Ford Looks to (Finally) Revitalize Lincoln -- Is It Enough?

If you ask most Americans to name a domestic luxury car manufacturer, nine times out of ten the answer is going to be Cadillac. Press them further still to name a second luxury car company, and I’m willing to bet the next work out of their mouth is Buick or Chrysler. Ford Motor Company’s 96-year-old Lincoln is all but forgotten. But that wasn’t always the case -- Lincolns used to be the cars of the affluent. Every single president starting with Calvin Coolidge in 1923 until George H.W. Bush left office in 1993 rode in a Lincoln, not a Cadillac. Now that Ford’s dumped Mercury and is safely out of danger from the recession (being up 12.1 percent this year as of June 1), it’s looking to turn its attention to Lincoln.

“You think of BMW as engaging to drive; you can think of Lexus as refined. Bring them together and it is a new experience no customer has ever had,” said Ford’s head of global product development, Derrick Kuzak, in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. That helps to give an idea of what Ford is going for when the next generation of Lincolns start being unveiled later this year.

The first redesigned Lincolns, the full-sized, Taurus-based MKS and the hearse/baleen whale-hybrid known as the MKT will be the first Lincolns to be aimed at those new customers. Ford hopes to attract new customers to Lincoln by loading its vehicles with high-tech gizmos such as retractable all-glass roofs and noise canceling technology similar to that in noise-cancelling headphones. Not only will the technology appeal to the techie crowd, but if it works it’ll save an untold amount of weight. Something like that could help Lincoln get the Lexus-like refinement it’s looking for, while also getting some of that BMW driving-DNA into it as well. To further help driving enjoyment, the MKS for example, will have an electronically-controlled suspension; probably with sport, comfort and touring modes similar to other luxury automakers'' offerings. It also has been rumored that all future Lincolns will have all-wheel drive as either standard, or optional -- à la Audi.

Ford has its work cut out for it, though. Facing a similar problem to what Cadillac and Buick faced a few years ago, Lincoln’s average buyers are increasingly geriatric. In fact, the average age of a Lincoln owner is 62 years old. That’s eight years older than the average Lexus driver and a whopping 13-years-older than the average BMW buyer. On top of that, Lincoln sold just 7,399 cars in the United States last month; most of those MKZs, essentially a rebadged Ford Fusion. Meanwhile, BMW sold more X3s than Lincoln sold in total; in fact the BMW brand sold almost three-times what Lincoln sold, with 20,651 vehicles moved.

Lincoln’s first salvo is set to be fired in November when the redesigned MKS and MKT are unveiled as 2012 models. The MKS and MKT are to be the first of seven all-new or redesigned Lincolns. Next up will be an all new Mondeo-based MKZ late next year, with the next four-models to be released throughout 2013 and 2014.

But is it enough? GM was able to bring around Cadillac's resurgence on the back of the CTS sedan and strong design and marketing. What do you think it will take for Ford to be able to turn Linclon around? Or do you think Lincoln will be following Mercury to the big parking lot in the sky. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

Mark
I'm a Lincoln lover from the past too. However, they haven't made any decent cars in so long. That new MKZ Concept is a beautiful car but when will Ford ditch the long front overhang look. That new concept is more of the same thing from these past years. Ditch the front overhang and you have more of a Euro-clone like everyone else is trying to be.
Dan
I 100% agree with I.M. Flynn. I am only 42 yrs old and I wouldn't be caught dead in a Lincoln. (cadillac hearse only, please). The word that comes to mind is "dowdy." Like the old ads used to say, it isn't your father's Oldsmobile? Well..it IS your father's Lincoln, ha ha! And I also agree with the other poster that said model recognition is a real problem. NO ONE knows what they are! MKTZKXKSKMSK? WTF?? Call it a CONTINENTAL. Call it a TOWN CAR. (About as bad as Volvo with their V70XRVRS Crosscountry V60XSTUVWXYZ models). There was never a problem with those badges...the problem was Lincoln didn't modernize the CARS. And that SUV...how dreadful! The front end looks like an eagle, lol.
Takeanotherlook
Lincoln needs to BRING THE DANG LS MODEL BACK and Modernize it with LED Lighting rear & Zenon Lighting up front. They (Ford/Lincoln) should have never killed that model. It was the right size for the future & if they had kept that same grill scheme instead of going into these Waterfall grilles that copy the basic Ford product they would be fighting Cadillac for the market right now. My father had a Lincoln LS in 2000 and then he bought the last one in 2006. Unfortunately he should have gotten the V6 model in 2006 but... we all know we will NOT be driving V8's unless we own a gas station or two... When looking for a vehicle this past year I chose the Volvo s80 because I hate that Ford screwed over the Lincoln line.. The MKZ is something I will leave at the rental car place.. It is too old looking & its design is dated. Looking for a Crossover vehicle next year & the Cadillac SRX has already stolen the market.. as a Second choice I might choose an Infiniti e35. but then again Ford in their infinite dumb wisdom made the aviator into a 1963 remake of a Lincoln front on a SUV that they killed off sales of that too.No way would I consider it.. In fact Ford should have kept Volvo & killed off Lincoln.. No way will they get young buyers to put money in a Mark anything in the future.. The days of bringing them out every decade with a revamped look are over. Well I heard that the average Lincoln dealership sold only 7 vehicles in the month of May 2011. For a total sales of 7900 vehicles across the country. Is that enough of an endorsement that you need to scrap all 7 of your models and come up with something different... I am formerly a 8 time owner of Ford /Mercury/Mazda products and the son of a retired Ford dealer and I'd rather buy the Cadillac SRX then anything in the Lincoln line up.... for 2010....Glad Mulally announced that they are going to do some revisions for the product lines in 2012-2014.. please kill off that waterfall grille....
Mr Windows
Lincoln lost it's way when they went all-in with trucks; the Mark LT, the Blackwood, and the Aviator were all costly diversions, however 'pretty' they were. Lincoln needs to get back to big luxury, and high performance if they want to compete with Cadillac. They started some good differentiation by putting the hotter engines in the MKZ as standard, but it's still a tarted up Fusion (which, owning two of them, shows I really like the Fusion). They had a chance when they owned Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover to really inject some useful DNA into the lineup, but somebody was asleep at the switch. Now, they're playing catch-up, and eliminating the beloved Town Car and throwing the dice that the livery versions of the MKS and MKT will suffice. I'm not so sure. The MKS is a really nice car, but Lincoln still needs something bigger that doesn't look like a minivan or the current lineup of crossovers and SUV's. And they need to redesign the Navigator and embiggen it as well. Stop wasting time on a small car strategy for the luxe brand. There is no way people will accept a Lincoln version of the Focus/Fiesta. And while you're at it, bring back Mercury as an occasional niche performance brand. A new Cougar or marauder would look pretty awesome!
I.M. Flynn
Ah Paul... is that the best you can do? Keep laughing so much and you may need a good Proctologist as well as an Ophthalmologist. You believe the MKS and the MKX are "very attractive vehicles" and you are, of course, entitled to your opinion. Hence, since you believe these vehicles are " very attractive, " it makes one wonder what your definition is of a "very attractive" woman......most likely Margaret Thatcher, naked on a cold day would fit that bill....hmm?
Lincoln
I agree with Darrel. As long as Lincoln's are not distinguishable from their Ford counterparts, Lincoln will fall the same way Mercury did and for the exact same reason. They were on the right path with the LS. It's not going to matter how much technology or refinement are put into the cars if they just look like re-badged Fords. Abandoning RWD altogether is a mistake as well when you look at most of the cars in the luxury segment.
Paul Richards
Flynn, you're an absolute joke. The solid, quiet, smooth and comfortable confident ride you get in the MKS simply cannot be had in the Genesis. Most people who've driven both will tell you the same. Review after blessed review has touted the quality of the MKS. The AWD system used in the MKS does everything it's asked to do. And remarkably well too. And again, MKS and MKX are very attractive vehicles. The SYNC system currently employed and usuable by either voice commands or touch screen represents the state of the art as far as technology is concerned. I'm laughing my ass off over your comment about the Genesis being superior to the MKS. What the hell planet did you come from?
Dave
Ronald Reagan rode in a 1983 Cadillac. The roofline was raised about three inches. This Cadillac replaced the 1972 Lincoln that was used at the time of the assassination attempts on Reagan and Gerald Ford. I believe Eisenhower rode in a Chrysler at some point while he was in Office. I believe these are the only two exceptions.
I.M. Flynn
1.) True, Lincoln may be headed to all wheel drive school, but they have A LOT to learn about crafting a true world class all wheel drive system....they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Lincoln has a long way to go. 2.) If you think a MKS and the MKX are far from ugly and " drop dead gorgeous" .....well, Sir Paul, *chuckles* you may need to have your eyes check by an ophthalmologist. 3.) "Use voice commands if you can't handle the screen"......ah Paul, voice commands are so passe....if Lincoln wishes to truely bewilder us with their technological capabilities, how about inventing a car that can anticipate the driver's needs without them uttering a single word, hmm? 4.) Finally, let's give credit, where credit is due shall we Paul. The Hyundai Genesis doesn't need to have "it's very best day" to touch the Lincoln MKS...on an average day the Hyundai Genesis IS the superior vehicle and on it's best day, the Lincoln MKS is nothing more than a glorified and rebadged F-O-R-D. Paul...be realistic and go back to school.....Lincoln do yourself a favor.... hire some fresh young design talent from CCS.
Trevster
For Lincoln to once more become a successful luxury brand they have to look different from their Ford brethren. Folks can talk AWD all they want but there should be at least one RWD model and one with a V8 motor. In addition, they need to do something about that MKT as it's uglier than sin. You can't be serious about wanting to attract a younger buyer for your auto offerings and they're looking that ugly. Sure, you want Lincolns to look different from Fords but making them look uglier should not be what you have in mind. As one other poster puts it, luxury buyers are looking for exclusivity, performance and looks and are willing to pay more for them. Can one look at any Lincoln model today and think they match up with any luxury marque out today?
Paul Richards
1.) All wheel drive is where it's at, and that's where Lincoln is headed. 2.) The MKS and the MKX are far from ugly. As a matter of fact, they're drop dead gorgeous. 3.) Use voice commands if you can't handle the screen. Everything you can do on the screen, you can do with voice commands. 4.) On its very best day, Hyundai Genesis couldn't touch Lincoln MKS. Drive them both. See and feel the difference in the ride and in the quality. Educate yourself.
Paul Richards
Far from it, pal. I'd love to be around to see your jaw drop when it happens. And Mark my words, it WILL happen. Ain't no one killing this legendary heritage brand.
Tom
Yeah, I agree with everything that has been said. I'm really pulling for Lincoln, and it sounds like most of us are, which explains the criticism. Here's what should be done. Lincolns seem to be produced with cost-cutting in mind, which explains why they look like Fords. Are luxury buyers interested in cost cutting? Only if they're over 65. Put some money into your efforts, come up with some exclusive Lincoln-only chassis and powertrains and go ahead and charge more. Luxury buyers want exclusivity and, to a greater extent, beauty and performance in their luxury cars.
acuratech
My uncle has an 85 Mark VII with low miles. When I was growing up (only about 20 years ago I might add), Lincolns were the car to have. Now, as previously commented, they are simply rebadged Fusions and Edges with different bumper covers. This rebadging is exactly why Pontiac, Mercury, and yes, Plymouth (remember them?), once viable and thriving brands are no longer in the marketplace. Ford really shot themselves in the foot by discontinuing the Panther body Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car. I can speak for many when saying this was the ONLY Ford product I would've ever considered, especially in this case with Lincoln and the Town Car. I'm not even sure what the hell an MKT or MKZ or THC or whatever they are marketing now is. The model names are in a huge issue, and very confusing to not only the average car buyer, but even to car enthusiasts. Three words, Ford: REAR. WHEEL. DRIVE.
AggieMatt
If Ford had decided to re-design the MKZ with it's own brand new chassis and not be re-badged at all using the Fusion, and create a higher performance version of the MKZ to compete with the Cadillac CTS-V, and have all other Lincolns with their own body styles and chassis not depending on the Ford vehicles and the re-badging then Lincoln would be going in the right direction and have a much brighter future and more buyers.
Darrel
I drive a CTS. It doesn't look like a rebadged Chevy. The Lincoln brand won't flourish as long as Lincolns look like overpriced rebadged Fords. Linoln needs a "car guy" that will help define what the Lincoln brand really means and Lincoln builds cars that reflect that brand definition.
BestintheWest
Put a stake in them -- they are done.
Robert
My Mom has the first Lincoln she and my dad purchased. A 1977 Lincoln Continentel Town Car with the Opera Windows with a 460 V8, 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds, Burgundy with painted white pin stripes and a tuffed burgundy interior. My nephews get a kick driving this car to the gas station, The lincoln Grille, an interior that matches many Suvs, the soft twin comfort lounge seats. It has been garaged for its entire life and has 49k in miles. It is a stunner. Lincoln for many decades through the 70's was about American Luxury. Mom's Continental is not an ostentatious car, like the Mark V at the time was, but is a car you notice and which today is built like a tank. Lincoln needs to look at that past. They need to drop the MK alphabet numeric and embrace the names: Lincoln, Continental, Town Car and the Mark with a series of numbers not alphabets. Like Cadillac, Lincolns heritage and the quality of the cars was unmatched. Until the downsizing craze of the 80's. Think: Zephyr Lincoln Continental 4 suicide door convetables of the 60's Fleetwoods Eldorado's The Mark III Lincoln Continental Town Coupe with Bill Blass Edition :)
Tampanews
To hear Kuzak tell it, no car ever has been both "engaging to drive" and "refined." Really?! And, implicit in the comment is that BMW is considered "unrefined." Is that really accurate?
chaz
start with another Lincoln, a Zepher, not a ford!! a drivers compartment and a passengers compartment with dissapearing seats or convertable to 1 or 2 lounges, then doors that open sliding over the roof/or under the floor....windows that darken electronically, automatically or change by reostat switches on doors. add an enlargeable trunk for the deluxe tourer, ditto dual or triple fuel tanks. solar panels option for all upper surfaces, hood,trunk, fenders. all powered by flat 10 cylinder multy-fuel balacing torque/hp/ and econ modes to needs and uses....and weights-passangers,fuel and cargo---scales report to dash and computers.
Roto
A little better. Not as long in the tooth as the current one. I guess Lincoln has a small market here. Good for someone that just wants a little more luxury than a Ford but doesn't care about much else. Personally, I think Fords are really nice now. That would be not just the Mustang, but the new Taurus, Focus, and their SUV's. But I guess they don't signify "luxury" which is suppose to be what Lincoln does.
Jon
if Ford had produced the MKR concept car, I think Lincoln would be selling alot of them, and would turn Lincoln around
Griddle Jim
Lincoln has a couple problems: 1.) Front-wheel drive luxury cars. No thanks. 2.) Ugly luxury cars that pretty much look like the Fords that they are made out of. No thanks. 3.) Touch-screen controls that force me to constantly take my eyes off the road. No thanks. It's a sad day when Hyundai makes better luxury cars than Lincoln. I would take a V8 Genesis over anything Lincoln offers.

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