Now that Ford's shorn of Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo--and now that it's closing Mercury--Lincoln will get seven new vehicles in the next four years in a major new investment in product and in a more distinct identity for the Ford luxury brand.
At the press launch for the 2011 MKZ Hybrid and the 2011 MKX this week in Washington, D.C., Lincoln executives repeated the mantra that Lincoln is moving in the direction of smaller, less ostentation premium luxury vehicles. While the latest generation of Lincolns has been visually distinct from Ford-brand cousins, those differences are expected to multiply as its cars and crossovers are replaced or revamped over the next four years.
What will those new Lincolns be? Model by model, the future Lincoln lineup is shaping up as follows:
Town Car: The black-car stalwart likely will be dead after Ford closes its Canadian assembly factory late next year, with no clear replacement for the livery market in sight.
Navigator: The brand's big seven-passenger SUV probably will live on. A heavily revised version of the current sport-ute could bow in 2013 or 2014. Aside from styling updates, the new Navigator and Navigator L are expected to adopt new V-8 engines that arrive this year in the 2011 F-150.
MKX: New this year, the five-passenger crossover (above) is the first of the seven new vehicles scheduled. It isn't due for a major overhaul in the next four years.
MKZ: The mechanical twin to the Ford Fusion adds a Hybrid model this year. A complete redo is planned for the 2013 model year. It's to be based on a common platform with the Ford Fusion and Mondeo, but with much more differentiation.
MKT: Due for a facelift in 2013, the big seven-passenger cousin of the Ford Flex probably will add the sophisticated MyLincoln Touch infotainment system before this update. Ford's denied reports the MKT would be discontinued after its current model cycle.
MKS: New in 2009, the large Lincoln four-door sedan likely will get MyLincoln Touch system in 2012 along with a slight refresh.
Two more new or revamped cars in the product plan have been hinted at prior auto shows. They could include:
Premium small car: The logical next step in the Lincoln portfolio is a compact vehicle in the Lexus IS/Cadillac ATS class. A four-door sedan would fit in the Lincoln lineup, but the 2009 Lincoln Concept C suggests Lincoln execs are considering a hatchback body style.
Premium small crossover: With mid-size and large crossovers handled, Lincoln could also spin off a new compact crossover to compete with the Audi Q5 and Cadillac SRX. Ford's planning a new Escape based on the European Kuga crossover, and it's likely a hybrid version will be in the product plan.