By on June 4, 2015

2003 Lincoln Aviator

Updated with statement from Lincoln at bottom.

If rumors prove true, Lincoln could end its love affair with MK alphabet soup names with a new Aviator based upon the new Ford Explorer.

According to a second-hand source, TTAC has been told Ford engineers are working on a project internally called ‘Aviator’ based on the new Explorer. The source also stated there will not be a next-generation Ford Flex and will kill off the Lincoln MKT in the process.

A switch to the Aviator name, supported by recent trademark filings for the name, could be the first in many name changes at Lincoln. In April, Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said he was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention it’s gotten.” However, it could be the Aviator – not the Continental – to get the name change ball rolling.

In addition to the Aviator information, our source also stated the next Expedition and Navigator would get the 10-speed automatic transmission and an all aluminum body, making the full-size SUVs more efficient and lighter than their key competitors at General Motors.

In an email, Stéphane Cesareo, spokesman for Lincoln, said, “We do not comment on speculation. MKT continues to be present in our lineup, with a new model in 2015. By 2020, we expect to expand the segments that we participate in by adding two new nameplates to the Lincoln brand. We have not provided any indications about the products or their names.”

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

67 Comments on “Could Aviator, Not Continental, Begin the End of Lincoln’s Alphabet Soup Naming Scheme?...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    “Aviator”. That has real cachet.

    NOT.

    Besides, that’s a genuinely stoopid name for a decidedly Earth-bound vehicle.

    Lincoln death watch continues.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Better than MkT. But Lincoln “Weirdly Styled Flex Thing” would be a better name than MkT.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I really like the name, and did the first time they used it. It says ambition, aspiration and adventure. It’s perfect imagery for an upscale SUV, and a perfect partner to the brand equity they have invested in Navigator.

      It’s hard to come up with good names, especially in an era when every company has hundreds of them trademarked just in case they ever care to use them. Otherwise you wouldn’t have seen the Outback, Outlander, Uplander, Grand Cherokee, Grand Vitara, Grand Caravan…

      Anything but alphabet soup for me.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        This has already played out once. Lincoln brought the Aviator to market in the thick of the SUV boom and consumer credit free-for-all. It was based on the dominant Exploder. Sales peaked at 29,517 in 2003 and tumbled to nowhere by 2006. Clearly, the name wasn’t perfect.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I don’t think the name had anything at all to do with the poor sales of the original Aviator, note before it was supposed to be called the Mk X the MKX was scheduled to be the Aviator.

          The likely reason that the Aviator didn’t do better at the time was because it was introduced in the bigger is better and easy credit for all times. It was stuck sitting on the showroom floor right next to the “for just a few dollars more per month” Navigator. At the time if you were going to spring for a Lincoln SUV you might as well go all the way. Its not like a buyer in the Lincoln showroom cared about MPG when gas was ~$1 per gallon.

          Also there was no 2006 Aviator which is why so few were sold in 2006.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Also, the SUV market was beginning to play out when it was introduced, along with stronger 2nd generation Japanese fare.

            Personally I thought the Aviator was a great looking entry, certainly stronger than anything GM or Chryco were fielding in their less-than-full-size markets. It’s biggest competition came from Ford and Mercury.

            Very sorry to hear about the Flex. It’s almost a modern classis.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Without a frame of reference, I always confuse Aviators for Navigators. I’m thinking that for not all that much more money, more people ante’d up for the big boy version.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            They sold 15,873 in 2005, which is why there was no 2006 Aviator.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            No CJ the reason there was not 2006 Aviator was because the 2007 Aviator was supposed to be an very early introduction in Feb or March. Instead they decided on the whole MK crap for the name and for what ever reason held back on the introduction of the MKX.

      • 0 avatar
        Mackie

        Agreed, it’s an aspirational name. Ford should aim even higher and bring back names like “Comet” and “Galaxie”

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>It says ambition, aspiration and adventure. It’s perfect imagery for an upscale SUV, and a perfect partner to the brand equity they have invested in Navigator.<<

        You need a dictionary. Nothing you said is remotely true. As for equity, the last Aviator was a fail – no equity there.

        Sure, most auto names are in a sense aspirational, I object to Aviator because it is absurd. Nothing about any SUV is akin even in fantasy to piloting an aircraft. Especially the bloated barges Lincoln has produced.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @thornmark,
          Maybe they are called “Aviator” because they are on a hoist or stands most of the time.

          I agree Aviator is a p!ss poor boardroom name.

          Lincoln also is a poor name for a brand.

          If I were Ford I would call any product I have………Ford.

          Ford is a well known and respected name.

          Lincoln, is the name for a new retro pot belly or Franklin stove?

          I had a pot belly in my shed, it was called “The Oregon”.

          Now even a Lincoln Oregon sound much better. It’s more emotional.

          • 0 avatar
            Eyeflyistheeye

            For a man who singlehandledly thinks he can run the United States better than we can, you’re surprisingly ignorant about our history.

            Perhaps Ford should have created a luxury car in Straya called the “Chifley.”

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Well, his writing makes it clear that he reads nothing where words outnumber pictures, so I’d say he’s presidential timber.

    • 0 avatar
      Veee8

      I like the return to names – truly creates a vision rather than a transparent blandness of MKzzzzzzzzzzzzzxtvanthyrka.

      Names help to conjure up images and feelings, usually quite strong and lasting.

      Great Car Names:
      Interceptor
      Tiger
      Cobra
      Barracuda
      etc etc

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        For sporty cars perhaps,

        For the luxury set, I think America had it nailed down back in the day:

        New Yorker
        Park Avenue
        Newport
        RoadMaster
        Caprice
        DeVille

        In that context, I think Aviator is a pretty good name. Not sporty, but not super stately and dowdy, implies some sort of affluence, and it’s an actual word.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          I’d say Roadmaster is an ideal name. Especially for an imposing vehicle.

          It has genuine gravitas.

          The problem with so many Detroit named products is they take a great name and diminish it either by creating a lousy product like a Pinto, Vega or Maverick or they demote it to hide inflating prices as w/ Bel Air and then Impala et al.

          I do remember C&D’s running gag about the Mercury Marquis “de Sade Edition”.

          • 0 avatar
            insalted42

            Buick should call the Enclave replacement the RoadMaster. It would add some interest to that rolling brown egg of a cuv…

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Maybe they can get Leonardo DiCaprio to do some Aviator commercials, a la Matthew McConnaughey, since DiCaprio WAS the Aviator a few years ago, right.

      Maybe McConnaughey could drop him off in the car he drives, whereupon Leonardo would get into an Aviator, and replicate his drive in Wolf of Wall Street, where he drives home “dreaming” he is going great guns.

      Just be sure to leave out the part where he sees it the morning after.

      But why not just combine the aviation idea with numbers instead of letters?

      The Lincoln 747 SUV. The CUV could be the Lincoln 737.

      Or if Lincoln is really stuck on the “-ator from Decatur” concept, why not stress the aspirational aspect of the new Continental-type vehicle? The Lincoln Elevator.

      The de-tuned, entry level platform for the marque? The Lincoln Attenuator.

      Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what the name of the one with the huge back seat would be called. The BS era is dead, so we will leave fluid references to the underside of the vehicle only.

      That’s it! Names will turn the brand around! We’ve got to go at that idea full tilt.

      A “throwback” station wagon, complete with wood siding. The Lincoln Log Cabin.

      And they could build a little theater-like room off the main showroom, where the next victim, er, customer, would sit in silence and watch actors like McConnaughey and DiCaprio talk about how much fun they have had in Lincolns, even before they were paid enough to drive one. It could be called the Ford Theater.

      Somebody figured out the MK-Circus lacked name recognition? By golly, we’ll give them some names to remember!

      We can even revive the Blackwood concept…a large, stylish King Ranch/Eddie Bauer type pickup. Let’s give it three rows of seats instead of two, plus a fullsize bed. The Lincoln Nebraska.

      That’s it! That’s the ticket…new product development.

      Now where did all those old clay models go? Let’s get busy building them, the new Lincolns of the future, and they will come.

      Yes, wait for it…the Lincoln showroom: the Field of Dreams.

      Glory days, in the wink of an eye…

      In spite of joking about all this, it is really sad when you think about all the real legitimate model choices Lincoln offered just a couple of dog’s ages ago.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The problem isn’t the naming scheme. The problem is Ford has put about as much effort in distinguishing a Lincoln from its Ford platform mate as GM did in the bad old days between Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac.

    If it basically looks like an Explorer, and it is basically an Explorer on the inside, with a $15K or $20K premium — fail.

    GM has taken a different approach but it is almost as egregious. Yes a Traverse looks different from an Acadia that looks different from an Enclave (but IMHO the Enclave looks like a tarted up Traverse) but to give differentiation between trims the Traverse has an interior made by Playskool. Differentiated – yes. Cheap as Hell at the low end despite a sticker price that can go north of $40K?

    Yes again.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I suppose GM doesn’t want a repeat of its 1980s models, when the only difference between an Olds and a Buick was the badging. They want every brand to be distinct. Whether that’s possible with 4 brands is still up in the air, but it can’t be any harder to do than when they had 6. And at least each new variant looks like it fits well within its brand.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The gap between Lincoln and Ford is way bigger than that between GM’s brands on shared platforms, for sure. None of the Lincolns look like the Fords they are based on, in or out.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        What?!?!?

        Have you sat in a Ford Edge and then a Lincoln MKX back-to-back? Sure the bits are nicer but there is zero mistaking you’re sitting in a Ford Edge.

        There is no mistaking the MKS is a tarted up Taurus.

        Exterior the MKT versus Flex are differentiated, interior wise, the bits are nicer, but you’re in a Ford Flex and there is no mistaking it.

        The MKZ is definitely more differentiated, but has the build quality of a Ford Tempo (as TTAC lambasted it rightly so for)

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The MKS and MKX are the worst examples of the badge engineering and they are the oldest product.

          The new MKX is a huge step above the current version. You don’t think Edge when you sit in it.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      APaGttH, not only are Lincolns insufficiently different from the Ford models they’re derived from, but Lincolns are typically sold at the same dealership. Hard for customers not to notice the similarities when they can see them side-by-side.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Lincoln used to offer a V6 in all models. Used too.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          I think they could still help the sense (illusion?) of separation if every Lincoln came standard with the highest trim powertrain, even if that powertrain is also offered on some trim level of the Ford it is based on. The MKC should only offer the 2.3 IMHO. Every model that can fit the 3.5 EB should get it standard, including the Aviator. Everything else should get the 2.7 EB or 2.3 EB standard.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    Do we know who’s responsible for all of the MK stuff? I know the Lincoln catalog has a lot of other problems (like being obviously warmed-over Fords), but I really do think the empty-name bungle drives customers away. See also: Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It started long ago in the mid 2000s….

      I don’t know who’s idea it actually was to go with the MK naming scheme, but Al Giombetti was running Lincoln at the time. When they were rolling out the 2007 MKX, they changed the name of the Zephyr to MKZ. The MKX was originally supposed to be the MkX (pronouned Mark-Ecks). Mr Giombetti was always nice to me as a kid, but if I had a time machine, I’d warn him of the dire consequences of going down this naming scheme road. I’d be the Ghost of Lincoln Future.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      I’m guessing de Nysschen.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        May I suggest researching the players’ bios and figuring out who played either basketball or baseball at one time, possibly wore the number 40, and attended a school or was on a team with the initials dtw.

        It’s a bit of a long shot, but I would guess you might find someone at Ford who fits that description. Someone else on here once told me he was on the board, and I have not seen any evidence that the person who said it was trying to pull my leg.

        And his knowledge of Ford details, and his ability to just spin off a fact such as, “won’t be ready til 2018. The first models built will be…”.

        I like bball40dtw, and much of what he adds to this site. So it would make this old man happy to know, as a FoMoCo vehicle owner (multiple times), that the brand I think the most highly of, is the one with people like him at the helm, and not some of the flounders and front men whistling through the graveyard that are at the forefront of another global auto company.

        Ford has occasionally dropped a ball or two. But they have successfully juggled many more. Lincoln may or may not truly be on death watch, but Ford most assuredly is not.

        This was an unsolicited testimonial.

        But if I am correct, could I please road test a Mustang GT for you for the next few years for you guys?

        Or that secret Panther-revival car I dream you might decide to build on the new frame? And if it’s not too much trouble, with one of the crate engines, please, so I can fulfill my sleeper dreams?

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I’ll miss the Flex. There’s nothing else in the marketplace quite like it, and it makes sense for some buyers.

    I accidentally got a non-EcoBoost FWD MkT as a rental recently. I was surprised how well it drove, although its overengineered and underthought dashboard electronics drove me to distraction. I assume a Flex drives pretty similarly.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Flex drives about the same. The MkT drives a bit better. The MkT to have is 2010-2012 models because they have the old infotainment system with traditional buttons. The only downside to the earlier models is that the new ones have bigger brakes and adaptive suspension. Sajeev talks about fat and skinny Pathers. It’s the same for the MkT. 2010-2012 are the fat models that had more money thrown at them. I think the quality of materials has gone down with tech replacing material quality.

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        Does anyone know if they re do a redo of the Flex a all?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That’s the big question. They technically could because the D6 platform is supposed to have FWD/AWD/RWD capabillity. It’s also possible that they offer a replacement based on the Fusion/Edge arcitecture. That would make more sense. Ford already has a LWB Edge slated for China. I don’t know if there is a business case for a LWB CD4 Flex alongside the Explorer.

          The new Explorer/Aviator is supposed to continue to capture the demographic that the Flex does now. If the Lincoln looks like a proper Lincoln SUV, the Flex shouldn’t be needed.

          Short answer: No, not unless things change.

          • 0 avatar
            Chocolatedeath

            The problem is that if they make the FLex smaller there be less of a reason for me to buy. I love the overall packaging.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            CD4 is a pretty big platform. The Fusion has the same wheelbase as the Taurus. A CD4 based Flex with the same wheelbase as the existing model may actually have more room.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      The Flex makes sense for a lot of people. It’s a fantastic car and my wife absolutely loves hers. Drives far smaller than it is, incredibly spacious inside, and with the 3.5 EcoBoost it’s got plenty of power to keep me amused well. She’s really gonna miss it when we finally outgrow it.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’ve always loved the Flex, at least in principle.

        My need for a full-size pickup means I didn’t even contemplate buying one, but if I was in that segment’s market, I’d have looked at it REAL hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The high price tag turns a lot of potential buyers, but it seems like everyone who actually buys a Flex absolutely loves it, moreso than any other car.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        That’s why it is hard to kill it. If it didn’t do so well with conquests, transaction price, loyalty, and most importantly, California buyers, the Flex would be dead already.

        It hasn’t really been a sales success, but it has an extremely high average transaction price, brought in many affluent buyers that never considered a Ford before, and has done well on the west coast.

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          Yep the FLex would be by next purchase if it would be around in 2017. You are right about the 10-12 models having better interiors however the 2015 looks slightly better on the outside. I remember when they just used to have the Limited model then the Platinum came out and they decontented the Limited model severely.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Flex looks way better on the outside after the 2013 refresh. It made the earlier ones look old. I like the MkT’s earlier grille and wheels better, but it’s not like either is pretty.

            It may be around in 2017. That’s two years from now. The Explorer refresh should give it two to three years before the clean sheet design.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            @Bball,

            I find that this is a rare time that I actually disagree with you, but its only an opinion and each is entitled to their own. I liked the earlier Flex, the refreshed model not as much.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Well it’s a styling disagreement, so it’s no big deal. I like the new grille. The interior materials have been cheaped though.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Damn, I didn’t know they were still even making Flexes. Funeral directors must be happy.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I think this is a smart move. The Navigator/Aviator are a nice duo together. Had the first Aviator been a LS-based crossover rather than an upscale Explorer I think it would have been much more of a success.

    Hopefully Ford can do more to distinguish these vehicles from their Ford counterparts.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Before they can distinguish their models from Ford, they have to distinguish them from each other in the minds of people who, for example, can tell the difference between a Mustang and a Fusion, but who need a scorecard to tell the MK?’s apart.

      Brand confusion like that secretly terrifies potential buyers, who don’t want to appear ignorant, so they tend to either research heavily (a few people) or just move on (the great majority of people, a/k/a sheeple).

  • avatar

    They should do a promo where if you buy a Lincoln Aviator, you get a free pair of aviator sunglasses.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    10-speed transmission? How far can they push this? Will the 2026 MKS have a 33-speed? *smh*

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Yeah! Why back in my day, your car had a 3 speed auto and you were glad for it, what with churning 3200 rpms at 70 mph while getting 21 mpg in a car that should get 30+.

      Down with new technology! Bring back carbs and four wheel drum brakes!

      Everytime an automaker announces a new transmission with more cogs than the old one (or another new technology), there is always some idiot screaming about how things are fine as is, nothing more is needed. Good thing guys like that dont run car companies. Do you not take time to consider that maybe the engineers who went to school and have worked all their (adult) lives on stuff like this might know a little more than you? Do you think that CAFE is just a suggestion rather than a requirement, and that automakers are free to ignore it without penalties?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        With 8+ speeds, the returns are diminishing, as ZF has noted. The 10 speed won’t have the same advtantages that 3 had over a 2, or a 4 over a 3, 6 over 4 etc. etc. So in a way, I can see Pebbles point, it becomes added complexity for not much gain.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    “The source also stated there will not be a next-generation Ford Flex and will kill off the Lincoln MKT in the process.”

    The MKT has also been produced with Town Car badging – does this mean Lincoln is giving up the livery market? Or do they expect the new Continental to be sufficiently roomy for that market?

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    The first Aviator was crap, probably because it was a more complicated explorer to build.

    Flex? Build a monospec decontented version, and turn it into Fords version of a Scion xB. Durable cloth upholstery, decent entertainment system. Price it a little higher than a base Caravan.

    maybe offer 5 colors (black, white, silver, red, blue)for the body, and make all the roofs silver

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Instead of Aviator how about the Lincoln Avatar. That would be a name to remember and it would be a fresh start for Lincoln in the 21st century.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Aviator was already used by Lincoln, and it was a flop – the only thing that makes it fresh is that it is largely forgotten, like the Blackwood pickup truck.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    For a start these vehicles need to look different.

    Why can’t the US design large and beautiful SUVs?

    The best looking pickup truck based SUVs are the Tahoes. Even then those animated grilles do look out of place.

    This thing, the Aviator, looks like a Skoda Superb and a F-150 had a big night out without any protection.

    As for naming conventions, Ford uses “E” for it’s SUVs an CUVs, with one exception, the Ford Territory.

    “A” isn’t the best letter to use, unless you could call it the Lincoln Abortion. But, it appears the Skoda and F-150 made it.

    Also, Lincoln doesn’t sound very good. Ford names like Mercury had a ring to it.

    Ford should kill off the Lincoln name and just use Ford.

    I would call this call this retro, old tech Lincoln Aviator, the “Ford F-150 Estate Ghia”. But,this sounds like a boardroom name.

    Better still call it the, “Ford Badacz”. Check out what “badacz” means in Polish.

    I do think this is butt fugly. Why would you buy one, when a 200 Series Landcrusier or Range Rover are far better vehicles? I suppose it’s only real NA competition is the overpriced Silverado Estate sold as a Caddy Escalade. Another stupid name.

    Landcruiser even sounds the part, just as Range Rover does…….Aviator, WTF are Ford (Lincoln) thinking?

    • 0 avatar
      STS_Endeavour

      Not long ago, Lincoln made a variant of the Explorer called the Aviator. They are simply doing that again, and calling it the same thing. The picture displays the generation 1 Aviator. An adequate product for its day. I expect the new Aviator to be an adequate product as well.

      Lincoln doesn’t need to be killed off… It needs to be consolidated into just one (and maybe the MKZ as an also ran) special, great vehicle. Everything else seems to be classified as ‘really posh Fords’ Not bad per se, but not worthy of the Lincoln name.

  • avatar
    smapdi

    I break the trend of lincoln bashing in that I both like the MK naming AND the style of the sedans (the style DOES NOT transfer to SUV’s though… ugh). I would hope they at least keep the MK moniker as maybe a high end or performance variation of each model.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It’s not about the names. Demanding a price premium over a comparable ford when the ford is at least as available with the same stuff…. Not going to be many takers and the pool will shrink. If they want the badge to mean something special, it has to in some way BE SPECIAL.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States