The Detroit show was supposed to mark the "reinvention" of the floundering brand, highlighted by the unveiling of the MKZ concept sedan.
But instead of seeing the shape of Lincoln's comeback, I saw two glaring weaknesses in the MKZ's exterior styling -- and a ray of hope beyond that.
Proportions: As in front clip, rear clip, wheelbase. Allow me to turn the focus to General Motors for a second. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, 2012 Buick LaCrosse and even the upcoming 2013 Cadillac XTS have something in common: They share GM's front-wheel-drive Epsilon vehicle platform. But dimensionally there is a difference among the models. The overall length varies among these sedans, as does the wheelbase. The front and rear overhangs have different lengths -- long hood vs. short, long rear deck lid vs. short. As a result, each car has a unique silhouette.
Now, back to Ford: The MKZ and Fusion share Ford's new mid-sized, front-wheel drive, global platform. The cars are fraternal twins -- the front and rear overhangs appear to be identical, as does the wheelbase. Where's the distinction between the mainstream and luxury brands?
Greenhouse: Did the Fusion adopt the MKZ's sloping roofline or did the MKZ adopt the Fusion's. Both have a three-window side treatment, too. Yes, it's an attractive roofline. But by the time the MKX comes out, Lincoln's will hardly be distinctive.
There's also the revised split-wing grille. Some people liked it; I expected it to be abandoned for a new approach. Why keep any trace of a design feature that runs across a lineup of disappointments?