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Littlest Lincoln Likely To Be Luxurious Compact Crossover

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Lincoln plans to roll out an onslaught of seven new products over the next three years, each designed to underscore the luxury brand's separation from the mass-market Fords on which they're based.

The smallest Lincoln yet will be a compact crossover, using the same underpinnings--but none of the sheetmetal--of the 2013 Ford Escape that will be formally unveiled two weeks from now at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The unnamed crossover will be Lincoln's first-ever compact vehicle, though the brand showed a design study for a futuristic compact hatchback design, the C Concept, at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Its styling is said to be more of a "tall hatch" than a traditional crossover, and it may be slightly smaller than the Escape in overall dimensions. That means the hatchback C Concept could actually reflect some design cues for the new vehicle in profile.

The rumored model name, MKD, continues Lincoln's confusingly similar string of "MK"-prefixed titles.

But with smaller luxury crossovers a growing segment of the market--think Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK, not to mention the Lincoln's more likely rival, the Cadillac SRX--the brand chose to go where the buyers are.

2009 lincoln c concept 008

2009 lincoln c concept 008

Enlarge Photo

Lincoln says it will offer "standout product design, class-leading technology" and both "top performance and fuel efficiency" in its powertrains.

That means both hybrids like the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and Ford's EcoBoost turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline engines with higher fuel efficiency.

"We are fully committed to making Lincoln a world-class luxury brand," said Lincoln's Christian Bokich, "with compelling vehicles and an exceptional consumer experience to match."

2009 lincoln c concept 015

2009 lincoln c concept 015

Enlarge Photo

The smallest Lincolns to date have been the 1977-1980 Versailles mid-size sedan, based on the Ford Granada of the era, and the 2002-2005 Aviator mid-size sport-utility vehicle, a lightly retrimmed Explorer.

Expect the new members of the Lincoln lineup to begin to roll out next year, following the launch of the all-new Ford Escape.

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