Does This Lincoln MKZ Give Ford a Bona Fide Luxury Car?

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After several years in hibernation, it appears Ford’s (NYSE:F) luxury brand is ready for its closeup. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ has been garnering highly positive reviews and offers the Dearborn automaker a weapon to challenge GM’s (NYSE:GM) Cadillac, as well as Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Lexus and other foreign luxury brands. In fact, Ford is presenting the 2013 MKZ as an offering from the “Lincoln Motor Co.”

The re-branding is meant to distract from similarities between Lincoln and the Ford Fusion on which it is based. The 2013 MKZ has gotten the hype appropriate for a luxury car along the lines of BMW or Lexus, with a Super Bowl ad and star billing at different car shows. Its best features include the styling and spaciousness, along with the car’s overall power. It has the size of a Lexus and the V-6 performance of other cars in the class, as well as purported fuel economy in the hybrid version (there is a gas-only option).

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As far as sales are concerned, the Lincoln MKZ is doing exactly what Ford needed from its luxury division. April marked the first month of double-digit sales increases since February 2012 and a 115 percent increase from April 2012, with more than 4,000 MKZs sold last month. While some of the dramatic sales increase was due to delays at Mexican manufacturing plants, the main draw appears to be the car itself…