With the Lincoln Town Car set to be phased out later next year, Ford Motor Company is looking for a new vehicle to fill the void in both the livery and limousine markets. Even though the Lincoln Navigator is already widely used for livery and limo duties, the successor for the Town Car will actually be the Lincoln MKT. The new models will be added to the MKT line-up in early 2012, and they will be built alongside the normal production models in Ontario, Canada.
Compared to the current model of the MKT, the livery version will not offer a third-row seat in order to improve the comfort of rear occupants by adding more legroom. The removal of the third-row also allows this model to offer 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space which is about double that of the aging Town Car. Other key changes include the addition of puddle lights for the rear doors and lighted vanity mirrors for rear passengers. All of these models will be available with navigation, SYNC, a back up camera and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross traffic alert, although it's not clear if they will be standard or optional equipment. Rear-seat passengers will also be provided with separate audio controls, a 110-volt outlet and a USB charging port. A Wi-Fi hot spot capability will be an available option.
"A luxury car owner will not miss a beat sitting in the rear seat in the new Lincoln livery vehicles," said Scott Tobin, Lincoln vehicle line director. "We've enhanced the rear passenger experience so the rider is both extremely comfortable and can be very efficient at the same time."
Stepping up to the limousine role, the MKT's wheelbase will be stretched by 10 feet (more than doubling the wheelbase of the current MKT) to give it a total length of 327.6 inches. To handle the additional weight, many of the components are beefed up for the MKT limo including the wheels and tires, transmission, suspension and even the electric power-assisted steering (EPAS). Of course, the best part of the MKT limo is that it is produced by Lincoln so the normal fit and finish will still be present.
"The limousine complements the livery vehicle so that we have a vehicle ready for every passenger situation," said Koss. "Both vehicles will deliver the features and content this industry requires in addition to the quality, reliability and durability they demand."
Engine options for the new MKT models haven't been announced, but the limousine could use one of the updated engines from the 2011 Ford F-150. Seeing as how the rest of the chassis has been beefed up, it would make sense for Lincoln to include either the new 3.7-liter V-6 or a more powerful version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. The 3.7-liter has been updated for 2011 to include Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) technology which helps to significantly improve power to more than 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque (in the new 2011 Ford Mustang and F-150). It is also likely that the Lincoln MKT limo could use the updated EcoBoost engine which produces 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque - slightly more horsepower and considerably more torque than the EcoBoost currently offered in the MKT. While the livery model will be available with both front- and all-wheel drive, the bigger, heavier MKT Limo will only be available with the all-wheel drive layout.
Changes to Lincoln's line-up don't end with the new livery and limo versions as Ford's luxury division is set to get some much-needed attention following the phase out of the Mercury brand. A new compact luxury hatchback is in the works, and there are new rumors about a rebirth of the Lincoln Continental.
Pricing for the new MKT livery and limo models won't be available until closer to their official sale date, but both models should cost considerably more than the current 2011 model that starts at $44,200.
Lincoln MKT limousine rendering by Jeffrey N. Ross