Wild Ass Rumor of the Day: Mercury's New Doors Closed for Good?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

Because of an unusual concentration of radio and television broadcast antennae in and around the Detroit suburb where I live, just about every car company and automotive electronics vendor that does business in North America tests their cars for resistance to radio frequency interference in my neighborhood. Ford in particular seems to like the testing location – it’s only 20 minutes from Ford facilities in Dearborn and convenient to do worst case real world testing.

So it’s not unusual to see camo’d prototypes being tested around here. Though unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, yesterday I saw a fairly-close-to-production Lincoln being tested. The vehicle was either a sport ute or crossover. It was clearly a Lincoln – you could easily see Lincoln’s now signature bow wave grille behind the plastic cladding.

My first thought: it was a restyled MKX so I asked the engineers testing the car if it was the new MKX. They were coy and wouldn’t say. Upon reflection, though, the rear end looked more squared off, like the spy pics of the upcoming car based unibody Ford Explorer. If that’s the case, then Ford will be replacing the Mercury Mountaineer, the Explorer’s rebadged cousin, with a Lincoln branded car.

Of course I’m just speculating, but if the Mountaineer is indeed being replaced by a Lincoln branded vehicle, that doesn’t bode well for the Mercury brand. Ford may have decided, like Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti and Honda/Acura, that two brands are sufficient to cover the entire market and that there’s no need for an entry level luxury brand to be shoehorned between the mass market cars and the more upscale brand.

If I’m wrong and it is the new MKX, not a rebadged Explorer, the restyling makes brand sense. The current MKX was styled before Lincoln embraced the bow wave grille, and it borrows from the Lincoln Continental concept Ford showed in 2002 which itself pays homage to the classic Continentals of the early 1960s. Though the bow wave grille is a bit polarizing – some folks like it and some make krill jokes, it is brand identifiable and the entire Lincoln lineup should use the same styling language.

[Note: Brace yourself Lincoln lovers. Robert Farago’s review of the new MKT appears on Monday.]

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  • Mtymsi Mtymsi on Oct 24, 2009

    Ford needs to figure out how they're going to market Lincolns if they drop Mercury. As was already mentioned dealerships won't be able to survive as Lincoln only franchises. Back in the late 70's when both Lincoln and Mercury had considerably higher volumes than they do today a Ford study revealed that the only L-M dealership likely to survive as solely a Lincoln store was the largest one in the country. Ford's total mismanagement of both the Lincoln and Mercury brands doesn't bode at all well for L-M dealers. It seems like a forgone conclusion Mercury is on its way out. Definitely not a good time to be a L-M dealer nor has it been for many years. Ford really made a mess of this distribution channel.

  • Armadamaster Armadamaster on Oct 25, 2009

    Mercury dies with the GMQ.

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