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.
It’s your boy, JB. You know, the guy who isn’t allowed on your press trips any more. I’m not sure exactly why. It has something to do with me supposedly misusing one of your complimentary hotel rooms as a place to do something besides examine the press kit. I don’t know why it’s a big deal. You’re acting like I put on a satin “dragon suit”, performed immoral deeds using a mudshark, and/or threw a TV out the window. That didn’t happen. I specifically left my satin dragon suit at home that weekend so I can say for sure that it didn’t happen. Maybe that wasn’t it at all. I don’t know. We don’t need to discuss it now. Just censure me and move on.
Plus, it isn’t like you guys haven’t made mistakes yourselves, and more recently, too. I mean, Jimmy Fallon? Curating Tweets? CURATING TWEETS? JIMMY FALLON “CURATING” TWEETS? I need you to stop reading this letter right now so you can go home, cut out a section of your garden hose and savagely beat whoever came up with that idea until they can’t walk any more. Wait. Make that “type”. Can’t type any more. That’s especially important. Because I think that idea probably originated with them typing an e-mail to someone, and until that can’t happen again none of us are safe.
What can you even say about Lincoln at this point? The brand talks up its new design studio, and then releases a “spot the changes” facelift. Critics bash the brand’s waterfall grille as “cetacean,” so for the facelift Lincoln goes and makes it look even more like baleen. Lincolns have little identity beyond Fords loaded up with there-for-the-sake-of-it technology, so they give the MKS and MKT (Ecoboost only) “Continuously Controlled Damping”… to polish their carefully-honed performance image? Because consumers were clamoring for a Lincoln, but didn’t buy because “Sport Mode” wasn’t available on its giant crossover? I know these are only holdover models, and that Lincoln will eventually come out with something all-new. I know that picking on these sales weaklings is too easy. I know that there are probably even a few folks out there that find the MKS and MKT to be the subtle-but-cosseting waft-mobiles that they’ve been waiting for… but I just can’t help myself. Especially when Lincoln’s press release on the MKS proclaims that
Refinements Signal Direction for Brand Today, Tomorrow.
Note to Lincoln: the future is not in refinements. If this brand is going to survive, it needs a clean sheet of paper.
OK, so what’s literally wrong with the picture is that TTAC needs a real graphics team. The larger, figurative problem: Ford is replacing its long-soldiering Lincoln Town Car, the granite-standard of livery transportation, with its unloved (5,701 sales year-to-date) MKT crossover. Say what you want about the old Town Car, at least it had a certain quietly anonymous gravitas. The MKT? Let’s just say that a stretched version will serve largely to make the adjective “cetacean” even more applicable to the baleen-snouted crossover. According to the Freep, Ford will offer
a standard livery vehicle with stretched second-row seating and a modified heavy-duty chassis version designed for limousine modification.
The livery version is available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. The heavy-duty limousine chassis will feature standard all-wheel drive for stretch limousine construction up to an additional 120 inches – or 10 feet – of wheelbase.
Out with the Panther, in with the Whale?
Today’s Detroit News has an interesting item on Ford’s D3/D4 platform strategy, based on the thesis that
The remade Taurus has emerged as a flagship for the Dearborn automaker, restoring luster to a nameplate that had become synonymous with “rental car,” and helping to revive an automaker that had become dependent on trucks and sport utility vehicles.
As Jack Baruth’s Capsule Review of the Ford Five Hundred shows, the D3 platform offers good space and comfort, and the recent update and return to the Taurus nameplate has been rewarded with steadily-increasing sales. And though the Taurus has fought back to become a Ford-brand flagship (likely at the expense of Mercury), its platform-mates have been consistent underperformers on the showroom floor. Flex has sold in the low 3k monthly range, while MKS and MKT have been thoroughly beaten in YTD sales by the Cadillac DTS and Escalade, themselves hardly the most competitive alternatives to the big Lincolns.
Another year passes and another Lincoln sprouts a baleen-feeder snout. Because familial consistency is more important than allowing innocent retinas to go unseared.
The Lincoln MKT is a Looney Tunes cartoon: based on previously made creations, packaged into something unique. While the animated series started from the Warner Brother’s impressive music library, the MKT comes from an old Volvo S80 platform, sharing a motor with the Mazda6. So both creations are downright looney. Which explains the MKT’s krill filtering grille: silly in pictures, insane in natural sunlight where it’s obvious that 40% of it’s toothy smile is blocked off by solid plastic paneling. Which probably says more about the current state of Lincoln better than anything else.