classic american luxury

The Complete Lincoln Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained


July 19, 2019 Buying Guides By Photo by Lincoln

Lincoln is Ford Motor Company’s luxury division, based in Dearborn, Michigan. It was founded in 1917, initially producing Liberty V12 aircraft engines. Ford bought Lincoln in 1922 to serve as its luxury marque to counter Cadillac and other high-end manufacturers, which has been the brand’s role since. Ford paired Lincoln with its mid-level Mercury brand in showrooms for decades, until the company discontinued the latter in 2010.

Traditionally, Lincoln has made large, heavy and luxurious sedans, with iconic nameplates like the Continental and the Town Car. Lincoln provided presidential limousines from the 1930s to the 1980s. (While Gerald Ford may have told America he was “a Ford, not a Lincoln,” he rode in a Lincoln.)

This century, Lincoln has adjusted to the automotive market. The company has shifted focus to luxury SUVs, to its success; it even dabbled, briefly, with the pickup truck market in the form of the Mark LT, a rebadged Ford F-150.

Lincoln embraced three-letter nameplates with gusto during the 2000s, which created considerable confusion: In 2015, for instance, Lincoln simultaneously sold the MKC, MKS, MKT, MKX, and MKZ. Mercifully, Lincoln has been phasing out these abbreviations in favor of model names as of late, opting for traditional or nautical/aeronautical themes.

Lincoln Terminology

Atkinson Cycle: A type of engine combustion, used on the MKZ hybrid. It’s ideal for hybrids because it delivers better fuel efficiency than the alternative Otto cycle, but weaker low-end power; in hybrids, however, this can be made up for with electrical motors.
Black Label: Top-of-the-line Lincoln trim offering a range of luxury themes and finishes, as well as personalized customer service.
The Lincoln Way: Specialized smartphone app offering special Lincoln features including service pickup and delivery and remote start. Also a marketing slogan.
SS-100-X: Secret service code name for the Lincoln Continental convertible limousine in which President Kennedy was assassinated.
Suicide Door: A door with a hinge at the rear instead of the front. Lincoln has been offering limited runs of present-day Continentals with them. The name comes from being a considerable safety hazard before seatbelts were introduced.

Buying Guide

MKC

The MKC is Lincoln’s entry-level compact crossover. It shares a platform with the Ford Escape. The MKC debuted in 2013, and will be replaced by the Corsair after the 2019 model year. There are two engine options: a 245-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter and a 285-hp twin-scroll turbocharged 2.3-liter. The smaller engine offers rear-wheel-drive in addition to all-wheel-drive, which is standard on the larger engine. Both use a six-speed automatic transmission.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Select
• Reserve
• Black Label

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
• Turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four

Base MSRP: $33,995

Corsair

The Corsair is Lincoln’s entry-level compact crossover, new for the 2020 model year, that is set to replace the outgoing MKC. It’s built on the same platform as the new 2020 Escape. It has similar powertrain options to the MKC, but paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Corsair has drawn positive initial reviews for its premium styling, particularly compared to Cadillac’s rival XT4. Lincoln contends that Corsair is “inspired” by the Latin word cursus, meaning journey — as opposed to the English word “corsair,” meaning pirate or pirate ship.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Reserve

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
• Turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four

Base MSRP: $35,945

Nautilus

The Nautilus is a facelifted and rebranded version of the MKX midsize SUV. The major change was a design move from a split-level grille to a rectangular one. The Nautilus shares a platform with the Ford Edge. It can be fitted with a 2.0-liter inline four making 245 hp or a 2.7-liter V6 making 335 hp, paired with an eight-speed automatic and either front-wheel-drive or AWD.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Select
• Reserve
• Black Label

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
• Twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6

Base MSRP: $40,340

Navigator

The Navigator is Lincoln’s full-size, body-on-frame SUV, built on the same platform as the Ford Expedition. The fourth-generation was new for the 2018 model year. The Navigator’s engine, a 450-hp 3.5-liter V6, is the most powerful ever to appear in a Lincoln. The Black Label ($96,395) is the most expensive  production car sold by the Ford Motor Company, apart from the limited-run Ford GT supercar. The Navigator has a 10-speed automatic transmission; lower trims come standard in RWD with optional four-wheel-drive, while upper trims receive 4WD standard. The Lincoln Navigator was our Vehicle of the Year in 2018.

Body Style: SUV

Models:

• Standard
• Select
• Reserve
• Black Label

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6

Base MSRP: $73,205

MKT

The MKT is a full-size wagon-like crossover. Popular with limousine fleets, it was a functional replacement for the now-defunct Town Car sedan when it debuted for the 2010 model year. It uses a 3.5-liter V6 making 365 hp, a six-speed automatic transmission, and AWD. It seats up to seven passengers. It will be replaced by the Aviator for the 2020 model year.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Reserve

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6

Base MSRP: $49,500

Aviator

The Aviator is Lincoln’s three-row midsize crossover that slots between the Nautilus and the Navigator. Based on the new Ford Explorer and sportier than the outgoing MKT, it’s designed to go after rivals like the BMW X5. The base engine is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 400 hp. Grand Touring models offer a plug-in hybrid version of that engine producing a combined 450 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. The Aviator comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission and either RWD or AWD.

Body Style: Crossover

Models:

• Standard
• Reserve
• Grand Touring
• Black Label
• Black Label Grand Touring

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 hybrid

Base MSRP: $51,100

MKZ

The MKZ is Lincoln’s entry-level midsize sedan. The second generation debuted for the 2013 model year. The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline four making 245 hp connected to either FWD or AWD drive systems through a six-speed automatic. There’s a bigger 3.0-liter V6 engine making 350 hp in FWD form or 400 hp in AWD models, paired with a six-speed automatic. The 2.0-liter hybrid system produces a total of 188 hp, achieves 40 mpg combined, and uses a CVT.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Standard
• Standard Hybrid
• Reserve
• Reserve Hybrid
• Reserve II
• Reserve II Hybrid

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four
• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle inline-four hybrid

Base MSRP: $35,995

Continental

The Continental is Lincoln’s full-sized sedan. After years of being deceased, it was revived with a new generation for the 2017 model year, replacing the MKS. The base engine option is a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 making 305 hp. Lincoln also offers the Continental with a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 making 335 hp and a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 400 hp. All versions have a six-speed automatic. The Continental can come with either FWD or AWD. A suicide door version was made briefly for the 2019 model year’s limited-production 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition; these doors will return in greater numbers for the 2020 model year.

Body Style: Sedan

Models:

• Standard
• Select
• Reserve
• Black Label

Engines:

• 3.7-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6

Base MSRP: $46,145

The Complete Cadillac Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained

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A complete roundup of every new Cadillac on sale. Read the Story

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