DETROIT -- Lincoln, battling to keep U.S. sales from falling below 100,000 for the first time in decades, is preparing to add a $40,000 crossover based on the Ford Flex.
The 2010 MKT goes on sale in late summer and was shown at the North American International Auto Show today.
Ford Motor Co. expects to draw owners of Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators who want better fuel economy and a more modern design, said Mike Crowley, Fords North American car and crossover marketing manager. It will also be a showcase for Lincolns new design language.
The MKT will arrive more than 10 years after Lincoln became the best-selling luxury brand in the United States. Since claiming the 1998 title, the brand has been overtaken by rivals from Japan, Germany and the United States. Last year it ranked No. 7, more than 150,000 sales behind segment leader Lexus from Toyota Motor Corp.
U.S. demand for Lincolns fell 18.4 percent last year to 107,295. the lowest since 1983. The brand last finished below 100,000 in 1982, during the last U.S. recession as long as the current one.
Signature features of the MKT include Lincolns split waterfall grille and thin tail lamps that run the width of the liftgate. The crossover also features a prominent bustleback at the rear that was toned down from an earlier design concept.
The three-row MKT will have seating options for either six or seven passengers. Though based on the Flex, the MKT shares no sheet metal or any visible parts, the company says. The Flex was the runner-up for the North American Car of the Year, in voting announced at the Detroit show Sunday.
The MKTs base engine is a 3.7-liter, 268-hp V-6. An optional 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine will be available with 355 horsepower and 350 pounds-feet of torque.
The EcoBoost-equipped MKT will be priced similarly to competitive V-8 offerings, Crowley said. Base MKT pricing is expected to start in the low- to mid-$40,000 range, he said.
Lincoln isnt sharing sales goals.
It will definitely be a niche product for us, Crowley said, indicating that volume will be in the range of Audis entry in the segment.
Audi sold 13,209 of its Q7 crossovers in the U.S. last year, down from 20,695 in 2007.
In the last decade, Audis total U.S. volume has more than tripled, to 87,760 last year. The German automaker now ranks just behind Lincoln in luxury sales.