By DEE-ANN DURBIN, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Ford is taking aim at Lexus with a new Lincoln luxury sedan that goes on sale this fall.
Ford said Tuesday that the Lincoln MKZ will start at $35,925. That's $175 less than the Lexus ES 350.
The MKZ is a critical product for Ford, which is trying to revamp the Lincoln brand after years of neglect. It's the first in a string of new Lincolns that Ford plans to roll out over the next three years.
Among the MKZ's features is an all-glass roof that opens automatically and slides over the back window, giving both front and rear passengers a convertible-like ride. It has Lincoln's split-wing grille, one of the brand's most recognizable features. But designers toned it down after complaints about the ungainly maw on the most recent Lincoln sedans.
The car is longer and wider, giving it a more luxurious look. It has an elegant, clean dashboard with flush buttons for controls instead of knobs.
Ford first revealed the new MKZ midsize car in January, but didn't announce the price until now.
The price tag clearly sets Lincoln up as a competitor to Lexus, which was the third highest-selling luxury brand in the U.S. last year behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Lincoln was the top-selling brand in the U.S. in 1998, but it was eclipsed by Lexus for most of the next decade. Lincoln is now outsold by seven other luxury brands.
Ford will also offer a hybrid version of the MKZ at the same price as the gasoline version. That's $2,750 less than the hybrid Lexus ES 350. Ford has been offering a hybrid MKZ at the same price as its gasoline sibling since 2010, and says it has brought new buyers to the brand.
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