By on July 31, 2013

Lincoln_Town_Car_--_01-28-2010

Please welcome TTAC reader John Mohr (username J.Emerson) and his guest contribution to our site

In 2004, my family decided to replace our soon-to-be-off-lease Ford Focus Wagon with another Ford product, having been quite satisfied with our little five-door. This being the height of the Bush-era full-size SUV binge, we were barraged with row upon row of new Explorers, Expeditions, and Excursions when my parents suggested that we wanted a “sensible 4-door family car.” My mother couldn’t have cared less about such monstrosities, but she didn’t like the recently-redesigned Taurus either, and she wanted something larger than her old Focus. Eventually, they got a deal on a new Crown Victoria LX, a car that served us well for many years. The salesmen couldn’t wait to get rid of it; it was an ‘03, and as I said before, nobody wanted bargain-brand full-size sedans in the middle of the Bush years. Most importantly, this particular car shopping experience was my wake-up call to the artificiality of Ford’s luxury branding attempts. And thinking about it now helps me to understand why Ford is content to let the Lincoln line become nothing but a set of badge-engineered clones.

This being a full-service Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership, I could see line after line of Panther cars lingering in front of each division’s showroom. Not counting the police specials in the back of the lot, the Ford dealer had the fewest; but the Mercury side had dozens of Grand Marquis, and Lincoln had no shortage of Town Cars. With my parents ensconced in the finance office, I went over to inspect why we had gone with a Ford and not (to my 15 year old mind) one of the more prestigious makes in the Ford stable. It didn’t take me long to realize that the car we wound up with was more luxurious inside than most the Grand Marquis and on par with many of the Town Cars. We had leather seats and a trunk-mounted CD changer (high tech in ’04), while many of the Mercury customers made do with cloth seats and tape decks. The equivalent Grand Marquis always seemed to sticker higher than ours, a fact that my innocent mind found completely puzzling. Lincolns were better optioned and they had unique sheet metal, as well as some other toys that couldn’t be found in their more pedestrian siblings, so a bump in MSRP seemed fair. Even so, I wasn’t fooled into thinking that a Town Car was worth nearly $20,000 more than the Crown Vic.

At the time, I didn’t know who Alfred P. Sloan Jr. was. I didn’t know that he had catapulted the entire US auto industry down a path that eventually devolved into a wholly cynical game played on an increasingly disillusioned public. But I did know that you were a fool if you paid more for an obviously equivalent product, especially one that was parked on the other side of the dealers’ lot. I still see the merit in luxury cars, but only ones that offer you something more for your money. The Crown Vic, the Grand Marquis, and the Town Car were all decent automobiles in their own right, but only one of them was a value. The other two were mostly cynical marketing exercises that were rapidly losing ground as the Germans tried to scrub the last vestiges of Sloanism from the American market. Even so, Ford hasn’t given up on badge-engineering strategy, and good business sense suggests that they probably shouldn’t if they want to continue to compete in the luxury market.

Fast forward to 2013, and Mercury is dead and buried, and Lincoln is almost there too. The new MKZ, a car that many have projected to be the barometer of whether Lincoln lives or dies, failed to impress Derek. Although it’s an undeniably pretty car, it can’t seem to escape its family-car roots in a way that many of the B&B think a “real” Lincoln should. And therein lies the truth: Ford has no intention of turning Lincoln into a serious contender for Mercedes, BMW, or even Cadillac. Instead, Ford realizes that it has a much better chance of cracking open the Audi-Acura-Buick market with its limited resources. Essentially, Ford wants to take Lincoln and make it into what Mercury was supposed to become, before the Carpocalypse killed off any hope that diluted and under-marketed brands such as Saturn, Saab, and Suzuki could (or should) be rescued.

Alan Mulally simply isn’t willing to risk plowing under the kind of cash needed to make a serious go at the world luxury market. He doesn’t have the resources of a VW, GM, or Toyota, despite Ford’s recent dynamic performance in the marketplace. Building a series of attractive but ultimately mundane cars off existing Ford platforms makes the most sense from a financial standpoint, much more so than a moonshot attempt to develop something like a new RWD sedan platform that could potentially require billions of dollars. At the core of all of this is the fact that Lincoln has exactly zero global presence. GM has poured some serious blood, sweat, and tears into remaking Cadillac as a global brand, and thus far has little to show for it other than some XTS commercials with Brad Pitt and a small (but growing) share of the Chinese market. GM can afford to take such risks; indeed, they must, if their business plan for massive growth in Asia is to work. Ford has thus far punted on the Asian market and can’t commit the same kind of resources to it that GM can. Mulally is right to cautiously introduce Lincoln as a sort of novelty brand in China, and to move on from there.

As far as the American market goes, I believe that Lincoln’s strategy can succeed. But this will happen if, and only if, Ford concentrates on going after the mid-tier luxury market. It shouldn’t pretend that Lincolns are serious competitors to the flagship makers. Like Hyundai’s top tier, most of Lexus, and the revitalized Buick, the sweet spot for Lincoln is amongst the “quietly affluent” segment that Derek previously identified in his review of the Equus. Show the moderately wealthy that there are even better versions of already class-leading Ford products just across the showroom floor. It’s not as if Ford has bad material to work with in its current crop of cars (an assertion that will no doubt cause considerable consternation amongst, and the posting of multiple long essays from, the Ford Hater Brigade). Forget delusions of grandeur that a new Continental will emerge from the shadows to bring Lincoln to the top of the world. Focus on building competent, honest products, made by well-paid workers and suppliers with a careful eye for quality. That will do more for the brand than any moonshot project ever could. Mulally probably understands this better than anybody, but it remains to be seen if he can pull it off. The early reviews of the MKZ are certainly disheartening, but the public has yet to register a final verdict.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

207 Comments on “Greek Gods and Dead Presidents: Why Ford Doesn’t Care About Making “Real” Lincolns...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Oh, good a Lincoln/panther story… “If Ford would just (insert advice here) then everything Ford and Lincoln would be perfect”

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      you dont understand dude..its all about the clicks. These have proven of late to be 300 plus click articles. You have some folks who dont comment for about a week then out of the blue….If its Ford/Lincoln they have got to say something, usually not the good. That being said even I have thoughts of what Lincoln should be.
      Diesel/Hybrid/ten speed auto anyone?

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Everybody knows that Ford is failing because it refuses to market a brown, diesel, manual transmission wagon. (Does it have to be rear-wheel drive? I forget.) Its not just click mongering, it’s the truth!

        As a group, we TTAC commenters and editors are very in touch with and representative of the vast majority of car buyers. Our ideas for what will make Brand X successful are obviously going to work. If Toyota would just follow our advice and turn the Camry into a Ferrari beating, mid-engine, two-seat family car, Toyota would become eight times the size of GM overnight. It should be pretty obvious to anyone that what we think is awesome translates into large scale marketplace success. We are all expert arm chair quarterbacks. Why won’t automakers just do as we say? Etc.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That doesn’t mean people are wrong about Lincoln needing a RWD sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “If Toyota would just follow our advice and turn the Camry into a Ferrari beating, mid-engine, two-seat family car, Toyota would become eight times the size of GM overnight.”

          No one here has said this or even insinuated this thought. People might not like the car, but no one said Toyota should transform the Camry into a Ferrari.

          What people are saying (and it’s not just us, the average consumer isn’t stupid) is that Lincoln needs credible products that set themselves apart from Fords.

          Authenticity does sell. Consumers can easily see that they can get a similarly equipped Fusion for less than an MKZ, this is why the MKZ sells at a fraction of what the Fusion does. Why even bother with running an entire brand to market a Fusion with a fancy tail light or a Taurus with a waterfall grille?

          Lincoln needs to do what Ford doesn’t, plain and simple. Otherwise, why bother with it?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Maybe Lincoln could – oh, I don’t know – do something crazy and build a true luxury car (or several)?

          Granted, I’m grasping at straws here…

          • 0 avatar
            tallnikita

            Define luxury

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            tallnikita,

            For starters, drive a current gen Chrysler 300 back to back with a MKZ or MKS, comparably equipped, over the same road loop (the longer the trip and the more varied the road surfaces, the better).

            Is there anyone here who would dispute that the 300 has the more luxurious ride, more refined motor (the Pentastar 3.6), the better transmission, quieter interior OR better trimmed, higher quality interior?

            Luxury is an attribute that is closely associated with the notions of relaxation, refinement & quality, IMO.

        • 0 avatar
          Spike_in_Brisbane

          Here’s a brown Ford diesel RWD wagon. I’m not sure if it comes in manual.
          http://news.drive.com.au/drive/green-motoring/revealed-fords-82l100km-territory-20110309-1bn4b.html

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I’m 57(How did this happen?) and I’m not anywhere near old enough to buy any Lincoln, let alone a brown(worst car color ever, IMHO, except for maybe seafoam green), diesel(why would I want one?), manual trans(Not if I wanted to drive it a lot, an hour in traffic and I’m done) wagon(not even when I had three bigger dogs). There is nothing in the Lincoln line up that interests me at all. Until not so long ago, I would say the same thing about Cadillac, and Ford “styling” in general just blew for close to 40 years. Right now, IF I was looking to buy a new vehicle, there are actually some Ford products I might think about buying. I can’t believe I’m saying that! I doubt I will ever get old enough to want to buy a Lincoln. That can change, if Caddy can do it, so can they.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Believe me, I totally get it. My click, my input, it works and it works well… Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain pushing all the right buttons… He, he, he

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Ten Speed Auto!!! Even ZF claims nine speeds are the end of the line in the auto tranny wars. Any more speeds and the size and weight will be too much for all but the biggest boats.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you read the article? Seems nothing like that.

      In fact, kinda the reverse. Advice is to shoot for improved versions of existing cars, don’t try to revive the Panther.

      D

    • 0 avatar

      Everything wrong at Lincoln (and Cadillac) can be seen when you take their flagship and compare it to BMW, Mercedes, Audi or even CHRYSLER’s flagships.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Nobody gives a crap about flagships. Flagships represent a shrinking piece of the market. You look at any company, its best sellers and money makers are either towards the bottom of the lineup or somewhere in the middle. Nobody says ‘i would buy a Corolla if the Avalon didnt suck’

        Plus LIncoln for all intents an purposes is a brand that won’t thrive anywhere but America. You look at a brand like Lexus, their best sellers are the ES and RX… not the LS. Most “flagships” get outsold by other cars in their lineup like 10 to 1. Infiniti has done well over the last decade with no flagship. Throwing billions at a flagship to impress people who aren’t even in the market for such cars is idiotic. Lincoln needs to make money and as cynical as it is rebadges are the cheapest and easiest ways to do it. It’s not like the cars they are based on are bad. They do definitely need to make more separation though.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The Q45 was around til 06, just nobody bought one.

          I debate them as a used buy, but I’d have to find one with the Luxury package. Even then, it was the same price as the LS and not nearly as refined, and looked like a big Altima. -sadface-

        • 0 avatar
          WaftableTorque

          Actually, sportyaccordy, I believe flagships matter for luxury cars. I feel that H1 Hummers moves H2′s and H3′s; G-Class sells GLK’s; Wranglers sell Patriots; and LS’s sells ES’s.

          Not every luxury product category benefits from such a large differentiation between their entry and apex products, but the ones I notice tend to be high fashion, luxury cars, mechanical watches, cigars, leather goods, audiophile equipment, and shoes.

          I should note that these categories benefit from deep pocketed owners that own multiple luxury brands and have economics of scale for marketing, channel support, and R&D. Maybe that’s a future business paradigm within the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Forget flagship. People don’t buy an ES because the LS exists or a 200 because the 300 is sweet. Lincoln needs the new Navigator to come out yesterday and have another one or two vehicles that can be considered in the top two or three in their segment.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          There’d be more money in an Explorer-Aviator thing. I see SO MANY Explorer Limiteds (and some Sports, though IMO the Limited should always be the pinnacle title, not Sport) driving around. Those people could be Lincolnized.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The only way they could pull that off is by offering a higher power 3.5EB/5.0 V8 and going toe to toe with the Q7 in terms of interiors.

            The MKT is very nice on the inside but its exterior is a damn mess. Its such a mess that used 2013 Explorer Sports have a $5000 premium over used 2013 MKTs Ecoboost in the used market. If they are both certified, the Lincoln has a 6 year, 100000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, and the Explorer only has 3/36000 besides the 100k powertrain.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    We know what opinions are the equivalent of; this is one man’s. I believe that having watched them gamble – literally – their name on their own ability to thrive with ingenuity and savvy, they will eventually become what they were – a full line manufacturer. Remember, at one time Ford was the most profitable maker in the history of car manufacturing. Surely that DNA hasn’t completely deserted them.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I think Ford took a bigger gamble by abandoning the RWD fleet market. Was there ever a time when Chrysler was less cash strapped than Ford? Yet they somehow were able to develop a RWD platform. Charger is making a dent in the police market and I’m seeing quite a few 300′s with livery plates. Not every municipality or limo service needs or can afford to replace 4 door sedans with SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “Yet they somehow were able to develop a RWD platform.”

      Isn’t Chrysler’s rear drive platform based on a mildly reworked late 90′s Mercedes E-Class?

      As for Ford/Lincoln I think J’s plan can work if the price is right and Lincoln is able to add value for money. If a Fusion tops out at $30k the Lincoln should top out at 40k, Ford can then tell its designers and engineers to give the customer the most bang for the buck for their extra 10k. Give them better seats, better stereo, more sound deadening, more standard features, higher quality interior, etc.

      Based on the latest TTAC Lincoln review I’d say they haven’t got the value for money proposition nailed down yet.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Ford would actually be a in a better position to develop a RWD Lincoln than Chrysler was when they did the LX cars. Ford has the Falcon and upcoming Mustang to pull from. CAFE demands hold it back, and they figure they figure they can appease the market with the D sedans.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          And if they do appease the market with FWD cars, then not developing a new RWD platform will be considered a brilliant move.

          Most people don’t care about FWD/RWD. FWD is better for most people in most situations. Those that want RWD are the “1%.” (I actually think it is closer to 2% or 3%, but regardless, there aren’t enough of them to keep anyone in business because Toyota.)

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I would argue that Lincolns should only be for the 1, 2 or 3 percent. Make them pay for them accordingly.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            Even Toyota’s luxury division only offers a single sedan based on a warmed-over FWD family car platform. Lincoln seems to be following the model of Acura, which is in the midst of its own death spiral and may be selling nothing but two CUVs in the near future. If Lincoln focuses on selling nice Fusions, it will need to lower its pricing expectations and try to find a niche competing against Buick. However, it is more likely Lincoln will transform into nothing more than a second incarnation of Mercury and face the same fate.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Of course, Chryslers RWD platform is an adapted E-Class chassis from 2 generations ago when Daimler owned Chrysler, so its hardly a from scratch effort.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        The LX platform has Mercedes DNA, but most certainly was not a “hand-me-down”. (I think Clarkson started that rumor.)

        http://www.allpar.com/cars/lx/

    • 0 avatar

      In fairness, they did get the LX platform from Mercedes, rather than having to develop one from scratch at great expense.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Chrysler didn’t just “get the LX platform from Mercedes” and plop a new body on it, à la Chrysler Crossfire. Indeed, Chrysler had already been developing RWD successors to the LH cars at the time of the merger. (Supposedly the LH itself was developed with the intention of offering FWD, AWD, and RWD variants, but the latter two configurations never materialized.) The final LX product shares just 20% of its parts with Mercedes.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The LX was derived from the ’90s LH, which was itself derived from an AMC-Renault platform back in the ’80s. All three were longitudinal-engine setups that were adaptable to FWD, RWD, or AWD. Mercedes’s largest contribution to the LX was the transmission.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yes the LX was derived mostly from the LH but the LH was not derived from the Renault. Yes the Renault was used as a test mule and they share the longitudinal layout but that is it. The LH cars have a suspension that is totally unlike the Renault. The rear specifically was set to so a driving axle could be fitted for the planned AWD and RWD versions that never materialized. If you’ve ever been under both cars you’d see the complete lack of similarity in the chassis.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            The Allpar article seems to suggest differently:

            http://www.allpar.com/model/premier.html

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            There are some pretty significant discrepancies in those accounts. In one place they state we started with the Premier and then changed everything. In another place they say how the suspension geometry is exactly the same as in the Premier, when in fact the suspensions are entirely different between the two cars. For example the Premier used a torsion bar set up with upper and lower control arms in the rear while the LH cars used a strut suspension, ie no upper control arm. Basically they used the Premier shell as test mules and not a whole lot more.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes the LX was pretty much the dusted off plans for the RWD version of the LH, until Mercedes came along. They sent the engineers back to the drawing board so that some key Mercedes components could be used instead of tooling up to produce they new components.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Careful, jmo will come have a fit at you.

    • 0 avatar
      J.Emerson

      As other posters have pointed out, the LX platform is essentially a spinoff of a Mercedes. It’s one of the few decent things Chrysler got from the merger.

      But beyond that, I would argue that the “RWD fleet market” is a somewhat outdated concept, and that Ford was already losing ground in fleets before the Panther platform was discontinued. Sure, the Panther and LX cars are robust and relatively cheap, but so are many FWD platforms. Having just returned from a Florida vacation, I can tell you that use of both the W-body Impala and the current Taurus is widespread in current police useage. Bottom line, I doubt that the old adage that only RWD cars can stand up to heavy-duty use and abuse won’t hold any water.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Best analysis of this that I have read to date!

  • avatar
    dwford

    I can’t believe Ford can’t make the case for a global RWD chassis for 3-4 luxury models. Seems to work well for Nissan/Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      But hasn’t Nissan also figured out how to make unibody platforms versatile? Isn’t the Maxima (FWD) and Infiniti G (RWD) built on the same platform? (I’ve been wrong before and I’m prepared to be wrong again.)

      • 0 avatar
        CGHill

        Not that versatile. Infiniti G35/37 was built on the Nissan FM platform, which is RWD/AWD; the Maxima, which at one time was a twin to the Infiniti I30/35, is on the front-drive D platform, underlying everything FWD from the Altima on up, including the new Pathfinder/QX60.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        No, but they build just about every RWD Infiniti and Nissan on one platform.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        While we’re at it: Infiniti/Nissan, Toyota/Lexus, VW/Audi, any large GM SUV looks just like it’s brother. Not trying to make a fresh batch of haterade; they just look the same to me, body-wise. I mean I love Allen-Edmonds shoes, just won’t wear a split-toe loafer. Others may be ga-ga about them. Anyway, to back to the subject. Mom drove a 70-something T-Bird, the hood was like an aircraft carrier. Lincoln had a model that looked just the same! LTD? Grand Brougham? Same car, different badges. Town Cars were always top of the line and had better(?) design. The old guys who wouldn’t buy a Cadillac because they were too “flashy” aren’t in the car market anymore. Lincoln has lost the sons and grandsons of these guys because we’re not gonna put up with blatant badge engineering. It’s sad the best Lincoln can hope for is “damn fine car to buy coming in off a lease.” Ya gotta move the new iron before anyone will buy the leased ones.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    The Sloan market segmentation model can work, but only if FoMoCo exercises discipline and pushes back against dealers who clamor for a product in every category. That means no Fusion or Taurus can be optioned up to equal the MKZ or MKS, and it means that there cannot be a Lincoln version of the Focus, Escape or Flex. As the 15 year old author noticed, customers are not fooled by simple sheet metal and badge changes, and will opt for the better value of the lesser model most of the time. And while pursuing middle luxury ala Buick may suffice for the short term, Lincoln will eventually have to have something in their lineup beyond the MKS to lift the brand above Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “The Sloan market segmentation model can work, but only if FoMoCo exercises discipline and pushes back against dealers who clamor for a product in every category.”

      The funny thing is that Ford doesn’t even have the excuse that GM does. GMs excuse for some of the vehicles they build and farm out to multiple brands is that GM has two primary channels. Buick/GMC dealers and Chevrolet/Cadillac dealers – ergo Buick wants product to compete with the Chevy dealer and make up for the loss of Pontiac.

      Ford on the other hand has gotten to the point where nearly every single dealer is a Ford-Lincoln dealer. There should be little overlap simply because there should be very few places where a stand alone Lincoln dealer competes with a stand alone Ford dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        There are at least two standalone Lincoln dealers left in Pittsburgh, and at three Ford-only dealers I can think of off the top. Until Ford solves the standalone dealers problem, this Lincoln-is-Mercury strategy will have difficulty succeeding and Ford dealers aggressively sell used Lincolns cheap and Lincoln dealers sell whatever additional product they can. If Ford bites the bullet, hands some of them walking papers, and consolidates the brands under one roof, this strategy could succeed in the short term.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @28-Cars, but Ford would honestly like to see them die but can’t close them outright without massive lawsuits.

          I wish that GM would force consolidate things so you ended up with Chevy/Buick/Cadillac/GMC dealers and then the company would stop competing with itself.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I thought that might happen as a result of the bankruptcy, but since it didn’t I doubt it ever will. GM likes to compete with themselves.

        • 0 avatar

          Funny I travel around the country for work (mostly east of the Miss) And Pittsburgh is the only place I’ve seen stand alone Lincoln dealer in the last 5 years.

      • 0 avatar

        Not all- there are standalone Ford dealers in our area. The Ford-Lincoln-Mitsubishi(!) dealer in Dublin is planning to move Lincoln into separate lot/building and most likely will close Mitsu. We also have Lexus/Acura/Infinity/BMW/Mini dealership in our area and each brand is on separate lot/building but all are next to each other (very convenient for test drive).

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “customers are not fooled by simple sheet metal and badge changes”

      I think it actually goes further than that since most former Lincoln owners who have left the brand during the great exodus and mass migration away from the domestic brands are unlikely to return.

      And I say this as the former owner of a 1992 Towncar Executive. I cannot think of a single thing that Ford can do today to get me to buy another Lincoln.

      My wife loved the Towncar. It was her daily driver from 1992-2008. But it had issues, Ford issues. However, between me and Autozone we kept it running, albeit at a cost of time and money.

      What does Ford, or Lincoln, have in its product line-up today that comes even close to what the Towncar brought in roominess and ride comfort?

      Absolutely nothing!

      • 0 avatar

        Believe me owners of Mercedes also have issues – Mercedes issues and they cost much more than Lincoln issues and no Autozone can help. Many people simply lease Mercedes because cannot afford to buy and maintain one.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          There’s nothing wrong with leasing. Lotsa people do it.

          I prefer to buy a vehicle and then trade it before the factory warranty runs out.

          But I don’t finance, and if I decide to keep the vehicle, like I did our 2008 Highlander, I just keep it so now my 16-year old grand daughter living with us has a daily driver.

          The point was that as previous owners of a 1992 Towncar, there’s nothing that Ford offers today that would entice us to come back to Lincoln.

          No doubt the foreign brands also have issues since all of them have lost the quality edge they once had.

          Ford OTOH went up in quality because at one time they were at the bottom and had no place to go but up. And those were the issues I had to deal with during my younger years to keep my wife’s Towncar going.

          I’m too old for all that now.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          My friend’s wife just loves VW stuff. They had a Jetta that they bought that drove them crazy with problem after problem. They finally decided to get rid of it. Of couse, she got the hots for a Passat, but my friend only agreed to lease it, in case it was a disaster. It made the Jetta look good, most of the time it has a problem, it ends up on a flatbed. As of Sept, it’s gone, and it won’t be replaced by another VW, they already have it’s replacement, a Grand Cherokee. My friend rode with the flatbed the last time it went in, and hitched a ride with a salesman to the Jeep dealer, bought the GC, went home with it, and when the Passat was ready, took the wife to pick it up in the GC. The service writer laughed and said, “I guess you’ve had enough?”. The service writers know their dog’s names, they’ve seen them so many times over the last 5 years, they probably know what their favorite foods are. and how often they have sex.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            One of the retired AF guys I know here has a German-born wife. Picked her up outside Heidelberg where he and I were stationed during the seventies. Cutest little fraulein, but with champagne tastes while having to live on a beer budget.

            She started out loving her VW “Bug”. The next go ’round it was a VW Quantum, like mine except White and Automatic with a sunroof. Oh, that sunroof! Leaked like a sieve, even if it didn’t rain, it let in the dust.

            As my friend got older and less patient with the infirmities of VWs, or maybe just tired of incessantly tinkering on them, they stepped up to the BMW 320i.

            All went well. Maybe too well. The next go ’round she wanted a 528 automatic WITHOUT sunroof. Bigger bucks, for a guy whose military retirement check is below the poverty line. This was when they saw their savings account supplementing the payments they had to make on the 528.

            By now you surely must have guessed it — they eventually migrated up to a E320 4Matic. Even bigger bucks! But they both were on socsec retirement by then and could well afford the payments, with Medicare and Tri-Care for Life covering their health needs.

            And then…….. my wife took that lady out to a Women’s Club luncheon and she got to ride in my wife’s GC. After all the oohs and ahhs….. yep, they bought a 2014 Grand Cherokee Summit, with the V6, this past April. Traded that E320 4Matic in a heartbeat!!!

            And it didn’t cost nearly as much as the E320 4Matic did, has more room, is easier to get in and out of for old people in their late sixties, and has greater ground clearance for the intrepid off-road adventuring.

            The power of Jeep’s persuasion is often understated, especially by the uninitiated.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I’m not so sure the “Sloan Model” can work very effectivily in todays marketplace. If Ford were to say ‘if a customer want XYZ option they need to move up to Lincon’, that customer would be more likely just to go to a competing product that offers that option without paying the “luxury car premium”. With Kia offering feature like xenons, ventalated seats, memory seats, Nav,App-radio, heated steering wheels even on their C segment Forte, others will need to step up or loose market share. Premium cars need to bring more to the table than just features, otherwise they will just look like poor value overpriced cars when those features go mainstream. Perfect example.. new Accord offers more for less than the dated TSX.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The Sloan Model (as I understand it) only works if all of the vendors are playing the lifetime-upgrade game.

        I can think of two reasons that it won’t work today:
        1) It assumes high switching costs between brands. This is not the case with cars, and probably only existed in the past because information was expensive.
        2) It assumes that the other vendors are playing roughly the same game, which hasn’t been true for decades.

        The first vendor to break ranks wins. For me personally, that happened when my dad replaced his Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser with a Honda Accord in 1991. Honda was willing to sell my dad a small, efficient, reliable car with a grownup interior and styling. GM did this 20 years later with the Cruze – both GM and Ford tried to talk him up in to big expensive vehicles, so he walked across the street and bought a Honda.

        So, yeah, the Sloan plan ain’t gonna cut it today. Market segmentation still lives, but the segments need to be constantly reevaluated as technology, markets, and culture change.

        As for luxury, the term may be overly broad. My intuition (not backed by any market research) is that there are two sub-segments, based on my guesses about the need that the buyer is trying to fill: a) conspicuous/exclusive luxury and b) people who will pay extra for comfort and quality.

        I’m in group b), and couldn’t care less about exclusivity. Mainstream brands with high trim levels seem to be the sweet spot in terms quality, comfort, practicality and cash. I could be persuaded to pay more (I’ve got the income), but the vehicle must be better in every way than the Toyota Prius and Toyota Sienna XLE.

        Maybe Tesla will deliver a car that is worth the price premium on its merits. I’ve seen a couple in the wild, but I haven’t had a chance to drive one yet.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Mr. Mohr,

    At what price point, and more specifically, at what “spread,” should rebadged, front wheel drive Fords branded under The Lincoln Horseless Carriage & Coach Company, PLC, HMS, be sold for?

    Also, curious minds would like to know if Lincoln Dealers should even try and stand apart from Ford Dealers, and sink the kind of BUKU cash into showroom renovations, in order to try and mitigate popular, public perception of the fact that they’re actually merely selling rebadged, front wheel drive Fords, at huge price premiums, across the board, that Alan ’787′ Mulally is pressuring them to do so.

    Finally, do you consider Consumer Reports as part of the “Ford Hater Brigade” given their very dramatic downgrade of FoMoCo reliability ratings (the biggest drop of any auto manufacturer over the last 2 years, with Ford/Lincoln now producing the least reliable vehicles, on statistical average, with the sole exception of JLR; and it’s NOT “all about MyFordTouch/MyLincolnTouch,” either – think motors, transmissions, fit & finish, and other core vehicle components and attributes)?

    Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      J.Emerson

      I think it would be simple enough to look at what cars like the Lexus ES and RX, the Audi A4, the Buick Verano and Enclave, the Acura MDX and the GMC Terrain are selling for compared to their lesser siblings, and go from there. Those are some of the most popular volume models for their respective brands, and they all retail for thousands of dollars more than the cars they’re based on. But they all offer tangible upgrades over those bargain-brand cars, whether they be in technology, powertrains, interior luxury, or merely styling.

      If you’re talking about “standing apart” in the sense of having totally different dealer locations, then no, I don’t think that is necessary or even feasible. Lexus and Acura both manage to sell a lot of cars in multi-franchise dealerships that include their lesser sibling brands. Granted, these usually have separate showrooms, but so do most existing Lincoln dealers that I know of.

      I consider Consumer Reports to be valuable data point, one amongst many. I do not buy the contention that Ford makes “the least reliable vehicles” available today, though. CR itself has emphasized over and over again that the vast bulk of complaints against new Fords has been related to the “buggy” MFT/MLT infotainment system. Remove that from the equation, and you have a brand that is not particularly worse or better than any other in terms of true mechanical reliability. Even the mechanical problems that have been reported (most especially regarding the Powershift transmissions) seem to center on vague claims of “dissatisfaction” with hard shifts or the like, rather than any actual flaw. It’s disappointing that Ford couldn’t sort through these NVH issues more thoroughly before launching these models. But it doesn’t mean that all the cars will disintegrate in 5 years.

      • 0 avatar
        B Buckner

        While the A3 and Golf share a platform, the A4 is a stand alone platform not based on a VW.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Again, as I’ve stated before, and more importantly, as it’s per Consumer Reports itself, their very latest Annual Automotive Edition (2013) ranks all manufactures on a reliability scale per their entire lineup of vehicles, and Ford/Lincoln is 2nd from dead last, just ahead of JLR, and has dropped the most in terms of reliability (and black circles dot the landscape regarding ecoboost motors, transmissions, hardware, etc.).

        I’m not going to go and pull the actual edition and cite the page number again.

        The “MFT is dragging Ford’s reliability rankings down!” BS is really getting old.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you talking about 2013 Fusion/MKZ? Can you be more specific instead of making generalization like “CR says Ford sucks”. I have CR from few months ago and MKZ is highly rated there as having better or much much better reliability than average and Fusion from average to much higher than average depending on the year except of 2010 when he had issues with new 6 speed AT.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You’re correct; CR gave the MKZ relatively high marks in a recent edition, and did not mention any fit/finish nor some of the other issues they did regarding their feature of the Fusion.

        I’m many things, but not dishonest.

        By the same token, CR was unable to rate the MKZ’ss reliability, as it was deemed “too new” to do so.

        That said, and I’ll repeat it, in the 2013 CR Annual Auto Edition, there’s a feature (that they’ve included in the past 3 years), as to “[w]ho makes the most best cars?” (which takes vehicle reliability into account) in terms of the entire model lineup, and Ford/Lincoln are 2nd from the bottom, just ahead of JLR, for 2013 (Mazda amd Subaru improved the most, occupying the two slots after Lexus, and Ford/Lincoln fell the most, dropping 8 spots).

        Additionally, CR states that not a single Lincoln vehicle achieved better than an “average” reliability rating, of which there was only one, and the others were worse or far worse than average.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    Has Lincoln actually tried to define who or what their market demographic is? The traditional (non fleet) Lincoln buying demographic is either too old to drive or have already bought their last car.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Ford’s moneymakers are aimed at the younger, less-affluent demographic easily swayed by electronics, gadgetry and bling.

      Former Lincoln owners have sought their nirvana with the Lexus LS 460 and Infiniti, although some have stepped up to the Mercedes S-class and BMW 7-series. Truly adventurous seniors are seen driving Audi Quattro in snow country.

      The more practical seniors, like my wife and I, switched to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4. Not a Lincoln, to be sure, but it rewards with roominess, comfort, ride, handling and all-terrain capability not offered by our 1992 Towncar.

      Life goes on. We adapt. Overcome.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Nope, it’s gotta have phone integration or it’s not FMC. Red-lined, not considered, a no-go. A lot of new electronics are safety-related. Getting them is your call. Bling? Subjective.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I bought a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit for my wife, and it was full pop. It had every conceivable option on it and yet we’ve never used the majority of the electronics, gadgetry and bling.

          Seriously! Everything is set to “Auto”, even the headlights, backup camera and 4X4 system, and the only music she plays is Sirius Satellite 50′s on 5. Never even used the NAV system since we know where we’re going and where we came from.

          Phone? She used to have an iPhone. Now she uses a Samsung S4 without interfacing with anything.

          Sometimes simpler is better. It’s better to focus on driving, especially if you’re barreling down the highway at 85+ mph.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            But that little voice telling me where to turn helps me focus on my driving rather than trying to read a map spread across the steering wheel.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mkirk, I’ve been carrying a Garmin in my pocket for many years; while driving, while camping, while hunting — even while irrigating or taking a dump in the woods. It talks too. It’s told me to go to hell and back.

            I love the portability of the Garmin and carry it on my person with me most days. It also means it is never out of date.

            BTW, some people don’t like Garmin (for whatever their reasons). For them there is Tom-Tom, some say an even better alternative than Garmin.

            I got started with Garmin before Garmin was cool, so I’m sticking with them.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          All I ask for is a standard double DIN opening. I can add all the NAV/iWhatever/phone integration I need from the aftermarket without shelling out a grand for a system that will be outdated in a couple years and will require removing the front half of the vehicle to get it out.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Eventually the industry will go to BYO tech, but everyone is going to touch screens and integrated NAV right now.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Based on the recent Lincoln commercials I’ve been seeing, they’re aiming at people in their mid-30′s who live in trendy downtown lofts and who are willing to park a brand new $40K+ car on the street.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Lincoln was toast when they decided to pull the LS. No differentiation.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It would have been nice to see them continue on with the LS like Cadillac did with the CTS. Look at where the CTS is now compared to where it started. Look at what the CTS did for Cadillac’s credibility.

      The LS was a credible car for Lincoln. Nevermind how they fare reliability wise as a used car (they suck). As a new car, they were attractive and performed well. It’s just too bad Lincoln never did an “LSC” to compete with the CTS-V.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Danio-

        Now I’m sad because there was never a Lincoln LSC. Another generation and then the addition of the Coyote V8, or even the old 5.4L that was in the Shelby GT500/Ford GT, would have been excellent.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Me too, I’ve even thought about the feasiblity of building one myself because clean bodied examples with mechanical troubles are easy to find for cheap.

          Sadly, the versatility of DEW98 seemed to only really extend to Jaguar, so it would technically be easier to just do an GM LS swap. An LS in an LS, how about that?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Using the Jag AJ-V8 probably wasn’t the best plan. Ford should have set up the LS to run the 4.6. I know it isn’t as sexy, but they are cheap, plentiful, and work. The 4.6 also has significantly more aftermarket support than the AJ 3.9.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            A 4V or 3V 4.6 would have been pretty sexy. A 2V van motor wouldn’t be. The 3V performed pretty well in the S197 Mustang and would have made the LS quite the performer too.

            Sadly the whole DEW98 electrical and mechanical architechture was vastly different from any other Ford of the time (save the Tbird). So it probably didn’t make much financial sense for them to do it.

            The closure of Wixom assembly was likely the nail in the coffin for that car as Ford was beginning to slip under water financially during those years.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My preference would be the 4v that was in other Lincolns. Not that I have any issue with the 3v. Its too bad they couldn’t make it work.

            I was reading “The Ford Century” the other day, and I get that same feeling from where that book ended. Its too bad Ford couldn’t make Volvo, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and now possibly Lincoln work. In most cases, it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I would argue that Ford did make Jaguar work. They made Jaguar relevant again in the late 90′s with some attractive products that were actually somewhat reliable. I actually see XK and XJs from that era for sale with 150k+ miles still looking and running great. Who would have ever thought that in the 70′s and 80′s?

            Sure, they lost some credibility with the S and X types, but those cars actually sold in some form, which was more than could be said about Jags from a decade previous.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree they made Jaguar work. Ford did wonders for the brand, maybe at the expense of Lincoln. Jag has compelling products that look and drive great. They ended up having to sell the brand, so it isn’t doing Ford much good now. It still fits into the “what could have been” senario. I probably shouldn’t have lumped them in with dead and possibly dead in the future brands, Aston excluded.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Fact fact that Jag is now gone does bring up an interesting point, it leaves Lincoln the room to move into that spot where it should rightfully be.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Ford has had and paid for RWD platforms. They used these platforms for other brands and in different markets. The Mustang is currently being redone and becoming a global vehicle. If there isn’t a Lincoln sedan based on the Mustang, they are doing it wrong.

    There is little reason to buy a MKZ or MKX, Lincoln’s best sellers, over a Fusion or Edge. The 3.7L engine is perhaps the only reason (not an option on the Fusion and you have to get 22s on an Edge to get the 3.7). If I can build a Fusion to $39K, why does the MKZ even exist? Ford has gone upmarket with all their vehicles. If Lincoln has little differentiation, the brand has no equity or value.

    I say all this as someone trying to purchase a Lincoln. Used MKT transaction prices are much lower than Explorer or Flex (ecoboost) transaction prices. Brand new MKTs are selling for the same price as the new Explorer Sport.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Exactly. Lincoln needs credibility and they need to build it by building credible cars. Like you said, the MKZ will only fool so many. Why let Ford and Lincoln eat eachother’s lunch? Push Lincoln upmarket, it can’t really hurt their sales, they suck already. The only problem is the investment, which Ford should seriously look at making, or just end the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ve been hearing this upmarket thing for so long but the fact is every car brand can’t go “upmarket”, if anything some brands have effectively gone down a peg or two either in prestige, quality/design, or both. Bball makes a good point, other than an engine upgrade you don’t get much for your Lincoln price premium. If anything I would argue Ford is too darn expensive for what you get, and it needs to reevaluate its position with some models. If Lincolns will just continue to be Ford clones, it might be wise to determine which Fords are worth cloning and cut the model offering down to the best 2 or 3 Xeroxes and Navi.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree 28. The upmarket is not all that swell. RR, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamobo all have sugar daddies. Mercedes, BMW are all desperate to move downmarket in order to remain viable. Even Renault-Nissan felt the need to recreate Dacia-Datsun to continue growing.

          I think the author is completely right on this one. Lincoln is exactly where it can be at this point.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I agree not every brand can go upmarket, but Ford has to stay competitive in its own areas. Previously luxury only options are trickling down to Ford, Kia, Chevy, Honda, Mazda, etc.

          I don’t want Lincoln just to be Ford clones. They’ll have to do a better job of emulating Audi than they have. If they use the Mustang platform for a sedan and coupe, and offer the 3.5 Ecoboost and Coyote V8 in that car, no one will complain about badge engineering.

          I would bet money that Lincoln is losing more sales to Ford than any other brand. Licoln has to further distinguish itself from Ford in order to even sell to people that buy FoMoCo products, let alone have a conquest sale. If I were to buy a new $50K CUV from Ford or Lincoln, it would be the Ford Explorer Sport, not the Lincoln MKT. It looks better, has more HP, I like the interior colors better with the two tone leather, and the platform is newer.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I too do not want Ford clones but that is the premise of the author’s assessment and for the time being it is correct. I see Lincoln as 3-4 models at best, one midsize sedan, one coupe variant, one (not three) CUVs, and the Navi. Any more than that dilutes both brands. Even GM, the king of rebadge, did not automatically offer every single lesser model C-P-C model in Cadillac.

            This MKEscape is going to do nothing but eat into Escape sales, it will not effectively compete with Acura/Lexus/BMW/Mercedes and won’t offer buyers what the Opel Mokka/Buick Encore can now.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I still see three CUVs. The MKC comes out soon and the MKX is moving to the new Fusion platform. The Taurus and MKS are moving to a new plaform and Flat Rock. I can see a Lincoln on the D4/Explorer platform being built in Chicago, while Oakville produces the Edge/MKX and whatever else Ford has or dies.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Three plus a Navi is too many. I’m honestly not up on Fords platforms but I see little difference between the current 2013 Escape and a CUV equivalent Fusion, feels very much an overlap for both brands… MKExplorer might work people seem to like it and you could put it up against Durango and Buick Enclave.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree with you. Ford’s CUV strategy is confusing enough as it is. Since the Escape, Edge, and Explorer combined may move 600k units this year, I guess there is room for at least three Ford CUVs. I think they are determined to do the same thing with Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’re probably right. One might think it would be cheaper to not spread sales over three units but if volume (not profit) is your goal, more models might be the way to go.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          No not every brand can go upmarket, but Ford should work on some Lincoln products to give it the credibility to do so. Why? because Ford has everything under 50k covered.

          If they can’t justify the investment in Lincoln to make them a true world class luxury competitor, why bother with a separate brand to push mere highline Fords?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @28-cars-later:

          Every car maker had to go upmarket, because the fraction of the population which buys new cars shrank dramatically in 2008, and still hasn’t returned to “normal”. Partly due to cars lasting longer (competition from used cars), and partly due to income inequality.

          So, most brands HAVE gone upmarket, because the remaining customers who buy new cars ARE upmarket. The brands that tried to deal with this by going down market (Honda) did an about-face right-quick, when people with less money held on to their old cars or bought used, instead of settling for base-model Civics.

          The context here is that the new car business shrunk by not-quite half in 2008. The business has been growing back toward pre-recession levels over the past four years, but isn’t there yet.

          See:
          http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/m/2013_fotw769.html

          This was an enormous sea-change in the industry, but nobody really wants to talk about the big picture.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the link, from it I found the link I posted below, which lists all car and truck sales in the US from 1931-2012 (interesting info).

            I would argue unless oil becomes much cheaper for at least a period of 24 or more months, the industry will never return to pre-2009 levels of production. What I notice is after the immediate effects of the depression, automotive production in 2012 did return to levels last seen between 1988 and 1989 of 14,785,936 units, and if a 800,000 or so more sales are added for 2013, the industry will be back to a mid 90s level of production.

            Now excluding true niche players such as Ferrari, Aston, and Rolls Royce etc in the mid 90s there were technically 33 car brands operating in the US market, several of which were brands in name only (Plymouth, Mercury etc). Today we’re down to 29 after new brands are accounted for, and that’s still too many as most of the disc. brands were overlap. I actually forsee a few more brands departing as time goes on, depending on economic conditions.

            Ford can pretend its two pegs above itself, and Kia or Fiat can pretend they are the equivalent of a 90s Audi in terms of quality and luxury, but I think what’s occurring here is brand inflation combined with the simple fact real wages have been decreasing for thirty years. Honda, Ford, whomeever may have slightly better product then fifteen plus years ago, but I don’t buy the brand itself becoming that much better in the same time frame. In fact I would even go so far to argue brands like Chevrolet with its heavy Daewoo sourced lineup and Toyota with its many years of de-contented Camry/Corolla (vs MY95) have actually lost prestige in the same time frame. Branding is an odd thing and it seems to take a very long time to convince someone your product is specifically desirable/sought after, its not as simple as put out good product for a few years and market it well (if that were the case we should still have Oldsmobile).

            Brands sold in US, 1995
            GM: Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Buick, Cadillac, Saturn, Saab, GMC, Geo. 9
            Ford: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar. 4
            Chrysler: Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, Jeep, Eagle 5
            (18)

            Japan: Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Suzuki 8

            Korea: Hyundai 1

            Europe: BMW, Volvo, Mercedes, VW/Audi, Land Rover 6

            Additional brands 2013
            Scion, Kia, Mini, Fiat, Ram

            Discontinued brands 2013
            Pontiac, Olds, Geo, Saab, Saturn, Hummer, Mercury, Suzuki, Plymouth

            http://wardsauto.com/keydata/historical/UsaSa01summary

            http://emlab.berkeley.edu/~moretti/inequality.pdf

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Well written article, gives vetted analysis to readers who may not have been following the Lincoln debate.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Lincoln dealers want a new Navigator. They could deal with the rest of the lineup as long as the Navigator becomes competitive again.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great article. Yes, Lincoln will never return to the luxury circle of MB, BMW etc. I like the idea of capping the expense over a Ford by $10k; meanwhile a lot of that differentiation needs to be a vehcile that looks distinctly different from it’s Ford mate.

    Lincoln variations of the Focus, Escape, Edge and Mustang (albeit with two and four door sedans) should be more than sufficient. Okay maybe a temendously new Navigator for the bling crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Navigator is key. It is the most “Lincoln” of anything they make, and thanks to MKEverything, it is the only Lincoln people know without an explaination. If you customers have to say, “Its the one like the Fusion” or “Its the only like the Edge”, then your brand has problems.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You’re very right about the “It’s the one like…” statement. If I’m with my dad and we see a Lincoln, his usual response after I tell him the MKName is to say “which Ford [model] is that?”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I would argue what the point is of overlapping the products and wasting brand efforts and equity by keeping Lincolns as mildly tarted up Fords. It’s an easy cop-out for Ford because they might sell a few more cars with little investment, but it certainly doesn’t fit the latest Ford motto “Go Further”.

      Move Lincoln upmarket, try eating the lunch of other luxury marques instead of cannibalizing that of high end Fords. Ford can replace the volume. Let Lincoln make bigger money per unit.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There is already an Escape-based Lincoln on the way; see the “MKC” concept. And of course the Escape and Focus are structurally-related.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        The MKC doesn’t look at all like an Escape, which is the most important step in platform sharing. If you can at least make the vehicle look totally different then it’s cheaper sibling there would be more perceived value. I like MKC, I would consider paying the premium just to get the better look over the Escape

  • avatar
    mike978

    Interesting and well written article. One point I would make is I consider Audi to be up with Mercedes and BMW. I would include Volvo in the Acura/Buick mix. Otherwise the main conclusion that it makes financial sense, given Lincoln’s limited geographic scope, to make FWD versions of existing Ford cars is correct.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      Exactly. There’s no way Audi is included in the Infiniti/Volvo/Acura/Buick/Chrysler/Hyundai plane.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Agree.

        My rating would be [tier]:

        Audi/BM/Merc/Lexus 1
        Lincoln/Volvo/Acura/Infiniti 2
        Buick/Chrysler/Hyundai 3

        *IMO, Chrysler is not a luxury brand. Buick is, and Hyundai has more than 1 luxury offering.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I would add Lexus to tier 1 and have Cadillac and probably Infiniti in tier 1.5!

          I do recall BS saying how Cadillac wouldn`t do well in Europe and hence GM’s stated view that doing well in Europe was essentially to being a true luxury brand would be unobtainable. I largely agree but Infiniti is unlikely to do well in Europe, Lexus has minimal sales after a decade plus of trying and Acura isn`t even present.

          He never mentioned Infiniti’s issues because that would probably have offered his friends at Nissan. He did say he had familiarity due to living in Toyko.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Chrysler is not a luxury brand”

          No? The 300C with the luxury interior is easily one of the nicest and more luxurious cars available under 100k.

          The fact they also sell the 200 doesn’t mean they don’t sell some true luxury. Mecedes also sells B cars as well as the CLA, but you still consider them tier 1.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Please point Chrysler’s other luxury offerings out to me.

            Merc sells MANY luxury cars/SUVs. Chrysler has A model with ONE luxury trim interior. Doesn’t make them a luxury manufacturer. Even little tiny Mercs are still luxury. The 200 isn’t. The PT Cruiser wasn’t. The Sebring wasn’t. The T&C is a van, doesn’t count.

            You’re so pro-Chrysler and Jeep it clouds your judgment in all your posts on said subject(s).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree Chrysler is not now nor hasn’t been in a “luxury” class in thirty years. I would also argue though a Mercedes star on the hood or grille doesn’t automatically equate to luxury either, but Mercedes offers more than one model that could be in that class.

          • 0 avatar
            MLS

            I’d argue that the Chrysler Town & Country—with the highest base price of any minivan by a substantial margin—is fairly luxurious. At least as luxurious as the low-end Acura and Buick offerings.

            Also, I wouldn’t limit the 300′s relevance in the class to the leather-lined Luxury Series. Again, the base 300 is easily as luxurious as the low-to-mid-tier Acura and Buick offerings.

            In any event, I wouldn’t categorize Acura, Buick, Chrysler, or Volvo as “luxury” brands, but rather “premium” brands.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Rubbish. The base 300 comes with a crap-punishment interior, and crap plastic exterior trim. Show me an Acura or Buick with either of these problems.

            The base engine, ok fine.

          • 0 avatar
            MLS

            Rubbish. The interior of the base 300 is largely identical to that of the Luxury Series, but for the lack of authentic wood trim and leather-wrapped dash. There are no blank buttons, there is no downmarket infotainment system. The soft-touch plastic trim and stitched accents are no worse than anything in the LaCrosse or TL. And I don’t know what “crap plastic” exterior trim you’re referring to; the base and Luxury Series exteriors are also largely identical, save for wheel size and mirror housing (body color vs. chrome).

            Is there any Acura with genuine wood trim? I don’t believe there is—not even the $50K RLX.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Lincoln should emulate Infiniti – a 3 series that is slightly larger and a 5 series that is slightly larger off the same platform. Stick in Mustang motors at the top end.

    Add in a single crossover based on some Ford platform and an ES competitor based off of the Taurus.

    So one new platform with 2 models, 2 rebadges. Done.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      They kinda have some of that already.

      The MKT and MKS are off the D platform. The Edge is smaller, sells better, and is related to the Edge and previous gen Fusion. Soon the Taurus will be on the Fusion platform, like the Camry and Avalon. That probably means everything else may work off that platform (MKZ, MKS, MKX). I don’t know about the MKT though. Both the Flex and the MKT don’t seem like they will be around forever. The Explorer kills them in sales.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I really like the new Flex. Saw one in black this morning, Limited trim. It looks so Range-Rovery

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I like the Flex too. They can’t seem to sell enough of them though. All while the Explorer may crack 200k units this year.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            It must be the subjective styling. For all intents and purposes it’s a more useful vehicle. They’re very comfortable and have a lot of room. Personally, I like the styling and would buy one over the Taurus wago-err Explorer any day.

  • avatar
    FordMan_48126

    Everyone needs to stop the “badge re-engineering = bad” discussions. There is not a single luxury brand that does not crib platforms, engines, transmissions, suspension components, and even interior pieces from their lower market brands. Think the engine and transmission from my ’12 VW GTI is not the same one used in the Audi A4, A5, and Q5?. All of them do this today; this is an 80′s and 90′s argument that is no longer valid.

    The real question/argument is this: where is the Lincoln RWD platform? And to all those that do not work at Ford, all I can say is this: the 2015 Mustang platform is not just global, it will also have more than one vehicle built on it…it will have at least one other ‘top-hat’, and maybe two. So, give the powers that be in Dearborn some time..you may want to recall that last time Ford released future product plans for Lincoln, they only did so through 2016 model year.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      There is nothing wrong with badge re-engineering, if it is done right. The GTI shares parts with Audi models, but do you mistake a Passat for an A6? The Edge and MKX look almost exactly the same besides trim pieces and badging.

      Hopefully the new Mustang platform ushers in a new level of greatness for Lincoln. A sedan version with the Boss engine would certainly give an M3 a run for its money.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “There is not a single luxury brand that does not crib platforms, engines, transmissions, suspension components, and even interior pieces from their lower market brands.”

      BMW and Mercedes don’t have a lower market brand (Smart and Mini are niche brands).

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        BMW and Mercedes are doing different things to share costs but you are right. Nissan may be building the CLA in Mexico with an Infiniti version and a crossover. BMW is building a sports car with Toyota.

        Those two brands are in a different place than Lincoln. Lincoln is basically a North American only brand that is struggling. BMW and Mercedes are leaders in luxury in almost every market. Even so, both are pushing downmarket with FWD vehicles and trying to add more volume. Just because they don’t have a mainstream brand, doesn’t mean they aren’t sharing parts and with the S-class and CLA-class. If Lincoln is going to be successful, it has to share some things with Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        FordMan_48126

        @ JMO;

        True BMW and Mercedes don’t have lower market brands…but they do have lower priced vehicles, and the argument still holds true…they share many bits and pieces, some small (interior switches, trim, etc) and some quite big (engines, transmissions, suspensions, etc) up and down their model lines. The main point being is that no manufacture has total unique platforms anymore…everything is shared and spread across as much as possible, for costs savings.

        As to what the other person said, the fact the Edge and MKX look too similar is a valid point….that will be addressed in the 2014/2015 model years. Just look at the MKC vs. the Escape; they look like totally different vehicles even though they share many of the same pieces…same for the MKZ vs Fusion (do not look like the same car though they share same platform)

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Go test drive a C350 and a ES 350 and tell me if you can’t tell a difference.

          The Lexus has a certain silk purse out of a sow’s ear quality that the Mercedes doesn’t have. I attriubte that to Lexus having to deal with parts that are engineered to a different standard than Mercedes.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I think the advantage that VW has always had in the past is that they engineer the platform and components to be good enough for Audi, then make a VW out of them. This lead to class-competitive Audis and better than class norm VWs. The new “just for NA” VWs are obviously not part of this, as Americans by cars by the pound and seem to not care about the little niceties.

            Ford on the other hand, just tarts up a Ford and sells it as a Lincoln for a big extra heap of money. And I have to think that they are probably making a nice profit doing this, otherwise they would have just axed Lincoln all together. They may not sell tons of them, but they make enough profit on each one that it doesn’t matter. I would imagine the marginal cost of both development and production of an MKZ over Fusion is pretty minimal. The marketing is probably the most expensive part of the operation.

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            Really? I’ve driven the E320 and ES350, and I keep thinking how Mercedes is in trouble when a car at 2/3rds the price outclasses it.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            Waftable Torque,

            So, we the the ES350 and the C350 trying to merge quickly, from a stop, onto a rain slicked highway.

            Mercedes – wheel spin, traction control, blink, blink, and we’re off.

            Lexus – wheel spin, WHEEL SPIN, bang, bang BANG axle hop, AXEL HOP, traction control, shuder and we’re off.

            Then we hit the bumps. Mercedes wafts over the bumps. Lexus wafts as well but you can detect the fact that a great deal of time an energy went into turning a Camry suspension into something worthy of a luxury car.

            The Mercedes was engineered from the start to be a luxury car – the Lexus (ES) wasn’t.

            Obviously I’m only talking about the ES. The IS, GS and LS are in a different class.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    “I wasn’t fooled into thinking that a Town Car was worth nearly $20,000 more than the Crown Vic.”
    It’s funny, because I remember doing a similar comparison on the Town Car around the same time. I was stunned to see these things listed in the high-$40k’s-$50k’s when I had always assumed they were roughly $30k cars. I couldn’t fathom anyone spending E-class/5-series money on that car at the time.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    A good analysis which I agree with…now how do we prove it correct?

    I do think there is money to be made in the “entry level lux” category that I see most Lexus, Infinity, Acura products in. More or less all their volume sellers are badge engineer jobs. People find the presiege in those brands. I like the fact that the styling is better in most cases than their dowdy down market siblings. Style does sell too…..

    And really what is luxury today? The options list for Kia reads the same as BMW. Sure, sure, driving dynamics…BS…Bimmers sell 9 times of 10 on snob appeal, i.e. not TTAC readers (I’m sure).

    Is/does Lincoln want to be an elitist brand? If not just dump it and sell an upmarket “luxury” Ford with some more options and bigger engines just like Hyundai has been doing.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Bimmers sell 9 times of 10 on snob appeal”

      You’re right, but snob appeal is earned an earned trait. And a profitable one at that.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Bimmers built in Germany not only have snob appeal but are overbuilt by American standards.

        Bimmers, Benzes, Porsches et al, built in Germany, are designed and engineered to be driven at wide-open throttle all day long on the autobahns. I was stationed in Germany for eight years with the US military and NONE of our American cars could keep up with the Euros without overheating or coming apart. Even lowly Opels and VWs outran and outlasted our American cars.

        Cars for American road use are designed and engineered to be driven at 65mph and will wear precipitously when exceeding the design criteria by going above that.

        Bimmers and Benzes built IN America using American part suppliers are probably built to the same American design criteria that plagues the manufacturers of all American-built cars supplied by those same suppliers. Just ask Toyota about their supplier problems.

        Hey, you get what you pay for. Lincoln is no different. It’s a gussied up Ford!

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          +1 to this. Having driven my BMW in its home environment I cannot agree more with your assessment. The cars drive the way they do because they HAVE to. When you are running along at 135mph in traffic, you need a car that is utterly stable, with flawless directional stability, and excellent brakes. Marshmallow ride, sloppy handling, and overboosted steering need not apply. And it means the cars just have that much more reserve capability when used in US conditions, and just feel completely different. Some people like that feel, some prefer the float.

          Seems like most folks these days do not want the floaty feel anymore, as EVERYTHING is trending towards a European feel. I don’t even call it ‘sporty’, my 328i wagon is no sports car. It is just a hugely capable vehicle for traveling long distances at high speeds.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “Seems like most folks these days do not want the floaty feel anymore, as EVERYTHING is trending towards a European feel.”

            You can say that again. The floaty feel is disconcerting, at least for me, when driving, especially at speed. I can see why some people would prefer the isolation it provides but for me its a no-go.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Bull. I spent 4 years over there. I had a multitude of vehicles both Euro and American specs. Now the Olds I had that had been in country since Patton left didn’t like being run hard for a long time but any modern vehicle I had had no issues to include my 97 US Spec Escort. I kept it against the speed limiter for a couple of hours through Italy(113 MPH if I remember) and it was fine and if I am not mistaken, quicker than my redline limited 318i wagon. I was passing many VWs and European makes and what not during that time. Not everyone in Germany does 150 just because they can and for every 5 series passing on the left there are several 80′s SEATs, FIATs, or Citreon’s to get around. The only car I had catch fire was a clapped out Alfa 75. Yes, it was old (an 85 model), but the 70 Olds never caught fire either.

            The problem with the US preception of European cars is we don’t get the ones most Europeans actually drive. 130 in an M5…no problem. Now do it in my FIAT UNO which was in its day the best selling car in Europe or better yet, my Autobianchi A112.

            Given the state of mass transit in Europe and how they live (tighter cities, less commuting from the suburbs), I think they probably ask way less from their cars than the average American.

        • 0 avatar

          +1. I was telling this to my friends all the time, that German cars are over-engineered and overpriced for US. There is no way to use their potential. American and Asian cars are better suited for US.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            During my eight years stationed in Germany I knew a lot of GIs who blew their American rides trying to cruise with the Bimmers, Mercs and Porsches on the autobahns.

            Awkward! Oh what a feeling, when all the passing German eyeballs were looking at yet another Yank tank being towed away after having been found dead along the road.

            Mustangs were notorious for overheating and blowing head gaskets. Poof! Lotsa smoke. Lotsa oil and coolant sprayed on the road.

            Corvettes had rings and bearings fail due to insufficient lubing. All that blue smoke and the terrible knocking sound. A harbinger of the need for a new big block.

            Plymouth Roadrunners suffered from both maladies, sometimes in combination, sometimes all together and at the same time.

            But the family haulers and grocery getters like my Olds Custom Cruiser and Toronado both held up very well, as long as I knew their limitations and kept it within the design specs, like 75-85 mph on the autobahn. No problem and done in style.

            OTOH, the 220D Euro-spec Benz we bought over there could be driven all day long with the pedal to the metal until the diesel fuel ran out. It would do about a 100mph depending on how clean the air filter was or how clogged the diesel fuel filter was.

            It was the only vehicle in my life that I sold for more than I paid for it. And the Air Force Captain who bought it from me was as happy as a lark. He sold it after his three year tour to another newby there.

            Two totally different concepts in automotive engineering, the robust European engineering vs the planned obsolescence of the American design.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, people who live in America are not very happy with problems with their German cars. All people whom I know complain about it. And I am talking about expensive problems like spending thousandse on the problems that you do not see Japanese or American cars so early in their life. My friend just sold 4 y.o. E class at huge loss because it was out of warranty. That is why it makes sense to lease European cars and have someone else to deal with problems.

            Any modern car can run extended period of time at 140-160 km/h. And most traffic in EU is not faster than that.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I agree that TODAY’s American cars are much better than they used to be. During the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s they were abysmally bad and unreliable.

            Once the Detroit 3 got thoroughly trashed by the foreigners and lost market share, and much of their profits, they refocused with undivided attention on improving their products, in spite of the UAW fighting them tooth and nail, demanding a sharing of the “profits” but having none of the “losses”.

            We all know how that turned out; joint ventures, shared platforms, reversed-engineered and dissected best-selling foreign cars, and licensed foreign technologies morphed into American brand cars.

            But it was too late to save GM and Chrysler. They both died.

            Ford is the only REAL American auto manufacturer left and as such needs to either drop the Lincoln brand like they did Mercury, or make it distinguishable from their run-of-the-mill Ford products.

            One reason for high-speed engine-durability today is that most manufacturers have migrated to the more efficient and simpler OHC and DOHC design, thus reducing the number of moving parts in such engines.

            There will always be a place for pushrod engines, but all-aluminum OHC engines are the preferred choice today.

            Too bad it was the foreigners that had to show America the way instead of the other way around like we did before, during and after WWII.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The driving-dynamics actually do have some merit. There is some difference between the way a Kia drives and the way a Bimmer drives…BUT a large number of people buy BMWs because of the shiny badge and the features. However, the Kia badge has become quite trendy as of late, and Kia models do in fact offer most or all of the features that people actually pay attention to.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        BMWs don’t have any special features you can’t get anywhere else. Except for maybe the credibility that builds the snob appeal. This is what Lincoln sorely lacks, and they won’t get it by continuing to sell rebadged Fords. That’s what killed Mercury, and it will kill Lincoln too.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Well written and well reasoned article. I have no clue as to what Ford should do with the Lincoln brand, but repositioning it as the new Mercury sounds reasonable.

    One quibble. You imply that ‘badge engineering’ doesn’t work anymore. It surely does not, not at least until next time. See the Chevy Something or Other, come Opel Mokka, come Buick Encore as one of many examples. The Buick Encore has been selling quite well in the US, at least during its first five months on sale. If anything, badge engineering, it seems to me, is becoming even more common.

  • avatar
    ajla

    What Lincoln needs is a funeral.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    “The new MKZ, a car that many have projected to be the barometer of whether Lincoln lives or dies, failed to impress Derek. Although it’s an undeniably pretty car, it can’t seem to escape its family-car roots in a way that many of the B&B think a “real” Lincoln should.”

    What is “B&B”? I looked it up but can’t figure out what it stands for in this context.

  • avatar
    Jim123

    Check it out….in the article, change every “Ford” to “Honda” and every “Lincoln” to “Acura” and you’d have a parallel story!

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Ford didn’t want to spend the money to create a real RWD platform the way GM did. So what is important to me as an enthusiast is that Ford suffers for this – and GM profits.

    I don’t like the industry going in that direction – the Ford way. If you are paying good money for a luxury car it should have right wheel drive or AWD for inclement weather.

    Ford also deserves some kind of punishment for scrapping nice V6 and trying to imitate Audi with eurostyle 2.0L I4. It’s okay in some cars but they are sticking this engine in GIANT vehicles where it gets crappy gas mileage. It’s a trend that I’d rather not see reinforced by the market.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed on the last point. The only way it will change is if the underpowered turbo engines start blowing up, IMO. Clearly buyers don’t seem to mind the awful mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Right-wheel drive” is silly. It’s entirely inferior to FWD for most Americans’ needs.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        A Lincoln shouldn’t be designed for most Americans.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Fair enough, but now that I’ve thought about it, RWD won’t lend Lincoln credibility on its own. RWD won’t matter if the car that it sits underneath is an utter dog. What Lincoln needs is desirable products…and they can do it without engineering a whole-new RWD platform. They can start by not using the same key fobs, interfaces, graphics and trim-shapes as their Lexus counterparts. Since they insist on keeping MyFord/Lincoln Touch, how hard would it be, really, to re-skin the latter so that it looked more-upscale and maybe had a few more features?

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        You are correct. Yet a brand that aspires to be perceived as luxurious should not be focusing on people’s needs – it should be all about their desires. It should be a symbol that the owner is discerning enough to seek out something better than the average family hauler. It’s got to be differentiated. Lincoln is not. Hence, no premium and a dying clientele.
        Now, is RWD the right differentiator? I don’t know if it’s the only thing Lincoln needs, but I do know that even my 10-year-old daughter can tell the difference between FWD and RWD, and she LOVES RWD. It feels good. Maybe bolt-on AWD would be good enough here, but in any case: if Lincoln can’t find something better than changes in brightwork to distinguish itself, I’d vote for taking the resources wasted on this dead brand and applying them to making Fords better.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          [quote]I don’t know if it’s the only thing Lincoln needs, but I do know that even my 10-year-old daughter can tell the difference between FWD and RWD, and she LOVES RWD. It feels good [/quote]

          +1. This. RWD really does feel better. The major difference is because of physics FWD fights you (albeit subtly) when you turn and RWD seems to encourage it.

          That’s my take anyway. I was frankly surprised at how much better RWD feels – as a guy who grew up driving mostly FWD cars.

          It’s pretty hard to beat physics. FWD is all about packaging and cost savings for the manufacturer. RWD is all about the best dynamic setup from the physics point of view.

          Since a luxury car isn’t about maximizing space efficiency or low cost it makes sense that they are almost always RWD.

          Go out and drive a Taurus and then a Challenger. I know which one I like better..

          FWD works okay if the car is very small and light. But even then a Miata is far more fun then a Civic.

          Weather is also not a huge problem for a modern RWD. Better tires, traction and stability control make RWD better then FWD cars of the 80s and 90s..

          My Dad for example doesn’t even bother with a winter car – drives his BMW (albeit with snow tires) in the winter. In the past has used Jeeps and stuff – but he doesn’t need it anymore. Of course if you aren’t willing to switch tires/wheels there is a problem.

          But if you can afford a luxury car – there is no problem at all.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “It’s entirely inferior to FWD for most Americans’ needs.”

        @Kyree

        That’s just it. Absolutely no one needs a luxury car. The overwhelming majority of people could do quite well with a Civic or Accord (or a similar product from a competing brand)and as a bonus save on both acquisition and operating costs.

        But that’s not what they want. A big part of luxury (as well as performance) is placing wants over needs and for just about all cars the “want” will also cover the “need”.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I understand that. It’s the whole premise of “right-wheel drive” that I don’t like. I do think Lincoln would be more successful as the “American Luxury Automaker”, while letting Cadillac go German-chasing…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Yah my first 528e impressed me so much ,that I have bought nothing else for daily driving. Ive driven it for 18 hrs at a stretch. With a light touch I got 34 MPG from the doggy, 121 hoss with 2.93 gears. It could cruise all day at 80 It just took a while to get there. I never took any of them past 110. But they had more.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    It all depends on how Lincoln sets up and markets their cars that share platforms with their Ford brethren. The MKZ is a good start but if you can get every engine, trim line, bauble in a Fusion that you can get in an MKZ, it’s never going to work.
    If the MKZ is going to an upscale Fusion it has to offer things you can’t get in a Fusion.
    - The base engine in the MKZ has to be at least the best engine you can get in the Fusion and move up to engines that are not available in the Ford
    - There have to be tech offerings in the MKZ that you cannot get in a Fusion
    - The interior has to be so rich that people could see the value of sitting in an MKZ vs. a Fusion
    Cadillac learned this lesson (and is still stinging from the flogging its reputation took) with the Cavalier/Cimarron debacle. You could option up a Cavalier to be exactly like a Cimarron (Not to mention it was a really horrible excuse for a Cadillac)
    If Lincoln can make Ford based car different enough to make it worth looking across the showroom floor, the strategy J. Emerson described may work.
    In my – one man’s – opinion, this strategy could be good enough to save Lincoln in the short-run but they would still have come up with a truly special “Lincoln only” car (and eventually cars) if they want to compete with the true luxury kings – or even the luxury princes like Cadillac and Lexus

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well that engine statement is the case with the MKZ. The top (gasoline) engine for the Fusion is the 2.0L EcoBoost-four, which is where the MKZ starts off. Then you can either get the hybrid model (for no price-increase, apparently) or the 3.7L V6, which I find to be a dog of a motor, and hardly an upgrade. Other than that, though, Lincoln offers nothing over Ford. The Edge comes with a 3.5L V6 and an optional 2.0L EcoBoost, but you’ll get the MKX’s 3.7L V6 if you upgrade to the Edge Sport.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        But the Edge Sport gives you horrible riding 22″ wheels. The 3.5 and 3.7 are on their way out anyway. I’d like to see all Lincolns with at least a V6 engine standard, but it won’t happen.

        If the 2.3T four cylinder makes as much power as I have heard, a V6 may not be necessary for most applications though.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Chysler makes a better Lincoln (in the 300) than Ford.

  • avatar
    wumpus

    Interesting point. I think the real point is that if Ford needs to make Lincons better than Fords, they will wind up building both on the same line and then spending more to decontent the Ford. Industry leaders can afford to do this (I don’t think Intel ships a single CPU with all options checked, you have to pick and choose which ones you want. Most of the volume chips are exactly like the premium chips with options (typically hyperthreading) simply disabled. I don’t think Ford has to make “Industry leader” type decisions for a few more years.

    Welcome to the 21st century. Everything is made the same, but if you don’t pay absolute top dollar the vendor will have to neuter it for you (and you wonder why pirated Chinese (and other such places) goods are so popular).

  • avatar

    It could be argued that there haven’t been any real luxury car companies in America since before World War II. Peerless and Pierce Arrow were dead and the third P, Packard, survived the Depression by introducing first the junior Packards like the Eighty and One Twenty and then the Clipper line. It’s conventional wisdom that going for that market somehow tarnished Packard’s reputation with luxury buyers but the company could not survive just selling Twin Six V12 models.

    I think an argument can be made that Cadillac did the same thing, in essence turning Cadillac into what LaSalle was supposed to be. By the start of WWII, Cadillac was no longer concentrating on V12 and V16 models at the top of the food chain. Bill Mitchell’s landmark 1938 Sixty Special was based on the Series 60, Cadillac’s least expensive car.

    When Cadillac ruled the luxury segment in the 1950s and into the 1960s, and then Lincoln started catching up with the ’61 Continental, those cars were attainable. Expensive, but affordable for someone who had done well. Today we’d say they were aspirational. Yes, now and then there’d be a ’56 Continental Mark II or a ’57 Eldorado Brougham that might cost as much or more than a Rolls Royce but generally Caddies and Lincolns were the kind of cars that self-made men drove.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      +1 on the last paragraph Ronnie. I’ve chauffeured more than one elderly relative in their Lincoln or Caddy to the hospital. Some might say they had a quiet understatement, both the cars and their owners. Gold trim, faux convertibles, landau tops and other monstrosities? Their owners should be beaten with the unused tire irons from their trunks. None of that for my family; I might as well bring a stripper home for the holidays. Sadly the blinged out Lincolns and Caddies are what people remember.

  • avatar
    Joss

    ” GM has poured some serious blood, sweat, and tears into remaking Cadillac as a global brand, and thus far has little to show for it..”

    Likely M’s point, keep Lincoln lingering as a decoy for top heavy R & D on Cadillac.

    Spent brands the pair of them. And look whose spending less.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Lincoln has lost its aura of competence, confidence, and cash. Or at least the owner has all three. Other luxury marques are suffering from the same fate. What’s a Magnificent Bastard to do? Keep it clean, gassed, and going down the road.

  • avatar

    Did not Lexus and Tesla started by making flagship sedans first? And both are successful and highly regarded luxury brands. Lexus story is well known. Tesla is just starting and it is already considered as a competitor to Mercedes and BMW. Unlike Lincoln or even Cadillac. People are ready to pay over 100K for Tesla. Cannot say the same thing about Cadillac or Lincoln. You can see plenty of Teslas on parking lots of well to do Silicon Valley companies and in places like Yountville in Napa Valley. Just walk by Google headquarters and you will see more Tesla Model S there than equivalent German brands combined (like S-class, 7 series or A8).

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s probably a smart move for Ford to just keep Lincoln as a badge engineered premium to existing Ford products. 99% of people are clueless about this anyway. If the new MKZ was a complete standalone platform and not based on the Fusion, how many sales would it really effect?

    I’d be curious to know to know how much of a return of investment GM is really getting buy throwing billions at Cadillac to try and make it compete with the likes of Audi and BMW. The only Cadillac models that I see friends and family buying are Escalades, which is probably what Cadillac has put the least amount of money in developing since it’s just a Tahoe.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      GM’s massive bid to jump into one of, if not THE most crowded segment in the industry with the ATS makes no sense to me. NOBODY is out there saying ‘man i want a sports sedan but i wont buy one without an American badge’. Both places where GM was hoping to break into (China & Europe) oscillate between apathy and disgust for American cars/brands; GM’s store brand 3 series (at 3 series prices!!!) will do nothing to change that.

      TTAC’s comment populace doesn’t seem to get that most people don’t care about sport or RWD. Hell, I just got my first RWD car (350Z) and while it’s cool it’s hardly some mind blowing revelation… especially just tooling around or rolling down the highway. Its feeling of heft and solidarity could (and has) be easily replicated in an FWD platform. When pushing it its steering feel isn’t much better than a well sorted small Honda. Ford is smart to minimize costs and “go for the middle” with Lincoln. Lexus’ highest selling cars are the ES and RX.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        I don’t follow the numbers closely but iirc GM, particularly the Buick division, is doing quite well in China. The Chinese didn’t receive the malaise era products that GM blanketed the countryside with here in the states. Their experience has for the most part been good and I don’t think the country as a whole holds any apathy or disgust for American cars or brands.

        I might be wrong so I welcome other opinions especially those built upon empirical evidence.

        As far as your comment regarding a ‘RWD 350Z feeling like a well sorted small Honda’ there’s really nothing to say. Especially when you factor in ‘when pushing it’ which is when the differences become more readily apparent.

        You are correct that the majority of drivers in the U.S. don’t care about sport or RWD but there is a good size minority that do. I’m glad the choice exists and lament the day when everything is a FWD beige mobile. I’ve got to be honest though, I don’t think that day will ever come.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ford should not waste any money engineering a separate Lincoln. Lincoln should either be killed off or it should be the top trim level with the Ford line not offering a comparable top trim line. As for price difference it should be no more than 8k difference between the Lincoln and the top trim level of the equivalent Ford. Also Lincoln should be sold at all Ford dealers as the premium brand Ford. Ford is making most of their profits off their trucks and the return on investment is relatively low on Lincoln. Ford is doing the right thing by rebading but they should drop the equivalent trim level Ford. Lincoln should compete against Buick in price and features.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I know hindsight is 20/20 but I still think Ford made a mistake when it sold Jaguar. That marque, at this very moment, has more global cache than Lincoln will ever have. I’d also say, within these good ol’ United States most would prefer a Jag to a Lincoln.

    It’s a shame the brand has been prodded and pushed to the outskirts of irrelevance and it will take a substantial investment in money and time to even begin its revitalization.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This is a good point. Now that Jag is completely independent of Ford, they should move Lincoln into that spot. They can work on making Lincolns that buyers really would prefer over Jaguars.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I’ve driven Lincolns and could again if circumstances were right.I liked them but a Ford CV would have been just as good. A big trunk and four doors would fit right into my life. I think I could have gone with a four door jag with a trunk just as easily since my large hatchback or wagon seems to be all SUV. I think folks confuse size with luxury but it sure is different IMO. Big cars are just harder to park without much benefit.

    I would like to see Lincoln go with something a little smaller with four doors and a trunk. I think I would be more inclined to buy one than the late town car or merc grand Marquise. I think borrowing from the Jag school of thought would be beneficial. I guess you have to go to Kia to get that without mortgaging the farm. When the panther was killed the blue hair generation (I belong) lost their favorite car(s).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Latest Lincoln sales numbers:

    Down .8% month-to-month and 7.6% YTD. MKT sales have fallen into “why bother?” range.

    They did manage to sell 1000 more cars than Volvo though.

    MKZ down month-to-month and YTD. It’s now being outsold by the ATS, CTS, and XTS.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    “We had leather seats and a trunk-mounted CD changer (high tech in ’04), while many of the Mercury customers made do with cloth seats and tape decks.”

    Not to be “that guy,” but
    - trunk-mounted CD changers were not high tech in ’04; they were high-tech in the early ’90s.
    - I have doubts that the Grand Marquis was offered with a tape-only stereo in ’04. Most cars in ’04–depending on manufacturer and market segment–would’ve been offered with a radio only, a radio with CD player, or a radio with CD player and tape deck. *Maybe* Mercury was an exception, but I don’t recall seeing any new cars on the US market in ’04 that came from the factory with a stereo that had a tape deck but no CD player. That was a conventional set-up from the mid-’80s through the early ’90s, but by the late ’90s CD players were supplanting tape decks as factory equipment.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India