Lincoln Concept C - Click above for high-res image gallery

If The Blue Oval boys intend to keep buyers filing into Lincoln and Mercury showrooms over the next few years, each brand's product portfolios are going to need a bit more than a simple nick-and-tuck to compete with the best from around the world. To that end, expect Lincoln to continue making the switch from large, rear-wheel drive SUVs and old-tech luxury barges to smaller, more nimble premium models akin to the next-gen Focus-based compact Concept C that was introduced earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show. Around the same time, the very last Lincoln Town Car will roll ingloriously down the assembly line, replaced as it's already been in most buyer's minds by the newer MKS.

Don't expect to see a replacement for the aging Lincoln Navigator SUV any time soon, but joining the MKX and MKT mid-size crossovers may well be a new compact 'ute based on the underpinnings of the next-gen Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner and Ford Kuga (for Europe, at least). Speaking of Ford's interplanetary brand, it's reportedly finally confirmed Mercury has a future products in the pipeline. Starting small – which seems to be a definite theme for Mercury and Lincoln – Mercury should get its own version of the next Focus, probably as a 2012 model.

A year later in 2013, the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ are all scheduled to get a new front-drive mid-size platform that will thankfully share its guts with the European Ford Mondeo. The Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape twins along with the expected Lincoln crossover should show up late in 2011. Finally, the body-on-frame Grand Marquis and Mountaineer will make the long, cold walk to the automotive graveyard within the next few years. Somehow, we doubt many will miss their absence.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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