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Report: Ford angering Lincoln dealers with controversial stair-step incentives

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Ford resorts to stair-step incentive program to spur sales of select Lincoln models in Washington and New York.

Lincoln is having a rough year, but at least its sales volume increased 0.63 percent in August 2013 compared to the same time last year. To spur sales of its luxury brand, parent company Ford is resorting to a stair-step incentive program in Washington and New York through September 30, says The Detroit News. According to the report, this type of of program is unpopular with dealerships because, as Don Chalmers, owner of Ford and Lincoln dealerships in New Mexico, says, “They’re confusing to the market, they’re not necessarily good for customer satisfaction, and when you see a burst of sales at the end of a stair-step program, there’s always a payback. Right after that, the sales dip.”

To be clear, a stair-step program is one in which incentives are provided to dealers based on number of sales. The bonuses usually come in tiers – $500 per car for the first ten over the course of the program, $1,000 per car for the next ten, and so on – hence the stair imagery.

They also seem somewhat controversial at Ford, with Ken Czubay, the automaker’s vice president of US marketing, sales and service, reportedly saying Ford doesn’t run stair-step incentive programs and Erich Merkle, a sales analyst, claiming that the program applies only to select Lincolns. 2013 model year MKS, MKX and MKT are the only Lincolns that qualify dealers for the incentives, which are realized as bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 for each unit sold. The more sales thresholds that are passed, the more bonus money the dealer gets for each car.

It’s worth noting that during stair-step programs, discounts are often bigger than usual, and trade-ins can be worth more, so if you’re in the market for a Lincoln and you live in Washington or New York, it’s probably a good time to look for deals.

Ford angering Lincoln dealers with controversial stair-step incentives originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 06 Sep 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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September 6th, 2013

ETC: What will the next Presidential limo look like?

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Lincoln MKT-based presidential limousine rendering

With recent news that the Secret Service has begun soliciting proposals for a new armored limousine, we’ve been wondering what the next presidential limo might look like. The current machine, nicknamed “The Beast,” has a design based on a car that’s no longer sold: the Cadillac DTS. If General Motors gets the job again, which wouldn’t be a surprise considering the government still owns a chunk of the company, the next limo’s shape would likely resemble the new XTS (below, left). But Cadillac hasn’t always been the go-to car company for presidential whips.

Lincoln has actually provided far more presidential limousines throughout history than Cadillac. In fact, the first car modified for Commander-in-Chief-carrying duty was a 1939 Lincoln K-Series called “Sunshine Special” used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the last Lincoln used by a president was a 1989 Town Car ordered for George H.W. Bush. If President Obama wanted a Lincoln today, it would likely be an amalgam of the MKS sedan and MKT crossover, as illustrated above.

Cadillac XTS-based presidential limousine renderingChrysler 300-based presidential limousine rendering

And what about Chrysler? The only record we could find of a President favoring the Pentastar is Nixon, who reportedly ordered two limos from the company during his administration in the ’70s, and then another one, known today as the “K-Car limo,” in the ’80s after he left office. Obama, however, has a personal – if modest – connection to Chryslers, having owned a 300 himself before he took office. A 300-based Beast (above, right) would certainly earn the U.S. some style points.

Of course, we can only speculate about what the next presidential limo will look like, as what’s under the skin is a closely guarded secret by the Secret Service. Like The Beast’s rumored underpinnings, the next limo will probably ride atop a heavy-duty truck chassis, which any of our domestic automakers could easily provide.

What will the next Presidential limo look like? originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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July 25th, 2013

Report: 2013 Ford models hit with trio of recalls, 465k for fire risk

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2013 Ford Fusion - front three-quarter view, silver

According to The Detroit News, Ford is issuing three separate recalls on new 2013 models, one of which affects 465,000 vehicles. That largest recall comes as the result of 600 complaints of fuel leaks, which could lead to a fire risk, the report indicates. Included in the 465k-unit recall are the 2013 Explorer, Flex, Fusion, Taurus and Police Interceptor sedan, as well as the Lincoln MKS, MKT and MKZ.

According to Ford, in a statement obtained by the Detroit News, “The condition could result in customers detecting a fuel odor, or in some cases, observe evidence of a fuel leak on the ground.” Ford continues, “While a fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire, there have been no reports of fires. We are not aware of any accidents or injuries attributed to this condition.”

In addition to all of this, Ford is recalling 500 examples of its 2013 Lincoln MKZ equipped with engine block heaters. The Detroit News states that, according to Ford, the insulation on the engine block heater’s electrical cord may crack in cold temperatures.

Lastly, an extra 23 Ford Fusion models are being recalled due to potential impairment or loss of steering control. The News says this is due to faulty steering gears that may have been built without an internal retaining clip.

Since launching, the 2013 Fusion has been the subject of a number of recalls, two of which have involved the potential for engine fires. The fresh-faced 2013 Lincoln MKZ has had its own share of problems, with early production woes leaving many dealers without cars. Instances like this are causing Ford to rethink its vehicle launch strategy, in which the automaker will work better to smooth out the new car launch process, with the goal being fewer quality issues and recalls.

2013 Ford models hit with trio of recalls, 465k for fire risk originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Jun 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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June 3rd, 2013

Review: 2013 Lincoln MKT

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As a car loving fool who is lucky enough to be an automotive journalist, it should come as no shock that I’ve had my nose in car magazines since I was in grammar school. Growing up, and still today one of my favorite writers is Peter Egan, whose column in Road & Track magazine has been a personal favorite of mine for years. But as East Coast Editor here at The Garage, I had been confounded that no one in my generation had really stepped up and made their mark in the automotive press. That changed when Ezra Dyer joined Automobile and got his own op-ed spot. Dyer is hilarious, and is always a joy to read.

Then Ezra did something really weird. He wrote in Automobile that he bought a Lincoln MKT. It made no sense. This guy is like me-a Generation X New Englander, married, with kid in tow. But really, a Lincoln? So, I had to find out for myself. Ford’s public relations office in New York City informed me a freshly minted 2013 Lincoln MKT was available for my review.

The Lincoln MKT has been around since 2010. Positioned as Lincoln’s top crossover, the MKT shares its mechanicals with the Ford Flex. For 2013 the MKT is treated to a mild refresh, including a revised interior, and new front fascia. To say the MKT has bold styling is a bit of an understatement. The enormous waterfall grill is imposing, and not all that elegant. Taken as a whole, the MKT is one large car-which it needs to be, as it is the successor to the Lincoln Town Car. But apart from the front end treatment, Lincoln kept it simple but classy for a three-row crossover. Finished in Tuxedo Black Metallic, my wife likened the MKT to a hearse. While I wouldn’t be that harsh, the MKT may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you would be a fool to ignore the beauty within.

The cabin of the MKT offers first class seating. The quality of materials, fit and finish and available features are outstanding. If you have been dismissing Lincoln as a tired old luxury automaker, it’s time to wake up and see that Lincoln has finally reawakened and is getting serious about delivering the goods. The MyLincoln touch interface that controls navigation, audio and other functions is a revision over the original, and it seemed to work ok, but there is a bit of a learning curve. Still, there is no denying the MKT offers an extraordinarily comfortable cabin. With second row captain’s chairs, my six year old lorded over the rest of the MKT’s passenger area, loving the plethora of features, storage space, and especially the built-in window shades on the doors. I take home a brand new car every week, but my son declared the MKT was the coolest car ever. Perhaps Ezra was  on to something.

What didn’t hurt as the Dad and driver was what lurked under the hood. Base MKT’s come standard with a 3.7L V-6 rated at 300hp, paired to a six-speed automatic, and is front-wheel drive. Our test car was the MKT EcoBoost, which houses a 3.5L twin turbo V-6, good for 355hp. Also paired to a six-speed automatic, the EcoBoost MKT comes standard with all-wheel drive. For a huge, heavy crossover, the MKT was positively remarkable to drive. On a grey Saturday I whisked my family up to the old city of Waterbury, CT, famous for its clock making industry that is sadly just a memory now. The Lincoln had power to spare on the twisting turns of Route 8 as we made our way through the Valley. The second half of our trip consisted of fun to drive backroads to farmers markets and such, and the big Lincoln felt amazingly nimble, credit its adaptive suspension for great handling.

As a member of the small but growing group of premium three-row crossovers, the Lincoln MKT is priced accordingly. Our all-wheel drive EcoBoost MKT has a standard price of $47,280USD, with an array of standard equipment including power liftgate, leather interior with heated seats for the two front rows, and ventilated seats for the front, three-zone climate control satellite radio and rear view camera. Our test car added the Elite Package (power folding third row seat, blind spot monitoring, navigation, THX audio), Technology Package (Sirius Satellite radio, Sync voice activated systems, adaptive cruise control), second row captain’s chairs, panoramic vista roof, refrigerator console, rear inflatable seatbelts (awkward and uncomfortable) and 20″ polished alloys. Total tally came to $58,045, including delivery. Hardly cheap, but consider the luxury, power and tech you are getting, and suddenly the German competition looks very overpriced.

Now that Ford has finally righted itself, attention is being paid now to Lincoln, which has been a once proud, but neglected luxury brand. The MKT shows me Lincoln is capable of building world class luxury cars that are also fun to drive. Yes, the styling is controversial. But it is bold, and the MKT has the luxury and performance to back it up. While it may not be for everyone, the Lincoln MKT is a premium crossover that deserves a serious look before signing a check for a Buick Enclave or Infiniti JX35. Having driven all three, I prefer the looks of the Infiniti, but from the driver’s seat, the Lincoln is the clear winner.

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October 22nd, 2012

Video: Human vs. Lincoln MKT: Who is better at parallel parking?

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Ezra Dyer vs Lincoln MKT

Auto journalist Ezra Dyer has thrown down the parking gauntlet on the Lincoln MKT in a battle for ultimate supremacy. Dyer fancies himself a fairly skilled parallel parker, and wanted to test his mettle against the self-park feature on the MKT. Armed with a tape measure, a video camera and a healthy distrust of all things mechanical, man squared off against crossover.

How’d it go? Dyer put up a healthy fight by managing to get the Lincoln closer to the curb than the vehicle’s software could manage. Unfortunately, he was also slightly more askew in the spot than the self-park feature. The final score put our inevitable robotic overlords ahead of the human resistance once again.

We’ll admit that we aren’t necessarily fine with notion handing over vehicle control in any situation – parking or otherwise. We’ll still take solace in the fact that the MKT can’t hand brake itself into that same spot. Hit the jump to check out the video, then let us know in Comments how you feel about the proliferation of self-park technology.

Continue reading Human vs. Lincoln MKT: Who is better at parallel parking?

Human vs. Lincoln MKT: Who is better at parallel parking? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Oct 2011 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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October 7th, 2011

Report: Lincoln waving goodbye to the waterfall grille

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Lincoln MKX Grille

Lincoln is moving away from its current grille design, a source tells AutoWeek. Using diplomatic terms, the source says the new design will be less pronounced, which will hopefully translate to “a less disfiguring overbite” in the metal. The MKR-inspired waterfall grille has been applied across the entire line of Lincoln vehicles with varying degrees of success. What works on an MKS makes an MKT resemble a baleen whale.

There’s a pile of cash being thrown at Lincoln right now, and with good reason – the brand sorely needs to differentiate itself from the lineup of parent company Ford if it has any hope of competing in the wider luxury marketplace. The new grille design may show up at the Los Angeles Auto Show on refreshed MKS and MKT models, which are expected to ride atop revised suspensions, redone brakes and updated steering.

Lincoln waving goodbye to the waterfall grille originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Sep 2011 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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September 28th, 2011
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