In the annals of automotive history, few companies have staged as remarkable a comeback as Lincoln has in the past ten years.
For most of the 20th century, Lincoln enjoyed the kind of success most luxury car brands can only dream of. A byword for American craftsmanship and taste, Lincoln was the car of choice for every president from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, and its flagship Continental nameplate was one of the most popular luxury cars in the country.
While Lincoln capitalized on the luxury SUV phenomenon of the 1990s with its legendary Navigator, by the end of the millennium it was clearly struggling to compete with brands like Cadillac, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz.
In the first decade of the 21st century, Lincoln reached its nadir. Its attempts to exploit interest in crossover SUVs were not particularly successful, and when the economic crisis of 2008 hit and the Big Three American automotive companies struggled to stay afloat, the question of whether or not Lincoln had a future at all came into focus.
Fortunately, Lincoln’s parent company, Ford, decided to re-invest in an ambitious new plan for Lincoln that would see updates to its line-up and a re-imagining of what a Lincoln could be.
One of the biggest factors in this revival was fuel economy. As awareness of the economic and environmental dangers of inefficient vehicles has become mainstream, Ford and Lincoln dedicated significant resources to re-imagining how their vehicles could deliver the same quality and style while consuming less fuel.
The result of this has been a fleet of vehicles that deliver the best in luxury, but which are also environmentally responsible choices. If you want to test drive a new Lincoln you won’t just find yourself surrounded by high quality materials and excellent craftsmanship, you’ll also find yourself behind the wheel of a car that can offer you globally competitive mileage.
And if the second decade of the 21st century has been a period of recovery and renewal for Lincoln, there are plenty of signs that the next decade might see a return to dominance.
When, for the first time in fifteen years, a new generation of Lincoln Continentals rolled off the assembly line in 2016, many heralded it as a return to form. The resurrection of one of the most beloved nameplates in automotive history signalled to Lincoln fans that the company was reconnecting with its past to find a way forward into the future.
When it was announced earlier this year that the Lincoln Aviator would be making a comeback as well, it signalled something a little different: a willingness on the part of the company to learn from its mistakes.
The original Aviator was a short-lived mid-size SUV produced in the early 2000s. Unpopular with customers, who saw it as further evidence that Lincoln had lost its way, the Aviator was quickly renamed the MKX. By bringing this nameplate back, Lincoln is making the bold decision to transform its own history by reinventing its ethos.
The new Aviator won’t be available until 2020, but there is every indication that it may well mark a new era in the life of for this historic brand.