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Lincoln lineup to expand, create identity apart from Ford brand

Automotive News reports on Lincoln's new model plans.

Automotive News
Lincoln C Concept
The Lincoln C concept could be the basis for a compact luxury car from Lincoln. Stephen Shankland/CNET

With the death of Mercury, Ford Motor Co. will funnel more dollars into Lincoln.

For example, planners are looking to add a compact, front-drive car or crossover. There also is talk that a car based on the next-generation Ford Mondeo could be added to the lineup.

For Lincoln to succeed, analysts say, it's critical that product planners separate Lincoln's design, power trains, and technology from those of the Ford brand. Lincoln will get features such as active noise cancellation and adaptive suspensions.

Here's Lincoln's outlook for the 2011-13 model years.

Compact vehicle: Ford product czar Derrick Kuzak promises a compact front-wheel-drive vehicle but is vague on whether it's a compact car or crossover. Those familiar with Ford's plans say it could be a crossover based on the next-generation Kuga crossover from Europe. The automaker is also exploring a compact car. Both the car and crossover would be based on the next-generation global Ford Focus platform.

In January 2009, Ford showed the Lincoln C concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The concept, based on a wide version of the next-generation Focus platform, shows the possible styling direction for a compact Lincoln.

The redesigned Focus is due in early 2011. A Lincoln version could come by the 2013 model year or sooner.

MKZ: Like its sibling the Ford Fusion, the MKZ will be redesigned for the 2013 model year when it moves to Ford's global midsize platform. The styling of the next-generation MKZ and Fusion will be more differentiated.

Midsize sedan: A Lincoln version of the next-generation Ford Mondeo, sold in Europe, is possible. If approved, the low-volume midsize car probably would be slotted just under the MKS.

MKS: Ford is expected to reskin the sedan late next year or early in 2012. A restyling and reengineering are scheduled for the 2016 model year.

The MKS will continue with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 added in the 2010 model.

Town Car: The large sedan will be discontinued at the end of 2011.

MKX: Ford is reskinning the midsize crossover for the 2011 model year, adding MyLincoln Touch, a touch-screen instrument panel.

The MKX is likely to get the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in 18 to 24 months. The 2011 model comes with a 3.7-liter V-6.

A redesign is expected for the 2014 model year on Ford's global midsize platform. The MKX and sibling Ford Edge are expected to have dramatically different styling.

MKT: Lincoln's large, front-wheel-drive crossover has three rows of seats and shares the Ford Flex's D4 platform. Its curvy design, compared with the Flex's boxy exterior, shows how product planners can differentiate Lincolns and Fords.

Expect a freshening of the MKT for the 2012 model year, with minor changes to the grille and taillights and possibly an upgraded interior.

Ford could phase out the MKT along with the Ford Flex after the 2014 model year. At that point, a source says, Ford could replace the MKT and Lincoln Navigator with a Ford Explorer-based vehicle. It would have exclusive sheet metal and more off-road capability than the MKT.

Navigator: The Navigator will get an EcoBoost engine and likely the 5.0-liter V-8 within the next few years.

Ford put on the back burner a redesign for the Navigator and Ford Expedition that had been scheduled for the 2012 model year.

(Source: Automotive News)