietary consumption.  Rcommend Donny loose some pounds and realize Lincoln Mecury is an American Icon.  Bred on Natural Beef.
brendan_hummel
@tkotte oh racism.... because all Japanese people only eat sushi, and all Americans eat beef. and it's "sushi" not "susshi". "Obviously" not "obvioulsy" (sounds like a disease), "recommend", "lose", not "loose"... and the random capitalization... need I go on? I feel like if you are going to tear apart an author, you should consider grammar as an important aspect. Additionally, you are correct, Lincoln/Mercury is/was an American icon... but... where is Mercury now? I also like to believe that people would be slightly smarter, and better informed to buy a car based on something other than the fact that the company made some really cool cars 40ish years ago. The fact of the matter is, Lincoln is not competitive in today's luxury car market. They have several decent products, but nothing great, and it seems that lately, they are so focused on making their cars appear on the surface to be worth their premium price tag, that they aren't actually putting any of the energy into chassis/engine development that sets them aside from their Ford cousins in any way. Whereas Lexus, whom mostly bases their cars off of "lesser" Toyota models, still feels like a different car all together. As I have stated in the past, it seems as though "Lincoln Motor Company" is little more than re-badged Fords with standard leather and different headlights. (over simplification I know, but you see where I am going..) Anyhow, back to the original point, don't be racist, and learn about grammar. Your argument will sound infinitely more relevant.
orion2history
 Speaking of beef, you seem to be full of bovine by-product (and spelling/gramatical errors, for that matter). Nordlicht writes:"I have sat in classic Continentals with their palpable mid-century luxury. I’ve run my fingers across the sinewy lines of an early Zephyr and understood how tracing these lines were like tracing muscles under human skin."TL:DR -- Lincoln/MeRcury **was** an American icon, perhaps through the late 1960s, at the latest. Aw, hell, let's say 1971, since the Pantera was handled in America by L/M's sales channel.But that era -- that of three-martini lunch, nuclear brinksmanship with the Ruskies, and Lincoln's untarnished reputation for unrivaled luxury -- is gone. How have others -- namely Lexus, which Ford targets as its primary Lincoln target -- succeeded? You'd have to have your head up an "Impacted bowel," as you say, to not look and learn from what those companies are doing RIGHT.

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