Sunday, June 26, 2011

I wouldn't test drive a Lincoln for $50

Front of promotional material

At the New York Auto Show last month, I was approached by a Lincoln saleswoman who offered me the chance to earn $50 simply by visiting my local Lincoln dealer and test driving any car. Sounds like a no brainer, right? I did not mind putting my name on their mailing list - the worst thing that could happen is I would get some promotional material in the mail. The $50 offer expired in 1 month. I received this reminder in the mail (click through to see more):

Rear of promotional material
However, as time went on, I could not bring myself to do the deed. As a 24-year-old guy, I simply could not see myself devising a credible story to a Lincoln salesperson to convince them that I would ever buy any of their vehicles. Despite the fact that they are probably desperate to sell cars, even they would laugh at me and probably say "are you kidding me?" Truth be told, if the right deal came along, I would be in the market for a mid-$30k sedan, but with so many more compelling options (M-B C Class, Audi A4, anyone?), I simply cannot understand how Lincoln competes. Lincoln has tried very hard to target younger car buyers, but doesn't seem to have hit the mark yet.

Every weekend when I would have time to visit the closest dealership (which is actually 45 minutes away!), I start going through my opportunity costs, and realize that I would rather:
  • Go for a run
  • Do work
  • Sleep
  • Spend time with friends
  • Take a ride in a more exciting Zipcar (Volvo S40 / BMW 3 Series)
Sad, isn't it?

I realize that Ford recently announced they are spending $1 billion to revive the brand and forcing dealers to spend $1 million each to upgrade dealerships (ouch!) - both of which are fantastic and much needed - but as things stand today, the brand is a collection of neglected, unexciting, has-been, me-too warmed over Fords. And their MK nomenclature is bland and confusing. Going one-by-one:

  • Lincoln MKZ: I love the Ford Fusion - don't get me wrong - but not for $35k. While the Fusion looks edgy and aggressive, the former Zephyr somehow looks boxy and stodgy.

  • Lincoln MKS: mildly attractive, and certainly capable, but very bland. Anything is better than the ancient Town Car, but who wasn't disappointed when they revealed this blobby Taurus cousin?

  • Lincoln MKX: Again, love the Ford Edge, but this looks way to similar to be a legitimate entry into the competitive CUV field. How can this compete with the Audi Q5/Q7, Volvo XC60, MB M Class, and BMW X5? The interior is an upmarket improvement over the Edge, but from the side the cars are identical. Fail.

  • Lincoln MKT: Did someone die? This Ford Flex cousin looks like a hearse. What's with the weird kink between the C and D pillars? Unflattering back end, toothy front end. I also do not understand what segment this wagon competes in...
  • I don't think we need to take up much space for the ancient Navigator or Town Car. These uncompetitive entries are really only sold to fleets at this point (one would hope!)
So, Lincoln has a very long way to go before it will be a credible luxury player amongst younger folks. Let's hope Alan Mulally's success at Ford can spill over to this once-dominant American brand...


  1. Interesting marketing ploy -- offer prospective customers $50 to test drive a car. But is it worth $50 to feel uncomfortable with a salesman trying to get a commission on sales, plus you have to give out all your personal information and probably take up more of your free time than is worth $50. Reality!

  2. This was funny and so true. I didn't think you were going to take the test drive.