By on April 23, 2019

Lincoln, eager to avoid the fate of Mercury, has spent years attempting to turn itself around. It’s a slow-and-steady kind of race. Rather than try to dazzle the public with a slick marketing campaign (confusing, perhaps – Ed.), Lincoln’s sticking to the fundamentals. Bludgeoned by the Great Recession, Lincoln’s sales actually began their steady decline in 2004, though by that time it had been losing market share for almost a decade.

Fortunately, things improved. While still far removed from its former strength, Lincoln’s annual domestic volume has stabilized at just above 100,000 units. Chasing sales will always be important for an automaker, but it’s not the main focus for Ford’s luxury nameplate. The brand believes that, if it can improve as a premium marque, volume will follow. 

2014 Lincoln MKT, Image: Ford Motor Company

Even if you’re not a fan of its products, you have to admit that its newest models are a breath of fresh air. The Aviator (below) may not have the powertrain options of the MKT (above), but it’s better in every other conceivable way. You don’t even need to drive them; one can simply look at them side by side and sense there’s more going on with the Aviator.

The Corsair seems as though it will be a similar story. Replacing the MKC, the new crossover emits a sense of class its predecessor lacked. While examining the compact newcomer at the New York Auto Show, a Lincoln rep almost shuddered when we referenced the MKC — almost as if the brand was ashamed of it. However, those older vehicles were still quiet and comfortable automobiles, two qualities the brand isn’t willing to toss into the garbage for the sake of added performance. Comfort is king at Lincoln, and the brand wants to emphasize its strengths.

Image: Ford

“It appears they’ve accepted who they are,” Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a recent interview with Automotive News. “They’re not a volume premium brand that’s going to be everything for everyone. That’s OK; you don’t have to be everything to everyone to still be successful.”

Lincoln’s own design director, David Woodhouse, did nothing to refute that assertion. “It’s more about seduction than attack,” he said.

The brand’s new aviation/nautical theme is meant to remind customers of quiet and comfortable modes of upscale travel. But it also allows the company to abandon its failed alphanumeric naming strategy, which we always assumed was a foolish attempt to make it seem more German or Japanese. We couldn’t be happier with the change.

Lincoln chief Joy Falotico, who also broke things down for Automotive News, believes that the path ahead won’t include shortcuts or an emphasis on fleet sales. Falotico suggests that Lincoln should serve as a boutique brand, rather than a “luxury shopping mall” (poor Mark Fields), while admitting that volume is important. As the brand struggles to put down roots in China, Falotico claims the current strategy involves encouraging market growth “in a healthy way.”

By the end of this year, Lincoln will have four new utility vehicles on the market wearing updated (and much improved) sheet metal. Beyond that, Falotico said the brand will focus on gradually electrifying the lineup and ensuring customers don’t lose interest. “We’ve had to redo our whole philosophy of the cycle plan and add in an experience and service cycle plan and smaller packages that give you something new to show the customer,” she said. “They’re very sensitive to the freshness of the product.”

While most of what that means in terms of product is supposed to remain a mystery, Falotico did say the brand will provide extra performance packages and special editions. We also know that hybridization will begin creeping in as an option for most models (a plug-in Corsair follows the model’s launch by a year or less, with a potential EV on the horizon) and extra-premium variants are at least under development. It’s impossible to say if the strategy will pan out as desired, though it does look like the right play: a gentle rebranding aimed at gaining — and retaining — customers willing to splurge on higher-margin vehicles, coupled with improvements to its entire product line.

“We have a vehicle in every segment, except the luxury performance segment, so we feel we have roughly the right number of vehicles,” she said. “We’re not like some other manufacturers who don’t have mass-market brands, so you see them continue to extend their lineup. That’s not us. Having said that, we’re looking at derivatives that make sense.”

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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49 Comments on “What Will Lincoln Look Like in 2020?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    More profitable than Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Is it?I bet ATP is higher on Lincolns, but GM can pinch a penny better than Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Even with “bespoke” platforms under the glued to the lot Cadillac sedans?

        CT6-V sells out, nobody cares about the more plebeian versions. ATS/CTS so profitable they are being killed to be replaced by a “tweener” CT5 which I’ll be shocked if the new CT5 matches the sales volume of the ATS/CTS combined. (OK there’s some platform sharing with Camaro but nobody is buying Camaros right now either.)

        Meanwhile EVERY Lincoln is on a platform shared with something else.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Even with “bespoke” platforms under the glued to the lot Cadillac sedans?”

          Yes, even with those cars I’d bet Cadillac makes more money for its parent. For now anyway. I have my issues with GM but compared to Ford they’ve shown themselves better at keeping costs down and margins steady.

          Also, keep in mind Ford claims they spent $1B to create the Continental and Cadillac has had positive movement in China while Ford’s Chinese operations are a cash bonfire.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The CTS-V usually sells out as well.

          Wouldn’t be surprised if the CT5 outsells the ATS as it addresses the biggest issue of the ATS – interior space.

          The CT6 will replace the CTS and the production version of the Escala will be the Cadillac flagship sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        The454General

        Yes we all know GM’s track record of lowest bidder, regardless of quality, even if it means design flaws such as the ignition problem that killed people and subsequently sweeping those poor people under the rug. Great company.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        A few years ago, Cadillac’s ATP (close to that of MB and BMW) was much higher than Lincoln’s, helped by Escalade/ESV sales, along w/ sales of the CT6 and CTS.

        Lincoln’s ATP was more akin to Lexus and Acura.

        W/ the Navigator, Lincoln likely has closed the gap somewhat and should do even more so w/ the Aviator (altho Cadillac likely will mitigate some of that w/ the addition of the XT6).

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      As a lifetime Lincoln buyer I am fairly upset with their poor sedan offerings. Loyal Lincoln buyers have nowhere to go but BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus if they want a traditional full size luxury car.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        As a lifetime Lincoln buyer I am fairly upset with their poor sedan offerings. Loyal Lincoln buyers have nowhere to go but BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus if they want a traditional full size luxury car. And the sad thing is, Ford has all the equipment it needs to make one outstanding luxury car.

        Top of the line V8? Ford’s got it, but won’t give it to Lincoln.

        Don’t want a turbocharged engine that spins to the moon? Sorry, we won’t sell that to you.

        Want lots of room and rear wheel drive? We have the platform, but won’t make it in a sedan.

        Want air ride? You’ll have to buy a used Town Car.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Nope, the Aviator will have 4 corner air available.

        • 0 avatar
          RSF

          Maxb49- I think you are mis-informed about the ecoboost engines. They don’t “spin to the moon”. Drive one and you’ll be impressed. Very good acceleration, very good on the highway, able to climb grades without downshifting and revving, etc. My travel trailer has been towed by a 5.0L F150 and my current 3.5L F150. The V8 revved a LOT more than the V6 does. I’ve always been an old school guy and never thought I’d prefer anything over a V-8, but the Ecoboost V6 has won me over.

          • 0 avatar
            Maxb49

            RSF: I am not misinformed about the Ecoboost engines because I have owned two of them. Both of them (both Lincolns) resulted in timing chain failures before 40,000 miles. The second ecoboost I owned suffered a turbo failure last week. Our 5.0 has been bulletproof. I am completely dissatisfied with my experience and I do not want another one of these engines.

        • 0 avatar
          markmeup

          Full-tilt 300 calling your name.

          big honkin’ V8 w/ 28-30mpg highway? yep (30-31 w/V6)

          real leather (high quality)? yep

          real wood in luxury model? yep

          best NAV/software & user interface? yep

          large-ass car with physical & visual presence? yep

          contrary to common Chrysler bashing, one reliable, comfortable, stylish automobile available in so many configs, ez to make one your own.

          I love my 300S AWD. more than any car/SUV since my ’95 540i (that i should’ve never sold), and there were alot in between the two.

          • 0 avatar
            markmeup

            … i should add,

            a normally aspirated proven, bulletproof drive-train, no matter which engine choice you make.

            an available, smart true AWD system, second to none in a sedan along with one of the best transmissions. ever.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Lifetime Lincoln buyers who want a traditional full-size luxury car are mostly dead.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Balderdash. New customers are being minted every year. Sure, the leading edge boomers born from 1946 to 1954 (age 65-72) are an ever-smaller demographic, but the late stage boomers born 1955-1964 (age 55-64) are a large demographic with tender tailbones, extra pounds, and fat bank accounts, looking for comfort with an upscale touch.

          Add to that the late boomers’ “echo”, born 1965-1974 (age 45-54) now in their prime earning years and with aching joints from jogging, tennis, and handball – and a sudden realization they’re not ‘young” anymore – and there’s a sizable pool of potential customers who will choose coddling comfort over hard sport suspensions.

          The key is providing what they consider an upscale product with respectable performance to match.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I think Lincoln can actually use its lack of a base to its advantage.

          There are many more Cadillac “fans” than there are Lincoln “fans”, but there’s also a ton more “Never Cadillac” people compared to “Never Lincoln” people.

        • 0 avatar
          ImAlwaysRight

          Yes Max, you are uninformed. Not only have I owned 2 myself, but between my family and friends we have owned a total of 7. So it may comes as a surprise but none of us have have had a lick of trouble with the engine outside of routine maintenance. The data reflects this as well. Sorry you got a dud but its not typical of the engine.

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            I just appraised an ’18 Ford Explorer Platinum with the ecoboost 3.5. Client is a former Ford executive with 13,000km. He is trading it for a Honda Passport because he can’t trust Ford any longer. His words, not mine. I would agree with him judging by the bubble rust starting on the hood. Should be fixed under warranty but A-plan pricing for life will not make up for Ford’s lack of quality.

          • 0 avatar
            Maxb49

            @YourenotAlwaysRight:

            I have probably owned more Ford products than you have owned cars, period, starting with a 406 Galaxie. The Ecoboost engines are nice when they work but they have not been trouble free. Now, if you want to send me some cash to cover my documented expenses and grief with these engines, then I might reconsider my opinion

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            ” I would agree with him judging by the bubble rust starting on the hood.”

            Rust on an aluminum hood?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This is ridiculous, both the MKC and Corsair are reworked Escapes, done very well I might add, but Escapes none the less

  • avatar
    stingray65

    They need a spare tire bump in the back and an anemic V-12 with cooling issues up front under a long hood to return to the authentic Lincoln era.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    The seats in that interior shot almost look like cloth. That would be refreshing, to have the option of cloth seats in a luxury branded vehicle.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d say their crossovers are better looking than GM. Not sure about their dealership experiences,I’d say I had a good one at the Caddy dealership I bought a used MB from.
    I’ll go ahead and annoy the B&B some more by clamoring for a 4 door Mustang though, as I feel it’s my duty for any Lincoln thread.

  • avatar
    redapple

    ” allows the (Lincoln) company to abandon its failed alphanumeric naming strategy” OVER AT CADDY, THEY AINT CHANGING NOTHING. WORKS GREAT!!!

    DID THE MODERATORS KILL OFF DEADWEIGHT ???? HE MADE ME LAFF IT WAS SO- SO – SO INTENSE!

    Been in 2 Lincoln Dealers in last 10 years. North Atlanta and TROY MICH motor mall there whatever the name is. I was treated like i was in a Toyota dealer in the 1980s (ignore you. “you ll pay the price i say.’ test- drive: Test Drive? when i get around to it. )

    Love that mid size one tho

    • 0 avatar

      DEADWEIGHT IS DEAD, RED. YES MODERATOR KILLED HIM. HE HAD TO.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Mods here are CLEARLY Guangzhou Motors employees and/OR MSS agents. The TRUTH will NEVER DIE!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’m still kickin’ and hard. GET HARD.

      I’ve been busier (turning business away on the daily) and more flush than since 2006, the mid-year period being the blowoff geyser of a fantastic rush of wealth that had lasted for about a 12 year run (unlike “paper-wealthy” debt laden peeps, I took my chips off the table, color coming, in between 2002 and 2007 – I even used much of that massive bagger wealth to buy back some of the very same assets I had unloaded between 2002 and 2007 at a massive profit for 10 to 25 cents on the dollar from 2010 to 2013).

      Lincoln is toast as long as the Ford Family keeps picking their top executives like the Lions pick their coaching staff.

      HACKett and FARTley are the duo of wealth, equity, product, marketing and customer base destruction.

      Hackett be trippin’ on some good sheet.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        p.s. Mulally was the HAIL MARY PASS exceptional (and exception to the usual Ford picks) play that worked and literally saved the Ford Motor Company n 2010. The odds of them finding, let alone successfully recruiting such an extraordinarily talented QB/Coach combo in one again are so infinitesimally small, as to be, well…infinitesimally small.

        Mulally was FoMoCo’s Steve Jobs. Hackett is Elizabeth Holmes.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          p.s. X2 – Okay, it’s hard to come up with an good analogy for Hackett, but writing that he’s Ford’s Elizabeth Holmes is unfair to him, as grossly incompetent as he is, only because he’s not an outright fraud and criminal.

    • 0 avatar

      RED, YOU SEE WHAT YOU DID? YOU SHOULD NOT MENTION HIS NAME IN VAIN!

      But I agree regarding Hackett boy. But Elizabeth Holmes does not look like an idiot, so comparison is unfair. Quite opposite – she looks charming.

  • avatar
    V16

    The question that needs answered.
    “Are SUV’s in small, medium, large, and extra large, a product strategy for a luxury car brand?

  • avatar

    guess who could double their sales within 12 months?

  • avatar
    Rocket

    What will they look like? If the Zephyr is the car I anticipate, they’ll be just a flagship short of the brand Cadillac should be. I don’t know if the stock market will care, but customers are already taking notice.

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    Well, SUVs make up the bulk of sales for Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Porsche, Jaguar. Acura, etc. The MKZ and Continental barely sell. I think that’s your answer.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      That’s true more so for also-rans in the lux sedan/car race (Acura, Audi, etc.) than for MB and BMW which still sell plenty of sedans/cars (albeit, even they aren’t immune to the switch to CUVs).

      Even Lexus is struggling to sell its (RWD) sedans, aside from the FWD ES.


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  • bd2: That’s true more so for also-rans in the lux sedan/car race (Acura, Audi, etc.) than for MB and BMW which...
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  • bd2: The CTS-V usually sells out as well. Wouldn’t be surprised if the CT5 outsells the ATS as it addresses the...
  • bd2: A few years ago, Cadillac’s ATP (close to that of MB and BMW) was much higher than Lincoln’s, helped...
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