Why Lincoln is in serious troublePosted: August 17, 2011
Ford has made some great improvements over the past few years, however they have still not gotten it through their heads that Lincoln, their “luxury” division, is in need of a serious overhaul. Ford killed the Mercury brand last year, a great move in my opinion because Mercury was 100% pointless in the market. Lincoln is in a similar situation though, a luxury brand that doesn’t have many relevant cars. The auto industry is rapidly globalizing, and with that comes standards in each segment, as of right now Lincoln meets none of them in the luxury segment.
I’m going to start by talking about what is wrong with each model they offer and then maybe some consistent themes may show up.
First up is the MKZ, which is quite literally just a slightly re-bodied Ford Fusion that costs a lot more money and has few (or no) major differentiating functional features. The hybrid version is identical to the Fusion too, no extra power or higher mpgs at all.
Next is the MKX, a Ford Edge with some glitter and a $12k price hike; again same as the Ford but with a “luxury” badge that somehow makes it worthy of a higher price. What’s worse is that the MKX fails to undercut the likes of the Audi Q5 on price, while also failing to outperform even the base 2.0T Q5. This is really embarrassing considering that the MKX has a 100hp advantage over the Audi.
Now for the MKS, Lincoln’s best shot at having a real offering in the luxury market. With a 355hp turbo V6 and all wheel drive in the top model, things could be looking decent. The bottom level model is front wheel drive though, a big no-no at this market level, this is luxury not economy. So, the two all wheel drive versions are the only real showings, but topping out around $57k, the MKS is now in the same price bracket as the Europeans, which offer far better performance on all fronts, better build quality, and nicer materials throughout the cabin. Also, the Ecoboost MKS suffers from the same thing the others do, it is just a Taurus SHO with a different look. It still commands a much higher price for no reason. So, despite a decent effort, the MKS is too expensive and not special enough in it’s own right to be a real luxury offering.
For our next model, the MKT, I would like to start by saying that I think it looks extremely awkward. It looks like they just took the MKX and stretched it, then tried to give is some flowing lines and failed. It looks this way because that is exactly what happened, the MKT is based on the MKX, just stretched to accommodate seven people. But doesn’t the Navigator already offer 7 person seating? So what is the point of the MKT? Its slower than all its competition, not well priced, it’s the same as another Lincoln, and its “Ecoboost” V6 drinks fuel like a V8. So this car is stupid and pointless all around.
Lincoln still makes the Town Car, who knew? And its almost 50 grand, starting price gets you what? This car is a dinosaur, and only limo companies buy them, however with a price like that and this economy, I’d bet most of them are looking used. The Town Car has been begging for death for almost a decade now, and for 2012 Ford is going to do it a favor. Thank goodness.
Lastly we have the Navigator. At 57 grand, starting price, this is supposed to be a high end luxury cruiser with some style. Too bad all the Navigator has ever been is a wannabe Escalade. It doesn’t have all that pop culture hype that the Cadillac has, so all of its bad qualities just shine through all of that gaudy chrome trim. Its big, unwieldy, way overpriced, guzzles gas like crazy, unsafe, and very ugly in its current form. It is also just a re-badged Ford like the rest of them. No wonder it hasn’t caught on, its crap!
I think I have made it clear just how vast Lincoln’s problems are right now. They do not make any cars at all that are viable for the globalized luxury market. The big problem is that all Lincolns are just re-badged Fords with no extra features offered to make a real difference between them. There’s nothing special about Lincolns that would justify their price markup. So what I’m really saying here is, buy a Ford and pay extra for leather and navigation, you will save thousands.
During all this reinventing of their company, Ford never focused directly on Lincoln as a luxury brand. GM, on the other hand, did focus directly on Cadillac and on the global luxury standard. They made the CTS which has carried their flag as a legitimate competitor to BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Audi. On the performance side of things, GM did even better with the CTS-V that has done nothing short of embarrass cars like the BMW M5, Mercedes AMG at around 3/5 the price. It is simple how they did this too. The CTS is on its own rear drive platform. Sure it shares engines with Buicks and Chevys, but the CTS is the only one that offers those V6s in a luxurious rear drive package like the Europeans. GM has only just used things from its parts bin on a Cadillac exclusive platform. That is one way to do it, a way that has bode well for GM, although GM is certainly still doing a few dumb things themselves in other areas. This may be a way for Ford to reinvent Lincoln.
With the way things are going I don’t think Lincoln will survive without some drastic change. In fact I think it would be best if Ford killed Lincoln for now and took the time to really work and make them proper. Then they should bring Lincoln back a few years later with an incredible lineup that will be a real force in the global automotive market. I think Ford should use much of their European branches to develop these cars and then sell them under the “One Ford” standard all over the world. I wish there was a way to save Mercury on the horizon, but they have nothing going for them at all right now, and that isn’t something a few car wash promotions (their stated plan to turn sales up) can fix. I’m afraid Lincoln is a case where old things must fall before new things can rise.