Lincoln MKT:

Lincoln Wins VSA – Most Satisfying Brand in AutoPacific 2014 Research

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Lincoln Motor Company Logo BigLincoln Wins VSA – The Lincoln Motor Company won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for top brand of the 2014 model year.  Lincoln has previously won in 2004 and 2011.  Based on queries from the press, many are surprised at the success of Lincoln in AutoPacific’s research.  After all, Lincoln is portrayed as being a brand struggling to survive in the hotly contested luxury vehicle market in the USA.

Solid Performance Accross the Range Lincoln is battling to rebuild itself.  Winning AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award shows that Lincoln is beginning to sell products worthy of winning their respective product categories.  The MKS Executive Car won its class.  The MKZ was the top Luxury Mid-Size Car and the MKZ Hybrid was the top Hybrid/EV Car.  The MKT Luxury Crossover SUV was a close second in its class.  Also, Lincolns are sold to buyers with a median age of 68-years, 11-years older than the typical new vehicle buyer.  It is an adage of automotive research that to achieve great satisfaction scores sell your products to your grandmother – older females being less critical.  Never sell to a young guy (much more critical – a proof of why Scion is the bottom ranked brand for 2014).  Winning AutoPacific’s VSA will help Lincoln re-build its image once word gets out to dealers, owners and prospective buyers, but it is not until new Lincoln products get launched that Lincoln resumes its place as a fully fleshed-out luxury brand in the USA.  We’ll watch to see if Lincoln can repeat its VSA win in 2015 after the new MKC small crossover SUV has been on the market for awhile.


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Ford Owners Want Simpler, Easier to Use Technology

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MyFordTouch_Center StackIn AutoPacific’s annual survey of new car and light truck buyers, eleven of the top twenty vehicles whose drivers want simpler, easier to use technology are Fords or Lincolns. Six are from Toyota or Lexus. One is from Cadillac. One is from BMW. One is from Audi. If you have been paying attention to Ford’s standings in Consumer Reports ratings and other customer satisfaction measurements, you undoubtedly have heard Ford’s and Lincolns ratings have dropped precipitously since MyFord/LincolnTouch was introduced.


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EcoBoost Engines Pump Up Ford Buyer Base

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Ford EcoBoost Logo

High Tech V6 Gives V8 Power and V6 Efficiency: Several years ago at a dinner with Ford Group Vice President Derrick Kuzak we had a spirited conversation about replacing V8 engines with high technology V6 engines in Lincolns. My position was that a Lincoln could not be a REAL Lincoln without a V8. Kuzak’s position was that Ford could not wait to bring high technology, high performance, high efficiency engines to market. His strategy resulted in the Ford EcoBoost engines that have now been on the market for over a year. Based on AutoPacific’s owner data, it appears that the EcoBoost strategy is on the mark.


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Ford's EcoBoost Establishes a Beachhead

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Ford Motor Company launched a new powertrain technology called EcoBoost earlier in 2010. EcoBoost will eventually be available on 90% of Ford’s lineup in the USA. The first EcoBoost installations are in Ford’s new D3 Platform vehicles – Ford Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, and Ford Flex. EcoBoost’s first installation is a 3.5L V6 with gasoline direct injection and twin turbochargers. Power output on the Taurus SHO is 365HP while on the MKS, MKT and Flex is 355. The EcoBoost 3.5L has 350lb-ft of torque. These technology advancements yield substantially better performance while achieving equivalent fuel economy as a vehicle equipped with a non-EcoBoost 3.5L (of course this is only on paper. EcoBoost is so fun to drive you’ll be in it all the time – achieving equal fuel economy is just a dream).
EcoBoost Badge_VehicleVoice.jpg
EcoBoost a $5,000 Proposition Anyway, EcoBoost is not free. A Taurus SHO is almost $40,000 and the price increase for EcoBoost on the MKT, MKS and Flex comes out to about $5,000. That price includes all wheel drive which EcoBoost requires to handle the power and torque on the front wheel drive platform. So, with the power and price increase, how many is Ford selling?
EcoBoost Installations Running Ahead of Forecast According to George Pipas, Ford’s spokesman for sales reporting and arcane numbers, the Taurus SHO now represents about 15% of the Taurus lineup. This is 5%-pts higher than Ford had estimated. Each Taurus SHO generates $10,000 more economic profit than an average Taurus. Installation rate on the Lincoln MKT is 47%. About 30% of Lincoln MKS gets EcoBoost (and 37% gets AWD). The Flex has about an 11% rate lowest of the four.
So, it appears that EcoBoost is well on its way to being a success even in these tough economic times. In each vehicle line, with the possible exception of Flex, the installation rate is healthy for a performance option. It will be interesting to see what the mix is of EcoBoost engines as Ford continues to roll the technology across its vehicle lines.


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Lincoln MKT – VehicleVoice Best of Show

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Best of Show
You always go to an autoshow with the hope that there will be a truly outstanding example there. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific’s eight staffers at the 2008 North American International Auto Show were extremely impressed with the Lincoln MKT concept vehicle.

Lincoln MKT SV.jpg

A vehicle we will call a Crossover SUV, the MKT is in many ways similar to General Motors Lambda Crossover SUVs and especially the Buick Enclave. The thing that makes MKT special is its exterior styling which uses all six Lincoln design cues (although they say seven at the show, Peter Horbury, Ford’s head designer in North America says he only really uses six) which are critical to the definition of a Lincoln design. Wow, this thing is beautiful. From the bow wave grille to the relatively fast rear end treatment, MKT comes across as a premium, substantial vehicle worthy of carrying the Lincoln badge.
Lincoln MKT F34.jpg

Lincoln MKT R34.jpg

Not only is the exterior stunning, the interior carries on new Lincoln cues which are very upscale, contemporary and modern. A four passenger concept with no pretense at transporting seven passengers, the MKT is decked out like a luxury business jet.
Lincoln MKT Driver's Area.jpg

Lincoln MKT Driver's Door.jpg

Lincoln MKT Cargo Area.jpg

Only Thing Wrong… The Name
A few years back, Ford made the unfortunate error of renaming Lincoln vehicles with alphanumeric names – MKZ (Zephyr), MKX (Aviator), MKS (Continental), and now MKT. Another great concept is the MKR flagship sedan. Better with a real name. Only the Navigator and Town Car have not succumbed to this folly. I guess MKT means Lincoln “Truck”. No, it’s really “Touring”… guess that fits better. Well, MKT certainly ain’t no truck. It’s really special and deserves better… a name.
[Even Mark Fields, Ford’s President of North American Operations, botched up the name of the MKS when he introduced it at the Los Angeles Auto Show. He first said “MKX”. If Ford’s biggies can’t keep ’em straight, think about salespeople at Lincoln dealerships and prospective buyers].
2009 Ford Flex Crossover SUV is Base for MKT
Based on Ford Flex (Ford Crossover SUV to be launched in mid-2008) underpinnings, MKT is powered by Ford’s 3.5L Twin Turbo GDI EcoBoost V6. This should give it enough punch to qualify as a high performance Crossover. In the MKT the 3.5L V6 has 415-horsepower and 400 pound feet of torque.
Only A Concept – Get them to Build It
In discussions with Ford design management, there was no confirmation that the MKT – codenamed D472 – has been approved for production. In fact, the designers contend that the MKT design has not even been proven feasible. The front fenders and rear quarters have a very crisp blade on the upper surface that would be practically impossible to stamp out of metal. MKT uses plastic to get around that particular problem.
In any event, write, email, telephone Ford to convince them to produce the MKT. If they give the vehicle the go ahead, we could expect to see it in 2010 as a 2011 model year vehicle.
Lincoln MKT .jpg

Ford’s press release on the Lincoln MKT Concept is below the fold.
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