Source: teucy.com – 2016 Lincoln MKS
Source: Lincoln.com – 2017 Lincoln Continental
The Lincoln MKS luxury sedan has not been an overwhelming success. Year to date through November 2016, the MKS sold less than 5,000 units. Lincoln dealers must be breathing a sigh of relief as its replacement, the all-new 2017 Lincoln Continental, arrives at their dealerships. Already in 2016, the Continental has sold almost 3,500 units. The Continental is also out-selling the all-new 2017 Cadillac CT6. While the early sales results are promising, let’s see if the new Continental is an improvement over its predecessor.
Each year, AutoPacific surveys new car and light truck buyers to determine what changes they want in their vehicle. It is particularly interesting to compare the changes that owners want to their vehicle when it is just about to be replaced by the next generation. In this case we will compare the 2016 Lincoln MKS with the MKS’ competitive set (Cadillac XTS, BMW 5-Series, Acura RLX, Audi A6, etc. – $50,000 to $70,000 mid-size luxury sedans). We will also provide AutoPacific’s evaluation of how much the 2017 Lincoln Continental will move the needle.
It becomes immediately obvious, however, that the owners of the MKS are much more traditional in their desires than the likely buyers of the all-new Continental. Compared with the competitive set, MKS owners are ten years older, less likely to be college educated and earn $50,000 less. About 76% of MKS owners are retired compared with 38% of the competitive set.
AutoPacific’s research shows that over 20% of MKS owners want more safety features (40%), technology that is easier to use (36%), better driver’s seat visibility (36%), more distinctive styling (34%), better ease of getting in and out (31%), improved roominess (27%) and better driver’s seat comfort (23%). AutoPacific’s assessment of the all-new 2017 Lincoln Continental is that the new car will substantially improve the results for the car over the MKS. We predict that the owners of the 2017 Lincoln Continental will be a very satisfied bunch.
Here are the results of the major areas MKS owners want improved and our take on Continental compared with the outgoing MKS and its competitive set:
Source: AutoPacific – Changes Owners Want to 2016 Lincoln MKS
Safety Features: 40% of MKS owners want more safety features than now compared for 27% of the competitive set. The outgoing car has blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist available in an expensive technology package. The 2017 Lincoln Continental has the totally modern driver assistance suite available as well, but the features are more seamless in the new car and are available as a $3,100 Technology Package on the $54,000 Reserve model. This package includes: 360-degree camera, Active park assist, Lane-Keeping System, Lane-Keeping alert, Lane-Keeping aid, Driver Alert System, Adaptive cruise control, Pre-Collision assist with Pedestrian Detection, Collision warning, Brake support, Active braking, Auto-dimming rearview mirror, Rain-sensing wipers and Windshield wiper de-icer. Unfortunately, the totally cool LED headlamps are only available as part of a $5,000 Luxury Package that also includes the $1,130 REVEL sound system. Egads! Does this mean the LED headlamps are $3,870?
Technology: As with many vehicles these days, technology is a love it/hate it affair. Compared with the competitive set, the older Lincoln MKS buyer is much more likely to want technology that is easier to use (36% compared with 18%). The MKS uses Lincoln’s much-maligned MyLincoln Touch infotainment system that was glitchy and difficult to use. The 2017 Lincoln Continental uses the new Sync 3 system that is much easier to use and has includes Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. The new system is much more intuitive, faster, and seems more stable. We wish Lincoln had adopted a larger center stack screen mounted higher in the center of the vehicle. Also, the gray tones Lincoln uses in its graphics are difficult to see because the contrast is subtle. It would be much more satisfying if more vivid colors were used.
The Continental’s instrument cluster is reconfigurable and can provide an overwhelming amount of information or a very simple amount of data. AutoPacific’s complaint with the instrument cluster is that it cannot be made bright enough to see clearly on days with heavy sun loads.
Driver’s Seat Visibility: About 36% of MKS owners want better driver’s seat visibility compared with 22% for the competitive set. The 2017 Lincoln Continental has good forward visibility, but the visibility to the sides is restricted by the high passenger seat back and headrest and the rear sail panel. The backlite is relatively high and rear seat headrests restrict visibility. The Continental is likely competitive, but not better than its competitors.
Styling: About a third of MKS owners want more distinctive styling. Only about 20% of the competitive set want more distinctive styling. While some criticize the 2017 Lincoln Continental as looking too much like the Bentley Flying Spur, the Lincoln certainly has more presence than its predecessor. We believe the 2017 Continental will be judged as distinctive or more distinctive than its facing competition in next year’s research.
Ease of Getting In and Out: As a person gets older flexibility becomes a challenge. About 31% of the older MKS buyers want the car to be easier to get in and out of. This compares with 23% of the competitive set. The new 2017 Lincoln Continental has a very fast A-Pillar which could interfere with head clearance when getting into the vehicle. The A-Pillar is pushed forward enough that this should not be a problem with the new car. Continental is at least on a par with its competitive set.
Roominess: About 27% of MKS owners want more passenger roominess compared with 22% of the competitive set. The 2017 Lincoln Continental has a very spacious seating package. Its rear seat is very luxurious and accommodating especially with the $4,300 Rear Seat Package. Since Lincoln is making a concerted effort to sell the Continental in China where it likely will be driven by a chauffeur instead of the owner, the Rear Seat Package is very important. Cosseting the Chinese CEO in the rear seat is what this package is designed to do. Overall, the 2017 Lincoln Continental is more than competitive in terms of passenger roominess.
Driver’s Seat Comfort: About 23% of MKS owners want a more relaxed driver’s seat compared with 10% of the competitive set. The 2017 Lincoln Continental evaluated by AutoPacific had Lincoln’s 30-way power seats. Like many features with multiple adjustments, you can adjust it to any position but great. Several AutoPacific staffers loved the adjustability of the seats and especially the adjustable left and right leg thigh support. Starting with the default position may be result in the best overall seat feel. The new Continental’s seat firmness may be a bit too stiff for the traditional Lincoln buyer.
Engine Power: While MKS owners do not particularly want more power or better fuel economy, the 2017 Lincoln Continental is available with powertrain selections that would satisfy almost any type of driver. The base engine is a 305-horsepower 3.7L double overhead cam V6. The mid-level engine is a 335-horsepower 2.7L turbo V6. The top engine is a 400-horsepower 3.0L twin turbo V6. For a company that used to provide only one engine per vehicle, the choices offered are excellent. Driving the all-wheel drive 400-horsepower Continental can be an exhilarating experience.
The present big car in the Lincoln lineup is the MKS. The MKS is the top scoring Executive Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. These are outstanding results in a product segment that includes some very impressive competitors like the second place Acura RLX, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS Sedan, Audi A6, Cadillac XTS, Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF and the Infiniti Q70 (Infiniti M using Infiniti’s old naming scheme).
In achieving this level of satisfaction, the 2014 Lincoln MKS wins or ties in eleven of fifty attributes. The MKS is within one tenth of a rating point in another fourteen attributes. So, for fully half of the satisfaction measurements, MKS is at the top.
The top ten highest ratings by MKS owners are: feeling safe while driving, safety features and ratings, the perception of reliability and durability, braking, the reputation of the Lincoln brand and the MKS, overall quality and handling.
We recently spent a few days with a Lincoln MKS equipped with EcoBoost and its host of technology features. Not industry firsts, Lincoln’s execution is impressive. From headlights that adjust high- or low-beam spread based on conditions to adaptive cruise control and parallel parking assist, these systems work smoothly and confidently. As systems like these tend to get better quickly after their first automotive application, Lincoln should still be commended for putting together a comprehensive and usable package.
If you’re driving the MKS EcoBoost, you have a willing and comfortable partner in a stylish package (assuming you’re a fan of the chrome-laden signature grille, of course); the 355HP powertrain moves the 4300-pound vehicle along briskly. Not only heavy, MKS is big, and feels it. Looking at its specs on paper tells you that, standing next to it tells you that, and driving it reminds you of it all the time. MKS is relatively nimble, but this is not one of those big-but-drives-small kind of cars, a trait perfectly appropriate for what is functionally a modern Town Car. The MKS driving dynamics seem pretty spot on. There’s power, comfort, a compliant but not overly soft ride, and plenty of technology to make being in it as easy as possible. I can’t say sporting. This is not a sports sedan, but offers grace and presence, with the muscle to back it up.
MKS is sized between an Audi A6 and A8, BMW 5-Series and 7-Series, and Mercedes E- and S-Classes, and slightly bigger than the Cadillac STS. Our EcoBoost could boast a nearly $57,000 price tag. While a healthy number, to be sure, in context of the amenities, style, and power offered, the price seems quite reasonable.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice just drove the all new Lincoln MKS in Washington DC and rural Virginia. We were the third of three waves of journalists and analysts to evaluate the MKS, but our wave had the added advantage of driving through a microburst of wind, thunder and lightning that tested the car’s systems from its all wheel drive, rain-sensing windshield wipers and latest generation SIRIUS Travel Link system. So the first two waves drove the cars in perfect weather and we got the best of it – a challenge.
New Lincoln Design Cues Begin Appearing on MKS
Competes With Executive Luxury Products
The Lincoln MKS is a contemporary luxury car positioned against the Cadillac STS V6 and Lexus GS350. Other competitors Lincoln identifies are the Acura RL, Infiniti M35, and up-level Cadillac CTS. There was even mention of Nissan Maxima and Hyundai Genesis. The MKS is actually longer than the BMW 750Li and competes well in interior spaciousness even with the long wheelbase competition (BMW 750Li and Lexus LS460 L). Lincoln won’t have to apologize for the car being a “little Lincoln”… it is full sized.
Against its STS and GS competition, Lincoln has a good value story being base-priced thousands less and including gobs of standard equipment. In fact, loading up an MKS to the specs I would personally choose yields a price point of about $43,000 for the AWD version.
Styling is not particularly head-turning, but Ford’s stylists were able to push the design envelope a bit further than when the MKS was first seen at auto shows about 18-months ago. Since then, Ford Design has developed a palette of Lincoln DNA design cues that were rushed into production on the MKS. The result is an MKS style that incorporates Lincoln’s new bow wave grille, simple bodyside sculpturing and a kickup over the rear wheels in the rear quarter panel. There is a large Lincoln star placed on the rear surface of the front fender – a cue we will be seeing on future Lincolns. The rear end has LED taillamps distinguished by hockeystick shaped backup lamps on the inboard surface. A cue we particularly like – borrowed from the BMW 750Li and Infiniti M are the fore-to-aft bright inserts in the roof panel. Nice touch. The MKS can be had with large 20-inch tires and wheels that really fill the wheel openings but don’t deteriorate ride quality.
On Monday, November 6 Ford gave Detroit-area journalists a glimpse of the 2009 Lincoln MKS Mid-Luxury Car. We had reviewed the concept of the MKS previously in VehicleVoice and found the car lacking. In its first incarnation, the MKS came across as a JapoEuro design exercise without much American flair. It was bigger than it looked and that is not necessarily a good thing. Given the somewhat lukewarm reception that the MKS concept received, especially in light of the very positive reception of the MKR Concept at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, Ford’s product development team went to work on upgrading the MKS in subtle ways.
Production MKS Execution Now Has Presence
The production MKS now has the presence and ambiance that it should have had all along. The former blandonymous grille has been replaced by Lincoln’s new double wing face grille. There is a Lincoln logo mounted in the space between the grille wings. Character lines are crisper. The taillights are reminiscent of Maserati European taillights of a few years ago… with backup lights mimicking the boomerang effect of the Maserati pieces.
The interior is very upscale and continues Lincoln’s interior themes first seen on the Navigator, MKX and MKZ. Ergonomics appear to be excellent, but this is characteristic of Ford’s large entries produced at their Chicago Assembly Plant (Taurus/Five Hundred, Taurus X/Freestyle, Sable/Montego).
But… a “Flagship” It’s Not – Four Reasons
Ford describes the MKS as its “Flagship”. While it will be its newest passenger car entry, the venerable Town Car is Lincoln’s Flagship until Ford simply cannot justify continuing the Panther lineup (Crown Victoria – now fleet only, Grand Marquis, Town Car) produced at Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario assembly plant. But, with such a high percentage of Town Car sales to the fleet and executive car business, maybe Ford is not counting Town Car any more.
Another reason we don’t buy into MKS as a flagship is the MKR concept shown at last year’s Detroit show. A wow piece if ever there was one, the MKR showcased all of the Lincoln design cues in one place. A stunning piece of work! Now, if they would produce the MKR on a RWD V8 platform, I’d buy it.
The MKS is V6 only. In the beginning, the MKS program included the 4.4L V8 found in the Volvo XC90 and S80. This Yamaha-built unit is terrifically expensive and I guess Ford decided not to pony up to add it to the MKS. Mistake.
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific have conducted several research projects on what makes an ideal $50,000 luxury car and the evidence is very clear that a V8 engine in the lineup is the price of entry for a car in this class. The V8 does not have to be standard, but it needs to be offered. Sure it may be a low installation rate – especially with $3.00 per gallon gasoline, but the image halo of a V8 is indisputable. Having a twin turbo direct injection V6 gives MKS some performance panache, but there is no replacement for numbers of cylinders and displacement.
You will be able to get into a base MKS for less than $38,000. This is not flagship pricing. Clearly, Ford is leaving room at the top of the heap for a premium priced flagship with the specifications necessary to really command price points over $50,000.
Let’s not forget Reason Five
: Nomenclature. Hopefully, once Jim Farley gets his feet on the ground he will review Lincoln’s present nomenclature plan and scrap it. Not clean or easy, but having Lincoln’s with alphanumeric nomenclature is folly. Go back to names!
Ford’s press release for the MKS is shown below the fold.
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Ford has all but guaranteed the demise of its luxury Lincoln brand through a series of strategy, marketing and product blunders not recently seen in the American car industry. In effect, Ford has forced Lincoln’s suicide. While we would like to write the epitaph now, Lincoln’s death seems like a long, slow, painful trauma that will provide fodder for the business press for the next decade. VehicleVoice counts the various ways Lincoln has been killing itself over the past couple of years.
Lincoln Shoots Itself in the Stomach by Cancelling V8 engine on 2009 Lincoln MKS (pronounced Em Kay Ess, not Mark S): This guarantees Lincoln will no longer be a luxury brand but a premium brand like Acura or Buick. Maybe the MKS will be an OK car, but with AWD and only a 260-plus horsepower V6 it can, at best, be an “almost-Acura-RL” which is off-concept at best. Even rumors of a range topping Twin-Turbo V6 with well over 300 horsepower will not offset the lack of the needed V8.
Lincoln Shoots Itself in the Shoulder by Cancelling the Lincoln Town Car: The Lincoln Town Car has not pretended to be at the top of the luxury car heap for decades, but with few improvements over the years, Town Car devolved into the Executive Car loved by livery buyers. Few Town Car sales were for personal use. So Ford allowed the Town Car to deteriorate from any Luxury Car pretenses it may have had, and become a luxurious black taxi driven by cabbies with ties. Just think what Ford could have achieved if they had implemented a major major change on the rear wheel drive Panther platform. New Town Car, New Grand Marquis, New Crown Vic… all built in Canada. Now, put in the 300HP 4.6L V8 and you could have a something to talk about
The Madness at Lincoln Continues.
Over that last two and a half months, Ford Motor Company has been misrepresenting its new naming strategy for future Lincolns. At an early reveal of the Lincoln MKS, Ford’s North American Supremo Peter Horbury called the car the “Mark Ess.” Yet at the Detroit autoshow a couple of weeks later, the model was verbally referred to as the “Em-kay-ess” by Ford management and P.R. types. Concurrently the Aviator replacing crossover utility was called the “Em-kay-ecks.” That’s MKX in badgespeak.
At the Chicago show this week, Lincoln unveiled a lightly restyled and reengineered Zephyr that will be called the MKZ. In the press release materials for the successor to the Zephyr, the car is identified as the “Mark Zee.” C’mon guys, make up you minds.
Lincoln has devised a new nomenclature system for all future models. The company that originally brought us Continental, Capri, Premier, Lido and Zephyr has decided to move to a new, apparently consultant savant-based, alphanumeric naming standard. So the just released new Lincolns like the Lincoln Mark LT luxury pickup and Lincoln Zephyr already violate the new strategy.
VehicleVoice correspondent and head of AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis operations weighs in with his opinion on Lincoln’s new naming scheme.Jim Hall
Lincoln Goes Alphanumeric Crazy – MKX, MKS
The first production vehicle to use the new methodology is the crossover successor to the unappreciated Aviator. It will be called the MKX. As in “em-kay-ecks.” Some folks are calling it the “Mark Ecks.” Which is right?
A new all-wheel-drive sedan near-flagship to debut late in 2007 will be called the MKS (em-kay-ess). As I’ve previously said, there’s no such thing as a bad name for a good vehicle as long as you stop short of calling a product the Monkey Pus V100.
Will the Zephyr Be Renamed MKZ?
The MKn theme will continue to be rolled out when the recently introduced Zephyr receives some major revisions for the 2008 model including a more powerful 3.5L engine, all-wheel-drive and significant sheetmetal changes up front. When this happens, you can expect the Zephyr nameplate to be once again filed away in the dead badge cabinet for another decade or two and the entry model to wear some manner of MK moniker (MKZ?) on its trunklid. With the Zephyr on sale for a scant two model years, the rebadging is unlikely to cause any significant hiccoughs beyond some incremental marketing costs to establish the car’s new handle.
The Lincoln MKS Concept shown at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit will likely be added to the Lincoln lineup in 2007 as a 2008 model year vehicle. Attending an early December 2005 review of Ford auto show concept cars in Dearborn, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific analysts were struck by the Japanese and European ambiance of the car. The MKS has the presence of an Acura TL with some styling cues from Chris Bangle’s BMWs.
The MK S is another derivative of the Volvo S80 platform which is also shared with the Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego and Ford Freestyle. The MK S is all wheel drive and uses the Yamaha-Volvo 315HP 4.4L V8 engine found in the Volvo XC90 luxury sport utility vehicle. The MK S is deceivingly large with an 114-inch wheelbase and 204-inch overall length making it slightly larger than the Ford Five Hundred and substantially larger than the Acura range-topper, the RL. It is about the same overall length as the long wheelbase BMW 7-Series, but with a much shorter wheelbase.
While some of our staff would prefer for Lincoln to go the route of Cadillac with rear wheel drive platforms, the MK S appears to have the presence and credibilty to replace the Lincoln LS Executive Luxury Entry.
Now, the next question… what will the replacement for the venerable Lincoln Town Car look like and how large will it be? Will the next Town Car be the MK T?
Ford’s press release for the MK S is shown below