Lincoln Becomes SUV Only - Continental Axed

Rydo

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As the thread title states, Lincoln a few days ago announced that 2020 would be the last model year for Continental in the USA, with 2021 being the last for China.

With that, Lincoln stops producing sedans as the MKZ was already killed off a while back.

Whilst there are plenty that say the Continental was a big disappointment and did not live up to the hype of the concept and a name like Continental - I feel like a lot of that stems from the usual motoring journalists who find it hard to get excited over anything that isn't 90 squillion horsepower and German.

The truth of the matter is that Continental in Black Label trim, Rhapsody Blue exterior and interior is almost indistinguishable from the concept and is a fantastic vehicle for what it set out to do - be a comfortable luxury mile-eater.

So, good-bye Continental, and goodbye Lincoln as a reputable luxury brand - sorry - SUVs only is a pathetic state of affairs - no matter how you want to try and spin it as being the only way in this day and age. Mercedes et al sell plenty of sedans, so that's just a pathetic excuse.

Let's not hope that Lexus take note...GS is dead and IS is looking ropey.

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Levi

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I feel like a lot of that stems from the usual motoring journalists who find it hard to get excited over anything that isn't 90 squillion horsepower and German.
Customer talks about how nothing is better than an M8 GranCoupe Competition with its 625 PS. Goes to BMW dealer, walks out with a 316i, says how it is the best car ever.
 
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mmcartalk

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Good post, Rydo. I agree with much of what you say. Part of it is that the American public, despite evidence to the contrary, simply refuses to believe that large American sedans are a credible alternative to their European and Asian counterparts. And, another, perhaps more important part, is simply the rise of the truck/SUV/crossover market in general. Today's American buyers usually want something more utile and flexible than a sedan.
 

Sulu

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I am wondering if this newest Lincoln Continental was an attempt that was too-little-too-late or if it was the right vehicle at the wrong time.

What I saw in this Continental model, that I also see in the newest Lincolns (which all just happen to be sport- and crossover-utility vehicles), was a certain elegant -- yet uniquely-American -- boldness in its styling. I am thinking that the Continental, being the first Lincoln vehicle with this styling language, was not bold enough and then it came out just as American drivers were turning away from sedans. What if it had been a little bolder or if it had been introduced a year earlier, giving it more time to establish itself in the market.

I see a parallel with Cadillac here. The Cadillac Escalade sells and I believe it sells because it has this uniquely-American boldness; yet Cadillac sedans do not (neither bold enough nor uniquely-American enough), perhaps because they are trying too hard to take on the Germans (trying too hard to be what the auto critics believe will sell), but do not have the American styling that the Escalade has always had and the new Lincolns now have.

I hope that Lincoln's new styling language sells; and I hope that Cadillac finds what will sell so that it will finally stop chasing its own tail.
 

Ian Schmidt

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I see a parallel with Cadillac here. The Cadillac Escalade sells and I believe it sells because it has this uniquely-American boldness; yet Cadillac sedans do not (neither bold enough nor uniquely-American enough), perhaps because they are trying too hard to take on the Germans (trying too hard to be what the auto critics believe will sell), but do not have the American styling that the Escalade has always had and the new Lincolns now have.
I agree, but I think the Escalade's boldness is actually not intended by Cadillac; it comes mostly from the similarities to the Tahoe/Suburban, which remain pretty truck-like.
 

mmcartalk

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I agree, but I think the Escalade's boldness is actually not intended by Cadillac; it comes mostly from the similarities to the Tahoe/Suburban, which remain pretty truck-like.

You're probably already aware of this, but if not, the Tahoe/Suburban and all of the full-size GM SUVs are switching to a less truck-like IRS. The Expedition and Navigator did a number of years ago.
 

Ian Schmidt

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You're probably already aware of this, but if not, the Tahoe/Suburban and all of the full-size GM SUVs are switching to a less truck-like IRS. The Expedition and Navigator did a number of years ago.
Right, and GM should've done that a while ago. I meant more the styling.
 

mmcartalk

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Right, and GM should've done that a while ago.

You have a perfectly legitimate view here (I won't disagree with you). But, in my experience, especially on large trucks/SUVs, there usually isn't that much difference between live/beam-rear axles and IRS in actual road manners. The ride/handling advantages of IRS are sometimes exaggerated, and a live axle is usually more durable for towing heavy loads.
 

Ian Schmidt

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I don't disagree. IRS vs. live-axle is likely more of a thing for car reviewers than it is for buyers on BOF vehicles. But at some point you might as well address it since the competition's doing it. And I doubt most Escalade/Tahoe/Suburban owners tow anything.
 

Sulu

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I agree, but I think the Escalade's boldness is actually not intended by Cadillac; it comes mostly from the similarities to the Tahoe/Suburban, which remain pretty truck-like.
I don't disagree. The Escalade's unintentional boldness of design tells me that Cadillac is still looking for its magic, that which makes their vehicles Cadillacs rather than dressed-up Chevys. Their new crossovers, while handsome, look rather generic to me.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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You have a perfectly legitimate view here (I won't disagree with you). But, in my experience, especially on large trucks/SUVs, there usually isn't that much difference between live/beam-rear axles and IRS in actual road manners. The ride/handling advantages of IRS are sometimes exaggerated, and a live axle is usually more durable for towing heavy loads.
I don't disagree. IRS vs. live-axle is likely more of a thing for car reviewers than it is for buyers on BOF vehicles. But at some point you might as well address it since the competition's doing it. And I doubt most Escalade/Tahoe/Suburban owners tow anything.
Agreed with all those points, but there's also, I think, one more factor at play: an independent rear suspension on an SUV allows for slightly more ample and comfortable 3rd-row seating and a bit more cargo room.
 

Ian Schmidt

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I don't disagree. The Escalade's unintentional boldness of design tells me that Cadillac is still looking for its magic, that which makes their vehicles Cadillacs rather than dressed-up Chevys. Their new crossovers, while handsome, look rather generic to me.
Exactly. If the Escalade's design was real Caddy, they'd make other vehicles that look like it. And they can't do that because then everything would have Chevy styling cues.

I liked the stealth fighter "Art & Science" design language when it first came out, but it hasn't evolved into a cohesive "that's a Cadillac!" look the way Lexus' designs largely have.
 

mmcartalk

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Agreed with all those points, but there's also, I think, one more factor at play: an independent rear suspension on an SUV allows for slightly more ample and comfortable 3rd-row seating and a bit more cargo room.

Yes, depending on the design of the suspension, the amount of ground-clearance, cargo-floor height, and clearance for the bulky differential, that is sometimes the case. Thanks for bringing that up. 🙂
 

mikeavelli

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I remember going to a Continental debut event in Miami and while it was very nice to me, I felt the price was too much as it not being RWD. It also wasn't as roomy as it looked. I had a friend who bought one who thought it was RWD and was stunned to know it wasn't. The suicide doors should have been standard, that alone would have helped sales. It should not have been a special edition.

To this day, when people say they want a Continental, they mean the one from the 1960s. Imagine 40-50 years passing and you haven't build a desirable product people want. Decades have passed with nothing. They finally fixed the SUV's and gave up on cars.

SUV only or led lineups are meh to me as well. I understand the business case but how about put better effort into the sedans.

Sad.
 

Carmaker1

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Let me preface this by saying, there were a lot of grand plans for Lincoln under Mark Fields through 2023. Majority of lineup would be rear-wheel drive and not front wheel drive. He's gone now of course.

That car really wasn't supposed to be a Continental, it was only that in name and some added glitz.

In 2008, Lincoln introduced an all-new 2009 MKS sedan as the flagship offering going forward.
  • MKS was based on the Ford mid large FWD D3 architecture.
    • D3 was based on Volvo P2, introduced on Volvo S80 in 1998, which replaced RWD S90/900-Series

    • Developed from 2003 and was launched in June 2008, as an indirect replacement for both 2002 Continental and 2011 Lincoln Town Car.

    • Was facelifted in 2012, for '13.

D544 codename Lincoln began development in 2010 as the 2016 MKS.
  • New Mid-Large FWD CD4 platform would be the basis, debuting on 2013 Fusion (CD391) in 2012.
  • Would share stretched platform basis with D568 Taurus, in parallel development for MY 2016.
    • In early 2013, the redesigned 2016 Taurus was rejected in design clinics. Development immediately ceased for USDM. Development in Melbourne continued, production began in China in November 2015

    • Vehicle went on sale in China in January 2016 and other territories followed.
  • Mark Fields takes over Ford in 2014 as CEO and David Woodhouse as head of Lincoln design from Australian Max Wolff.
    • Mark Fields earmarks over $5 billion (£3,126,000,000); (€3,993,000,000) to invest in Lincoln upon his ascension to top office. Including an all-new CD6 rear wheel drive modular unibody architecture that could support FWD/AWD/4WD as well.
      • Prior to that, CEO Alan Mulally only invested roughly $500,000,000 or less, mostly during early 2010s in Lincoln.
    • Ordered development of an all-new rear wheel drive flagship Lexus LS competitor for July 2020 start of production, under model code CD714 for MY 2021. Nicknamed Town Car internally.
    • Orders changes in 2014 to upcoming D544 MKS and undoes design freeze to jazz up the car a bit. Delays redesign until September 2016 as 2017MY, now Continental.
      • Continental Concept is developed in the fall of 2014 for New York International Auto Show in April 2015
    • Ordered new rear wheel drive compact sedan CD622 as MKZ replacement, called 2021 Zephyr. This iteration of CD6 would be very closely aligned with the all-new 2021 Mustang. Job 1 date was January 2, 2020.
    • Increased investment in T3 utility SUVs.
    • Ordered top-down rethought of Lincoln brand for facelifted vehicles and ditching of nomenclature for model names.
    • Demanded that next generation Explorer (U625) and Lincoln crossover (U611) to be rear-wheel drive. Hint of this leaked to one website in 2014, which was discarded as fake news. Turned out to be very true.
    • Ordered in 2015, an all new Mustang for 2021 model year under model code S650. The first fully ground-up redesign since October 2004. Job 1 would eventually be earmarked for December 2020.
    • Ordered all new Ford Bronco (U725) for Labor Day 2020 launch and Generation Y crossover CX430 (now Bronco Sport), as well as return of Ford Ranger to the United States as a stopgap (P375N), Ranger Raptor, and green-lighted P703 Ranger redesign for 2021.
As you can see many things happened under the previous Ford CEO, even if Mr. Hackett is currently doing his best to put out exciting products. Truthfully a lot of those ideas started under Mark Fields, who wanted Lincoln to be the standard of luxury by 2020.

Unfortunately a change in regime, in May 2017, resulted in the biggest culling of models in years. New Town Car aluminum monocoque flagship was shuttered, as well as all new Mustang for 2021, new Zephyr, and Continental facelift in 2020. Not to mention several new Ford sedans as well.

The demise of this Continental goes far beyond the model itself and what's happening at Ford and industry in general.

By now you would have seen a perfunctory translation of the Lincoln Aviator and Navigator in sedan form in showrooms this fall, better than what Cadillac put out as the CT6.

New 2021 Zephyr as the sole sporty Lincoln and plans for a 2024 rear-wheel-drive Continental as the midsize offering following FWD D544 facelift.

All new 2021 Mustang with all the bells and whistles, all-wheel drive capability and hybrid to beat new Camaro.

Thanks to all the impartial noise making about ICE and of course Tesla's vast success, coupled with troubled stock price and CUV craze, many of those ambitious projects were cancelled or indefinitely delays in favour of BEVs, CUVs, and turning CX727 BEV compliance car into Mustang Mach E.

As a result, next to no CD6 vehicles were going to come to market by 2020. Serious cost-cutting had to be done with Explorer to offset the expenses being incurred for the new modular architecture, as well as Aviator.

This included skipping pilot processes, which resulted in the horrible snafus of manufacturing during 2019 at Chicago Plant.

Hopefully you can take from this that Lexus is not too different in a sense, where most of the money is going towards either SUVs or mainstream brand products.

The Continental would have lived on if a facelift was approved for 2021, ahead of model year 2024 CD6 redesign in mid 2023.

2021 Town Car vs LS
2024 Continental vs GS
2021 Zephyr vs IS

I have only written what I can legally state publicly without fear of prosecution or termination.
 
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Ian Schmidt

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Wow. I want a time machine to go to the alternate dimension where that full slate of Mark Fields vehicles ships. A Lincoln that targeted the LS with the same kind of care and detail the Bronco got targeting the Wrangler could've been amazing.
 

Carmaker1

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20200710_154621.jpg20200710_153915.jpg Some earlier product plans and manufacturing timelines I provided a relation recently.

Some of these plans are still underway and prove that the Bronco was never going to be a 2021 model.
 

Carmaker1

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Wow. I want a time machine to go to the alternate dimension where that full slate of Mark Fields vehicles ships. A Lincoln that targeted the LS with the same kind of care and detail the Bronco got targeting the Wrangler could've been amazing.
It's unfortunate that he had to go, but Ford stock price was suffering and he was neglecting to update mainstream vehicles in favor of high-priced Lincolns and sporty Fords.

His apparent rejection of the EV revolution cost him.
 
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