What Is the Lincoln Equivalent to a Ford Explorer?by Richard Rowe
Lincoln, like many automotive divisions, started out as a bespoke manufacturer with its own platforms, engines and chassis. That was a fine approach for the time, but economies of scale meant that it was only a matter of time before Ford and Lincoln began sharing parts, and then whole chassis. Since then, Ford's been offering luxury versions of its home-base vehicles like the Explorer under the Lincoln brand -- some more successful than others.
There's a commonly held belief that the Lincoln Navigator is Ford's luxury Explorer, but it's not true. While the Navigator may look a bit like the Explorer from a distance, it was a full-sized SUV based on the larger Expedition. It's always shared its bones with the Expedition SUV and F-150 pickup. The Explorer was originally based on the smaller Ranger pickup, which put it a weight class down. Lincoln's only attempt to utilize the Explorer chassis came in the form of the 2002-to-2005 Aviator. Mercury had been selling the Explorer as the Mountaineer for several years, but the Aviator -- despite its positive initial reception -- was an unmitigated sales flop in the crowded mid-sized SUV market. It was too posh and expensive for truck lovers, and too trucky for luxury mid-sized buyers. Lincoln tried again in 2010, retooling the new Explorer's more car-like unibody chassis to create the MKT. As of 2013, the MKT crossover-station-wagon thing is the only Lincoln vehicle using Explorer running gear.
Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.