Pop quiz: Which major luxury brand led in year-over-year U.S. sales gains for 2014? Mercedes-Benz and BMW are likely answers, and even Audi is a strong guess. But actually, it was Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) struggling Lincoln lineup, recording a healthy 15.6% gain over 2013 sales.
Now, of course, it has to be mentioned that Lincoln made this increase on a substantially smaller base of sales from 2013. But hey, with Lincoln's sales sliding down a path to nowhere during the last decade, the brand will take what it can get! See U.S. sales results, below.
In January, Lincoln unveiled the 2016 MKX, which looks like it will be a significant seller for the brand, and the SUV should help boost overall Lincoln sales with gas prices remaining lower.
Meet the MKX
Lincoln redesigned the MKX at a great time, with sales of both luxury and utility segments booming in the U.S. market. Lincoln hopes the MKX, which is of comparable size to the Ford Edge, will have quick success like the all-new MKC has had recently. Consider that the MKC increased its segment market share from 2.6% in May to nearly 10% in October. It was also Lincoln's best-selling vehicle as recently as November.
In fact, the MKC has been largely responsible for Lincoln's 15.6% increase in sales in the U.S. last year, which was the brand's best year since 2008, and led luxury brands in the U.S. in terms of year-over-year gains.
The MKX will sport some welcome new features. One of these is Lincoln's new Black Label customized theme, which is a near-$6,000 option available for the top-trim level of certain Lincoln vehicles. Among other things, the extra cash spent on the Black Label trim will buy you some of the finest leathers, woods, and other premium materials, as well as exclusive colors and special perks.
The Lincoln MKX will also be the first Lincoln vehicle to get its in-vehicle audio system from the high-end Revel speaker brand, which recently struck a 10-year partnership with Lincoln. It's also the first Lincoln to provide some newer Ford innovations, such as adaptive steering, a 360-degree camera, and pre-collision assist.
Under the hood, consumers will have a couple of choices. Leading the engine options will be a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged Ti-VCT EcoBoost V6, which will likely deliver more than 330 horsepower and more than 370 pound-foot of torque, though the specs aren't official yet. The MKX's standard engine will be a 3.7-liter V6, projected to generate 300 horsepower and 280 pound-foot of torque.
Many investors believe that there is upside in owning Ford's stock, largely because the potential of turning around its luxury Lincoln brand could provide a significant increase in profits. That said, it's a very long-term story line for investors.
Ultimately, Lincoln is hoping that the redesigned MKX will add another prong to Lincoln's attack on the overall luxury utility market during a time when SUV and luxury sales are both accelerating. If the reception during the media days at the 2015 North American International Auto Show last month was any indication, it should go over well with consumers.