By on February 18, 2020

Despite the reborn Aviator stumbling out of the gate this past summer, the Lincoln brand otherwise had a good year. Sales rose 8.3 percent in 2019, making it the best year for the resurgent brand since 2007.

Lincoln brass see an even better year ahead, projecting a retail sales bump of 20 percent.

That figure comes by way of Automotive News and the recent NADA dealer-palooza in Las Vegas. There, Lincoln dealers expressed discontent over the looming eradication of sedans from the brand’s lineup. Executives seem nonplussed by the impending death of the faltering MKZ and Continental, however, claiming the strength of its crossover and SUV lineup will propel the brand to even greater heights in 2020.

It’s definitely where the market’s heading, and it’s where Lincoln’s strength now lies. The thinking is that the Aviator, with kinks ironed out and a full year of sales under its belt, will garner significant volume for the company, joined by the new-for-2020 Corsair (formely MKC) and the plug-in variant arriving later this year. The Corsair Grand Touring goes on sale this summer.

There’s reason for both optimism and concern. While Lincoln cars are indeed losing popularity (combined sales of the MKZ and Continental fell 15 percent in 2019), they still make up 22 percent of the brand’s sales. Come 2021 and thereafter, that volume will need to be replaced by utility vehicles.

Lincoln’s CUV/SUV growth was an impressive 17.2 percent last year, and hard not to see that number growing in 2020. Nautilus (née MKX) sales rose 11 percent in 2019, the model’s best showing since its first full year on the market (2007). The Aviator, though slow to make it to customers, still managed 6,424 sales in the final quarter of 2019 — more volume than the MKZ and Continental combined.

Image: Ford

The MKT, a darling of livery stables everywhere, ended production late last year, though the model’s fleet-only nature means its death won’t weigh on Lincoln’s retail projections.

Meanwhile, the range-topping Navigator posted a 4.6-percent gain for the year, enjoying its best annual tally since 2007. A threat arises, however, in the form of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade due out later this year. All-new, with a independent rear suspension and an optional six-cylinder diesel, the upcoming Escalade boasts a gigantic dash screen and significantly improved interior volume.

Lincoln will no longer be the new kid on the block in that segment.

[Images: Lincoln]

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25 Comments on “A Lofty Goal for Lincoln...”

  • avatar

    They are still far behind Cadillac in annual sales. Losing their two passenger sedans will cost them probably 1.5% market share, which will put them even further behind Cadillac. I have to agree Lincoln styling has an advantage over Cadillac. Cadillac really ruined the XT5’s styling. It’s front-end is a mess of right angles and semi-circle-like shapes. To tell you the truth I don’t know what has happened to GM’s styling in the last 5 years. They even managed to over style the Corvette.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Losing their two passenger sedans will cost them probably 1.5% market share,”

      they sell fewer than 2,000 sedans per month.

      These numbers aren’t hard to find, you know.

      • 0 avatar

        Lincoln doesn’t sell any sedans. They sell four-door coupes, just like almost everybody else. When they put a formal roofline on Lincolns, and power them with a longitudinal turbo inline six suitable for conversion to AWD – what Chrysler did with its full size LH platform – then they’ll sell more. Chrysler sold over 100,000 LH models per year.

      • 0 avatar

        2,000 sedans per month equals to 24,000 sedans a year! Lets say out of those 24,000 sedan buyers only 12,000 are interested in moving up to an SUV. When your division sells only a 100,000 vehicles a year losing 12,000 buyers is a big deal. Now lets round the number off to 10,000. If Lincoln loses 10,000 out of a 100,000 customers that is a loss of 10% in sales. If anything my 1.5% market share loss prediction is low. No wonder Lincoln dealers aren’t happy.

        • 0 avatar

          In 2018 Buick sold 14,000 Regals and a little less than 12,000 LaCrosses. I’d argue that in the $30K-$50K field Lincoln could sell 12,000 a year. I would love to see someone field a “tweener” entry in the premium field not small enough to be midsize and not quite large enough to be full size. Make FWD standard and AWD optional. Give it good headroom and class competitive trunk space.

          Make sure the AWD system is an awful lot like SH-AWD.

          I think a business case could be made.

        • 0 avatar

          Sorry, I should have been more specific-fewer than 2,000 per month and *declining.*

          • 0 avatar

            Of course MKZ sales will decline. It is an aged 2013 model. It is left behind. They can make it RWD and properly proportioned for luxury sedan. It’s interior is not as good as Aviator’s. If they give it the proper name that may help too.

          • 0 avatar

            “It’s interior is not as good as Aviator’s. If they give it the proper name that may help too.”

            You realize you’re describing the Continental right? (minus RWD but Lincoln drivers are not smart enough to tell the difference)

  • avatar

    I love telling the facts about Cadihack – for all the crowing that their minions do, they have yet, even with the so-called revival using the Arts and Scientology (!) design language, that brand has still not reached levels of sales that their dinosaurs did. And the growth even with the inclusion of the flawed and horrible ATS did nothing but steal sales downward from a higher priced CTS. And with the awful naming gimmick that has produced such wonderful names as “Seedy six”, the brand is moribund. Pitiful sales growth and the brand has still floundered. They have simply built wonderful chassis and engines and horrific everything else. There is no luxury at Cadihack – and the new Escalator remains a total rebadge of the Chevrolet and professional Grade Chevrolet big hauler with an even uglier front end. Oh, yes, the interior is improved – but not $30k worth of improvement.

    You can crow, Cadihack fans, but you cannot hide that since 1990, this brand has failed to live up to the hype and is still trying to find its game. Lincoln may be behind, but they have a wonderful level of luxury that Cadihack cannot match.

  • avatar

    Lincoln. Can you take a style suggestion>?
    The bottom of the grille opening looks like 1/2 of the KIA shark mouth.
    Get rid of that notch !

    PS- I tried to lease a Lincoln a while back. Full boat slam dunk cheap suit salesman scared me out of the dealership in RECORD time. Never considered going back. Other dealer is 40 miles away. I dont want one that bad.

  • avatar

    Lincoln can pretty much entirely replace Continental and MKT sales with a livery-focused version of the Aviator. Such a thing would lose its third row; have its second row moved farther back, like the MKT “Town Car” variant did; and use the 3.3L naturally aspirated hybrid powertrain from the Explorer, which is the available powertrain with the best city fuel economy.

    There’s no obvious replacement for MKZ but they weren’t selling many of those anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Minus the engine that’s pretty much the version of the Aviator I’d want for private use. But then I prioritize cargo over being called into chauffeur duty because relatives are in town.

  • avatar

    Let the fleet dumping of rebadged Fords begin!

  • avatar

    I was recently at a local auto show and Lincoln had the misfortune of being right next to Mazda.

    Looking at both the Mazda CX-5 Turbo (which was priced at $35k) and a Lincoln Nautilus (which was priced at $56k) I can’t believe anyone would choose the Lincoln unless they didn’t test drive literally -anything- else.

    It wasn’t even a fair comparison – the Lincoln’s tacky side badges below the A pillar were misaligned by about half a centimeter. The orange peel was the worst of any vehicle I saw at the auto show (and a sharp contrast to the Mazda’s pristine paint.) The interior on the Lincoln was an embarrassment- worse than a Mazda by a generation and made with the shoddiest assembly I’ve seen in a recent vehicle. The quality of materials on the inside was leagues better in the Mazda too, whereas the Lincoln seemed to mostly be made of recycled work gloves.

    I’d be ashamed to own one, and I don’t know how anyone buys these unless they’re Ford ride-or-die.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you test drive Lincoln vs Mazda or it is “sat in it in auto-show” conclusion? I have to disappoint you though – you will impress no one driving Mazda. Aim higher if your ego is an issue.

    • 0 avatar

      Your experience is not unique. Lincoln is a lost brand. More of a trim level on a Ford than anything else. The quality isn’t there, the styling really isn’t there, the dealership experience isn’t there, and you can get a lot better vehicles for your money.

      Heck most outlets say that the Telluride and Palisade are nearly as good as Lincolns and even better Lincoln in a few ways.

  • avatar

    When you pay good money for a luxury vehicle good handling is expected. Unfortunately, the best SUV just don’t handle well enough for me. I don’t like the tipping sensation you get when going through turns in a SUV. There is not one SUV in either the Cadillac or Lincoln lineup that would handle as well as a vintage 1989 Pontiac 600 STE. In fact any late 80s Pontiac sedan would run circles around a modern SUV. We are talking about the basic physics of driving here. We are entering a dark time for the driving enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar

      akear, I’m not sure driving enthusiasts and Pontiac 600 STE should be used together in a sentence ;)

      When I think of enthusiast driving in late 80’s/early 90’s I think of a VW Corrado G60.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Oh bull. My mother’s 88 Pontiac had a stupid high center of gravity…this was a direct result of a large amount of it’s time on the road being several feet off the ground, strapped to a flat bed on its way to get fixed again(likely a headgasket…there were several). True $#!+boxes and I don’t miss them.

  • avatar

    ditching alpha numerics for actual names has been a big plus.

    no one aspires to a XTanything.

  • avatar

    I looked at buying a Navigator Black Label at dealerships in two different states, and I visited one of the Lincoln Experience Centers. The dealers are completely unprepared to deliver service at luxury brand standards. The incompetence at all three places had me running away. As much as I liked the vehicle, I saw only aggravation ahead if I bought one.

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