In less than a year, Ford will cease production of the Lincoln Town Car, currently the most popular chauffeured car in the United States. Limousine operators and car services like its combination of high-end appointments and low-tech chassis. But there’s a replacement lined up: the Lincoln MKT.
This may not seem like the most obvious successor. For one thing, it’s a crossover, not a sedan. And there’s nothing subtle about its styling. It also means the demise of the Town Car’s familiar V8, which fleet operators found trouble-free and simple to repair. However, Lincoln believes the MKT is perfect for the job.
Despite the crossover’s large appearance, it’s actually smaller than the Town Car – around two inches narrower and eight inches shorter. That should make it more nimble: an important consideration in tight streets like New York City’s, where the old limo can be found on just about every block. Yet it has more stowage space for luggage.
The MKT also offers a host of luxury features expected by passengers in a chauffeur-driven car, including a USB hookup, audio controls, a 110-volt outlet and even wi-fi hotspot capabilities. Its taller roof will also offer more flexibility to move around. In the front seat, snowbelt chauffeurs will appreciate the MKT’s available all-wheel drive – an improvement over the Town Car’s rear-wheel drive.
Ford is developing fleet-ready MKT models in both standard length and limousine configurations. The limos will feature a stretch of up to 10 feet, as well as the necessary upgraded suspension, chassis, brakes and tires to cope with the added weight.
There’s just a matter of timing. Production of these MKTs won’t start until early 2012 – six months after the Town Car’s August 2011 expiration date. Despite this hiccup, the MKT shows that Ford is committed to keeping the limo business.