Lincoln Is Already Coming Back

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
lincoln is already coming back

I remember back when I first wrote on The Truth About Cars that Lincoln, noted creator of cars for airport limo drivers, would make a comeback. The comments broke down like this: a few of you agreed with me. The rest of you accused me of being either a paid shill for Lincoln or an idiot, which, in your minds, appeared to be approximately the same thing.

Well, here we are two years later, and Lincoln is already clawing its way back.

I say this because I recently spent time in the MKC, which is a small luxury crossover designed to rival everyone else’s small luxury crossover: the Mercedes GLK, the Lexus NX, the Acura RDX, the Infiniti QX50, and a wide range of other models with indecipherable acronym names that make heavy use of the letter “X.”

And you know what? The Lincoln MKC is pretty damn good.

Let’s go over the details. It’s starts at $34,000, which makes it cheaper than virtually all its rivals. It gets better mileage than most of them, too. Options include rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, and one of the best infotainment systems in the entire industry. Yes, I know MyFord Touch sucked when it came out, but that was five years ago – and if you haven’t driven a car equipped with it since then, you’re missing out.

You can choose between two engines: a 240-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 285-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder that offers more power than most rival V6s. There’s a standard backup camera. Standard voice control. Standard dual-zone automatic climate control. Standard keyless access with push-button start. Standard power front seats, which is something that Audi has been trying to figure out for the last two decades. In other words: on paper, this car is a worthy adversary for every single modern compact luxury crossover. It’s not some flag-waving also-ran.

And in practice?

In practice, it’s just as damn good. A few car journalists have knocked Lincoln interiors for offering a little too much cheap plastic, but I think these people need to spend time in other luxury SUVs. The Mercedes GLK interior looks like a factory for plastic. The RDX interior makes it seem like Acura is the largest consumer of plastic buttons outside the Target women’s department. Any objective person would say the MKC fits right in with these rivals.

And then there’s the driving experience. It’s quick. It’s comfortable. It’s plush. No, it’s no sports car, but let’s be honest: the MKC was never going to take down the BMW X3. Lincoln is going after the enormous “I want a luxurious luxury car” segment currently being abandoned by “Let’s Make It Look Crazy” Lexus, and they’re doing a damn good job.

So then we move to Lincoln’s “other” new product: the MKZ. I’ve driven the MKZ. I like the MKZ. I find the MKZ to be one of the most attractive new cars on sale, giant taillight and all. If I were interested in a smooth, comfortable luxury car, I’d find my way over to the Lincoln dealer long before I ever set foot in Lexus of My Hometown. Largely because the Lexus dealer scares me, since it looks like all the SUVs are going to eat my extremities.

Now, I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the MKZ, primarily due to its polarizing exterior styling. But you have to agree that this car, too, looks pretty damn good on paper. Turbo 4-cylinder. Optional V6. Available hybrid model that costs nothing extra and does 40 mpg in combined driving. Cheaper than Lexus, and more equipment. For those of us who don’t think it looks like a beached whale, this is a pretty damn good car.

And I suspect Lincoln will continue coming out with these damn good cars over the next few years. This is, after all, the same company that brought Ford from a football-shaped Taurus with a pushrod engine to a handsome, desirable Fusion in just a decade. They can do it with Lincoln, too.

Now, I’m the first to admit that Lincoln’s turnaround will be a long and bumpy one – especially if they believe their flagship vehicle, the Navigator, can continue in its current form as a warmed-over Expedition with a ten-year-old chassis and a fraction of the features its rivals have.

And then there’s the brand’s name. Cadillac has been turning around for a decade now, and you’d still get a nasty look from any non-car enthusiast if you told them you were buying a Cadillac. “A Cadillac?” they would say. “For you? Or your grandfather?” And then they would laugh and laugh, as they walk out to their cool new BMW or Audi, which aren’t associated with old people, but rather sorority girls from the North Shore of Long Island.

So it’s a long road ahead, but I think Lincoln is going about it the right way: by delivering high-quality products packed with features, loaded with equipment, and equipped with some of the best engines on the market. This process won’t be done in two years, or even five years, but it’s headed in the right direction. Just like I said.

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  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 22, 2015

    Going to have to disagree with DeMuro. Difficult to say that Lincoln is in better shape as sales are flat for the year (actually a little down YTD) and that's with the addition of a new model, the MKC. And sales of the MKC probably aren't where Lincoln execs have hoped - behind that of its direct competitors (other compact lux FWD CUVs) such as the RDX, NX and Q5. Sales YTD: MKC - 5,230 RDX - 11,342 Q5 - 9,354 NX - 9,111 And sales aren't just behind, they are well behind (the others doing around twice the volume of the MKC). And while sales of the Navigator are up some 80% - that's only b/c Navigator sales were really bad. YTD, Lincoln has sold 2,875 of the Navigator Meanwhile, Cadillac has sold 7,899 Escalades (and at a higher ATP). The only other "new" Lincoln model (admittedly, the Navigator is not a new model, but refreshed), the MKZ, has seen sales drop 30% YTD. The new Continental should help sales, but large luxury sedans are a declining market and probably won't see the Continental do much better than what the XTS has been doing for Cadillac (still, this is much, much better than what Acura has been able to do with the RL/RLX). Lincoln needs a home-run with the new MKX, but the can't see it as the new MKX is even more bland-looking than the MKC.

  • Tedward Tedward on Apr 22, 2015

    Really? You'd find your way to a Lincoln dealer? You wouldn't just order a loaded escape/fusion/whatever? I honestly find that hard to believe. They have a talented design department but Lincoln is dead. What we have instead is the old trim level called Mercury hiding behind a Lincoln badge.

    • Derekson Derekson on Apr 22, 2015

      Yeah I don't really even get comparing Lincoln to Cadillac right now. Cadillac has issues, but they at least have unique product rather than rebadged/brand engineered Chevrolets now. Lincoln is now a competitor for Buick (as Mercury used to be): selling fancier versions of FWD mainstream cars from Ford/Chevy, respectively.

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  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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  • MaintenanceCosts Audi has been a full player in the German luxury club for 20 years. It started to get there with the first A4, which was a 500-foot home run, and then achieved full recognition with the spectacular D3 A8.
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