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Since its founding in 1936, Consumer Reports has become the go-to source for shoppers. From new refrigerators to bottles of wine, Blue-ray players to homeowner’s insurance, if it’s on the market it’s likely the non-profit organization has scientifically tested it. Of course the consumer watchdog is probably most famous for its vehicle reliability ratings.
Courtesy of Eastern European publication AutoForums.cz, we can now report that the upcoming MKZ has little changed from the concept car released at last January’s Detroit Auto Show.
The side-view mirrors got a little bigger, as did the headlights, though most of the styling stayed the same. An interior shot also reveals that much of the concept was accurate to the production model, with scant wood–stlye accents with mostly black and chrome trim throughout.
Smaller alloy wheels also seem to be a part of the production model, though the key feature we’re most curious about isn’t detailed in the shots.
That means we’ll still have to wait until April 4 to find out about the fully-retractable panoramic roof which has been confirmed for the sedan despite few specific details being available. We do know that it will feature 100 spf UV protection to keep occupants from getting sunburned, but we’re still not sure how much it will cost as what we’re assuming will be an option.
Check back during our live coverage for more details on the flagship vehicle of what will be a refreshed Lincoln lineup.
GALLERY: 2013 Lincoln MKZ leaked
Ford knows it will take a lot of work to restore its Lincoln premium brand. Most recently, Ford created an elaborate booth with modern decor for Lincoln at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show only to see the MKZ concept go up in smoke. Furthermore, the Lincoln MKZ concept failed to garner the same level of attention as the parent company’s 2013 Ford Fusion, or its main rival’s new 2013 Cadillac ATS compact sedan.
Ford global sales chief Jim Farley admits, “It will take every ounce of our energy to execute Lincoln in North America.” Apparently, that is exactly what Ford plans to do. Over the next couple of years, Ford will introduce seven important new models for the Lincoln line-up. According to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, he expects the new Lincoln vehicles to be just as great as what Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW have to offer. However, rather than developing a dedicated front-engine, rear-wheel-drive luxury platform, Lincoln will stick to platform sharing with mainstream Ford vehicles.
According to Jim Farley, Lincoln’s success is not only dependent on its products, but is dependent on the improvement of customer service as well. Farley said, “the secret sauce to Lexus was the personal touch.” Ideas and suggestions extended to Lincoln dealers include washing an owner’s Lincoln vehicle after servicing, or putting a rose on the seat when returning a car to its owner after repairs.
Ford admits that customers aren’t very keen on Lincoln and that it will be difficult to target young, financially successful men, which would have been obvious luxury targets. Jim Farley says that Lincoln will go after a different demographic that he calls “the magician.” Magicians are trend-setting early adopters that live along the coasts. These young individuals are more likely to try new, interesting products, regardless of what others think.
When Ford Motors dropped Mercury, the decision proved to be extremely beneficial to the American automaker as it allowed greater focus on Ford products, dialing in quality and image. Time will tell whether Ford can get Lincoln to return to its past glory or whether the once iconic luxury brand will join Mercury in the history books.
[Source: USA Today]
Just as industry analysts and veterans are convinced that the Lincoln brand will share a similar fate to Mercury, Lincoln is determined to prove the naysayers otherwise. According to global product chief of Ford, Derrick Kuzak, Ford promises no fewer than seven new or improved vehicles in the Lincoln lineup by 2014, a mere three years time.
With introductions staggered between 2012 to 2014, Lincoln is scheduled to begin their launch with a restyled Navigator for its 2012 model year. Expect to find the same 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 found in Ford’s F-series line of pickups.
Also in development is a new compact crossover based on Ford’s next generation Ford Escape, which will be based on a Ford Kuga chassis, a product that’s currently a foreign market exclusive. Another compact car is also in talks but it probably won’t be introduced until 2016, if at all.
Next, the Ford Fusion based Lincoln MKZ will be revised for 2013. However, expect to see the MKZ’s introduction to be slightly behind that of the Fusion as Ford Motor Company will focus much of their efforts in refining, and further separating, Lincolns with a more upscale interior.
The larger MKS sedan is expected to receive a facelift for 2013 as well. Cosmetic enhancements include a freshened grill and side in order to achieve a more streamlined appearance. Moreover, the MKS may also be available with an efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine expected in the Taurus at the same time.
As far as Lincoln’s current crossovers are concerned, the big daddy MKT will get new grill and taillight treatments, not to mention a gussied up interior. And finally, don’t expect a redesign for the midsize crossover MKX until 2014.
Although it remains to be seen whether these efforts would place Lincoln back on the map, it is a positive sign to see Ford Motor Company at least try.
GALLERY: Lincoln Line-up