By on April 10, 2013

Over the last two years, attacking Lincoln has become tremendously “in.” This is because doing so will cause everyone to agree with you, which is sort of like when people complain about drivers in their hometown. Seriously: no matter what major city you visit, the drivers there are “the worst,” according to local residents who have obviously never visited Italy.

The latest industry observer to attack Lincoln is David Kiley, who wrote an editorial yesterday for Autoblog entitled “Lincoln needs a farewell address, not a new marketing plan.” This received a generally warm welcome, which mirrors the one Kiley will get in tomorrow’s Detroit Free Press for writing an op-ed piece called “Detroit Drivers Are The Worst.” The latter story would probably win him a Pulitzer, except the committee is in New York and they are absolutely certain Manhattan drivers are the worst.

The only problem is that all of the Lincoln doubters are wrong.

Before you say it, I’m well aware of what you’re thinking: I must be crazy. Regular readers already know this to be true, since I owned a Range Rover Classic. But for those who need more proof, here it is: I have absolutely no idea how Lincoln will come back. I won’t lay out a marketing plan as Kiley did, despite announcing in his title that Lincoln doesn’t need one. I just know they will.

How Do I Know?

To me, there’s one clear reason Lincoln can revive itself: it’s been done before with much less.

Take Porsche, for example. Many of you are aware I once worked for Porsche, though my former superiors may object to my use of the term “work.” Either way, I woke up every morning and drove to the office. Twenty years ago, Porsche’s lineup was about as stale as Lincolns. Back then, Porsche offered three vehicles; the 928, which came out in 1977, was the newest. They sold as many cars in 1993 as they do now in a good month. The best car they were building had a Mercedes-Benz badge on it. And the window stickers were hand-written by someone who majored in calligraphy. (OK, some of this may be slightly inaccurate.)

Of course, the David Kileys of the time probably wrote Porsche off. I don’t have access to any of these articles, but I bet they had headlines like: “Porsche Needs a Farewell Address, and Stuttgart Drivers Are The Worst.”

Audi is the same way. In the early 1990s, Audi had precisely one reputation: the brand that wasn’t quite as good as BMW at anything except making cars that accelerated when you pushed the brake pedal. But in 1996, Audi rolled out the A4 – and just ten years later, everyone who was formerly not using the turn signal in a BMW was now not using the turn signal in an Audi.

Of course, Audi and Porsche are just small-time German car companies now joined at the hip by the automotive equivalent to Napoleon. How are they relevant to Lincoln?

Fine. Forget Audi and Porsche. It’s coincidental that the subject of Lincoln comes up (not really, I brought it up) since just yesterday I posted a review of my former 2004 Cadillac CTS-V. In it, I made the point that the CTS was Cadillac’s first real post-Escalade attempt to turn the brand around. Following the CTS came dozens of other efforts, some of which were good (ATS, SRX) and some of which were quite awful (DTS, that Escalade pickup thing). But by now, everyone agrees Cadillac has enjoyed a complete rebirth from a hole of obscurity they were facing just seven years before the CTS came out, when their flagship was the vinyl-roofed Fleetwood Brougham.

Back to Lincoln

Two things set Lincoln apart from Porsche, Audi, and even Cadillac. One is, very obviously, money. Lincoln has it. We know this because Lincoln is part of the Ford Motor Company, who awards Alan Mulally an eight-figure bonus every time he tells that joke about how the company’s been going out of business for 40 years.

The other thing is even more obvious: talent. Lincoln has that, too. Mulally may earn big bucks, but it’s because he and his staff have already done the impossible once before. These are the people who orchestrated Ford’s transformation from automotive obscurity to a constant front-runner. Except, of course, in the hallowed “outdated, large rear-wheel drive sedan” segment. Sorry, TTAC.

Those who complain about Lincoln’s current lineup are too shortsighted to see the brand’s limitless possibilities. Surely, there were doubters when Porsche launched the Boxster; when Audi debuted the A4; when Cadillac came out with the CTS. And I bet we don’t have to dig very deeply to find articles labeling Ford “dead and buried” when their best car was a full-size sedan called the Five Hundred. But every one of those brands proved the pundits wrong. So will Lincoln.

No, I have no idea how Ford will revive Lincoln, and I’m not going to provide suggestions. Because considering the wonders they’ve worked with Ford, Mulally and crew don’t need my input. They just need to work hard, and do their best to avoid those awful Dearborn drivers. Really, they’re the worst.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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216 Comments on “Lincoln Can and Will Come Back...”


  • avatar

    Lincoln is IRRELEVANT, OVERPRICED and UNDERPOWERED.

    They have lost the horsepower wars coming in DEAD LAST.

    Their cars have the exterior appearance of tuxedos, but the interiors of guzzied up Tauruses. Their technology and convenience packages aren’t bad (park assist, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, etc), but they are outclassed by Cadillac’s cars and not as good a value as Chrysler’s.

    • 0 avatar

      …said everyone about Cadillac in 1990, Audi in 1995, Porsche in 1992…

      • 0 avatar

        If a Species cannot adapt to its environment it will eventually become extinct.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Using that standard, Chrysler and Cadillac should be dead, as the parent company of each has been bailed out by the federal government (twice in the case of Chrysler).

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          …said everyone about Cadillac in 1990, Audi in 1995, Porsche in 1992…

          • 0 avatar
            Silvy_nonsense

            Once a brand goes south it can’t ever be turned around – never ever. Look at Apple. It was a near write off in 1997 and now it is sitting on more than $130 billion in cash. If that’s not total and complete failure, I don’t know what is. Face facts – Apple is never coming back. It’s time to pull the plug.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            A strong argument based on things such as facts and basic arithmetic can be made that:

            a) the auto industry and consumer electronic industry are anything but similar, let alone overlapping, in the very nature of their core business model,

            b) the reason for Apple’s survival and rebirth was in very disproportionately high part due to the development and release of the iPod (a product that not only revolutionized portable media players in even greater manner than the Sony Walkman of the 80s did, but revolutionized – and allowed MEDIA CONTENT to be MONETIZED by Apple (with massive profits from the iPod and the CONTENT REVENUE it produced allowing Apple to fund massive R&D and development costs for everything from its operating systems to its desktops, laptops, iPhones [the closest thing since the iPod in terms of revenue booster and content monetizer] and tablets),

            c) such iPod like moments in the automotive industry are even more infrequent events.

          • 0 avatar
            Silvy_nonsense

            DeadWeight, Your argument is low on facts and has zero arithmetic. Much like the old GM, you have promised specific deliverables and failed to perform.

            If you are going to claim to make a “strong argument” you can’t just blowhard your way through it. Your opinion doesn’t become a fact because you typed it into the Internet. Also, if you are going to bring arithmetic into the argument, it helps to actually present some…

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            That was full of fury and thunder, and ironically, was less specific by far than anything I stated.

            What, precisely, are you disputing about that which I stated are differences between the consumer electronics & auto industries, and what specifically is it about Apple that I stated that you disagree with and why?

      • 0 avatar
        TomHend

        Good article, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      The horsepower war has made good headlines and little sales impact. What is the best-selling premium sedan in the US?

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “The horsepower war has made good headlines and little sales impact.”

        Agreed.

        The way I see it there are tow camps who bow to the altar of horsepower. Enthusiasts… natch, and those who want to display their economic prowess.

        For the latter it’s not horsepower per se, but a desire to own the top trim, for lack of a better word, of a particular brand which most of the times happens to be the most powerful.

      • 0 avatar

        I saw it working first hand when someone compared Lexus IS 250 with a 200 hp engine and IS 350 with 300 hp engine. You’d think 50% more power would win easily, but apparently not! Just a huge difference between rumbling in comment threads and the real life.

      • 0 avatar

        At the Chicago Auto Show, Andy Goss, who heads Jaguar in North America, said that the majority of luxury cars sold in the U.S. have V6 engines. Since none of the current V6 engines offered by luxury brands are at the top of the horsepower charts, I’d say that horsepower is a deciding factor for a minority of luxury car buyers. A lesson can be learned from Rolls Royce, when they didn’t publish horsepower ratings and just said “adequate”. Plenty of rich folks don’t need ne plus ultra in everything they buy. Enough power to do the job comfortably, thank you very much. If horsepower was at the top of most buyers’ ‘must have’ list, BMW and Mercedes Benz would be selling a lot more M and AMG models than standard ones. The standard engine in the new CTS will be a V6 (albeit with forced induction), not a LS family or a variant on the new LT1. The market has spoken. It remains to be seen, though, if the four cylinder engines now offered in cars like the Jaguar XF will be embraced in North America.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Agree with Ronnie on this one. There’s what enthusiasts think will sell (or rather, what they want to buy used in several years) and what actually sells. TTAC commenters insist certain cars must have 6-cylinder engines instead of 4 (or V8s instead of 6s), but look at the take-ratio of Toyota V6s vs. I-4s in the Camry.

          There’s a reason the HemiCuda is worth what it is now. There weren’t very many of them because most people couldn’t afford the big engine and didn’t necessarily want it and its baggage. In fact, many of the top-engine classic cars that we revere today never sold in big numbers — but they are the ones that we remember.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s not about the amount of horsepower, but the manner by which they are delivered.

            If a near-luxury or true luxury car is to successfully be what it proclaims to be, discerning prospective purchasers with actual purchasing power are not going to have a happy initial or long term experience with a 4 cylinder unless it’s so smooth, refined and powerful that the number of cylinders under the hood rarely if ever is a cause for thought, let alone concern or dissatisfaction.

            Direct injection has complicated things for now, but there was a time when small displacement motors, some having as few as 6 cylinders, were so buttery smooth at idle, that devices had to be installed so that the driver didn’t “restart” an already idling vehicle, causing damage to the flywheel.

            Hail to the automaker that produces the first DI 4 cylinder motor that is this quiet at idle, provides more than ample thrust on demand under any practical scenario, yet achieves whatever is the prevailing standard for average or better fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar

            DeadWeight: is the MKZ EcoBoost with the 2.0-liter turbo four not that exactly?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Unless it is literally 4x as refined in the MKZ as it is in the Escape, I don’t think it comes close to meeting that threshold.

            (Are you saying that it does? It’s so smooth at idle that people will reflexively try to re-start their MKZs?)

            Then again, I am straining to think of any 4 cylinders in any vehicle, especially those proclaiming to be luxurious and that are relatively expensive, that do.

          • 0 avatar

            In all honestly, I would suggest: drive it and let me know what you think. I don’t have any skin in this game (I would never buy a Lincoln), but I honestly felt the EcoBoost four-cylinder in the MKZ press car I had was a great motor AND surprisingly refined.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          This is true not only for power, but also many of the other things that enthusiasts love to go on about, like RWD. There is no end to the insistence that luxury brands can only exist if they release big, RWD cars.

          While I have no data, I suspect FWD/RWD doesn’t enter the mind of 95%+ of people considering buying a luxury car.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            The only thing that enters their mind is the badge on the front.

            Only teenagers and internet blowhards with their own youtube channels care that much about horsepower. Heck, you can get a car with 300+ horsepower for around $25k.

            I just want a car with enough pickup to get out of it’s own way and of that 18-wheeler barreling down the right lane of the freeway as I try to merge. Unfortunately, my current ride can barely manage that. I care a lot more about HOW a car drives, feels, and is trimmed out.

            Lincoln’s problem isn’t power, it’s the brand. It will take well over $1B to “fix” Lincoln and I doubt Ford would see much if any of a return on this investment. Similar situation to Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Yeah. The horsepower wars are silly and, mostly are fueled by men who have some sort of need to show that they are alphas. Having moved 10 years ago from a 0-60 in about 6 and something seconds car (SHO) to a 0-60 in about 5 and something seconds car (Z3 3.0), I will say that the difference in acceleration is rarely meaningful to me. Moving further to a 0-60 in 4 something second car would definitely not be meaningful to me.
          So, the old Rolls Royce specification of “adequate” horsepower makes a lot of sense in a luxury car. What you want in a luxury car is a sense of ease — which precludes a screaming 8,000 rpm 200 hp 2 liter 4 like was in Honda’s S2000. The quintessential luxury car engine is a large displacement slow-turning V-8 (apart from fuel economy considerations). Smoothness at idle is an issue and, at that, neither 4s nor V-6s are the best because of their inherently unbalanced nature. Unfortunately, the inherently smooth straight 6 has packaging issues that pretty much preclude its use in a transverse mounted FWD car, but it works just fine in an RWD car, as BMW can testify to. I have no idea why Mercedes abandoned the straight 6 for a V-6, given that their cars are rwd.

          But, a 4-cylinder engine meeting the smoothness per-requisite of a luxury car: I wanna see that before I believe it.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Unfortunately for Lincoln, Ford (contrary to what the article states) does NOT have the money to save it. To make it relevant as a luxury brand is going to require vast amounts of money, technology and a total redesign.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      So why do the Lexus ES and RX sell so well?

      And Acura is doing alright, esp. with its CUVs.

      The whole thing about the “demise” of Lincoln is overblown and a bit silly.

      Lincoln right now just has stale, underwhelming products.

      Once the MKZ’s supply issue is ironed out, and the MKC launches, followed by the all-new MKS, MKX and Navigator, Lincoln’s fortunes will turn around.

  • avatar
    sonataproblem

    Who here likes the Navigator?

    • 0 avatar

      Nice truck, but gawdy as hell. Independent Rear Suspension makes it a good driver.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        In many ways it’s the last real Lincoln standing, love it or hate it.

        The question is whether Lincoln can do what Mercedes did with the S Class, which is modernize it without throwing the virtues that MADE THE BADGE and caused spontaneous and immediate specific attributes (solid, quiet, smooth, large, safe, prestigious) to erupt in the brain of the consumer.

        Thus far, this is most definitely not occurring at Lincoln.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Lincoln can’t get any worse. What do they currently sell? A rebadged fusion, Taurus and Taurus wagon? I couldn’t tell you which name goes with which car either.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Don’t forget the rebadged Expedition.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I’m convinced that most of the people flinging around the word “rebadge” or term “badge-engineered” weren’t yet alive in the days of the early ’80s GM B-body cars.

      *THAT* was rebadging. Platform sharing is *NOT.*

      automotive history didn’t begin the day you took an interest in it.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Agree…the new MKZ is NOT a rebadged Fusion. It shares a platform with the Fusion, but anyone with at least one good eye can immediately tell the major differences between the two cars.

        People conveniently forget that, for many years, the most successful Cadillac was the Escalade, which was a Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban with different front sheetmetal and a bigger engine. Doors, rear panels and instrument panels were shared between the two vehicles.

        Of all the new Cadillacs that debuted with much fanfare in the early 2000s, only one – the CTS – was even remotely successful. The XLR, STS and original SRX were flops.

        The SRX survived by switching from the more expensive Sigma platform to a platform it shares with the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.

        • 0 avatar

          Geeber – sorry to break it to you as I’ve driven both the Fusion and MKZ…

          Not only is the MKZ a rebadged Fusion, but it’s an overly expensive rebadged Fusion with an engine that doesn’t befit the car. You have to buy the 3.7-Liter V6 to make the MKZ feel like a proper “lincoln” and even then there’s too much plastic.

          If you wanted to make Lincoln’s awesome, you’d need to delete the Jaguar badges from the XJ and Xf and put that silly Lincoln North Star on them.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            A rebadge is something on the order of the Mercury Milan, which was a Fusion with different wheels, grille and taillights.

            The MKZ shares little, if any, sheetmetal with the Fusion. If the MKZ is a “rebadged” Fusion, then the Chrysler 300 is just a rebaged Dodge Charger, and Cadillac’s most consistently successful product – the Escalade – is a rebadged Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban.

            As for the Jaguars – would that be the same Jaguar that regularly show up near the bottom of reliability surveys and sells in very small numbers (1,408 units in March, or about 18,000 annually)?

            Given the also-ran status of Jaguar compared to BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus, I’m not seeing how it can serve as a model to revive Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar

            Geeber

            Reliability surveys are highly suspect. Ford was losing points in “reliability” just because the tech illiterate couldn’t get used to Sync fast enough.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Consumer Reports does not downgrade a car for its cupholders, and Ford wasn’t just scoring poorly because of its confusing Sync infotainment system.

          • 0 avatar

            Having driven the 4-cylinder MKZ extensively, I strongly disagree. The V6 is only beneficial on the highway. The 4 is all you need in 99 percent of city situations.

          • 0 avatar

            If you put the MKZ next to a Fusion and asked an average consumer (not anyone who knows the word “platform”) about similarities, they wouldn’t be able to tell that they have the same basic architecture underneath.

            The Fusion and MKZ design teams did a fine job of distinguishing the two cars. Now that they’re actually building enough MKZs for sale I’ve seen a few on the road and it’s a striking car. Enough to rebuild a complete brand on it’s back? No, but an extra base hit if not a home run.

            Maybe making a flagship would be running when they’re still learning how to walk. After all, Cadillac has no current S Class 7 Series LS fighter. So I’d expect Lincoln to fill in other gaps in its lineup before taking on the big boys.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            The MKZ is absolutely NOT a rebadged Fusion. Since we’re all so confused here, I’m going to go ahead and say that badge-engineering is when two cars share the exact same bodies and have few to no mechanical differences between them. When you look at the MKX and the Edge…the LX 570 and the Land Cruiser…the Tahoe and the Yukon…the G5 and the Cobalt coupe…the Grand Marquis and the Crown Victoria…THOSE are examples of badge-engineering. The MKZ and the Fusion are not badge-engineered.

            In addition, I found the 2.0L to be perfectly suited to the character of the MKZ, while the 3.7L seemed overwrought. Maybe it’s time you re-evaluated what you think a “proper” Lincoln should feel like…since even the company itself is trying to reinvent that notion.

          • 0 avatar
            AlphaWolf

            Bigtrucks – I have driven both the 2012 Fusion and 2012 MKZ and you would never mistake the two of them from behind the wheel. From what I have read the 2013 has even MORE care taken to differentiate it from the 2013 Fusion, so it should drive and feel completely different.

            I am confused as to why you are so rabidly anti-Lincoln. Did you even give the MKZ a fair shot to win you over?

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          No, the problem is that I can see the similarities in the two cars. It’s a rebadge. A somewhat less lazy attempt than they used to do, but still a rebadge.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Not that it’s really relevant, but what about the XLR makes people continually parrot that it was a “flop”?

          In it’s peak year, the XLR alone sold as many cars as Bentley did as a brand in the US.

          Does that make Bentley a flop?

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Bentley sells at a much higher price point than the XLR ever did. Matching sales of the Bentley line is not a bragging point for a car with a much lower price tag.

            The relevant comparison is to the Mercedes SL, and the XLR never made much headway against it.

            You can buy a 2013 Mercedes SL (and a 2013 Corvette), but you can’t buy a 2013 XLR, so it obviously failed to make the desired impression on its target audience.

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        I’ve driven a 300C and a Charger back-to-back as rentals this past week, and they are a good example of platform-sharing that doesn’t come across as rebadging. Their shared LX origins are readily evident, but the 300C is clearly a notch above and doesn’t seem like a rebadged Charger, nor does the Charger feel like a decontented 300.

        Lincoln can succeed (and yet still might fail) with some imagination, but can’t without it. There has to be something unique about Lincoln that isn’t available from mainstream Ford, or there’s no reason to buy a Lincoln (something that every Ford/Lincoln shopper has pondered since the first LTD rolled out).

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          The Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger is successful because it’s honest whereas I can’t really think of a single Lincoln that is.

          By the 300/Charger being “honest,” I mean that it delivers upon at least the minimum expectation (and frequently much more than that) it promises to nearly anyone who drives it (quiet, smooth ride, solid body structure, a lot of passenger room fore and aft, good power and respectable fuel economy with the V6 and appropriate power with the V8) — while doing this at a selling price that matches or undercuts almost any other true competitor.

          In short, it is as refined, roomy, efficient and reliable, if not more so, as any of the large sedan competition, and because it lacks badge snobbery, it competes well on price.

          Can anyone here who has recently had any exposure to a) the window stickers of new Lincolns, and b) the driving experience of new Lincolns, GENUINELY say the same thing about a single new Lincoln that I did about the 300/Charger above?

          MKS? MKZ? MKX? REALLY now.

          While the 300, especially, can be loaded to the gills with many options (many of which are just as pointless as those competitors offer) to get the price well into the high 40s, the overwhelming majority of 300s probably sell for closer to 30k, and the overwhelming majority of Chargers probably sell for closer to 26ishK.

          Would the 300 be as successful if it were sold under a separate, luxury division of ChryCo known as “Orvis” at a 40% markup in price, with a thin veneer of what is essentially cosmetic differentiation (along with a few mainly pointless features to further differentiate it from its Chrysler & Dodge “populist” peers)?

          I highly doubt it.

          Doug, you’re a really good writer, IMO, and I really enjoy reading your articles, but when you not only admit but emphasize that you can cite no specific reason(s) as to why Lincoln will survive, let alone thrive, but instead merely point to other manufacturers (or divisions of manufacturers) that were once in the dumpster, but have survived or even been revitalized, it undermines the entire premise of your presupposition, doesn’t it?

          Your thesis appears to be along the lines of “I can’t point to any objective reason as to why the Lincoln Motor Carriage Company should survive, let alone thrive, based on its current, actual products, but history is full of examples of other car brands that had serious problems, yet came back, so I think Lincoln will, too.”

          Even if the reader were to give any degree of merit to such a hollow point, what then if a manufacturer or division of a manufacturer that was killed and buried is mentioned (Pierce-Arrow/Studebaker, Plymouth, Mercury, Saturn, Packard, Pontiac, DeSoto, Oldsmobile, Saab, Hudson, etc.)?

          The objective facts of the matter are that 1) without legitimate & durable badge snobbery, which Lincoln does not have, and which isn’t easy to “build” or “buy,” especially for a brand that’s been so geriatric-dependent for so long, and is even more difficult to transform into a long term INDEPENDENTLY SUSTAINABLE (i.e. at least breaking even) – LET ALONE PROFITABLE – automotive division, 2) Lincoln’s models are not “good enough” or genuinely different enough from their Ford stablemates to command the price differential FoMoCo has marked them up to…

          …and until either or both of those things change, Lincoln has no real purpose, and it’s Ford itself that is killing it.

          Do you want to know the likeliest reason why Lincoln may endure, despite its structural flaws and identity crisis?

          It would be due to the fact that Ford will keep subsidizing its losses (for as long as it’s able to do so).

          This is a much more compelling reason to argue that Lincoln will at least endure, let alone be “rehabilitated,” than pointing to a few brands that did right their ships.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Where is your proof that Lincoln is losing money? Given that every Lincoln shares a platform with a comparable Ford product, I’m guessing that the brand at least breaks even for Ford.

            I recall reading that GM did not make money on Cadillac’s rear-wheel-drive “Sigma” platform, which wouldn’t be surprising, as only one vehicle from that platform – the CTS – sold all that well.

          • 0 avatar

            This is a tremendous comment with a very highly reasoned argument, especially the part where you called me a “really good writer.”

            In all seriousness, my take is this: I don’t want to provide my opinion on what Lincoln needs to do because everyone else has already done that in the last 2 years. Plus, that’s why the commenters are the “Best and Brightest.” All I’m saying is: it’s been done before, and Ford has the tools to do it again.

            It’s up to you guys, and Mulally & Co., to figure out the rest.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            Ford isnt a luxury brand. It has no cachet. They killed off Mercury, and rightfully so. They tried “Merkur”, which might have had potential- even today, they are interesting cars. It seems to me they arent trying too hard.

            Kinda like Sams Club vs Costco.

            Except Lincoln isnt even copying the ideas that make Cadillacs interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Agree on this one — the MKZ that I saw in a parking lot the other day definitely does not feel like a re-badge of the GM school. The glass roof, the different engine choices, and the different suspension tuning make it a different car.

        geeber also makes a great point on the success of Cadillacs.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      come on, keith. The Mark Z isn’t a rebadge. It may be poorly executed in people’s eyes, but that thing had millions in body development dumped in to it. Hot braised roof? Stupid expensive decklid? Ridiculous sheet metal and interior appointments.

      • 0 avatar
        markholli

        I’d like to hear from somebody who actually knows something (you know…facts…) how much sheetmetal the MKZ and Fusion actually share. I would guess very little. Then look at the interiors. Is there a single shared visible part?

        What some of you are calling “badge engineering” is ridiculous. By your definitions (platform and drivetrain, I guess) the Honda Pilot is a “badge-engineered” Odyssey.

        And yes, I am old enough to remember real badge engineering: Ford Courier, Chevy Luv, Dodge Ram 50, Dodge Raider, Honda Passport, Acura SLX, Pontiac LeMons, Geo Metro, Ford Festiva, etc. etc. etc….

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Yes, by some definitions, the Sienna is a “badge-engineered” Camry. That Windstar is just a Taurus Wagovan with sliding doors, dontcha know.

          It’s funny because Honda and Toyota don’t get called by their platform as much as certain other cars. GMs, Chryslers, BMWs, and Mercedes seem most often to be named by platform.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        Make me a big RWD hardtop coupe Lincoln with a 5.0 or 6.2 V8 and tr6060. Sell one only to me. And stop making all other Lincoln’s.

        • 0 avatar
          Michael500

          Here’s the car you described:
          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mjtVCG1V_YE/UQgutBB2ziI/AAAAAAAAIJQ/wVTDdNc5voY/s1600/2011LincolnTownCar.jpg
          Until they make a real flagship car worth owning, the brand is dead. I don’t think they’ll make it.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        The millions should have been spent somewhere else. Rebody a mustang or drop a sexy sedan body on an f150 frame. People loves marks and TCs.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Platform-SHARING is not the same as “rebadging.”

      That’s what Acura does with the TSX (Euro Accord) and the RL (Honda Legend).

      Lincoln is doing the same thing as Lexus does with the ES and RX and those 2 are far and away the 2 best selling Lexus models.

      Even the XTS (as well as the SRX) sells well for Cadillac and many have dismissed it as a Buick.

      The lower priced FWD luxury market is plenty big enough – the question is just whether the new Lincoln products are competitive enough against the FWD Lexus models and Acura (and the XTS and SRX) and early indications are that the new MKZ is a worthy competitor.

  • avatar
    Reino

    Well, since Cadillac succeeded in challenging BMW by putting a Chevy LS6 in a RWD luxury sedan, Lincoln should do the same with the Ford Boss 302.

    Oh, and modernize the Continental 4-door convertible :)

    • 0 avatar

      When your platforms are FWD/AWD and your transmissions aren’t very strong, you really don’t have many options.

      • 0 avatar
        Lichtronamo

        Ford does have the new (updated?) RWD platform for the Mustang, which now with IRS, has been at least suggested as being capable of spinning off a mid-size sedan for Lincoln. A Lincoln product on that platform would allow Ford to maximize its investment.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          They also have the Ford Falcon RWD platform from Australia. There have been rumors on whether that Falcon platform will be the global RWD platform, whether the Mustang platform will be global, or whether the Falcon will move to the Mondeo platform. I’m not sure what the latest word is.

          In either case, there isn’t a shortage of Ford RWD platforms for a new Lincoln. The question is whether they’ll go there.

          It seemed like the Falcon/Territory platform would have been ideal for the new Explorer, but that didn’t happen either.

          • 0 avatar
            Lichtronamo

            My recall is that the Falcon/Territory wasn’t engineered for left hand drive and it would cost too much to make it so. Given the fast fade for the Falcon (and Commodore) going on in Australia, my best guess is that the next Falcon will be FWD/AWD and shared with Taurus. Ford already sells the previous generation Mondeo (before the Fusion/Mondeo merger) in Australia.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Easy enough to license a transmission from ZF or someone else. See Alex’s thread.

        Wasn’t the much maligned MT-82 in the Mustang from Getrag, who also provides BMW and Porsche transmissions?

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    Faith-based brand marketing seems to be a poor substitute for good product. Particularly in the hyper-competitive segments in which Lincoln competes. The MKZ may be a good start. If Ford can keep a steady flow of high quality product — cars that do for Lincoln what the CTS did for Cadillac — I agree. But it is getting increasingly hard given the overall high caliber of vehicles already available. And will Ford keep the money and development tap open wide enough and long enough to make it stick in the market? We shall see….

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      “Faith-based brand marketing seems to be a poor substitute for good product.”

      - This mentality worked well for Honda and Toyota for the last decade. They’re just as unreliable as anything else on the road these days but they’re marketed and sold based off of a reputation that they earned back in the 80′s.

      Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        I wonder how many people the “Have you driven a Ford lately” campaign actually brought back into the fold. And how many stayed? Fool me once…?

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      Lincoln has always been its own worst enemy. The real problem is, and always has been, a lack of will. They COULD invest billions into engineering a world class sports sedan but it’s cheaper to reskin a Ford and advertise the shit out of it. They don’t even seem to be trying anymore. There is not one compelling reason to buy one of their products over any one of their competitors or even their Ford stablemate.

      Front wheel drive never has and NEVER EVER will be acceptable in the luxury feel.

      • 0 avatar

        Tell it to all the people who bought the DTS. Heck I knew one who bought it precisely because it was a Real American Luxury Sedan with “an engine from Corvette”, and it did not matter one bit that it was FWD. And then remember that 80% of BMW owners cannot tell what wheels drive the car. Repeating “never” in uppercase is not making it any more persuasive when facts and numbers contradict it.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “And then remember that 80% of BMW owners cannot tell what wheels drive the car.”

          Agreed, also Lexus ES says differently, as does the 2WD RX.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Speaking of the DTS, is there anyone here willing to raise their hand and proclaim that there is a single, currently manufactured Cadillac or Lincoln sedan that has as smooth of a ride in that “plush” and quiet manner many people associate with luxury cars?

            I realize the MKZ is (for now) Lincoln’s entry level vehicle, but in even the most glowing reviews of it by the most pro-Ford biased reviewers, no one claims that its ride is plush and quiet even in the “comfort” suspension setting, and every review I’ve read has mentioned the tire/wheel well noise and thumping that results when driving over roadway imperfections like expansion joints.

            But one didn’t have to get a DTS to get a plush, quiet ride, because the Lexus ES330 provided both of the qualities in abundance.

            So if one places a high priority on a “plush” ride, what will that person do when they drive the MKZ and are informed of the true cost of purchase as they want it optioned?

            Maybe it won’t matter, though. Maybe the MKZ, while most likely not riding in a truly plush manner that was once associated with a ES330 or DTS, with (mainly) 4 cylinder engines, and a fairly hefty price tag, and the new Lincoln badge, will sell at a healthy rate.

            Or maybe not.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            DW,
            You obviously haven’t priced a MkZ out and compared it to say an Audi or a Merc. I recommended to my own mother to look into an Audi, and to get what she wanted out the the MkZ, it would have taken $10k more. Same with a comparable Merc.

            She did not cross shop with BMW. I wouldn’t let my mother drive a BMW.

          • 0 avatar

            One thing always amazed me about ES: how it delivered that valued plush ride while not being overly heavy. There must be some trick to its suspension that is not present in a regular Camry. Magical valves in shocks or progressive springs, whatever.

          • 0 avatar
            Athos Nobile

            “She did not cross shop with BMW. I wouldn’t let my mother drive a BMW.”

            @3monos

            Interesting. May I know why?

            Seriously curious. Shot me a PM through athos at ttac dot com if it’s too ugly to go public.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            @athos:
            Image. I have nothing wrong with BMW, but my Mom doesn’t fit the image. She’s a very classy lady :) My friends (with equivalent degenerate personalities as my own) drive BMW’s.

            Overpaying for a luxury car involves buying into an image.

        • 0 avatar
          salhany

          Thank you. Not to mention that in New England and other parts of the country that get awful winter weather, having a RWD car for daily use isn’t all that appealing to many people. My father-in-law had a Lexus LS for years and eventually sold it because his winter traction was terrible in Boston and He didn’t feel it was safe to drive his grandkids around in. He traded it for a Mercedes E Class 4Matic.

      • 0 avatar
        toplessFC3Sman

        Hello, this is Audi. The FWD underpinnings of our A4, A6, A8, and almost everything else just wanted to say hi

        • 0 avatar
          Lichtronamo

          Audi and their good friend Lexus who’s biggest sellers are the ES and RX based on FWD Toyota platforms and not the RWD German fighter LS, GS and IS.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            Audi uses longtidually mounted engines and has a 40:60 torque split in their cars. Neither of those are present in FWD vehicles which use traverse mouting and at best 60:40 torque split.

            The flagship Audi – the R8 uses a 20:80 F/R torque split. In short Audi knows that real luxury/performance comes with real AWD or RWD.

            I am amazed at people who claim that you can’t ‘tell’ if a car is RWD or FWD. Maybe drive around a corner with some gusto – that’s all you need to do..

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            CelticPete,

            You make the (false) assumption that people buy luxury cars to “drive around a corner with some gusto.” They don’t. They never have. Most people buy luxury to be detached from the mundane efforts of the world, hence concierge service, floaty suspension, sound deadening, and even the complete absence of turn signals. Proof: I see a lot more Lexuses on the road than Audis.

            Audi & BMW target the high-end sporty market. But “high-end sporty market” is not the same thing as the “luxury market.”

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Um, Ford had to hock everything in order to survive due to the financial crisis and even then just barely made it.

        They did not have the financial wherewithal to fund a risky RWD platform project and even today are still Billions in debt.

        Ford wasn’t the only which canceled its RWD project, Honda did as well for Acura.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          And therye both just kinda sailing along, adrift. Acura lost my interest when they got rid of the Integra, switched all the car names to letters and slapped those ugly beak-noses on.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    From what I can tell in my area (PNW – Seattle), Lincoln has been dead and buried for at least the past 10-15 years. Sure, there were the ubiquitous black town cars doing airport duty, but their numbers are dwindling. The trucklet/SUVs occasionally pop up here and there.

    In my 44-mile (round trip) daily commute, I’ll usually see 2-3 Nissan Leafs per day, 2-3 Chevy Volts per week (those cars picked as a reference because they have such a small percentage of the market), and just yesterday had to do a double-take at a traffic light to convince myself that I was looking at a Lincoln sedan. Just like the one I see on the TV ads. And I don’t even know what it’s called (pretty sad for a guy who as a kid who could tell you the year and model of just about every American car on the road). They should have called it the Phoenix!

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      Spotting Lincoln’s is something I’ve been doing lately. “Hey look! Someone bought a Lincoln!”

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I play newly-bought-Lincoln-spotting in the Seattle area too. I’ve seen 2 in the past 6 months or so thus far. The driver is always a man who can’t possibly be under 75 years of age.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      You live in the great NW..I live in N,FL..in my drive from Jax to Tallahassee everyday I have seen exactly 0 Leaf’s and 4 Volts and I think one is owned by the same person.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Even the Lincoln livery vehicles are disappearing. There are still black cars in the Bay Area, but I saw two almost brand-new FoMoCo taxis, one yesterday and one today. The first one was a C-Max, and the second was a Ford Fusion with the Aston grille. No hybrid Panthers, son.

  • avatar
    honfatboy

    Reviving Lincoln is simple: Overcome all purchasing objections with product, price and place. Don’t rely on promotion.

    Make a better car than anyone else, sell it for cheaper than the current best competitor–with a longer warranty and free maintenance.

    Sell it only in prestigious locals.

    When you lose money, come out with a second, improved model.

    Simple.

    But not easy.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      That won’t work; scads of F-L-M (Ford-Lincoln-Mercury) dealers existed at one time. Not enough junior assistant 2nd vice president bought Mercury’s and they went away. The dealers desperately want to keep their Lincoln dealerships to keep that revenue stream going. Lincoln stopped making Town Cars. Crazy mad love still exists for them and genuine Lincoln parts are sold and installed. Lincoln’s real problem is this: Would I buy one new? No. Would I buy a used one and save all those depreciation bucks? Oh, hell yes. When you’re perceived at a premium USED car, ya got issues. Although a black Lincoln CUV piques my interest.

  • avatar
    Windy

    Something will need to be done about the horrendous front end treatment that the Lincoln has been saddled with for too long if it wants to get folks like me back into their showrooms…. why are the grills of american “luxury ” cars so ugly? (in fairness the same is true of many of the imported luxobarge designs as well)

    In fact Ford could do a lot worse than handing off the front clip design to whoever they have got “interpreting” the Aston Martin front end for most of the current Ford lineup.

    I would no more consider a current Lincoln (or Cadillac) than I would covering my front lawn with plastic pink flamingos…. both options would say as much about my good taste.

    these cars should be all about comfort on the inside and in ride character … and ond on the outside should reflect good taste and rectitude not look like the starting point for the perfect pimp ride project on a reality TV show

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The new Lincoln grille is supposed to go back to the split-grille they had in the 1940′s (to appeal to 70 year olds I guess), however it just ends up looking like a Camry wannabe.

      I’m with you on modern big grilles, it used to be only 70′s Detroit and custom VWs with big silly grilles but now everyones putting their brands visual identity in bizarre shaped grilles, forgetting that luxury cars should be elegant.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The problem I see is most potential Lincoln customers are going to a dealership that also sells Fords. I would argue that the more tasteful styling and lower price for a loaded Ford are going to attract more wealthy consumers. Same preference issue as Cadillac Escalade vs. GMC Yukon Denali.

      Are average consumers able to see RWD proportions and the luxury car trait of less front overhang and more fender sheet metal between the back of the front wheels and the front of the door? All BMWs have it. Audi does a great job of hiding FWD. Lincoln, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      Seems to me Lincoln is trying to be the “anti-Cadillac”, for what its worth. Theyre doing well at that.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    A new car truly worthy of the Continental name (if not its spirit, since there’s another car with the Continental name floating about)would still be nice. Just saying.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      The uber-bardge luxury market is a tiny declining market. It would gain them almost nothing and be next to impossible to compete with Merc, Lexus, and BMW.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My dad rented a Lincoln MK… whatever the big one is last fall and I got to drive it. It rode fine and had good power, but there was no WOW factor. It doesn’t look very big, but it felt enormous. It had touch controls for everything on the center stack which were not intuitive. And it didn’t look like anything particularly special.
    I don’t really care for Cadillac’s design language, but I would certainly buy a CTS-V. Lincoln doesn’t have anything like that. If they can get people into the showrooms just to see the amazing car, they might be turned on to the other models.

  • avatar
    montyz81

    Infiniti started to do the same thing with the G35. They did make headway as the G35 became second best seller in the segment at one point. Not sure if it is still there. Since then, Infiniti have squandered their progress. Point is, it is another brand that used the same formula to begin to improve it’s reputation.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    I actually agree with this assessment, both in principle and in specifics.

    In principle, it’s just incredibly hard to predict the future accurately, and we are blinded by the current trends. If someone told me 10 years ago that Hyundai would be a world-beater making sports cars that compete with the Mustang and premium full-size cars (Genesis, Equus, Azera) to compete directly with Lexus, that would have been beyond laughable.

    In specifics, luxury brands are mostly about perception. I live in nouveau-riche ground zero in Toronto and I’m pretty sure the people driving A4s and 3-series aren’t picking them because they are such automotive enthusiasts and because they have looked into the advantages of turbocharging vs naturally aspirated engines. They own them because BMW = successful banking/real estate worker who’s “made it.” But these trends come and go, german cars can become cliched or overexposed and people go searching for something new… porsches are too expensive, cadillacs are too brash, acuras and infinitis aren’t prestigious enough, it’s not impossible that lincolns could be the new cool thing.

    It has nothing to do with not having enough horsepower or whether it’s actually a redbadged fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      I think you are dead wrong on this – the luxury cars really do drive better then cheaper FWD cars they compete with. Drivetrains matter – even a generic BMW with an Auto is just a smoother and sweeter ride the a Ford Taurus.

      There are exceptions like the 300C (which is at tremendous value – compares to a BMW 7 series fairly well)..But contrary to popular belief rich people aren’t all stupid. They are rich and like nicer cars.

      Audi’s and BMWs are both really nice cars. Its not like a 50k Audi 2x better then a 25k ford focus. But its absolutely better..in the pure sense.

      Ford needs to do more then advertise. They need to invest money and make sure their premium cars look and feel like the ones in their class.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        I’m not saying a luxury car is the same as a Ford/Chevy… but _within_ the luxury brands there is always an “of the moment, gotta-have-it” brand.

        The other point is that half the people driving the luxury car aren’t rich, they’re just trying really hard to appear rich – to meet women, to sell real estate, to impress customers, whatever. BMW is the perfect match for these people… now. But these things come and go.

        That said I’ve never driven a Lincoln and don’t know how they compare to an A4/3-series in aesthetics, interior, etc.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>In the early 1990s, Audi had precisely one reputation: the brand that wasn’t quite as good as BMW at anything except making cars that accelerated when you pushed the brake pedal.<<

    Pithy, but by then that particular defamation had been proved wrong. The media did its best to destroy the reputation of the best selling imported luxury car at the time BUT IT WAS UNFOUNDED. Lincoln got its reputation the old fashioned way, it earned it.

    As for Lincoln, it was Ford in 1999 that decided Lincoln was a lost cause when it launched the PAG collection of second and third tier "luxury" brands.

    Even in its worst days many people aspired to own a Porsche. Can the same really be said about Lincoln?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with some of what you said but not every brand in PAG was second or third tier – Jaguar and Aston Martin are good examples of true luxury brands.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        Ford was actually able to bring Jaguars down to a reasonable price point, but thats a whole ‘nother can o worms. From super expensive and unreliable, to…?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “the Ford Motor Company, who awards Alan Mulally an eight-figure bonus every time he tells that joke about how the company’s been going out of business for 40 years.”

    Actually, since they stopped making the model T.
    Can I get my bonus now?

    Now seriously. Mr. Mullaly has proved to be a fairly successful automaker CEO, more so, since he was an outsider.
    And kudos also to Bill Ford, who had the balls to accept that he was not the best man for the job.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I always chuckle when Mulally is referred to as an outsider. His entire career has been spent in transportation manufacturing. It’s not like he’s a former telecom or home improvement store exec.

      • 0 avatar

        Like schmitt trigger said, props to Billy Ford for recognizing that he wasn’t the right man for the job and going out and finding the right person. Mullaly was an outsider to the auto biz but as you point out, he’s been in the business of engineering, building and selling complex manufactured goods that share a bit of the same supply chain as the automotive industry.

        Detroit can get a little incestuous so it’s good to bring in new blood from outside industries. Walter Chrysler was in the railroad industry before he was hired to run Buick.

        Akerson, on the other hand, like you said, knows nothing about running a mfg company. I’m not an acolyte of Sergio but he’s at least competent. Of the three CEOs of the Detroit car companies, Akerson is the least qualified for the job. Akerson’s lucky that GM has a fairly deep bench when it comes to engineering and design talent, Pete DeLorenzo’s “true believers”.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        Yup- the exec who just about wrecked Home Depot. Awesome choice! Bonuses all around! Cerberus would have stripped and burned the company if they couldve gotten all their money back.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Doug,

    I like your optimistic tone, and I recognize your point about comebacks being done before with less. However, those comebacks all occurred during different points of the economic cycle. I think it would have been a great deal easier to make a comeback riding the boom rather than trying it during the stagnation after the crash.

    That said, I remember a cryptic sentence Edmunds reported at the launch of the lastest Lexus LS. A Toyota engineer mentioned that Toyota felt the luxury market was on the verge of undergoing a transition and future premium vehicles would be markedly different in character.

    If that is the case, and Ford/Lincoln can figure out what that change will be and then come to market early with a product which captures the attention of the early adopters, they could quickly and effectively reinsert themselves into a leading position in the premium market.

    I think what Tesla has done is the leading edge of this “new premium”, but what form it will take as it matures is going to be very interesting to see.

    • 0 avatar

      In terms of the ecomony: fair point, but I think we’ll end up looking at the next few years as “riding the boom.” (Things are already looking up.) Plus: Hyundai rose to fame and fortune in one of the worst downturns ever. It would be nice for Lincoln, however, to somehow be at the forefront of a luxury car transition.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Riding the boom? Even if one agrees with that (rather than cresting the debt pipeline off the big shore, or pulling future demand forward aggressively), are you making a Lincoln-specific argument for its speculated “resurgence” or a “rising tide lifts all cars” macroeconomic type one?

        I really don’t see how the latter pans out EVEN IF there’s some sort of sustainable rising tide given the fundamental shift in consumer behavior, especially when it comes to discretionary purchases (and I obviously don’t believe there’s good objective evidence in the merits of the argument for any Lincoln “resurgence” in terms of the former).

        I know many are convinced I must despise Lincoln (and Ford) given my frequent criticisms of their products (which I happen to take the time to write substantive reasons for such viewpoints, whether others agree or not), but I really would love for Lincoln to be successful building modern versions of vehicles that successfully represent the heritage and attributes that once caused positive mental vibes to flow from the mere mention of the brand “Lincoln.”

        • 0 avatar

          The “rising tide lifts all cars” argument is one that would make a great TTAC story in itself. I agree we have a problem in that everyone is going after a larger piece of the pie. But the assumption there is that the pie is the same size. Credit is getting looser, and people who kept their cars longer during the recession may be more apt to get a new one now. Perhaps the pie is getting larger.

          The other interesting thing here is that maybe everyone really isn’t going after a larger piece. Suzuki is gone. Mitsubishi is dying. Volvo and Mazda are headed in a downward spiral. Lexus and Acura are losing market share.

          As some brands have a resurgence, others seem to falter. An endless cycle that makes it possible for nearly everyone to hit their volume goals, except VW, whose goals involve selling a car to every breathing organism in the western hemisphere.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Don’t be ridiculous, VW wants to sell a car to every breathing organism on the planet! And more power to them!

            Personally, I find the constant parade of doom and gloom around here ridiculous. The economy is cyclical. What goes down goes back up again, until it goes down again. The pie will get bigger for a while, start chewing.

            Ford needs to do what Porsche, Audi, and Cadillac did – spend really money on good product. The MKZ is a decent start, but it is only a start.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            It is true we are seeing a ‘Great Consolidation’ in the auto industry. I hope Mazda doesn’t die, as I like the stuff they do, ever so much, but I hear you.

            I don’t know were the economy will go, and truth be told, no one does. Economics doesn’t have maps or certainty, regardless of what pundits claim. Hyundai have made a value play in a down market, but it’s the half decade after purchase that builds the reputation, not the initial press.

            I think we will be looking at a very different market come 2020, and I don’t know if premium will still be a factor then. Conspicuous consumption will not play as well with maturing millenials. And given Chinese demographics, I don’t think I’d bet the farm on them picking up the slack.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            And the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Seems to me like VW is following the Ford/GM gameplan of the late 80s/90s. Maybe they can actually pull it off?

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    I like Lincoln and would buy one, the new MKZ looks great. Lincoln mainly has an image and perception problem, basically they’re seen as a more expensive Buick, when they should be seen as a more Americanized and stylish Acura.

    So they mostly need more and better marketing (even then, the quality of their ads from a few years ago were awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHRpPjfDk1E).

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Thank you, Doug, for those positive words. Evidently the satiation of Mercury’s demise has long faded.
    I feel bad when any car company goes under, especially old American ones. Ten years ago if Lincoln had concentrated on large and real luxury and put out new models, there might not be catching up to do.
    Now it will take power and luxurious intense quality. Most Lincoln owners I know personally have passed them over for SUVs for their last 2-3 purchases. Throw us something like Cadillac’s Ciel with MKZ taillights and Lincoln is back in business.
    As for buyers, it would be good to split the difference between no turn signals and keeping it on for 5 miles.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am always sort of puzzled whenever people slam rebadging and forget mention, or conveniently forget, the incestuous platform and component sharing going on at VW/Audi. If you want to pay way way too much for a Golf, buy a entry level Audi. I attribute the blind eye turned to this practice to the fact that Audi is successful. It is easy to find problems with a struggling automaker, obviously things are not firing on all cylinders. I dont know if Lincoln will ever come back. If Lincoln gets a whole stable of competitive products in key segments and things still dont start to turn around, then perhaps its time close shop on the brand. Lincoln has not had a wholesale product rebirth the likes of Cadillac. If Lincoln can fill its showrooms appealing products across the board, then I think they have a strong chance for revival. It does seem like every attempt thus far has been half ass, or even quarter ass.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    It’s abundantly clear that Ford has no intention of making Lincoln anything more than it already is….a piss-poor trim level on a mediocre Ford.

    Half-assed rebadges, extremely flawed technology, terrible designs, prices that are way too high, and bones that are shared with a lowly ford. Not a path to success.

    And let’s be honest, when you have to rely on tires that are not even offered on the rebadge to make the car look good in performance tests, you have a piss poor vehicle. Lincoln hardly competes with Buick for Christ sake.

    The Lincoln Fusion is the strongest vehicle Lincoln rebadges, and it’s nearly outclassed by the Fusion….before you take price into consideration. It’s a complete joke. And for 2014, the Fusion is receiving even more features that are now Lincoln Fusion exclusive.

    Lincoln has become the new Mercury, only without the sales.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I sat in both the MKZ and MKS at the NYC autoshow over the weekend and could for the life of me imagine purchasing one of those over the Hyundai’s I sell. Why choose a $50 MKZ over a $37k Azera (which you can get for $34k) or a $58k!! MKS Ecoboost AWD over a $47k Genesis R-Spec (which you can expect to get for around $40k after discounts). Also, the new Fords are so nice there isn’t much reason to step up another $10k to get the Lincoln version. Only a new RWD/AWD Lincoln exclusive chassis will be enough to save them. Look what it did for Infiniti.

    I do like the MKC concept, though. Hopefully the production version will be as nice.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    No more tweet curation.

  • avatar
    c5karl

    I disagree.

    First, Cadillac has not enjoyed a complete rebirth. They have designed and engineered several excellent cars, but it hasn’t yet paid off in sales. Mercedes still outsells Cadillac by almost two-to-one. Can Cadillac catch up? Quite possibly. But it will take a lot more time and money from GM, and this is a full decade after the launch of the CTS. I’m sure the folks in Dearborn have studied what has and hasn’t happened at Cadillac after the huge investment GM made.

    Second, it’s important to recognize that One Ford doesn’t just mean world cars. It means broadening the Ford model lineup to reach all market segments. Just as VW is betting the company on their ability to manage a large portfolio of brands, Ford is betting the company on being able to compete model-for-model with the other giants with just one brand. Oh, except in North America, where they also have Lincoln.

    Lincoln’s biggest problem is Ford’s Titanium trim level, which is going after the exact same buyer that Lincoln is. Lincoln can go further (excuse the pun) upmarket, but there isn’t a whole lot of volume up there, so earning back your investment is tough. And let’s face it, no Lincoln, no matter how finely crafted, is going to win over S-Class buyers. Not any time soon, anyway.

    Mulally is all about One Ford, and my guess he’d rather continue taking Ford upmarket rather than dumping money in to Lincoln. Perhaps this is all about the Ford family’s sentimental attachment to the Lincoln brand. Or maybe it’s cheaper to design & build one more generation of Lincolns rather than buying out all those Lincoln dealer agreements right now. Whatever the short-term strategy is, it’s hard to see how Lincoln fits into Ford in the long term.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Correct!! Cadillacs “rebirth” started over 20 years ago with the first STS and the Northstar V8. They are still struggling all these years later. Ford definitely seems content to work only on the Ford brand. I see the same minimal effort now that got put towards Mercury a few years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Ford is betting the company on being able to compete model-for-model with the other giants with just one brand. Oh, except in North America, where they also have Lincoln.”

      What I don’t understand is why it took Ford so long to bring Lincoln to China. With how the Chinese love American cars, you’d have thought it was a no-brainer.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    The bottom line is that Ford will NOT surrender the American luxury brand to Cadillac. There is too much money to be made in this bracket. I agree with Mr Demuro, I don’t know what it will take but Lincoln will survive.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    You can’t compare Lincoln to Porsche as Lincoln needs more volume at lower margins i. Basically just 1 market. You might try comparing them to Jaguar but Jag is a global brand and shares dealers and components with the much bigger Land Rover. Look at the amounts of money the JLR and the German 3 invest in this segment and look at how even Lexus struggles in places like Europe and you will struggle to see how Lincoln can survive.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    It seems like Lincoln is trying to take the Lexus approach to making itself relevant; that is: take a good car, make it nicer, slap a premium badge on it, and profit.

    The thing is, I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s so awesome about the Lexus ES that makes it worth purchasing over the related Camry/Avalon.

    As nice as I personally feel the MKZ is, and as happy as I would be to sit in one, the question that always springs to mind is “why?” It’s a nice car, but why is it worth the premium?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Lots of people DO purchase a Lexus ES, and that, in the end, is all that concerns Toyota.

      Some people are happy with a car that offers the Camry’s reliability along with better fit and finish, a nicer interior, more sound deadening and styling that distinguishes it from the Camry owned by your neighbor/co-worker/Aunt Susan.

      • 0 avatar
        Mykl

        Yeah, I get that lots of people love the ES, but it looks like Lincoln followed that forumla to a T with the MKZ and as far as I can tell it’s not working for them.

        I guess my problem is that I’m not somebody who’s worried about flashing my money to give people the impression that I’m doing better than my neighbor/co-worker/Aunt Susan; so maybe I’ll never get it.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          People have been using their cars to make a statement since the advent of the automobile. It was one of the ways Alfred Sloan knocked Henry Ford out of first place. People who wanted something “better” (read, more expensive looking) than a Chevrolet or a Ford could buy a Pontiac, Oldsmobile or Buick. Not one of which was a Ford brand.

          The MKZ hasn’t been at the dealers long enough to be declared a flop or a failure. Dealers just started receiving the car in large numbers last month.

          The main challenge the MKZ faces compared to the ES is that the ES can ride on the coattails of the big Lexuses. There are no big Lincolns to lend status to the MKZ.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          The ES actually looks nice, and more like a Lexus than a Camry. Theres also the Avalon slotted nicely between the two. There are some people out there that would rather have a “top of the line” Toyota than a mid-lower range Lexus.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    There are always turnarounds, but it’s not wise to bet on happening and a whole lot of people aiming for the same piece. It’s critical that everyone at Lincoln believe in the future and all that, but that doesn’t mean an objective observer shouldn’t call a spade a spade.

    I think it’s telling that no one is referring to Lincoln as the “lincoln motor company”.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “I think it’s telling that no one is referring to Lincoln as the “lincoln motor company”.”

      Do you also refer to Ford as “the Ford Motor Company,” or is it rendered irrelevant because you don’t?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I completely agree with Kiley’s last proposition: make Lincoln a livery brand. Create a RWD car based either on the Mustang or F150 chassis. Give it a large trunk with excellent rear leg room. Leather for limos, pleather for cops and cabs. Come up with a grill design that looks good both chrome plated and in bare black plastic. A modern day Checker.
    Do it right and they’ll make a ton of money.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I’m 38 (perhaps the age range Lincoln is now trying to target?) and pretty much every time I see a new Lincoln, especially a Navigator or the the Edge clone (can’t remeber which MK it is), I always think…why would anybody pay good money for this with so many other vehicle choices available? I would never consider setting foot inside a Lincoln showroom, but Cadillac on the other hand…I would definitely check out a new ATS or upcoming CTS.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll say this, the design of the new MKZ has caught my wife’s attention and she is only 29 years old. This is good news for Lincoln, many modern designs don’t catch her attention.

    Although IMHO they do still need a RWD S-Class type flagship.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      The people I’ve talked to in that age range (+/- 3 years or so), none of whom are car enthusiasts, said something along the lines of the following about the new MKZ:

      “it looks nice on the outside and the inside seems nice…but only old people drive a Lincoln!”

      Same issue with the ATS for some people in that age range, even though they’ve out BMWd BMW.

      That’s why I have trouble taking seriously the TTAC commenters who think Cadillacs and Lincolns should only be V8-powered floaty carsickness-inducing landbarges with pinky-finger steering. Those people are dinosaurs in more ways than one. You’re not going to convince new generations of buyers to buy Lincolns or Cadillacs by only making landyachts — you’ll just sell them to the geezers who need their last car.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I was talking flagship, Amigo, which is a different class than floaty land barge. Just because a car has Fleetwood interior and trunk room doesn’t mean it can’t offer 400hp and handling to equal a Lexus LS, Mercedes S-class, Hyundai Genesis, VW Phaeton… etc.

        BTW most of the people I know from about 25 to 40 years old aren’t that hung up on the badge, they think more about the dealership experience and price vs value. Likely my wife’s next car will be a Buick but that has much to do with the relationship with the dealership where she bought her first new car in 2005 (a Pontiac). I honestly don’t think anyone who is serious can say with a straight face that Buick’s re-badged German cars are demonstratively better than a current Lincoln which is a Ford with a few exclusive options and higher levels of sound deadening.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “I was talking flagship, Amigo, which is a different class than floaty land barge. Just because a car has Fleetwood interior and trunk room doesn’t mean it can’t offer 400hp and handling to equal a Lexus LS, Mercedes S-class, Hyundai Genesis, VW Phaeton… etc. ”

          I wasn’t talking about you, PrincipalDan. The people I was talking about know who they are.

          FWIW, the young professionals and tech people I run across in California in that age range who buy or lease new cars are often buying or leasing luxury makes or maybe Subarus, but I can’t speak as well to the general population of 25-35 (some of whom aren’t buying new cars). Even Buick says “old dude” to many of these people, Shaq and Tiger notwithstanding.

          It’s a bummer because I’d love for the Cadillac ATS to do well.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          The problem with a Lincoln S-Class is that Mercedes has largely cornered that market, with BMW, Audi and Lexus competing for the leftovers. People who pay that much money for a car want real status, and the Lincoln badge simply doesn’t have the firepower of the Mercedes star.

          A Lincoln competitor would have a tough time attracting customers, no matter how great it is. It’s telling that the Cadillac S-Class has been “a few years away” for over a decade now. I’m guessing that GM is struggling to make a business case for the car.

          It would make more sense for Lincoln to build a rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300C competitor on the upcoming Mustang platform (which will supposedly feature independent rear suspension). The MKZ, the upcoming MKC, and a thoroughly revamped Navigator and MKX, topped by a Mustang-based sedan, is a coherent line-up that also makes sense from an investment-potential profit standpoint.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Do you think Lincoln would do better resurrecting an old name (Zephyr, Continental) to make a flagship? Does the Lincoln name have too much baggage?

            Lexus came out of nowhere, just as Infiniti and Acura, and all three of them effectively re-badge their parent companies’ cars. Even the mighty Lexus LS was once a slightly more humble Toyota Celsior.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            I don’t think the Lincoln name is fatally damaged. It has simply fallen off the map for most buyers, which presents Ford with an opportunity. Most buyers don’t care about Lincoln, but they also don’t care enough to hate it. Ford can rebuild it with the right products. A handsome 300 competitor would get people looking at Lincoln again, if it were to be done correctly. It could even be called “Continental.”

            Lincoln isn’t in the same position as Cadillac was in the mid-1990s. Cadillac was basically a laughing-stock thanks to the Cimarron, the V-8-6-4 engine, HT 4100 and the disastrous downsizing of the Eldorado and Seville in 1986.

            Lincoln’s image today isn’t nearly THAT bad. It just isn’t strong enough to go directly up against the Mercedes S-Class.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    The life or death of this brand is almost certainly in the hands of Fords designers/stylists and marketing/advertising people. The engineering department has shown they know how to build a good car, the question is can you make people want it. People love to criticize badge engineering, but if the style is what they want want and the image presented by the vehicle is the one they want the world to see, most car buyers don’t care about much else. If you consider the current MKZ badge engineering, then many of the major money making lines in the premium car market in the last decade, and sometimes farther have been “badge engineered.” Look at the Lexus ES and RX, Porsche Cayenne, Audi A4 (previous generations), TT, Q5 and Q7, Bentley Continental, Chrysler T&C, Cadillac Escalade, (first generation) Navigator, and Hummer H2 (which was a big hit for several years before it became a flop). All shared platforms, if not powertrains, body panels, and interior pieces with lesser brethren, but the brand equity that was built up meant that buyers were willing to pay the premium despite the similarities with otherwise capable downmarker offerings.

  • avatar
    jaje

    So when is Acura going to be added to this list?
    - Every product they sell is based off and too similar to its mass market brand.
    - Their styling “love it” or “hate it” – of which 90% is the latter.
    - They say they don’t need a v8 or rwd platform and will continue to alienate luxury customers who won’t consider otherwise themselves
    - They don’t know how to go upmarket b/c they won’t go V8 or RWD and the RLX is just like the RL before it which is too similar to the TL.
    - They instead keep on going downmarket with items such as: the TSX which now has grown in size and gets a v6 to compete better against the TL; the RDX which got a v6 so it can compete better with the MDX; and the ILX because we all demanded we wanted an Acura CL from Canada. What is next – a Fit based luxury car?

  • avatar
    Freddie

    The existential questions raised about Lincoln could apply to any luxury brand, even one not based on a mass market platform.
    The problem (and for us car buyers it’s a good “problem” to have) is that for under $30,000 there are a lot of very nice cars to choose from, with features and performance that not too long ago defined the “luxury” segment. Go much above that price level and, unless there is something very special about the vehicle, the law of diminishing returns kicks in real fast.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’ll offer up a suggestion: one of what I consider to be the key proponents of Lincoln’s poor-status is the way Ford treats the cars between the two brands as modular. Case in point: the instrument clusters. That split-screen instrument cluster with the analog speedometer is standard on all Lincolns but the Navigator, but it is also standard (or available) on the C-Max, Edge, Explorer, Flex, Focus Electric, Fusion and Taurus. That would be perilous-enough within the brand itself (does the Camry offer the same instrumentation as the much-nicer Avalon? No, it does not). But it’s poison when your mainstream and premium brands have the same instrumentation and interfaces. I’ve seen the Volkswagen brand use the Audi/Bentley instrument clusters in its own vehicles a few times, but only on very upscale cars (like the Touareg and Phaeton). In addition, the MyFord Touch system is identical to the MyLincoln Touch system, with the latter offering no reason to upgrade. Even if Cadillac’s CUE system does end up being worse than Buick/Chevy/GMC’s MyLink/IntelliLink, at least it offers more panache and the *potential* to be much more upscale and capable. And Lincoln couldn’t even be bothered to differentiate its key fobs from those of Ford; if you look at the Taurus’s smart-key, it looks exactly the same as the MKS’s…and both designs are rather unremarkable at that! Part of the appeal of owning a luxury car is being able to flash that lovely, unique, key.

    If they could just start by changing some of that stuff around, it’d probably do wonders…

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “And Lincoln couldn’t even be bothered to differentiate its key fobs from those of Ford; if you look at the Taurus’s smart-key, it looks exactly the same as the MKS’s…and both designs are rather unremarkable at that! Part of the appeal of owning a luxury car is being able to flash that lovely, unique, key…”

      Yeah, that’s why G35, er Q50/Q60, owners are so happy that their key is so different from a pedestrian Nissan…

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        And just look at Infiniti. They’re not much of a prize either in terms of luxury. And the G-series…at least the current one…is really just a performance Nissan by another name.

        I’m just stating that if Lincoln really wants to boost their brand image, they could start by offering exciting elements that are different from the not-so-exciting elements of the Ford brand. And one of the quickest ways to do that is with the key design. It could have the same circuit-board underneath it as the Ford one, but if it had a snazzier-looking enclosure to go with a (soon to be) snazzier-looking brand, I don’t see what could go wrong…

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        I used to have a Jaguar and you could clearly tell the key fob was a “rebadged” Ford unit.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    Yes, Doug, Lincoln CAN come back, as can Cadillac, but not without MAJOR investment they do not seem to be making.

    I have driven European luxury brands almost exclusively for over 20 years, usually Audi and Porsche, which you correctly cite as examples. There is actually no better example than Audi, which was effectively DEAD by the early 90s and which today, you could argue, equals or surpasses BMW and MB in every respect. They did it with massive investments — investments in building cars that were not just good but often great, in designing cars that inside and out looked and felt better than any of their competitors, in racing to develop and demonstrate their technical prowess, and in their once decrepit dealer network that often consisted of a corner of a VW store.

    I would actually consider an American alternative to the Europeans I have enjoyed. I would love a car that, along with top quality and good service, delivered a dash of American style, a warmer interior, and did so at a more reasonable price for the car, parts, and service. But I won’t think of Lincoln as long as the cars are rebadged Fords, and the strategy they have pursued for years of dualing Ford and Lincoln everywhere they can is just a disaster. The newly dualed store closest to my house looks more like it should be selling farm implements.

    I see Lincoln doing nothing to change any of that. Combine that with the ridiculous ads including Honest Abe, and for the first time I seriously disagree with you.

    • 0 avatar

      To me, Lincoln right now is Audi in 1996. The new MKZ is that very first A4, which used that 172-hp V6 that could do little aside from catch fire.

      Initially, that A4 was sold alongside that awful 1994-98 Audi Cabrio. The first two years, there wasn’t even an A6 (it didn’t come back until 1998). Back then, one could’ve argued that Audi wasn’t making a very strong investment in their future either. But slowly, one by one, the good products began trickling out.

      And now, they’re tremendously popular even though most A4s are front-wheel drive cars with 200 horsepower and a CVT.

      EDIT: Also, does this mean you agree with me about the Cube pubes? Or just that the disagreement isn’t serious?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “And now, they’re tremendously popular even though most A4s are front-wheel drive cars with 200 horsepower and a CVT.”

        The FWD out-sells the Quattro where you are? Even here in the Bay Area where there is no snow, it’s surprising to see a “FrontTrak.” I imagine it’s the same people, largely female, who bought C-class hatchbacks (the CLC from years ago) or who will buy the CLA or the 320i.

        • 0 avatar

          In Atlanta, you will go 6 months without seeing a Quattro A4. I used to live in Denver and thought that they ONLY made A4s with Quattro. Very regional (as it should be).

          Either way, the point here is that the current A4 is not even slightly compelling.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Fair enough. I’m surprised by the number of 2WD CUVs/SUVs for sale in the South too. They are closer to non-existent here in CA, although you probably see more in LA than in the Bay Area. The Tahoe/Big Bear/Mammoth thing probably has an effect on purchases.

            I did see a RWD Expedition fishtailing over the summit going to Tahoe a couple years ago and gave it a wide berth. The lady driving that car didn’t know what the hell she was doing, and it made me wonder if she and/or her friends/family assumed it was 4WD/AWD because it was an Expedition.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “To me, Lincoln right now is Audi in 1996. The new MKZ is that very first A4, which used that 172-hp V6 that could do little aside from catch fire.”

        This type of statement, which at least is far more detailed than the general thesis upon which you came to your overall prediction in this article (the other brands came back from the brink, so Lincoln will, too…paraphrasing), is bizarre.

        What are the parallels, IF ANY, between Lincoln and Audi-circa 1996, again?

        It’s almost as if you’re on this obsessive tear about how Lincoln is destined for eventual success because you merely feel that it’s been kicked around for so long.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @JSF22 I think Audi’s resurgence was led first and foremost by their design. For the better part of a decade and a half, Audis have always been considered among the most attractive vehicles in their class both inside and out, despite their sometimes pedestrian underpinings and they have usually been outclassed in driving dynamics by the competition (havent driven any, just going based on the CW). Audi’s design leadership very much became its trademark. Lincoln can’t necessarily follow Audi and try to lead by design, but they can learn from Audi and try to figure out what the reason is they want people to been seen driving their cars and go from there. Audi is understated extreme sexiness, a hint of irreverence, and individualism (look at how many ads have mocked Lexus owners). Cadillac is distinctive, bold, and brash. Lexus is serenity, sumptuousness and refinement; the relentless pursuit of perfection. BMW is (the image of) the ultimate driving machine. Infiniti is performance as well, but with more flair, style, and a little rougher around the edges than BMW. Mercedes is the 3 point star on the hood or in the grille; the vehicle of choice of the master race. Volvo is Scandinavian design and safety. Chrysler is contemporary American luxury. Acura is weird. What’s a Lincoln besides a bunch of alphabet soup?

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      Lincoln needs its own TTS!

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Why do people buy Lexus ES’s and not MKWhatevers?

    Lexus represents something to buyers as a brand. A small part of that may well be a halo effect from the LS/GS kinds of cars Lincoln doesn’t sell, but I’d bet it has much more to do with the perception that when you buy a Lexus, you’re getting a car from the company that, more than any other, focuses on building an excellent and reliable product. Possibly this is reputation more than truth, but JD Power et. al. consistently report it to be so. So Lexus buyers are getting something that they think will last 250k mi. if they’re keepers, or will at least have a higher resale value than anything else if they’re not.

    My point is that people buy the ES not because it’s a better Camry, but because it’s the lowest price of entry into what Lexus represents. Lincoln can slap uglier grills onto all of the Fords they want, but until shoppers think Lincoln is worth something inherently more than Ford, they won’t buy ‘em. And you don’t build that perception of value with average cars that perform averagely.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      +100

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not only the product. Service at Lexus is less likely to be a humiliating experience of abuse, especially when compared with BMW and Mercedes, and it factors into purchase decisions by adults who are not in a rush to buy. So in a way one buys a “Lexis ownership experience”. Heck I once heard a Lexus service advisor suggesting a customer not to perform a navigation system update because there were very few to none changes in a particular metropolitain area maps. Sure, he only saved that woman $210, but it’s the impression that matters.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I can’t imagine a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi service writer ever doing that. Those guys are glorified sales guys. Stealership service departments drive me crazy because I always prefer having a direct relationship with my mechanic, and they’re specifically designed to prevent that.

        I once called out a service writer who didn’t even open the hood before telling me my “belts are all cracked up” when I pointed out that my extremely low mileage car was actually years older than he thought it was.

        When I brought in the car for an unrelated warranty issue, another service writer told me they didn’t find my car hesitating under load in 3rd/4th gear, when my wife was able to replicate the problem without my even telling her about it. The reality is that they probably never drove it and just wanted to have me pay for “diagnosis”.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I agree 100%. The MkZ would have paired beautifully with a Mustang based Lincoln. Introduce the the halo car, then bring in the lower entry level car. Hell, a Continental would have been a perfect car to represent the rebirth of Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The only thing that I’m looking forward from Lincoln is Mark LaNeve’s “ich bin ein baleener” speech. Yes, Lincoln can come back, much like the Cleveland Browns can win the Super Bowl. It can happen, but it’s not a smart money bet. More to the point, it’s not the highest and best use of Ford’s money to make the attempt. Ford can have a Lincoln model or two sold through the Ford dealers, but the money saved in subsidizing constant loser Lincoln should be put into making Ford cars the highest standard of the mainline brands. Even now, the materials quality in my Ford C-Max is equal to that in my wife’s Acura. The innovation in the C-Max is superior. If, after a few years, Ford has enough money in its pocket to invest in establishing a premium brand, it would be better off starting from scratch like Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      JSF22

      I love Lincoln and J. Walter explaining LaNeve’s appointment by referring to his work reinventing the Cadillac and Volvo brands. That seems to have gone swimmingly.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It’s funny, on the lincoln commercial where it has a 90′s town car unwrap to one of the new lincoln cars, whatever it is…

    I personally can’t help but feel more persuaded to buy the towncar then even touch the new car.

    Not sure if the commercial is to sell new lincolns or to bring up prices on old lincolns …..

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Alfa Romeo and Tesla have a better chance than Lincoln because they have a vision and a plan. All the suits at Ford are fighting for is which bad grille to put on these Ford clones. The really sad part for Lincoln is that the Fords look better.

    The best thing Ford can do is to give up on gasoline luxury cars and build luxury electrics, the rear wheel drive train left the station a few years ago and Ford can never economically get back in the game. I doubt the Ford moneycrunchers will even keep the Taurus let alone Lincoln.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    Doing away with the Town Car effectively killed Lincoln. In my estimation, Lincoln does not exist today, the brand consists only of glorified Fords. Feel free to disagree with my assessment.

    Here is the Lincoln lineup of luxury vehicles for 2013:

    MKZ = glorified Fusion
    MKX = glorified Edge
    MKS = glorified Taurus
    MKT = glorified Flex/Explorer
    Navigator = glorified Expedition

    The key to comprehending Lincoln’s confusing nomenclature:

    MK = refers to “Mark” series of personal luxury cars
    Z = Zephyr(produced in 2006 only, renamed MKZ in 2007)
    X = mimic of other luxury automakers: Infiniti FX,
    Lexus RX, and Acura MDX
    S = Sedan
    T = Touring

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Agreed, there was no sensible reason to not improve upon the existing platform, it was smooth as butter, not terrible inefficient, decently sized, a benchmark vehicle by all means.

  • avatar
    Michael500

    Oh boy, the author’s arguments are very full of holes, respectfully. 1) Lincoln does NOT have money to burn, they have invested $1B on product that WILL NOT turn around the brand. When Lincoln continues to fail, new RWD product will take 3-5 years to happen which is too late, INVESTORS will force Mullally’s hand. PRODUCT is what turned around Cadillac, specifically, RWD product CTS. I remember when the Boxster came out, there were NO naysayers at that time. People are still NOSTALGIC today about the video that launched it.
    2) No brand identity/styling- Lincoln has none. If you put a Kia badge or Equus badge on the car no one will know the difference. They gambled on FWD drive cars with NO discernable styling. Plus, their ad campaign is a DISASTER- a creepy “Abe Lincoln” in a top-hat at the beach??? Who greenlighted this? (your “talent” argument). 3) Another BIG problem is a weak dealer body- you can get a franchise for $500K in CA(!). That’s less than a house.
    Their fatal flaw besides styling is the lack of RWD- they can’t compete in the premium segment with Lexus, BMW, MBZ, Chrysler, and Cadillac who are RWD heavy. Lincolon: 1917-2014 (about the age of their current buyer)

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Investors won’t force anything. The Ford family still controls 40% of voting stock thanks to the way the company’s public offering was structured in 1956. Why do you think they’ve never declared bankruptcy?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I don’t know if Ford can save Lincoln. Their own reputation is on the edge of escaping down the reliability toilet. They’re going to have to focus on fixing their own fusion of why-tech and sloppy build quality before another brand takes the bull by horns and has a fiesta building a marketing campaign that explores all their recent failures.

    I almost hope they do save Lincoln though. If they do, it will mean they’ve produced a genuinely original product that hits the competition where they’re not, or that they’ve produced a car in an existing segment that offers something really special relative to the competition. Either would probably be a very good thing.

  • avatar
    Travis

    Lincoln will have the chance at relevancy when it makes 1 vehicle which isn’t a badge job and is unique to the Lincoln lineup. Until then, mentioning them as a car maker is laughable and dumb. This article was pretty dumb IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      Supposedly, this is a quote from Henry Ford:

      “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

      People who attempt to predict the future with knowledge of ONLY the present are shortsighted. Based on the Cimarron and the Fleetwood Brougham, you probably would’ve said an article in 1994 about Cadillac’s resurgence was dumb. Look at them now.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Cadillac’s future looked much brighter in 1994 than it does now. They were selling a couple hundred thousand cars a year, the Seville indicated they could build modern, attractive cars, and the new Northstar was one of the most powerful V8 luxury car engines. The Deville was selling strongly and had a new look to go with its new engine. Even the Fleetwood was getting some respect, thanks to its LT1 engine. I was in Palm Beach in 1996, but new Cadillacs were everywhere. They were still pretty strong in New York City too. It turned out to be yet another false start, as Northstar issues became known and GM failed to make the next step towards true competitiveness with the imported luxury cars, but that was about as close as they’ve come since people first started to lose interest in buying luxury by the foot.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I disagree pretty much 100%. I thought the Autoblog article was BRILLIANT (did I just type that?)

    Volvo will outsell Lincoln this year, and Volvo isn’t exactly happy with their sales in the first place. Heck, Jaguar may give them a run for their money.

    Lincoln is done. Terminally done. There is a window of oppurtunity to turn a brand around and I believe it ended about 5 years ago for Lincoln.

    They could build the greatest car on the market and I still think it wouldn’t save them. Any money spent on Lincoln at this point is a waste.

    Ford would be better off killing the brand and then introducing a whole new luxury marquee a few years into the future.

    This article could just have easily been written about Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saab, or most other dead brands.

    How many auto brands have been lost through history compared to ones that have been saved?

    • 0 avatar

      The thing that puts Lincoln into the Audi/Porsche/Cadillac category and NOT the Saab/Oldsmobile/Pontiac category is that Lincoln has, as I said, money and talent. There are smart people at Lincoln who WANT to turn it around. And they have the budget to do it.

      Can’t say that about Saab, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, Saturn, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, etc., etc., etc.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        What makes you so sure that the people at Lincoln are “smart”? Heck what makes you think Lincoln even has people anymore?

        How much did GM spend on the Kappa platform for the Pontiac Solstice or the Aurora for Oldsmobile? Remember the Intrigue having a DOHC engine you couldn’t get in the other W-bodies? Did the G8 save Pontiac even with massive critical acclaim?

        Sometimes money, talent, heart, and even product can’t save you. IMO, Lincoln is at that point.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Cadillac is clearly committed, like them or not. They targeted BMW. They took the Corvette and made it into a hot luxury sedan, then a hot coupe. They hit the Nurburgring or whateverthefk it’s called. They created a design and gave it a name. They tried to get younger buyers and performance buyers. They created the “V” series. They keep coming out with newer and better versions. They take chances. They have a plan. They are not afraid of the Germans. I want them to succeed and I want to buy their cars, even though GM owes me 20 billion dollars.

    Lincoln? Their cars are bland, old and confused the minute the come off the dealer’s lot, like their buyers, to the extent they have any, which they don’t. The designers give the impression they are terrified of making a mistake, like an old person negotiating a flight of stairs. In the end, I agree with Doug, they just need one car that you lust after to turn things around and build on, but there is absolutely no sign that they have established a culture that will produce one. Quite the contrary, they seem to be afraid that if they quicken the pulse of their customers, they will clutch their chests and drop dead.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Well, I’m obviously in the minority, because I don’t care about Lincoln at all. If they went, I didn’t notice.

    Much more interesting is how TTAC milks the B&B commentariat with Lincoln articles. I went back and counted.

    30 since last June 19, almost one a week.
    15 between Jan 5 and June 19 last year
    15 from April 13/11 and June 15/12
    15 from April 14/10 and April 13/11

    Take away perhaps 15 articles not entirely relevant to this brand’s ridiculous names and badge engineering/platform, and you have 60 articles on this underperforming brand.

    60 articles on utter irrelevance, from my jaundiced outlook, but obviously not others.

    And the B&B lap it up for some reason, with hundreds of comments.

    Anyone actually buy one of these rolling excrescences in the past 3 years, or as the Brits say, is it all trouser talk?

    Just suggesting a topic for article 76, next week’s Lincoln gabfest.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you saying we’ve covered Lincoln only 60 times since April 14, 2010? That actually seems kind of low! Five years… that’s less than once a month.

      Also: if you want to see journalists cover a car no one is buying, go back and count articles about Fisker. On EVERY site.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    wmba, I’m with you on this, bud. I don’t give a rat’s ass what happens to Lincoln. It would appear that ttac is getting a lot of money from Lincoln to promote its brand.

    I wonder how many of the B&B actually put their own money on a Lincoln product. My guess would be very, very, very few.

    • 0 avatar

      If we’re getting money to promote Lincoln then why I am still driving a 9 year old Mazda?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have owned and would own Lincoln products from MY95-12. I happen to think the pre-13 Zephyr can be a heck of a new-used deal for whats basically a loaded V6 Fusion (they’re doing like a grand more at auction than the 3.0 Fusion and 4-cyl SEL, which would you rather have?).

      I’m not big on the new styling so unless a very favorable lease is coming my way I don’t see a new one in my future.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        28-Cars-Later, we’ve owned Lincoln. We bought a brand new 1992 Towncar Executive that was my wife’s daily driver until June 2008.

        I did all the maintenance and repair on it, and repair on it, and repair on it, then sold it to a young airman at the nearby base when we bought my wife her 2008 Highlander.

        I got a nice letter from the kid when he got home in WVA after he got out of the service and towed a U-Haul trailer to his home. He wrote the car ran great but the gas mileage sucked big time (with that trailer behind it).

        As far as I know that Towncar is still running but that doesn’t mean I want to ever own another Lincoln product.

        It was wmba’s candid comment that compelled me to comment. wmba made me do it!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I see their problems as similar to Buick’s and to a lesser extent Cadillac’s. You don’t have the real money convinced you’re a true luxury brand and that ship has probably already sailed. So since your just re-skinning the parent companies models as it is, why not offer your customers a better product for slightly less money and undercut your competition a little? MSRP for the MKZ 4-cyl is $35,925, this is just stupid because again you don’t have the cachet of Audi, Lexus, or even blatant rebadger Acura… you really think your boring MKFusion is really worth anywhere near $36,000 US dollars? The market already disagrees because the 2012s are doing $17-19 when they are just 12-16 months old with 20-30K on the clock… so the customers you need to be repeats get to take a nice $16,000+ bath when its 2 year trade in time? Does Lexus do this to their ES350 or even IS customers? Not wise Alan. (2011 ES350′s MSRP was 36,700 according to the inetrwebs, I see 2011s 20-30K on the clock doing 26,700, 26,600, 27,500 and so on so Lexus/10K depreciation vs Lincoln/16K. Where is the smart money headed?)

        Try $30,925 instead and work to build up your residuals and resale value… watch what happens.

        Oh and get back to using fricking car names already.

    • 0 avatar

      As the author, I can promise Lincoln paid me nothing for this article. In fact, I have been in just two Lincoln products in my life: a Town Car that Hertz gave me several years ago when they ran out of midsize cars, and an MKZ press car I had a few weeks ago. The MKZ parked itself. The Town Car couldn’t have parked on an runway.

      If I have it my way, the third and last Lincoln I will ride in will be in the distant future, when I’m in the back… in a casket.

      I wouldn’t buy one. But I still believe they’re poised for a comeback.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I still believe they’re poised for a comeback.”

        You may be right. Time will tell.

        Since I have owned Ford/Mercury/Lincoln products in the past, I wouldn’t buy them (again) either.

        My ownership experiences with Ford and GM products were dismal. And I’m too old to tool and wrench on them now.

        There are just too many other products on the market these days that are relevant.

        • 0 avatar

          Very true. But I suspect you would’ve said the same thing 5 years ago about Hyundai. The one thing I’ve realized about the auto business is: nothing is EVER certain.

          Except for Mitsubishi’s demise.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            There is no doubt in my mind that the vehicles we drive today are the very best ever, from any and all manufacturers.

            Taken within context, the industry has evolved from what it was after WWII to what it is today, often erratically, but certainly with leaps and bounds after the foreigners came onto the market with their superior products.

            The auto industry is and always will be a dynamic and changing industry driven by consumer tastes and government mandates.

            While my generation is dying off and taking their preferences to the grave, the hope of the auto industry is vested in the younger generations that follow us oldsters.

            All my kids are in their forties and free to choose whatever they can afford to buy and drive.

            Would they or their peers ever consider a Lincoln or Cadillac product?

            I think it highly unlikely because the competition is much more hip and socially accepted than the offerings from either Lincoln or Cadillac.

            But nothing is ever certain and it is possible that Lincoln may displace BMW, Mercedes, Audi, et all as the best-selling luxury sedan on the market. Time will tell.

  • avatar
    mvoss

    You might be right, since you’d have to be a company like Fisker to have some actual problems.

    I really like the new MKZ, having seen it on the road a couple of times. I wouldn’t buy it myself, but it looks very competitive. They just need to market it differently than how Cadillac marketed their CTS.

  • avatar
    flameded

    Hmm.One thing that was funny (to me) was the post about “this many or that many lincoln articles…” , and yet there are over 200 comments on this latest one. Maybe there should be MORE Lincoln talk..?..

    Anyway, look, I loved the old licoln, heck Im nostalgic for the old day regardless of make.(I’m only?.. 40)

    I saw a few references to other companys that “Turned around” or “escaped death”. Lets face it. those were different times. Look around, things are MUCH worse than they were in 80′s/90s. So, even if they could/would invest the money, even if they could/would make a “luxury” car… who’s gonna buy the friggin thing?

    The middle class is gone(basically), so, the cars will follow suit. there will be cheaper cars for the poor(er) (that can buy a car), and there will be the luxury imports for the rich, Mercedes/BMW..

    Sadly, the american luxury car (or rather car in general) business has been gone for years. Well , okay, ..on a decline anyway. Remember when Cadillac was the standard of the world?
    They were asleep at the proverbial wheel..so to speak ;) as our shores were invaded… followed by decades of denial. and just recently …juuussst recently, they’re trying to fix it.
    Ford has to downsize a little more.Scrap lincoln.Heck, they shoulda kept Mercury, that way they could rebadge fords, customers could have a different flavor, at the same cost as a ford.

    JMO?..

    People want luxury, yes. BUT, they want it in the lower end cars that they can actually buy. Rich people buy whatever they want..and it’s most likely not American.

  • avatar
    Sir Tonk

    What they need to do is bring back the luxury sport coupe with a new Mark IX coupe with the Coyote V8 and IRS. Hell, offer a Bill Blass/Brougham edition for the crowd that doesn’t plan on cornering about 15mph.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Here’s how hard it is to save Lincoln. If they gave me Lincoln tomorrow, I would use the hopefully rear wheel drive next Mustang chassis, stretch it 4 inches or so, design a 4 door coupe with suicide doors on the back and a real sporty countenance with a futuristic interior. Offer the same range of engines the Mustang has and voila, you would have a great starter Lincoln for the whole world in 3 years for only 2 billion dollars or so. Call them Cosmopolitans.

    Does Ford have even that much patience?

    Buy whats left of Fisker, call it the Continental, give to select dealers and send the present Lincoln lineup into a Mercury like death spiral while switching them to a mid premium all electric lineup.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    When someone sees my comment in the moderation queue, just delete it. I don’t know what triggered it (“Mulally”? “Continental”? “Baruth”?), but the comment is no longer current.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Lincoln is a trim package. When did it last have a unique chassis/ body?

  • avatar
    Whip

    Ok but all you really did was talk about other brands… and how many cars have you had?! I’ve read now only 2 of your reviews and it seems you have owned everything short of a McLaren… Anyway point of the matter, staying on topic, is that Lincoln is failing… I actually work for a large dealership in Manhattan, which does not have the worst drivers, and in my dealership we have a Lincoln brand… for the last 4 weeks the same 7 cars have sat still in the showroom… NO ONE WANTS A $50,000 Fusion! Ford will stick around, obviously, but Lincoln is sinking fast… they need to pay attention and get their heads out of their rear ends and come out with some smarter designs… and appeal to their demographics… They will not make it if they don’t do these things because right now short of the people wanting to drive an even fancier Ford Edge there isn’t any other reason to buy a Lincoln.


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