I've owned an MGB GT, a Datsun 280Z, a Mustang GT and Mustang Cobra, A BMW 5 series, and three Jaguars (so as not to seem snooty BTW, none of the Jags were new and they cost me thousands in repairs). Okay, admittedly I'm getting a bit long-in-the-tooth after all these years and, previously, Lincoln sort of catered to an older crowd, with comfy, floaty, pseudo-luxury vehicles that were very American, but not really comparable in quality or technology to some of the brands I just mentioned.
It's fair to say that almost every car and truck Ford has out there these days is heads and tails above the vehicles they produced even four years ago. That's one of the reasons they didn't have to take a bailout. A re-dedication to quality and refinement, and better understanding (or aknowledgement) of what customers need and want (two very diferent things) has resulted in some truly outstanding offerings. But while Ford has done a pretty good job differentiating and positioning Ford brands, their marketing of Lincoln is, in my opinion, is a different story.
Now that Mercury is gone, Lincoln alone represents Ford Luxury. But the brand is diluted by the MKZ, a gussied up, barely disguised version of the Ford Fusion, The MKX, a gussied up, barely disguised version of the Ford Edge, and the MKT, a butt-ugly re-interpretation of the Ford Flex (our family also drives a Flex and agrees is outstanding). I won't even mention the Town Car or the Navigator, because Lincoln basically doesn't any more. Don't get me wrong, these are all actually really nice vehicles with beautifully executed interiors... nicer by far than their Ford counterparts. But they are still derivatives of another brand, and that dilutes their unique attributes and appeal.
Cadillacs, on the other hand, have nothing obvious in common with their GM brethren, and therefore don't suffer from the kind of negative comparisons Lincoln gets in the press... a distinct brand advantage.
Despite that, I have to say that the Lincoln MKS is one of the best vehicles I have ever had the pleasure to drive. It's quieter than any of the Jags I've owned, as smooth on the road, and has more technology for the the money packed into it than many of it's rivals. It also has a pretty fantastic interior design; warm, comfy and inviting. On top of that, the "Ecoboost" version of the MKS boasts enough horsepower and 0 to 60 prowess to equal a BMW M5 and many other high performance marques in the luxury sedan category.
So how come I don't get this from their advertising? Lincoln does a good job of touting their technology. But, unlike Cadillac, they do a terrible job of establishing a flagship for the brand. Cadillac promotes performance through the CTS, the gorgeous CTS Coupe, and the truly remarkable CTS V... a rip-snorting, fine-handling race car for the road, tuned on Germany's famed Nurburgring race track. Perfomance can make an entire brand sexy!
As far as I can tell, Lincoln doesn't promote the Ecoboost version of the Lincoln MKS at all (with the exception of their website). And honestly, the word Ecoboost conjures up an engine that runs on corn oil or re-constituted garbage. It hardly embodies a powerplant that can propel the MKS to kick the ass of most cars it will come accross on the average U.S. road. Just like BMW drivers are proud to drive a lesser version of the M5 or M3 perfomance variants, I would be proud to drive a lesser version of the MKS Ecoboost... if only it wasn't called that.
In my opinion, Lincoln has some very good offerings, but some very muddled marketing strategies and advertising. They clearly have the vehicles to tap into a younger market that could help them take the brand back to the top of American luxury choices. As a driver of the MKS, I'm a fan. It is truly a great vehicle. It's not perfect, but it is very good.... fun to drive (paddle shifters rock!), comfortable and solid. Yet it still doesn't have the cachet of a Cadillac, or some of its european and japanese rivals. And that's a shame, because I think it's almost that good. The right marketing should be able to change that.
Make no mistake, I love my Lincoln. I'm astounded that it rivals some of the luxury brands I've driven before. But to get the brand back where it belongs, I believe Lincoln needs to define the MKS Ecoboost as its performance and technology flagship and hang its other offerings under the MKS umbrella. To do that, they need to lose the Ecoboost descriptor. It's boring. And if Lincoln really wants to change it's image, it needs to permanently romove boring from its marketing equation. The same engine is in the Taurus... not the Taurus Ecoboost, the "Taurus SHO", for Super High Output. Now that's sexy. Get with the program Lincoln. 'Cause Lincoln drivers like sexy, too!
That's my opinion. What do you think?