Where Is Lincoln Headed?

All of a sudden, everyone in Auto-media-land is driving and praising the 2011 Lincoln MKX. That’s the jazzed up Edge-derived crossover that Ford has been giving out to reviewers for test-driving. From what I read, it isn’t all that different (except for the fancy interior) from the parent car.

It’s a flashy, chrome-spotted Edge, no matter how you cut it, despite all the techy features of the MyLincoln Touch system (with voice recognition, etc.). Here is yet another example of badge engineering by Ford, and they are the champs in that arena. They did the same thing with the MKZ Hybrid—little more than a dressed-up Fusion with a $6,200 upcharge.

In early 2009, Lincoln showed its C Concept car (above) with lots of green tech, good interior room, and a new look. Whatever happened to the idea of making over Lincoln in this image? For whatever it’s worth, the car still appears on the Lincoln website (Future Vehicles tab).

Now, according to Autosavant, Ford’s Jim Farley says “Lincoln’s future products will stay in the $35,000 to $55,000 price range.” If so, that will take them pretty much out of competition with most Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and upper-range Lexus models, for example. And it would indicate that Lincoln is basically willing to abdicate the luxury market to run against cars like the Audi A4. In fact, it may well pattern itself after the approach Audi has taken to this market segment.

Says Charles Krome in another Autosavant piece:

It’s hard to say if Lincoln’s Audi-esque plan to take things one step at a time will bring a similarly Audi-esque performance in the marketplace, but the brand’s decision not to overreach itself in the near-term future looks like a good one.

To make that move a success, Lincoln has to reengineer its cars to offer something different—not only from what Audi and Hyundai are selling, but from what the rest of the Ford line represents. I thought they had a good idea with the C Concept; maybe it’s not dead yet. Just please get rid of that horrible grille.

Does Lincoln have a chance to recover by repositioning itself? Should it follow the Audi model?

—jgoods

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