Lincoln is keen on keeping the MKT alive even after its successor, the all-new Aviator, arrives in 2019.
The 9-year-old SUV remains a favorite of livery services so it’s going to stick around for the foreseeable future for fleet buyers to use as a hotel cab or funeral hearse, according to Robert Parker, Lincoln’s marketing manager who spoke to Automotive News.
Lincoln is currently focusing core models like the Navigator and the Aviator on the more profitable retail market, as it doesn’t want to discount them on rental lots. That means that the MKT has still a role to play.
“MKT can fill that role profitably for the company and will for the time being,” Parker said. “We don’t think it negatively impacts the brand.”
The Lincoln MKT is the company’s lowest-volume seller by far, with 1,653 units sold in the U.S. through August, down 22 percent from the same period last year. It’s also Lincoln’s last model that features the old split-wing grille design.
Lincoln will likely not updated it either, with the brand’s executives being fine with the MKT still being available for sale to commercial fleet businesses.
“It has a place,” Parker said. “Just like a long snapper on a football team. Nobody knows their name, or cares, but if he screws up a snap, it’s a bad day.”
The MKT will be replaced by the Lincoln Aviator, which is based on a new rear-drive platform and will be offered with a twin-turbo petrol engine, both on its own and as part of an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Parker added that their research showed that buyers are willing to pay for the range-topping Black Label trims of the Aviator, enabling Lincoln to focus more on retail sales. That means that the new Lincoln Aviator will not go into fleets at a discount, leaving that role to the MKT.
“If you see an Aviator in Denver at a rental-car location,” Parker said, “it’s because they paid us what you would have paid when you bought it.”